The Influence Of Education On The 3D Printing Industry

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The Influence Of Education On The 3D Printing Industry

You probably dont own a3Dprinter yet. Like computers in the early 1980s, its an intriguing new technology that hasnt quite found its place in the home.

However, schools and universities are proving to be a petri dish of innovation, where there is an existing space for experimentation and practical application, as well as palpable enthusiasm for the technology among both teachers and students.

Through the use of new software and Computer Aided Design (CAD), university and K-12 students alike can see their work come to life as its squirted magically into shape at the end of a heat-resistant nozzle. Students can build dioramas that genuinely excite: geometry has suddenly become physical and immediate, and math and science are no longer a hard slog through a dry textbook. Educators are harnessing their students creativity, and the next generation of designers, artists and scientists are being propelled in the right direction.

But3Dprintingis not simply a catalyst that improves the lives of fortunate children and young adults in theeducationsystem. The fact is, theres a very effective feedback loop in operation right now, and the primary driver behind innovation and development in the3Dprintingindustryis coming fromeducation. Im going to talk about three ways in which3Dprintingandeducationare changing the world together.

In response to increased educational demand, CAD software has evolved dramatically in the last few years  and its not just engineers who are using it. Where before3Dprintingwas almost exclusively part of the manufacturingindustry, demand for the technology in the classroom has pushed companies into developing technology to suit educational needs. As a result, there has been an explosion in the number of3Ddesign programs, especially for children, and this is allowing K-12 educators to make the most of the technology.

Educational institutes are already using3Dprintingat the middle-school level, allowing students to move away from the old-fashioned poster and cardboard projects toward more inspiring and practical3Dmodeling experimentation.

The Northern New York Robotics Academys Mars Colony project, for example, sees children using CAD software and a3Dprinter to design and build Mars rovers, shape settler living quarters and build water supply resources. Not only is it fun, but it also is an educational opportunity to teach kids to use software and hardware.

Educators are harnessing their students creativity, and the next generation of designers, artists and scientists are being propelled in the right direction.

James Carroll, founder of the academy said, The application of this technology is only limited by the ambition of the teacher and creativity of the students  and theres no cap on either of those things here.

Carroll went on to say that3Dprintingtechnology is revolutionizingeducationat the academy, giving students extraordinary levels of motivation and the opportunity to exercise their imaginations, as well as practice skills that will serve them in the future, in an exciting new way.

Competitions such as theEdu-Tech3DChallengeare helping children discover their design talents, as well as giving them the chance to showcase their work and potentially win a MakerBot Replicator 23Dprintingunit for their school.

Moreover, apps likeZotebook.ioallow children (or adults) to free draw their designs in 2D and see them converted into exact models, ready for3Dor laserprinting. Although apps like this are simple, they make abstract theories practical, models testable and teach students how the3Dprintingprocess works.

For younger children,Dr. Fluffs Robot Factoryis a free and easy-to-use Android app that helps them create3Dmodels of robots. With apps like this, young children are learning to accurately manipulate images on screens, then see tangible results. Furthermore, teachers without access to3Dprinters can send off for their students printed models in the mail, which, although perhaps not as fun to watch, at least adds an element of suspense to the class.

Then theresFormZ, software that uses tutorials and practical application to teach students how to design and model in3D. FormZ comes with specific student licenses that allow high school and university students free access for 12 months, and gives them invaluable experience with professional software.

Of course, there are many more programs and apps around, and far too many to mention here, but they do all have one thing in common: Although building a cardboard volcano in a shoe box is fun and educational, these apps and desktop programs are helping students develop valuable skills early in their educational lives. These are skills that can be applied in the real world and help them in their careers in the long run.

Since the mid-1990s, the Internet has helped break down classroom walls with unprecedented access to information and communication. Now,3Dprintingis adding a tangible element to the mix.

Teaming up students in K-12 and at the university level with international groups presents an interesting opportunity; its like the modern-day pen pal, but much more powerful. Were seeing the beginnings of real-time collaboration among schools and colleges around the world, and with3Dprinting project work will never be the same again. Files created forprintingcan easily be shared, which means that curriculums and even new subjects can be developed. Imagine a college classroom where the end project is not a hypothetical product but a real3Dprintable solar panel design that can be printed for less than $30.

Take the recent success of thee-NABLEproject as an example of the impact3Dprintingcan have on global design and production. The project began when a South African carpenter got in touch with an American prop maker in order to make amechanical prosthetic hand for a young boy. After successfully creating the life-changing design, the pair then gave plans away for free in order to benefit people all over the world.

The project has since grown into a global network of people setting out to help others whom they may never have met. For example, high school students from theBen Barber Career and Technology Academyin Texas became involved in the project, collaborating to create a3D-printed hand forJayme Sims, a man who lost four fingers in a wood chipper accident. The prosthetic was based on the original e-NABLE design and only cost $50 to produce.

We can now build educational courses where students in London, the U.S. or anywhere in the world can together collaborate on projects that have the potential to change the lives of individuals and groups on the other side of the planet.

With CAD software and3Dprinters now being designed to meet educational needs, the marketplace is shifting shape. Students are now learning how to use free, simple programs likeTinkerCADand are being taught to think in3Din much the same way that many of us were taught how to use Microsoft Word from an early age.

This fundamental shift in focus and development from theindustryis creating a whole new class of adoption. Instead of just engineers making prototypes, we are now seeing artists using3Dprintingto formbeautiful and interesting objects and designsthat would be nearly impossible to achieve through any other medium.

Furthermore, its not just engineering schools picking up the tech; its reaching the general populace, too. Duke University is currently rolling out campus-wide access to3Dprintingfor its entire student body to offer the benefits of the technology to each and every one of its students.

In the first four weeks of being open our students have accumulated 1478 hours of3Dprintingacross 601 print jobs. We did this using only seven printers and a small student support staff, said Chip Bobbert, Digital Media Engineer at Duke University. We hope not only to inspire our student body, but also to provoke new ways of thinking about problems and solutions. Technology like this has the power to change the way we see the world, and now is the time to embrace it.

With open-source designs,educationand competition-driven innovation, were going to see anexponential rise in both application and development of3Dtech. The investment in the future of the technology that were currently seeing will reap untold rewards, and that come from this upcoming generation.

New innovation in3Dprintingis not just going to come from the engineering elite; its also going to spring forth from diverse groups due to the widespread access that theeducationsystem is providing. Students are on the front lines of tech adoption, and the way students interact with3Dprintinghas changed the trajectory of theindustry. As they learn how to design and print materials, they also are learning that technology itself opens the door to endless possibilities. Millennials and Generation Z are growing up with an entirely different mindset.

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3D printing industry to boom will be worth 45bn by 2018

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THE GLOBAL 3D PRINTING INDUSTRYwill be worth $7.5bn (4.42bn) in just four years, research firm Futuresource Consulting has predicted, as additive manufacturing moves beyond the world of rapid prototyping and towards consumer adoption.

As 3D printing becomes a more widely-recognised technology by the day and gains a more prominent position in industry, people are beginning to realise the technology is capable of much more than resolving first-world problems, such as fancy custom kitchen utensils or lamp shades.

3D printing has the potential to disrupt so many aspects of the current imaging and output ecosystem, said Futuresource Consulting head of print and imaging Matt Marshall. From physical supply chain intermediaries to retail outlets serving the growing consumer boom for 3D object production, right through to vertical sectors such as medical and aviation, where 3D production is already registering a massive impact.

Futuresource Consulting believes the skyrocket in 3D printing is due to the masses beginning to understand how 3D printing has the potential to revolutionise manufacturing by creating sophisticated products without the need for labour-intensive factories. An example of this is the idea of larger 3D printers, which can build complex parts for vehicles. For instance, Airbus recently integrated 3D printing technology to make titanium parts for planes and ultimately aims to produce full scale aeroplanes from the ground up.

As a result, were seeing a multitude of machine manufacturers, scanner manufacturers, designers, content owners, retailers, assembly plants, [intellectual property] authorities and innovators, all exploring the possibilities and assessing whether 3D printing will complement or compete with traditional manufacturing, added Marshall.

The coming years are set to be pivotal, with Futuresource forecasting that the global 3D printing industry will be worth about $7.5bn, or 4.42bn by 2018.

With mainstream imaging players such as Hewlett Packard, Ricoh and Samsung expected to enter the market in the near future, the category continues to exhibit its dynamism with huge growth in acquisition expected – growing from a meagre 78,000 unit sales globally in 2013 to over one million units in 2018 there is massive revenue potential for participants throughout the 3D printing ecosystem, Futuresource said.

However, there are always going to be both good and bad sides to any technological innovation that hits the mainstream. Some industry watchers predict that wide-scale rollout of the technology could decimate the cargo industry, as the need for long distance transportion would be greatly reduced.

There are also concerns that 3D printing could complicate the rules involved with copyright infringement, as it opens the ability for anyone to print a product by downloading the CAD design templates.

Earlier this month,it was announced that BMW is offering workers at its Munichcar plant 3D printed prosthetic super thumbs to reduce stress on their joints.

The thumbs, which are made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), are custom made by scanning each workers hand with a mobile hand scanner and then 3D printing the result layer by layer, producing a perfect second skin that combines safety and comfort.

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3D-printing expert shares packaging insights

Packaging Digest is your best source for packaging news, research and qualified suppliers.

3D-printing expert shares packaging insights

3D-printing expert shares packaging insights

ByRick LingleinDigital Printingon October 19, 2015

3D-printed containers made by a Multi Jet Printer are labeled with full-color graphics.

A 3D-printing expert discusses the packaging-specific uses and benefits of using the technology in thisPackaging Digestexclusive.

Paul Palovich is vice president ofPrinting 3D Parts, Inc.,a  three-year-old company based in Youngstown, OH. He is also a retired engineering manager from the automotive industry who has been involved in 3D printing since the mid-1980s. Pavolich shares his expertise and advice about 3D printing particularly for packaging applications in this Q&A.

Describe your companys involvement in 3D printing.

Palovich:Printing 3D Parts, Inc. got its start more than three years ago when we began investigating the use of 3D printing technology in the packaging industry. As owner of Meridian Arts & Graphics, Ted Webb, co-owner of Printing 3D Parts, Inc., has been in the prepress and plate making business for more than 25 years.

Other industries, especially automotive, have been using 3D technology for rapid prototypes for more than 30 years. We realized the advantages of 3D printing for rapid container prototypes are not being utilized in the packaging industry.

It is paramount, however, that the 3D printed rapid prototype be an accurate representation of the container that will finally be in high volume production. We felt the textured parts printed with the tabletop 3D printers are more like trinkets than accurate prototypes. It took us more than a year to find the 3D printer that would meet our stringent requirements of part quality.

Finally, for complete concept visualization of a production container, Printing 3D Parts, Inc. applies a label with full color graphics and text.

What can you say about the 3D printers and polymers that your company uses?

Palovich:I am able to identify the technologies used, but not the specific names and models of our equipment. We have a robotic arm 3D scanner, a Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printer and a Multi Jet Printer (MJP) 3D printer, a label printer and a label application device. All equipment was installed more than a year ago.

Printed part quality was the major driver in the selection of the equipment purchasednamely the smoothness of the surface, dimensional accuracy and precision. Once labeled, most customers dont realize our prototypes arent production containers until they hold them.

The 3D printed prototypes are made from an ABS [acrylonitrile butadiene styrene]-like plastic that can be painted, dyed or chrome plated. We chose this material for its rigid, stable and thermal-resistant properties.

A 3D printed and labeled cookie tin.

How has your company leveraged the technology?

Palovich:3D printing is one of three technologies we have integrated to provide a rapid prototyping service to our customers. Printing 3D Parts, Inc. has the 3D scanning and 3D-printing technologies to create a rapid prototype of a concept container in weeks instead of months, with full color graphics and textand without any tooling cost. A CAD file of the concept container/package is all that is needed.

However, if a CAD file does not exist, a 3D scan of an existing container can be made and modified to the customers specifications.

For complete concept visualization of an actual printed container/package, a full color shrink-wrapped label of our customers artwork can be applied to the 3D-printed prototype.

Any necessary design revisions can be made and incorporated in the next 3D-printed prototype.

How would you characterize the interest in 3D printing relative to packaging?

Palovich:The packaging industry hasnt embraced the full benefits of 3D printing technologies as much as other industries have. We believe more education is needed so decision makers can understand the added value.

Next: Value, misconceptions and advice

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3D Printing in the Medical Device Industry

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3D Printing in the Medical Device Industry

Learn more as Dr. Scott Rader, Stratasys, and Dr. Vicknes Waran, Centre for Biomedical and Technology Integration (CBMTI) in Malaysia, discuss how 3D printing can reduce cost, improve care or increase speed at every step in the medical device value chain. This results in increased profitability, technology adoption and market responsiveness. Stratasys solutions shape clinical outcomes and corporate profit.

Dr. Vicknes Waran; R. Scott Radar, PhD

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Cutting Design-to-Market Risks – A New Paradigm for Rapid Prototyping

Sam Green Head of Marketing for Rapid Prototyping at Stratasys

Companies are all under pressure to deliver products to market faster.

Empowering professional designers; shrinking lead times; unleashing creativity. Those are the demands of a professional rapid prototyping 3D printing solution.

In this seminar, Stratasys Sam Green, Head of Marketing for Rapid Prototyping, introduces a new paradigm in rapid prototyping and 3D printing that doesnt compromise on the needs of designers and engineers: Engineering grade quality but easy enough for anyone to operate. Professional levels of efficiency and productivity with availability right from the workgroup office.

Join this seminar to find out how to:

o Implement a more efficient and streamlined workflow from design to 3D print.

o Deliver optimal results at every prototyping stage, from concept verification to design validation to functional performance.

o Produce more accurate, detailed and repeatable prototypes at lower cost.

o Maximize your overall solution effectiveness by optimizing available run time, workflow performance and yield.

Designing & 3D Printing in Education Using the Full Color Stratasys J750

Darlene Farris-LaBar Prof. of Art and Design, & Environmental Artist at East Stroudsburg University

In this 30-minute webinar, well discuss how an instructor and two students at East Stroudsburg University are using the Stratasys J750 3D Printer in their coursework. Projects include environmental designs, branding championship, medical problem-solving and more. Youll learn:

o    How full-color 3D printing can enable learning in art and design

o    Learn about the benefits of having a 3D printing lab on campus

AMPing Up STEM Instruction with 3D Printing

Students will enter a job market that requires skills far different that those of today. Learn how schools are taking new approaches to develop critical thinking with 3D printing for future careers. Witness the connection of teacher instruction and student achievement with Jeff Rosen, Program Director for Technology and Robotics at Georgia Institute of Technology. Jeff outlines AMP (Advanced Manufacturing and Prototyping Integrated to Unlock Potential), a National Science Foundation project which includes designed courses, mini challenges and interdisciplinary course experience for grades 6 8. Explore the uses of 3D printers for the classroom, and get an introduction to the Stratasys uPrint 3D Printer which offers educators reliability and repeatable results for streamlined learning.

Empowering Creative and Innovative Minds-3D Printing For Art & Design Students

Learn how Jocelyn Kolb-Dewitt and Darlene Farris-LaBar, co-directors of the G3D Stratasys Super Lab at East Stroudsburg University, inspire and empower students in art and design with 3D printing. Darlene Farris-Labar designs and 3D prints plants and flowers to reimagine an ecosystem on the brink of extinction. Explore product design with Jocelyn Kolb, who 15 years ago implemented 3D printing into her art and teaching. Analyze and understand how young minds interface software and hands-on learning for increased retention. Assess the impact of real-world projects including robotic prosthetics, DICOM scans, clothing design, biological models and artistic representations of microscopic life forms.

3D Printing for Surgical Devices and Medical Models

Frank J. Rybicki, MD, PhD : University of Ottawa/Ottawa Hospital & Michael Gaisford – Stratasys Medical Solutions

Dr. Rybicki is Professor and Chair of Radiology at the University of Ottawa and Chief of Medical Imaging at The Ottawa Hospital. In this webinar, youll examine the role of 3D printing in medicine and hospitals. Learn about use cases and different models for hospital-based 3D printing including facial transplants, surgical guides, radiology and standard research tools. Dr. Rybicki illuminates current trends and future direction in 3D printing while addressing parallel topics such as costs, education, printer selection and achieving objectives.

Project Based Learning Integrating 3D Printing Into Classrooms at Wentworth

Steve Chomyszak, Assistant Professor at Wentworth Institute of Technology

Watch this webinar for an overview of a 14-week project-based 3D printing curriculum developed for technical educators, including:

• How an interactive learning environment impacted and inspired Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT) students

• How the WIT 3D printing lab went from crickets to buzzing with activity

• How the curriculum measured up according to students

• Lessons learned and best practices for teaching the course

• Faculty impression of the course and future plans

Ideas For Implementing 3D Printing Across K-12 Curriculum

Ryan Erickson, Maker Space Coord., Cedar Park Elementary, Apple Valley, MN. & Gina Scala, Dir. of Edu. Marketing, Stratasys

Learn how to implement 3D printing to increase student engagement across K-12 curriculum. Presenter Ryan Erickson, a Minnesota Maker Space coordinator, outlines 3D printing lessons applicable to daily student life. The webinar focuses on one simple question, How do we apply 3D printing to K-12 education? The process doesnt start with expensive machines and complex software applications. Students are introduced to the technology from the bottom up. Simple IOS apps such as MakerBot PrintShop, scan student drawings for immediate upload to CAD for 3D printing. Applying 3D printing to classrooms goes beyond engineering in STEM learning it redefines creativity entirely. Students can model historical monuments into tangible figures to understand sentiment and context; model sonic waves into visible artifacts; build geometric figures to understand volume and surface area, and map proteins and atoms into connectable models. 3D printing engages students to think creatively, it allows them to craft and build with imagination. For teachers, this technology maximizes the opportunity for impactful learning environments.

Integrating 3D Printing into the Product Development Process

Jay Beversdorf, Applications Engineer, Stratasys & Tony den Hoed, Lead Engineer, Rotating Pipelayer Team, Volvo Construction

Volvo Construction Equipment Digs up Prototype Savings of 18 Weeks and 92% in Costs using 3D Printing.

Rob Winker, Stratasys Applications Engineer

Sand casting is the process of metal casting using sand as the mold material. The resulting mold cavity is used to create finished metal parts. The production of sand molds and cast metal parts is relatively straightforward and suitable for automated methods. However, fabrication of the patterns used to produce the sand molds (typically CNC machining) is often difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

Speed Silicone Rubber Products to Market with 3D Printing

Uri Masch, Stratasys PolyJet Applications Engineer

Prototyping and low-volume production of LSR parts are typically handled with manual casting methods, using molds made of metal, RTV or modeling board. However, these kinds of molds can be time and labor intensive to produce and pose limitations on the complexity of the mold.

Consumer Product Innovation with Stratasys J750 3D Printer

Learn how OtterBox, electronics accessories manufacturer, uses full-color, multi-material 3D printing to accelerate product development

Additive Manufacturing Aids: Focus on Jigs & Fixtures

Alissa Wild, Sr. Business Development Manager at Stratasys

Dig into the details and identify applications on your manufacturing floor for 3D printed jigs and fixtures. In this webinar youll see many use cases of companies saving time and money while creating efficiency on their production floors with custom jigs and fixtures.

Driving Business Value with 3D Printed Jigs and Fixtures

Todd Grimm, Technology Consultant and Industry Thought Leader

Learn how to access the potential ROI of 3D printing and justify the cost of a machine with profit gains from 3D printing manufacturing aids. Increasing the number of manufacturing tools like jigs, fixtures, organizational aids, improves efficiency, capacity, unit cost and responsiveness. Using additive manufacturing (3D printing) to produce these tools makes them more accessible and quicker to implement.

The Value of 3D Printed Manufacturing Aids

Rob Winker, Stratasys Applications Engineer

Manufacturing relies on aids and tools, including jigs, fixtures, templates and gauges to maintain quality and production efficiency. By using FDM 3D Printing technology to produce jigs and fixtures, the traditional fabrication process is substantially simplified; tool-making becomes less expensive and time consuming. As a result, manufacturers realize immediate improvements in productivity, efficiency and quality.

3D Printing End-of-Arm Manufacturing Tools

Rob Winker, Stratasys Applications Engineer

A robots end of arm tool (EOAT) is selected based on the operation it will perform and is specific to the part or tool that it manipulates. Robot users often need customized solutions to engage uniquely shaped objects but this is typically a costly and time-consuming approach.

In this webinar youll see how FDM technology offers a number of benefits over traditional methods of making EOATs.

Gil Robinson, Senior application engineer at Stratasys

Learn how leading injection molding companies are using 3D printed molds to validate their designs using production materials, before they invest in costly metal molds.

Additive Manufacturing for Composite Tooling

Learn how 3D printing with FDM Technology makes the production of composite tooling faster, more agile and less costly. Listen as Tim Schniepp, Stratasys business development director for composite tooling, explains the benefits and capabilities of FDM composite tooling, including examples of customers who successfully use this application.

3D Printing in Clinical Simulation for Improved Education and Training

Adnan Siddiqui, MD, PhD, FACS, FAHA; Michael Springer; Michael Gaisford

In this 30-minute webinar, youll learn how the Jacobs Institute uses 3D printed vascular models in surgical planning, training and education and medical device development.

3D Printing in the Medical Device Industry

Dr. Vicknes Waran; R. Scott Radar, PhD

Learn more as Dr. Scott Rader, Stratasys, and Dr. Vicknes Waran, Centre for Biomedical and Technology Integration (CBMTI) in Malaysia, discuss how 3D printing can reduce cost, improve care or increase speed at every step in the medical device value chain. This results in increased profitability, technology adoption and market responsiveness. Stratasys solutions shape clinical outcomes and corporate profit.

Every day, our customers find simpler, smarter approaches to stubborn design problems and greater confidence to confront towering human and technological challenges. Less hindered by the usual constraints with 3D printing, they can imagine, design, iterate and replicate more freely than ever before. By providing the shortest possible path from idea to solid object, Stratasys empowers them to untangle complexity, tackle tough problems, uncover new solutions and to do it all with the urgency our accelerating world demands.

Weve been at the forefront of 3D printing innovation for more than 25 years. Were shaping lives by helping researchers and health experts expand human knowledge and advance health care delivery. We are fueling the next generation of innovation through our work in aerospace, automotive and education. Were trusted worldwide by leading manufacturers and groundbreaking designers, makers, thinkers and doers. As a proud innovation partner, we offer the best mix of technologies, deep industry expertise — and the most flexible implementation options to meet our customers needs whatever shape they may take.

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Dr. Vicknes Waran; R. Scott Radar, PhD

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Why 3D printing is set to revolutionise manufacturing

Why 3D printing is set to revolutionise manufacturing

Although currently the domain of high-value engineering, 3D printing is on course to change the way we make things – and maybe even shop

Make it yourself: 3D printers used in the home are years behind those in industry

Imagine a world where you can go online to order something pretty much anything exactly to your personal specifications and an hour later its on your doorstep.

Thats what Amazon is envisaging but not by usingdrones to make fast deliveriesfrom the internet retailers giant warehouses.

Instead, the company is hoping to harness advances in 3D printing to fulfil consumers every desire. It has emerged that the businesshas filed a patent application in the US for trucks equipped with 3D printers, which will take orders online and then produce the finished item either at a customers door, or on the way to it.

It sounds outlandish but the idea makes sense. The company which is yet to make a profit despite annual sales of almost $90bn would no longer need giant warehouses holding hundreds of millions of dollars of stock.

Amazons already revolutionised retail could the company have seen an opportunity to do the same for manufacturing?

Is the march of the makers rebalancing the economy?

3D-printed gun on display at V&A museum

3D printing market worth $4.8bn by 2018

Probably not, according toDick Elsy, chief executive of theHigh Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC), a network of seven centres across the UK which combine resources from business, government and academia to develop and bring to market new ways of producing products.

The economics just dont work at the moment, he says. A plastic spoon is still going to be made in a factory, probably in China or somewhere similar, because processes such as injection moulding are the most efficient way of mass producing simple things.

Theres a perception that just because 3D printers have hit the high street for a few hundred pounds they are going to dispense with traditional factories. Theres a long journey to get to that point.

The basic technology behind 3D printing oradditive layer manufacturing (ALM), to use the technical term has been around for decades. It works by taking a computer design of an object, then slicing it up into hundreds or thousands of horizontal layers. The printer then makes the 3D object by printing out these layers on top of each other from the bottom up to form the final product.

While the kind of 3D printers available on the high street print using plastics or resins, in industry the techniques are far more advanced, using lasers to melt powdered metal and ceramics into ultra-thing layers which are built up to create finished products.

Foodstuffs such as chocolates and sugar are also being used as medium for 3D printing, and research is taking place with scientists having printed muscle tissue at some point in the future you could be ordering a 3D printed steak in from a restaurants menu.

However, thats in the future. Where the technology is making a big impact is high end manufacturing a sector Britain specialises in with aerospace really beginning to embrace its advantages.

Rolls-Royce is preparing to flight test one of its jet engines fitted with what the company says is the largest component ever built using ALM. The Derby-based business has produced a 150cm diameter, 50cm thick about the size of a tractor wheel bearing for one its XWB engines which houses 48 titanium aerofoils using the technique.

Rolls-Royce has made what it says it the largest ever 3D printed component, above

Rolls has been investigating the technology for over 20 years and has used it to repair components for the past five says Neil Mantle, head of ALM at Rolls. However, he says the technology is not suitable for producing all types of components and so will never entirely replace traditional methods it does offer many advantages.

The 3D-printed part – in blue – fits between the fan and compressor sections

ALM allows you to be innovative in design and the way you develop components and structures, says Mantle. Ultimately we will be able to make shapes and parts that cant be made in any other method, such as a triangular holes merging into a square you cant do that by drilling and we can also combine components, reducing the number of parts. It will challenge us to think about way we design objects.

Other advantages of ALM are the very fact that it is additive, rather than subtractive: rather than cutting or drilling pieces off a solid block of metal, only the material that is necessary is used.

You only melt the material that you need, says Mantle.

In the aerospace sector this is a definite advantage, not only because of the expensive metals used, but because lightness is key to efficiency. This has resulted in some of the parts having an organic look to them, where nothing wasted, aping the millions of years nature has taken to develop optimised designs.

Parts produced using ALM can have an organic look that apes nature, such as this manifold

Developing and creating new parts is sped up with ALM. Mantle says that using ALM machines eliminates the need to create specialised tooling, and the design can be easily altered right up to point the button is pressed to begin producing it.

Mantle estimates that using ALM cut the development of the bearing for the XWB by 30pc.

ALM seems to have found a natural home in aerospace where high cost, fine detail and low volume are the norm, but these are factors which are holding up its wider use across other sectors.

Because layers are printed individually, the actual production process is slow. Mantle says that while the technology is advancing such as multiple lasers being used simultaneously a major challenge is industrialising it so it can be used on a larger scale. However, he does foresee a advances similar to computings Moores law, which states that microchips power increases as their cost reduces.

Other high value, low volume sectors that seem tailored for ALM include motor-racing and other high performance engineering. For example,Renishawhas 3D printed a metal bike frame for Empire Cycles. The frame is lighter and stronger than a conventional model, because material could be concentrated on high stress areas but eliminated where it was not needed.

The company has also taken a step into medicine,producing cutting tailored cutting and placement guides for a surgeon who used them to help rebuild a patients skull after a motorcycle accident.

In a more high-profile project, Renishaw is producing parts able to withstand the supersonic speeds and stresses they will be subjected to on theBloodhound car which will attempt to break the current land speed record of 763mph.

The Bloodhound supersonic car will have 3D printed components

Robin Weston, marketing manager at Renishaws additive manufacturing division, said: Five years ago the majority of additive manufacturing use was within specialist bureaus and applications were primarily prototype driven. In ten years time expect the majority of applications to be manufacturing driven, with low to medium volume production of complex metal parts.

We also anticipate that 3D printed parts will be made in a much wider range of materials than those available today, including new alloys and hard materials such as tungsten carbide and other carbides with very high melting points. They will, therefore, be suitable for commercial use in nuclear fusion reactors, jet engines and rocket nozzles.

Although 3D printing has been used in the car industry for decades to produce prototype parts, its unlikely to enter into the mainstream of mass produced cars in the near future.

It terms of format and value, it takes too long for auto manufacturing where a car rolls of the line every minute, says Elsy, has previously worked in product development for Jaguar, where he saw 3D printing used in the design process to mock-up parts such as pipes and ducts.

The next logical step is for ALM is the premium auto sector, he says. People are willing to pay for personalisation and at the moment that can only really be produced by handcrafting products. I can see people willing to pay a premium for that kind of personalisation in the 30,000 to 50,000 car range in two or three years.

As the price of ALM comes down, it could also have a major impact on the business models of manufacturers or even their customers.

Pam Murphy, chief operating officer at business software group Infor, sees it as delivering a major shift. As well as reducing waste, it will allow companies to save money because they wont need to keep parts inventories when they can just print them off as needed. They will also be able to reduce 10 steps in manufacturing down to one.

Older technologies could be kept going longer as spare parts can be stored as a computer design and produced as needed, even though the tooling which made the components have long since been replaced.

For the public, the question is how will the technology affect them. Whatever Amazons intentions, 3D printing is a long way from being able to produce anything. Current machines are only able to produce items out of a single material but the feeling in industry that this will eventually change. While the computer software to design just about anything has long been available, the machines to turn those complex multi-material designs into a physical object arent yet a reality.

Most 3D printers designed for home use are only able to print small single objects not much than bigger than an encyclopaedia limiting their applications.

Elsy likens their current position to that of laser printers a decade ago, expensive but useful.

They are good for hobbyists and handymen, he says. Say you want to make a small model or break a knob on your cooker. You can download or create the design and print it and replace the item.

The current speeds of the technology it can take several hours to print an items measuring only a few centimetres means domestic 3D printers are unlikely to support anything other than very small cottage industries, especially as they do not offer the economies of scale that other production methods do.

Media hype about them being able to print guns also overstates their abilities. Certainly downloading a design and pressing print start is easier than lathing metals to create barrels and machining triggers, but it would take very long time and great expense, the plastic used in printers costs about 30 a kilogram, while resins can be 10 times that to for someone to equip their own army with guns that would almost certainly be made out of plastic.

In 2013 the first firearm was made with a 3D printer, a pistol called the Liberator

Elsy sees ALM as being more suitable for entrepreneurs who can prototype designs faster, cheaper and without requiring the technical expertise currently needed. He cites organisations such asFabLabs which provides centres containing 3D printers, laser engravers and other tools required to produce items as being the first step in this journey to harness creativity.

I think well see more of these maker spaces where people can access more complex tools and techniques to unleash their entrepreneurial spirit and demonstrate to investors what they can do, he said. Its preferable having such local hubs which pool resources rather than people turning out low grade products on entry level printers. Britain has the knowledge, knowhow and ideas, its a great opportunity for us.

However, Hamid Mughal, Rolls-Royces director of manufacturing who is on the HVMCs supervisory board, takes a more blue-sky approach that is more in line with Amazons ambitions.

I can see mega-factories being replaced by much smaller ones on back lanes thanks to low-cost on demand 3D printing, he says. People will want products so personalised that these factories will have to be in the next to the customer or in the next street, at least.

Maybe rather than revolutionising manufacturing, Amazon could be destroyed by it.

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3D Printing and Looming Changes in the Construction Industry

Chicago, IL Surprisingly, the construction industry hasnt changed much in the last 100 years. Oh, there are new things happening in mega-construction projects; larger skyscrapers, longer bridges andother huge structures; but not in day-to-day construction; thats pretty much stayed the same. Other than a few innovative materials and techniques, along with a greater reliance on power tools, home building is pretty much the same today, as it was 100 years ago.

That might all be changing soon. 3D printing, which has been the realm of engineering test labs, may make a drastic change in the ways that our building structures are built. In recent years, 3D printers have moved out of the engineering laboratory, where theyve been hidden for over 20 years, and are beginning to be used for other things.Artists have discovered this new medium, and yes, its being looked at for construction as well.

In the last decade, engineering research teams have been experimenting with using 3D printing to build components of buildings and entire homes, via 3D printing. The printing is done with what we could call super-size printers which use aspecial concreteand composite mixture. This mixture is much thicker than regular concrete, allowing it to be self-supporting as it sets.

This opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for architects everywhere. Much like the freeform design of The Birds Nest in Beijing, China, 3D printed architectural components are totally unfettered by typical design constraints. The ability to use curvilinear forms, rather than being cost and process limited to rectilinear forms, opens a whole new realm of design.

It is a commonly understood truth that rectilinear forms (rectangular forms) are one of the weakest structural forms imaginable. On the other end of the spectrum, the humble egg, which is totally curvilinear, is one of the most efficient structures in nature. A minimum of material, crafted into a shape where there are no straight edges, providing simple consistent curve, makes it the strongest structural design possible. 3D printing offers the practical possibility of using these curves in common structures.

Structural components that are made via 3D printing, otherwise known as concrete crafting, use less material than the same components made using normal concrete forming techniques. Whereas curved concrete structures that are poured into forms are solid, those made via concrete crafting can be hollow, allowing space for essential building services right inside the structural elements of the building.

While 3D printing of homes and buildings is not ready to go commercial yet, the technology has been developed to the point wherefull sized testing could be accomplished. This would require the capital investment to build the necessary equipment, essentially an enlarged version of the test equipment that already exists.

While the excitement over contour crafting centers around the design flexibility that it gives the architect, there is another great advantage which may have an even greater social impact. The lower materials usage and considerably lower labor makes this a much less expensive method of construction; even lower than current construction methods being used in third-world countries. This lower cost may best serve mankind in providing inexpensive housing to the millions of people who are currently living in sub-standard homes.

Regardless of what direction 3D printing takes in construction, it is clear that it will change construction forever. Whether this is in creating new aesthetic structures or providing low-cost housing, the buildings of the future are likely to look much different than those of today. To add to the process of change, building information modeling (BIM) will surely influence construction. You canread more here.

*Image depicts MIT Media Lab Construction

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What Is Industry 40 and How Does 3D Printing Fit Into It?

Ive been hearing more mentions of Industry 4.0 and 3D Printing in the same sentence. What does this all mean?

In fact, Stratasys mentioned Industry 4.0 repeatedly during my visit to their HQ recently for the announcement of their newproduction 3D printing concepts.

The term Industry 4.0 refers to a new style of manufacturing based on currently available technologies. It was first described as such by a German government report, but has since seeped into the understanding of manufacturers everywhere.

The 4.0 implies previous generations, and in fact they are described by Wikipedia:

The first industrial revolution mobilised the mechanization of production using water and steam power. The second industrial revolution then introduced mass production with the help of electric power, followed by the digital revolution and the use of electronics and IT to further automate production.

What is Industry 4.0? Its simply a way to efficiently and effectively leverage new digital and robotic techniques into the manufacturing process.

Such technologies include: cloud services, IoT sensors and activators, robotics, wireless networking and more. These would be intelligently combined with manufacturing machines to create what one might call a smart factory.

Wikipedia describes the goals of Industry 4.0:

: The ability of machines, devices, sensors, and people to connect and communicate with each other via the Internet of Things (IoT) or the Internet of People (IoP).

: The ability of information systems to create a virtual copy of the physical world by enriching digital plant models with sensor data. This requires the aggregation of raw sensor data to higher-value context information.

: First, the ability of assistance systems to support humans by aggregating and visualizing information comprehensibly for making informed decisions and solving urgent problems on short notice. Second, the ability of cyber physical systems to physically support humans by conducting a range of tasks that are unpleasant, too exhausting, or unsafe for their human co-workers.

: The ability of cyber physical systems to make decisions on their own and to perform their tasks as autonomous as possible. Only in case of exceptions, interferences, or conflicting goals, tasks are delegated to a higher level.

Essentially this platform would provide a means to perform self-managed flexible manufacturing.

Could 3D printing fit into this paradigm?

Absolutely it could. In fact, 3D printing is perhaps one of the most flexible means of manufacturing, as literally each print could be unique. Of course, its more expensive than mass manufacturing, but there are many working on that problem.

Currently, however, most 3D printing equipment is more or less standalone and provides only simple, if any, interfaces to a larger manufacturing ecosystem.

I believe that 3D printers could be a significant part of Industry 4.0 implementations if they were able to add on control and operational mechanisms to make the printers more independent and thus more able to fit into a smart factory.

Todays 3D printers require humans to set up the 3D printer. Theyre required to unload the completed prints. Theyre required to refill the material mechanism. Theyre required to perform finishing operations, which often are done BY HAND.

Sure, the 3D printer can produce the object, but Industry 4.0 is all about the other stuff.

To properly participate in Industry 4.0 3D printer companies should, among other things, focus on the manual labor associated with their equipment. This is, I believe, a feasible thing to attempt give the current state of sensors and robotics. It is also feasible to redesign machines to be more forgiving in the event of problems. You cant expect a robot to disassemble a clogged nozzle, clean it with chemicals or fire and reinstall it. But you could perhaps design a deposition system that is less susceptible to problems.

Imagine a 3D printer that was fully automated. Such a machine could be directed to operate entirely by software. And that software could be a cloud-based entity that leverages its entire ecosystem of manufacturing devices to create very complex products, piece by piece, in the most efficient manner.

The more sophisticated the software is, the more effective the manufacturing can become.

While that vision may be quite far off, it seems a highly desirable one. Dont you think so?

Kerry Stevenson, aka General Fabb has been writing Fabbaloo posts since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

Fabbaloo is a daily online publication focusing on the 3D print and additive manufacturing industries. We provide deeper analysis of developments in current and future technologies as well as corporate matters. If theres something happening in 3D technologies, especially FDM, SLA, SLS and Stereolithography, well have an opinion about it.

Fashion industry reinvent the textile thanks to our online 3D Printing service

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To start 3D printing or Laser Cutting, youll need to create an account here. Once done, youll be able to upload your files and get live quotes of yours parts

Fashion industry: reinvent the textile thanks to our online 3D Printing service

Manage your cost and optimize your product design with our online 3D printing service

3D printing and new structures within thetextile industry

3D printing in the textile industry lets you unleash your imagination in order to quickly create new structures through innovative new materials.

Thanks to the wide choice of materials that we offer such asplasticor our newflexible plasticmaterial (TPU), it is possible for you to 3D print your most ambitious projects in less time andassociatethem with clothing of any type to reinterpret the most classic styles.

Marrying different types of fabrics and 3D printing allows you to explore new facets

fashion and therefore to propose a new vision in the textile sector. In an avant-garde sector such as fashion, mixing the latest trends with the latest 3D printing technology will allow you to differentiate yourself from competitors.

In the textileindustry,we are often forced as consumers to choose between different sizes which, depending on the brand, will not be perfectly adjusted to the dimensions of our body.

With 3Dprinting,you can createcustom-made clothing. Various 3D modelingsoftwareallow you to create clothing that suits you depending on your body type. You will have to transcribe your measurements on 3D modeling software and thenmodelwhat you have in mind.

so that you can print in rigid plastic or flexible plastic. One of these two materials associated with the conventional textile will allow you to create innovative clothing and perfectly suited to your body type.

Thanks to our materials engineers we managed to 3D print a new material, the flexible plastic, amongthe most flexible in the world. This material is thermoplastic polyurethane technology designed specifically for Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) with a level of Shore 65A which makes it highly flexible.

With this new type ofmaterial,you are going toreinvent the textile industryby inventing fully 3D printed clothes. The flexibility of flexible plastic allows you how to create clothes with the most unusual shapes while keeping the flexibility of the fabric.

We have worked with many partners, especially with a young designer who wanted to show, through her collection, 3D printing clothes.It is thereforereplaced the tissue by 3D printing as a new material in order to before blending of traditional knowledge and technology

Were working with a range of full-color or monochromatic high-grade 3D printers that offer excellent accuracy (layer thickness from 25 to 150 microns).

No need to wait until Monday morning to get a quote, do it online! Our exclusive 3D tools allow you to check the solidity of the walls and how details will render.

Theres no minimum order, we 3D print your model starting at 1 copy. If you are not in a hurry, we can offer you a cheaper price.

We can prepare your 3D fileon-requestand take charge of the finishing steps (painting, display case…)

Fashion designers, stylist, industries… they have chosen Online 3D Printing!

Thanks to Sculpteo, it has been possible to create the illusion of soft material with plastic from a 3D printer.

Sculpteo allowed me to design what I couldnt create with my hands. I wanted my prints in 3 dimensions and Sculpteo was the best solution for me.

Sculpteo provides an important service by producing made-to-order models for designers and researchers.

New structures, tailor-made and accessories for the textile industry 3D printed by Sculpteo

Sculpteo has created plastic faux-fur skirt with LED lights that change colors.

This year we did a fashion collection called Virus designed by Anastasia Ruiz in partnership with the prestigious international fashion design school ESMOD.

When two French designers are inspired by 3D printing, they givelighta heartbeat.

In order to 3DPrint,you need to send us a 3D file that you can easily design with a 3D modeling software (or CAD Software). For beginners, we suggest a list ofsoftwareand offer freetutorials.

30+3D file formatsare accepted on ! You just need to upload and well give a feedback and a quote for your custom part in seconds. We also provideoptimization toolsto help you to get your scale model at the best price.

You can choose directly online your material and your scale.Plastic,full colormaterial,resine,alumide, metals… the choice is yours!

Tip: Nylon plastic is best for aeronautical models.

We deliver your order at the place of your choice so you can make unique prototypes! Items are usually shipped 48h after your order. Looking for some advice on finishing? Have a look at our tutorials aboutpaintingandfinishing.

Sculpteo is one of the worlds leading 3D printing services based in San Francisco and Paris, founded by Clement Moreau and Eric Carreel. We offeron-demand 3D printingof individual products as well as short-run manufacturing on professional 3D printers located in our factories. The acquired experience and unique processes allow us to offer the most competitive 3D prints both cost and qualitywise.

Your ending parts and your prototypes can be printed in more than75 materials and finishes. They include our plastic material with multiple polishing options and colors, our resin andtransparentresin, our multicolor material and different 3D printing metal options like sterling silver.

Thanks to our unique technologies, your are able toanalyzeand repair your 3D file in secondsreview the solidity of the future 3D printand evenhollow the inside of the modelto make it cheaper to print.

Through a vibrant community, our support and all theresourceswe produce, we are here to give the best advice to use the latest 3D Printing technologies and save your time. Ourbloghighlights many case studies and provides deepindustry-specific analyses.

HD quality 3Dprinters,analyzed pricing and fast turnaround timeareoffered to you 24/7 thanks to Sculpteo online 3D printing service.

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Prototypes and functional production parts for drones. Check drones applications.

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Prototypes and functional parts for Consumer electronics and BtoB electronic devices. Discover 3D Printing benefits for IoT and automation.

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3D printing in the industry with desktop FDM printers

Innofil3D PLA prints fantastic and is available in 24 vibrant RAL colors.

Innofil3D EPR InnoPET easy as PLA but much stronger.

Innofil3D ABS is a reliable building material. Available in 9 RAL colours.

Special filaments from flexible to water-soluble.

A product range containing filaments made from recycled materials.

Professional Series gives 3D printing professionals the competitive edge.

FDM 3D printing with (adapted) desktop printers is on its way to become a 3D manufacturing method for the industry. 3D Printing in the industry is asking for a close cooperation.

3D printing in the industry is gaining ground fast. FDM 3D printing with (adapted) desktop printers is on its way to become a 3D manufacturing method for the industry. Not only for rapid prototyping, but also for the manufacture of for example end products, tools and jigs. 3D FDM desktop printers and the materials (filaments) are getting more mature and suitable for this purpose. Quality, functionality and reliability is improving. Nevertheless, close cooperation is necessary to develop this 3D manufacturing method further to make it fit for industrial use. Therefore, suppliers and industrial users have to work closely together to develop solutions. It requires a system concept approach, because the expertise of all parties is needed.

First of all, the well known triangle of dependency material hardware software plays a crucial role how good a 3D print comes out of the printer. Experience, knowledge and skills of 3D printer manufacturers, material suppliers and filament developers/producers have to merge. Since every party involved has its own expertise, this is crucial, especially for 3D printing in the industry!

We as Innofil3D are part of the push movement in this developing market when it comes to bringing FDM printing filaments to the next level. Development and production of reliable, consistent filaments with specific properties requires in depth knowledge of polymers and extrusion techniques, but most of all expertise in material behaviour in the 3D printing process. After all, the final printed object which fulfils the requirements, is what counts. Our Head of R&D Mr Martin Faber (PhD in Polymer Science) will address material requirements for filaments in an upcoming Innofil3D newsletter. Also other suppliers take part in this push: suppliers of polymer materials introduce new recipes, suitable for 3D printing. Expert compounders develop new compounds, additive manufacturers develop materials which enhance the properties of basic polymer printing materials like PLA, ABS, PC, PET, nylon.

On the other side, industrial users are looking for 3D printing manufacturing methods and therefore demand solutions from their supply chain: this generates a pull movement. These joint forces together are necessary to improve FDM 3D printing in the industry, using (standard) desktop printers.

What do industrial users need and expect from us, a filament developer and manufacturer? Quality filaments with high consistency is a must, needless to say that reliability, efficiency and performance are crucial parameters for 3D printing as a production method. But the following top 3 requirements are also relevant:

Not only standard, general purpose engineering materials must be offered. Materials with properties like high temperature resistance, high wear resistance, high strength, high flex, chemical resistance, flame retardant, conductive properties are very versatile. Nevertheless, also filaments especially designed and tailored for customer specific applications have to be developed

The industry requires carefree, reliable solutions. Therefore it is necessary that supplying parties take responsibility and do not point at each other in case of problems, but solve the problems fast and efficient. This is system concept thinking. The system consists of a 3D printer and includes the filaments which are used on this printer. Preferrably the industry has only one contact, who takes responsibility. Especially as soon as 3D printing production has started, this is of utmost importance. A production line running idle is not acceptable. This requires an after sales and service structure thus suppliers need to have this.

Standards for 3D FDM printing with desk top printers do not yet exist. Especially mechanical material properties like e.g. tensile strength and bending strength are important data for many printed objects. For production techniques like injection moulding, ISO standards exist which define material properties. For 3D FDM printing materials however, these standards still have to be developed. Nevertheless we as Innofil3D have started to test our filaments to asses this data.

We haveprinted ISO testspecimens using our filaments and tested these according toISO 527ISO 178andISO 179.

As a result, tensile strength, bending strength and flexural strength are determined and can be used as a reference by the industrial user. Next step will be that we will also asses the same data of our raw filament materials by means of testing injection moulded specimens. Consequently, further reference data will become available and a user can compare the properties of a 3D printed object against an injection moulded object. It is a start to make data available until international engineering standards for 3D printing are set

Thus, one can conclude that a filament supplier who aims to deliver filaments to the industry preferably has the following capabilities and connections:

Industrial 3D printing production requires a system concept. Precondition is that this manufacturing technique has business benefits compared to conventional methods.

FDM 3D printing with (adapted) desktop printers is on its way to become a 3D manufacturing method for the industry. Close cooperation is necessary to develop this 3D manufacturing method further to make it fit for industrial use. It requires a system concept approach in which suppliers and industrial users join forces.

For a filament manufacturer, development and production of reliable, consistent filaments with specific properties requires in depth knowledge of polymers and extrusion techniques. But most of all expertise in material behaviour in the 3D printing process is important.

Industrial users require quality filaments with high consistency, reliability, efficiency and performance. But the following top 3 requirements are also relevant:

A system concept appraoch and after sales provided by supplier.

Material data to be provided (ISO standards). Innofil3D has filament testdata according to ISO 527, 178 and 179.

Interview with Innofil3D Roger Sijlbing

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3D printing in the aviation industry

Aero engineers are turning to additive manufacturing for fast production and better product design. What will this mean for traditional aircraft?

At the 2016 Berlin air show in June, Airbus unveiled the first ever aircraft to be made using 3D printing. With a name derived from the phrase Testing High-tech Objectives in Reality, Thor weighs in at just 21kg and measures less than four metres in length. To observers, it resembles a large model aeroplane and was easily dwarfed by the other aircraft on show. But Airbus sees it as a testbed for a radical change in the way aircraft are built. Whereas traditional production methods such as milling involve manipulating a solid block of material, additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, grows products by building up materials layer by layer. Taking this incremental approach, rather than using a solid block of material, allows for the creation of products with incredibly complex structures that would be very difficult to achieve, or in some cases impossible, using traditional methods.

Thor is not the only example of Airbuss recent 3D-printed innovations – the company has also used 3D printing to attempt to replicate structures found in nature, and so create parts that are stronger yet lighter than is possible with traditional machining and assembly. Nature has developed a lot of different design methods, says Peter Sander, head of emerging technologies and concepts at Airbus.

For one concept part, an air spoiler, Airbus has turned to the giant water lily (Victoria amazonica) – a plant that sports leaves able to support the weight of a small child. A look at the underside of the leaves reveals a structure of various triangles and rectangles with the same skin size all over the surface to reduce weight. The Airbus team analysed the lilys lightweight structure and the way in which it transfers loads.

Such designs can be applied across industries, but are particularly beneficial within aerospace, where reducing weight while maintaining strength are high on the list of priorities. It is an industry that constantly has to worry about fuel costs and will come under increasing pressure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Each kilogram shaved off the total weight pays for itself time and again in terms of fuel savings over the aircrafts service life.

Tom Edwards, North American president of engineering design business Cyient, says: Weight reduction is vital in aerospace. With greater efficiency and reduction in fuel usage high on the agenda, every gram of weight saved counts.

In recent years, the market for additive manufacturing has expanded, with many industries, including aerospace, adopting additive methods for creative product design and prototyping. As Edwards points out, additive manufacturing is now one of the fastest-growing production markets. The global market is expected to increase from a 2013 revenue figure of $3.07bn to $12.8bn by 2018, and exceeding $21bn by 2020, he says. The flight business is already a significant user: Aerospace and defence production and maintenance, repair and overhaul applications currently account for around 15 per cent of the additive manufacturing global market, he adds.

Aerospace companies have a number of 3D-printing techniques they can employ. One of the better known methods is the fused deposition modelling employed by home 3D printers. This creates plastic products by building up layers from liquefied material. But manufacturers have other options, such as laser and electron-beam manufacturing, which produce metal parts by fusing particles of metal powder in layers.

Honeywell Aerospace was one of the industrys first big players to adopt additive manufacturing techniques and has so far invested in 3D printing labs in China, India, Europe and the US.

Our developments in this field have already helped save time and deliver better solutions for our customers, says Donald Godfrey, engineering fellow at Honeywell Aerospace. As the aviation industry continues to grow, theres an increasing need for more efficient and high-volume production processes to meet manufacturing deadlines and customer expectations.

In the short term, additive manufacturing has proved successful at supporting the need for rapid prototyping during the design process. This allows engineers to check the physical behaviour of a design before production takes place, using specialised software to create a 3D model of the product and then print it.

These new manufacturing techniques help streamline production lifecycles because they allow us to print components inhouse in a fraction of the time it takes today, says Godfrey, pointing to Honeywells use of additive techniques to manufacture metal turbine blades quickly for use in prototype or test rigs. These blades can be produced in just a few days, compared to between one and three years if cast, he says.

Faster turnaround times for prototyping are supported by software. Examples of such products include the Functional Generative Design application offered by mechanical design tool supplier Dassault Systmes. The application allows an engineer to develop components based on product-specific requirements and constraints, strength, load-bearing and space requirements, for a range of different materials.

Michel Teller, vice president of aerospace and defence at Dassault, says designing the product in such a way means that a range of potential designs, from tens to hundreds, can be studied and compared that best meet business objectives.

As well as reducing the weight of the parts themselves, 3D printing can cut waste by placing material only where it is required instead of having to machine it away from a solid block.

Additive manufacturing processes are much more efficient in the consumption of raw materials, says Teller. The buy-to-fly ratio, or the ratio of the amount of raw material to the amount of material contained in the delivered part, can vary by ten times or more when comparing a machined component with an optimised equivalent produced through additive manufacturing.

Further cost can be reduced due to the fact that the weight of an optimised additive manufactured part can be in the range of 50 to 80 per cent lighter than the equivalent machined component it replaces.

While there are many obvious benefits to adopting 3D printing techniques within aerospace, the process is subject to strict regulatory constraints – regulators need assurance that the printed parts are as safe as those made by conventional means. Organisations need to work closely with industry bodies to ensure they are up to speed with the regulatory environment, and are developing testing standards that will enable wider use of the technology, says Maysoun Wahbeh, engineering and aerospace specialist at supply chain firm Vendigital.

For Honeywell, the first step towards getting 3D-printed products onto an aircraft is getting regulatory bodies, the industry and customers comfortable with the process. In the aviation industry, technology has to earn its way onto an aircraft, says Godfrey. Every piece of technology Honeywell manufactures is subject to rigorous testing, and 3D-printed parts are no exception. For the foreseeable future, our focus is on using 3D technology to produce non-life-critical, non‑rotating components.

Even for parts produced by more established methods, the technology is already contributing to reduced lead times. Godfrey says 3D technology can be used to build the ceramic casting cores needed to construct engine turbine blades for volume manufacture but without incurring the long lead times that it takes to build the moulds using wax tooling and other traditional techniques, which can be as much as three years.

Although the industry still has to demonstrate inflight safety for a wide range of components, progress is evident. This year, GE Aviation became the first aerospace manufacturer to gain approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a 3D-printed part in a commercial jet engine – a metal housing for the T25 temperature sensor located in the compressor inlet. The device will be retrofitted to over 400 GE90-94B jet engines on Boeing 777 aircraft.

Indeed, additive manufacturing is particularly attractive when it comes to maintenance and repair of aircraft, especially within older models where stock may be difficult to obtain from traditional manufacturers even while commercial aircraft remain in operation – which may be much longer than you think. The two most common passenger jets, which make up around 65 per cent of all commercial aircraft currently in deployment, are the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320, which were designed in the 1960s and 1980s respectively.

Although the overall designs of commercial aircraft have improved over time many of the components remain the same, with repairs carried out based on the original design. This is both costly and requires significant stock supplies. New repair techniques therefore come high on the list of priorities for aerospace manufacturers.

In response to this the European RepAIR project, a group of 12 partners including Boeing and Lufthansa Technik, was founded in 2013 to look into the potential for 3D printing to drive down costs in maintenance, repair and operations, and reduce overall aircraft downtime. The three-year project highlighted the potential for additive manufacturing processes to enable flexible on-time maintenance to take place, which could potentially go as far as fixing aircraft at the gate.

In the years since the consortium was established the use of additive manufacturing techniques in maintenance and repair operations has become increasingly attractive among some of the main aircraft manufacturers, while not yet being seen in the airport itself. Although Boeing became the first company to achieve FAA accreditation for a 3D-printed engine component to be used in its aircraft, other suppliers have begun sporting additional additive manufactured accessories.

For Airbus, 3D printing offered the ideal solution to supplying spare parts for some of its older aircraft that do not have the stringent structural requirements of airframe or engine components. In 2014, the company unveiled its first 3D-printed plastic spare part – a crew seat panel – for its old A310 aircraft.

Its a 30-year-old design, and we only need around 40 of these parts a year, says Sander. The problem with small stock requirements such as this is that traditional manufacturers often have minimum purchase amounts, especially if the parts need to be specially manufactured. In this case, Sander points out, a minimum quantity of a thousand parts would last well over ten years, and take up significant warehouse space.

For spare parts, additive manufacturing really makes sense, says Sander. Do a redesign, make it printable, qualify it and then you have a digital model which can be printed on demand without any need for inventory.

According to RepAIR, on-demand printing of spare parts could have significant benefits for the aerospace sector, both in terms of dramatically improving turnaround time for the maintenance of aircraft and by reducing the money spent on shipment costs and storage space. The idea is that with an inhouse machine and the required materials, many parts could be manufactured in an airport hangar rather than relying on local stockholding or shipping parts out from a wholesaler.

Airbus is currently working on making on-demand printing a reality, by introducing qualified spare-part printing cells into its local storage areas across the globe, each of which currently stores a few thousand parts for maintenance purposes. Parts that are needed less frequently for repairs can be made on-site using 3D printing.

The limit to how many parts are made on demand is largely a factor of the amount of time it currently takes to produce 3D-printed components.

Sander points out that as additive manufacturing processes develop, production times will decrease and real-time on-demand printing for many more parts will become feasible.

In the medium-term the most attractive market for 3D printing in aerospace is within maintenance repair and operations procedures. In the future with developments in materials and production techniques, it may not be considered viable to keep old, heavy machines flying and we could see more additive manufactured products fitting into initial aircraft design.

Although the prospect of a 3D-printed commercial jet may seem far-fetched, the sector is developing, and quickly. Airbuss 3D-printed mini aircraft could well offer a glimpse into the future of aircraft design.

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