The fourth dimension to 3D printing

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/206368-adding-the-fourth-dimension-to-3d-printing

Adding the fourth dimension to 3D printing

As 3D printing continues to revolutionize manufacturing, researchers have decided that three dimensions are not enough, and so the concept of 4D printing has begun to emerge. These four-dimensional objects are still built layer by layer in a 3D printer. But given time – the fourth dimension – these devices can automatically morph into a different shape, and thereby even change their function.

So far, researchers have developed devices using materials that are actuated by water or heat. This is significant, since the structures are ready as soon as you pick them up from the printer. However, up until now, the prototypes developed were slow, severely limited in the amount of times they could be used, and weak, since they relied on a bending motion in a flexible material.

Professor Marc in het Panhuis and PhD student Shannon Bakarich are set to change all that. The University of Wollongong researchers are the first to use a process whereby four different materials were printed simultaneously. The hydrogels used by the team consist of a network of poly N-isopropylacrylamide (PNIPAAm) and alginate. Alginate is a salt of alginic acid that is commonly found in seaweed and algae. Among other things, it is used as a thickener in food. PNIPAAm consists of two polymer networks entangled in one another. This gives the material strength and durability. When cracks form in one network, the other network bridges the gaps and so prevents greater damage.

4D printing 3D printing

The dual-network structure is not unique to PNIPAAm. However, the researchers used PNIPAAm since it exhibits a large change in volume at a critical temperature of about 32-35° Celsius (90-95° F). This change in volume is caused by a transition of the polymers from a collapsed globule state to an expanded coil state. When the temperature goes down, the polymers collapse back into globules.

The researchers combined thin sections of PNIPAAm with traditional materials. This allowed them to create a design capable of relatively fast linear motion, much like the contraction of a muscle. Best of all, this process is reversible. The transition can be actuated by different stimuli, depending on the hydrogels used.

Using PNIAAm, the researchers have developed a functioning valve that responds to the temperature of the water surrounding it. “It’s an autonomous valve,” says Panhuis in a statement. “There’s no input necessary other than water.” An autonomous device like this is valuable in medical soft robotics. As soon as the surrounding water reaches a certain temperature, the polymer strands inside the hydrogel change their shape. The large change in volume in the hydrogel causes a strong linear motion, which closes the valve.

Combining smart materials and 3D printing in this way offers an exciting method of creating custom designs of small autonomous devices. “The cool thing about it is, it’s a working, functioning device that you just pick up from the printer,” Panhuis said. Maybe we will one day even be able to print our own self-assembling structures and soft robots.

extremetech.com

by  | May 24, 2015 at 9:30 am

Mini Jet Engine

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2015/05/11/ge-engineers-3d-printed-a-working-mini-jet-engine/

GE Engineers 3D Printed A Working, Mini Jet Engine

As a tech demonstration, researchers at GE recently built a miniature, backpack-sized jet engine that they made entirely from 3D-printed parts. And not just for looks, either. They were able to fire it up and get it moving to 33,000 rpms.

The engine was built over the course of several years, using a 3D printing technique that melted thin layers of metal powder one on top of each other to build each individual part of the engine. Once all the parts were manufactured, the engine was then assembled. The final product was about eight inches tall and a foot long.

Once the engine was completed, the engine was placed into a test cell that would be used for any other jet engine and fired up.

The engine before assembly. (Credit: GE Reports)

It’s worth noting that this isn’t just a cool thing that GE has put together. It goes to demonstrate just how far 3D printing has come in the aerospace industry.

“This is much more that a stunt,” said Terry Wohlers, a 3D-printing analyst for Wohlers Associates. “It shows what’s possible with additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing technology, especially for very demanding applications. GE Aviation will be producing tens of thousands of fuel nozzles by AM for its new-generation LEAP engine in the coming months and years. Airbus has also produced complex metal AM parts that have flown on the new A350.”

forbes.com

by Alex Knapp | MAY 12, 2015 @ 12:14 AM

3D printed replica of Shelby Cobra

http://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/videos/a25659/watch-the-government-3d-print-a-shelby-cobra-replica/

Watch the government 3D print a Shelby Cobra replica

Carbon fiber-reinforced plastic printing uses highly energy-efficient manufacturing techniques created at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

I’m not sure how this flew under our radar, but at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, back in January, the Department of Energy showed off an electric vehicle they’d 3D-printed out of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic. It was inspired by the iconic Shelby Cobra, but it most definitely wasn’t a replica.

The folks at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory put it all together, to show off their Big Area Additive Manufacturing technology that could allow for rapid prototyping to fully move out of the clay-model era. The spokesperson for ORNL claims that their improvements on 3D printing with these materials substantially reduce energy use, and allow for energy-absorbing structures to be printed—technologies they think could prove revolutionary to the transportation sector.

roadandtrack.com

by  | APR 30, 2015  4:25 PM

3D printed selfie!

The ‘Ultimate Selfie’ Made Possible!

http://goo.gl/ZCbcM2

G

According to one 3D printing CEO, people are underestimating the potential demand for this product. Here’s why.

In the following video, 3D printing specialist Steve Heller interviews Conor MacCormack, CEO of Mcor Technologies, an Ireland-based 3D printing company that uses ordinary copy paper as the primary material in its printers, during EuroMold 2014, the world’s largest 3D printing conference, held in Frankfurt, Germany, in November.

The pair talk about the rise of the 3D-printed selfie and what it’ll take to reach critical mass. Ultimately, MacCormack believes Mcor’s suite of full-color 3D printers that have significantly lower operating costs — up to five times cheaper than the full-color competition — are well suited to drive the price of the 3D-printed selfie down to an attractive price point.

Steve Heller: We’ve seen a lot of these 3D-printed-selfie booths, if you will, around the EuroMold show. I know a lot of the technology uses a Z Corp technology, right, 3D Systems-based multi-material, full-color technology?

Conor MacCormack: Yes.

Heller: I was wondering if you could talk about the evolution of that. Is this the real deal? Right now, a 3D-printed selfie could be anywhere from $50 to $300, as you were saying earlier. Obviously, that price point needs to come down. You think that maybe Mcor could be a good fit for that.

MacCormack: Yes, I think people have underestimated — I don’t know how many people have said it to me here over the last two days. People have underestimated how big that [3D printed selfie] market is growing.

People thought it was a bit of a gimmicky idea. Who’s going to get a scan of themselves or whatever, and what will be the function of it? But they’re missing the point that if you can connect with somebody on an emotive level…

It’s something very strange about looking at yourself or someone that you know in a 3D printed sense. It’s a bit of fun, and that’s fine. It doesn’t all have to be part of a jet engine or something that goes into an aircraft. It’s fine to have something that’s a bit of fun.

When you look at these models here, something that’s pure white or something that’s full color, people are going to gravitate toward the full color, so the higher color quality is going to really only expand that market. I think that whole size of the industry is going to get really, really big.

If you look at, say, for example, photographs, the 2D photograph industry, I believe that’s a $200-$300 billion industry, and that industry is in a bit of a decline as maybe people are printing their images in different ways. That’s a real, real good opportunity for people in the 3D printing sense to actually tap into that.

I keep on calling these the “ultimate selfie.” When you turn on your Instagram instantly, the first thing it does is it’s pointing back at you — it’s not pointing out. We’re in that nation. We’re in that kind of era where people are taking scans of themselves and photographs of themselves, so I think people are underestimating the desire and the demand to print that.

When you want to get something that you’d have in your home or give to somebody as a gift, the two big things are price point and then the color quality.

If price point and color quality are the two big drivers in there, then we’re [Mcor is] very, very well, perfectly suited for that because running cost, as I said earlier we can be in full color maybe five times cheaper. Something that’s into that price range, something that’s $25, we’re $5. That’s the kind of things that we’re talking about. It’s big, big changes.

That means that people can set up businesses, people can become [3D printing service] bureaus. They can buy [3D printer] machines and they can offer the service. You will see this all over.

The [3D] scanners are becoming really, really small. You don’t need the big booths or a big investment, to get a big photo booth. You can get a scanner to fit over your iPad, you can use your mobile phone and scan people.

That’s getting better and better, literally on a month-per-month basis, and it’s all software-driven. It’s new algorithms that make the color matching better, make the geometry better, and then you’re going to be at the sweet spot where people will say, “Yes, that’s good enough quality. That’s the right price point for a gift. I’m not going to pay $300 for it, but I’ll pay maybe $30 for it.”

There is a number in there that actually will really accelerate it, and then it’s a case of can we make them fast enough, and how many machines are needed to tap into that massive market?

FOOL.COM
by Steve Heller, Fool Contributor | Feb 8, 2015 at 11:15AM

Industrial revolution!

Educate Yourself About the Upcoming Revolution in the World of Manufacturing!

http://goo.gl/97BSt2

makerbot_660

THE WORLD AROUND us has advanced so much that science fiction is no more a fiction. Moving from prototyping to tooling, additive manufacturing commonly known as 3D printing has expanded to full-scale end-part production and replacement part production. Be it a 3D printed bionic ear enabling you to hear beyond human hearing frequencies, 3D printed cake toppings taking the culinary innovation to another level, 3D printing your dream house in just a few hours — 3D printing is revolutionizing every walk of life. According to Wohlers Report 2014, the worldwide revenues from 3D printing are expected to grow from $3.07 billion in 2013 to $12.8 billion by 2018, and exceed $21 billion by 2020.

No wonder one of the biggest players in printing, HP (Hewlett-Packard), entered the field with a faster, cheaper version of 3D Printer focused on Enterprise Market. So is this the first step from a “revolutionary” Maker Movement to an Industrialized Scale that technology eventually needs to survive for the long term? To a world of taking a 3D physical product or an idea to the Digital World, which happens to be 2D and then back out to 3D physical form anywhere across the globe, where an IP address and enough bandwidth is available to be able to transmit the Digital Model. This does have significant disruption potential. How much and when this will happen will of course depend on several factors across economics, technological feasibility, policies and of course politics. So are we finally ready to go beyond the growth that the DIY enthusiasts have driven from 200% to 400% in personal 3D printers between 2007 and 2011 according to a McKinsey Study.

Before we pose those questions, let’s look at what has been already achieved or near achievement across markets beyond printing prototypes, toys and models.

In the field of medicine, 3D printing of complex living tissues, commonly known as bioprinting, is opening up new avenues for regenerative medicine. With an improved understanding of this technology, researchers are even trying to catalyze the natural healing mechanism of the body by creating porous structures that aid in bone stabilization in the field of orthopedics. This cutting edge technology in conjunction with stem cell research is likely to revolutionize the made-to-order organs, cutting across the transplant waiting lists. Even intricate human body parts like the brain can be replicated using the 3D technology to aid in complex medical surgeries through simulation.

The Aerospace industry, an early adopter of this technology, is already designing small to large 3D printed parts saving time, material and costs. 3D printing also offers the biggest advantage critical to the aerospace manufacturers – weight reduction. It also accelerates the supply chain by manufacturing non-critical parts on demand to maintain JIT (Just-in-time) inventory. The power of additive manufacturing can do away with several manufacturing steps and the tooling that goes with it.

The Automobile world is already witnessing crowd-sourced, open-source 3D printed vehicles driving off of the showroom floors. Local motors caught the audience by surprise by 3D printing its car ‘Strati’ live at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago. So how can an auto part be a challenge by any means? Are we headed towards making that exhilarating smell of burnt rubber a thing of the past? Something future generation will ask, what the big deal about that was? How about robots with muscle tissue powered parts?

The 3D printed “bio-bot,” developed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is likely to be really flexible in its movements and navigation. (So, forget about the much jibed about robotic movements.) With this breakthrough, researchers are contemplating on the possibility of designing machines enabled with sensory responding abilities to complex environmental signals.

So where does all this lead us?

The excitement growing around the 3D technology is palpable and rightly so not without a reason. 3D technology surely shifts the ownership of production to the individuals and brings to light most of the inefficiencies of mass-production. Of course, not everything can be 3D printed, but a wider use of 3D printers might reduce need for logistics as designs could be transferred digitally leading to a decentralization and customization of manufacturing. 3D scanning as an enabling technology will also help in creating an ecosystem to support users. The layer by layer manufacturing by 3D printing has the dexterity to fabricate intricate geometries efficiently and hence reduces the wastage caused by traditional manufacturing methods.

By reducing the cost and complexity of production, 3D printing will force companies to pursue alternate ways to differentiate their products. It will also help companies enhance their aftermarket services by facilitating easy on-demand manufacturing of replacement parts. As manufacturing is moving closer to the consumers, the consumer is fast transforming into a prosumer.

There are, of course, hurdles to overcome, not the least entrenched incumbency and policies, which will be governed by more short term economic and social impacts as the positive outcomes of such revolutions are often difficult to envision.

McKinsey has estimated a potential of generating an economic impact of $230 billion to $550 billion per year by 2025 with various 3D applications, the largest impact being expected from consumer uses, followed by direct manufacturing. As the breadth of application of 3D printing continues to grow, it will be interesting to observe how the industries will mix with and influence the future of additive manufacturing.

Almost every sector of the industry is riding on the 3D opportunity bringing innovations to reality and the world is ready to hop on to a decentralized industrial revolution. Are you?

References:

3D printing revolutionize manufacturing

An Interesting Read About the Revitalization of the Manufacturing Industry, Starting with China.

http://goo.gl/HbGOgP

3D printing ready to revolutionize manufacturing

In October, the southern Chinese city of Changsha launched an industrial park. What sets it apart from other manufacturing centres is that it is poised to play a key role in the growth of Chinese technology.

The development is China’s first hub for 3D printing technology, and was established with an immediate goal to produce 100 3D printers, and to triple the number of devices by 2016. Taking Changsha’s lead, the cities of Wuhan and Zhuhai have announced plans to develop similar industry hubs.

Other countries in the Asia-Pacific region are also focusing on this fast-growing technology.

Over the next five years, Singapore plans to invest $500 million (S$676 million) to boost skills in advanced manufacturing, focusing heavily on 3D printing.

Companies in Japan are already marketing inexpensive desktop 3D printers, while South Korean conglomerates are widely using the technology.

After decades of development, 3D printing has emerged as a viable and affordable technology, increasingly used by both the private and public sector. While problems remain, it could eventually revolutionize the manufacturing sector that many countries in Asia depend on for economic growth.

“3D printing has been around since the 1980s and has been expanding into mass production and specialised manufacturing since then,” says Maria Smith, head of law firm Baker & McKenzie’s trademarks practice in Hong Kong.

“The business is growing rapidly. In 2013, the (global) market size was estimated at $2.5 billion. It is projected to reach $16.2 billion by 2018.”

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has already been used to produce cars, buildings, guns and even artificial body parts.

“In the medical field, Chinese scientists have gone a step further, using live tissue to create organs and print ears, livers and kidneys,” adds Smith.

As it becomes increasingly accessible and affordable to consumers, the technology is making it possible for products to quickly reach the market with less labour-intensive production required.

But these benefits are also a cause for concern. As 3D printing allows for the quick and easy copying of products, it is, in turn, presenting fresh challenges for regulators that have yet to adapt to the technology and for companies seeking to protect their intellectual property rights.

Once prohibitively expensive, the technology that makes 3D printing possible has evolved substantially.

Hewlett-Packard in October introduced a 3D printing technology 10 times faster and 10 times more precise than existing technologies. The Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer is set to launch in 2016.

In November, General Electric announced its plans to invest $32 million in developing an additive manufacturing facility in the United States-a factory that operates using 3D printers.

In Asia, XYZprinting, a company backed by Taiwan’s electronic manufacturing conglomerate Kinpo Group, launched the world’s first allin-one 3D printer with built-in scanner.

The da Vinci 1.0 AiO, weighing around 20 kilograms and resembling a large microwave, is available to buy for $799 through e-commerce websites including Newegg.com and Amazon.

A 3D printer introduced in late 2014 and developed by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp is due to be mass-produced and available later this year.

Li & Fung, a Hong Kong-based consumer goods design, logistics and distribution company, has in recent years run a series of 3D printing initiatives. In 2013, it carried out Asia’s first in-store 3D printing retail experience at a Toys R Us outlet in Hong Kong. Li& Fung has also explored the possibility of teaming up with other companies like Samsung Electronics Co to drive the technology further.

“With nearly 30 years of development, 3D printing technology is already quite mature,” says Luo Jun, secretary-general of the World 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance.

“It has been widely used for design in creative industries and printing teeth or bones in the biomedical field,” adds Luo, who is also executive-president of the China 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance. “Manufacturing and the aerospace industry use it to print complex moldings and components, or customised buildings.”

Paul Shao, CEO of Trustworthy (Beijing) Technology, a 3D printer company that distributes systems developed by brands including 3Shape and Roland, says the region is quickly finding its way with 3D technology.

“In Asia, the markets in Japan, China and South Korea are more mature in terms of 3D printing, but we can see many regions like Southeast Asia and central Asia are joining the game in trading and applications,” Shao says.

A country’s 3D printing capacity is closely linked with its competitiveness in traditional manufacturing, he adds.

“Compared with the US, Europe and Japan, China is still at an infant stage in terms of innovative design, precision processing and economic power. We have much space to grow in many key technology areas such as laser and materials. But we are getting closer and closer,” says Shao.

The evolution of supply chains is also driving the development of 3D printing. More brands are using just-in-time supply chains that make good use of the technology, getting products manufactured more quickly and into the hands of consumers.

In other regional markets, many of which rely on labour-intensive manufacturing for economic growth, the technology is less mature. Examples are Thailand and Malaysia, two middle-income countries moving up the value chain.

Thailand imports all of its 3D printers from the US, Canada or Germany because it lacks the technology to make its own, despite being a prodigious supplier of microchips.

But as Luo points out, the use of 3D technology in the region is likely to gather more pace.

“3D printing technology has been growing fast in China with more than 100 companies involved in industry, biomedicine, creative (industries), architecture, materials and software. China’s 3D printing market has seen more than 40 per cent growth for two consecutive years,” says Luo.

China’s Ministry of Science and Technology has included 3D printing technology in the National High-Tech Research and Development Program, which sponsors research in key high-technology fields. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, or MIIT, is accelerating the process to launch support policies.

“The Ministry of Education is planning to bring 3D printers into schools,” Luo adds.

In September, MIIT announced it was working on a plan to promote the industry.

“We will see greater usage of 3D printing with increased affordability encouraged through government initiatives,” says Andy Leck, managing principal and head of the IP practice at Wong & Leow, a member firm of Baker & McKenzie in Singapore.

“Key examples of these initiatives include the Singapore government’s Productivity and Innovation Credit scheme and the investment of $500 million over five years as part of the government’s Future of Manufacturing programme,” he says.

All this attention, however, may be creating a bubble. After a boom in raising capital through 2013, many 3D printer manufacturers have performed badly, particularly in terms of their stock price.

The share prices of some major 3D printer producers have dropped significantly over the past year. US-based ExOne fell from $66 in January to $21 in November, Stratasys slid from $134 to $105 and 3D Systems plunged from $96 to $36. In the same period, Germany’s Voxeljet dropped from $47 to $12.

A number of linked companies listed in China’s A-share market, such as those involved in robotics, have not performed well, either.

One exception is Guangdong-based polymer materials company Silver Age, which saw its value grow from 6.16 billion yuan ($994 million) in January to 17.45 billion yuan in November.

And if IP issues and fears of a bubble are not enough of a concern, the industry in Asia still faces a couple of other challenges including the high cost of materials and a dependence on imports. Another hurdle is the lack of a mature business model for companies in the sector.

References: