Mainstream 3d printing

3D Printing

3D Printing Is Breaking Into The Mainstream

Five years ago, the thought of “mainstream 3d printing” might seem a little far-fetched for the practical manufacturer. However, the technology has advanced in such a rapid pace that the number of industries applying the process continue to increase. At the moment, 3D printing can produce anything from human stem cells to airplane parts. Indeed, the possibilities with additive manufacturing are limitless.

Analysts at research company Gartner said that a technology has officially become mainstream when it reaches an adoption level of 20 percent. In 2014, a PWC survey revealed that more than two-thirds of 100 manufacturing companies were using 3D printing, with 28.9 percent stating that they were still experimenting on processes in which they would implement the in-demand technology.

Additionally, 9.6 percent of the companies revealed that they were in the stages of prototyping and production, and these companies include General Electric, Boeing and Google. Companies that belong to this tier testified to the advantageous effects of 3D printing, which include time saving and cost efficiency. Another survey held by the International Data Corporation, or IDC, revealed that 90 percent of the companies that use 3D printing are very satisfied with its benefits.

Large companies represent biggest buyers of 3D printer, but the high number of smaller and independent businesses opting to use 3D printing is still difficult to ignore. Keith Kmetz, vice president of Hardcopy Peripherals Solutions and Services at IDC, stated that companies that apply 3D printing are well aware of its positive benefits.

“These printers are typically acquired for a specific creation workflow, but once in place, the usage expands rapidly to other types of applications. The early adopters who recognized the substantial cost and time-to-market benefits of 3D printing have carried the day, but it’s their overall satisfaction and the ability to expand usage that will ultimately drive 3D printing to the next level,” said Kmetz.

In the next couple of years, more companies are expected to switch to 3D printing, and more materials will be used for a wide array of products. Currently, the most commonly used materials are basic plastics, ceramics, cement, glass and numerous metals such as titanium and aluminum. The demand for these materials will continue to increase, especially for titanium. Titanium is heavily used in the medical, aerospace, and automotive applications of 3D printing, in the form of personalised surgical implants and fuel tanks.

To sustain 3D printing’s use of titanium when it hits the mainstream, the global pipeline for the semi-precious metal should be secured for the following years. Thankfully, several mines in South America are already on their way to produce high-grade supply of titanium, such as White Mountain Titanium Corporation (OTCQB: WMTM) in Chile. White Mountain Titanium sits on a deposit in Cerro Blanco that contains 112 million tons of high-grade rutile. Companies applying 3D printing can benefit from it once the mine starts distributing the supply around the world.

by  | June 04 2015 12:11 AM

3D printing capabilities and drones

Boeing and Sheffield University's 3D printed UAV

Drones might be getting smaller but 3D printing technology can make them faster and lighter

The past two years has seen the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry transform from being a military tool and a niche aerial hobbyist aircraft to a technology that has a wide number of commercial and consumer use cases.

This has come about due to the advent of much smaller UAVs, or rather drones that weigh less than 20kg, which has finally convinced authorities around the world that they are safe enough for widespread use.

However, although they are light, drones are about to get a lot lighter still as 3D printing technology is now being trialled to speed up prototyping and production, and the materials being developed are even better than those used in consumer and professional drone rigs today.

In the UK, aerospace and defence manufacturer Boeing is working with the University of Sheffield to research and develop complexly designed UAVs more cheaply using 3D printing, which is also known as additive manufacturing.

The engineers have succeeded in using Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), a type of 3D printing technology, to print out all the components needed in a drone, including the catapult rig used to launch it into the air.

The drone consists of nine 3D printed thermoplastic parts that snap together. It features blended winglets and is powered by an electric ducted fan propulsion system incorporated into the airframe’s central spine.

“We’d like to use this kind of thing to show novel manufacturing methods. It’s still heavier than drones that use a foam wing, but the benefit is that you can quickly change it,” Dr Garth Nicholson, principal design engineer of Sheffield University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing’s Design Prototyping and Testing Centre, told IBTimes UK at the SkyTech 2015 drone trade show in London.

“We envision that in a humanitarian situation with a number of pilots who could only bring a limited number of spare parts of them, they could have a 3D printer in the field to print parts, or replace and put in different sensors that they need at the time.

“The benefit would be that you could also quickly rip it up, dispose of it safely and produce a new completely new rig in less than 24 hours.”

Using CarbonSLS to build drones

Other companies, such as Buckinghamshire-based firm Graphite Additive Manufacturing is looking into Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), another 3D printing technology, in order to produce lighter drones.

Drone 3D printed from CarbonSLS

“We’ve developed a material called CarbonSLS which uses a nylon powder with added carbon fibre strands. It was developed for use in Formula One racing cars, so it’s strong and it’s light,” Keith Haynes, project manager of Graphite Additive Manufacturing, told IBTimes UK, also speaking at SkyTech 2015.

“By using CarbonSLS, we were able to save at least 25% in weight by replacing the frame of this quadcopter drone with a frame made from our material.

“It flew just as well as the original, but even easier to control as it’s moving less weight around.”

The firm was set up two years ago by Kevin Lambourne, who formerly worked for Red Bull Racing to provide 3D printed parts to build Formula One race cars, so the materials developed have had to be very tough.

Haynes said: “We’ve come from a motor sports background and it’s not something we planned to go into, but we’ve had so many requests from the military, aerospace companies and small drone businesses about using our material to build drones that we’re now actively promoting it.”

by at SkyTech 2015 | April 24, 2015 18:16 BST

How 3D printer works?

3D Printing Newbies Click Here – All the Basics Explained Clearly!

3D printer MakerBot Replicator 2 at the CeBit computer fair in Hanover

We are aware that 3D printing is different from the conventional printing world, but do we all know how exactly it works?

The 3-dimensional printing technology involves a manufacturing process that develops a 3-dimensional object layer-by-layer. The shape and depth of a 3D object is different from a conventional 2D object.

Consider any object around you, for instance a coffee mug, smartphone or a book, all looks different in real world. The image of a coffee mug or smartphone on a paper or a screen is very different from the actual object with regard to its physical characteristics like depth. The objects we see on screen or paper retains its dimension, but skips the depth of the object.

A 3D printer uses materials such as plastic, metal, nylon, glass filled polyamide, epoxy resins, silver, titanium, steel, wax, photopolymers and polycarbonate or so and forms the printed object layer-by-layer and produces an identical object. It means if you create a coffee mug through the 3D printing process, it will look similar to a real coffee mug and may also serve the same purpose.

To create any object through this technology, first one needs to develop a 3D model. And, to develop that 3D images are required or it needs to be drawn on-screen using any CAD or similar software. Models can be downloaded from the internet as well.


The 3D technology was invented by Charles Hull in 1984 to print physical 3D objects from a digital set of data. In 1986, he claimed a patent and developed a commercial 3D printing machine – named Stereolithography Apparatus – the same year. The first commercially available 3D printer, SLA-250, was developed in 1988. Several discoveries in connection with 3D printing technology followed.

Real Life Applications

The biggest advantage of 3D printing as compared to the conventional forms of printing is its ability to develop life-like objects. With the help of the technology, doctors can develop prototype of patient’s limbs which needs to be operated.

It is useful to other professionals like fashion designers, jewellery designers, artists, architectures, interior designers, car designers, robot designers, toy designers and gadget concept designers.

You’ll be surprised to know that people developed car, chocolates, bikinis, robots, printed circuit boards, fake wood, metal/stone sculptures, guns, rockets and so on with the help of this technology.

The Technology

Few people use liquid materials as well to get the desired shape of the object. It actually depends on which 3D printing technology is being used in the printer. There are 3 types of technologies that are majorly used in 3D industry – SLS or Selective Laser Sintering, FDM or Fused Deposition Modelling and SLA or Stereolithography.

In SLS or Selective Laser Sintering the printer uses a high power laser beam to blend small plastic, metal or any other source material to form the desired object. The process involves scanning the object on a layer-by-layer basis and develops it thereafter.

In the Fused Deposition Modelling a flexible nozzle is used to heat the raw material and form the desired object by extruding the melted materials.

In SLA or Stereolithography, a vat of liquid ultraviolet curable photopolymer “resin” and an ultraviolet laser to build parts’ layers one at a time. For each layer, the laser beam traces a cross-section of the partial pattern on the surface of the liquid resin. Exposure to the ultraviolet laser light cures and solidifies the pattern traced on the resin and joins it to the layer below.

The optional freeware

As we have mentioned above that one needs to use any 3D modelling software for mapping their object. Unfortunately, CAD is meant only for professionals and is very expensive; but there are other options available which can be used for free. For instance, one can download OpenSCAD, TinkerCAD or Google Sketchup for free and draw the objects.

Will you buy one?

Dion Weisler, HP's EVP of printing and personal systems, shows off his company's new 3D printer at the Intel keynote at the International Consumer Electronics show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada January 6, 2015

Looking at the prospect of 3D printing, numerous printer manufacturers started developing 3D printing devices, but most of them are expensive and can be afforded by only large scale enterprises and manufacturers. For example, HP developed Design Jet 3D printers which cost a whopping $17,500 onwards.

Few companies are bringing some low cost solutions too. Mostly, they offer Do-It-Yourself projects and cost more than $1000, which is beyond the capacity of most people.

Some new start-ups are also into developing 3D printing machines which are expected to be available within a few months and will retail less than $700-$800.

by  | Updated: January 10, 2015 14:00 IST

3D printed castle

A man in Minnesota didn’t just manage to design his own 3D printer, but he used it to 3D print a storey-high concrete castle!

This is just a test-run however, as he plans on building a full size two-storey house with it!…

A 3D-printed castle

A building contractor living in Minnesota has developed his own 3D printer which can print concrete directly from CAD design software, and he has used it to 3D-print a castle in his back garden.

According to, Andrey Rudenko has printed a small single-level castle (a child’s playhouse) in just three months, as part of a test before printing a full-sized two story house, which would make it bigger than the houses that were 3D-printed in 24 hours in China.

Similar to the Chinese inventor Ma Yihe, Rudenko has built a 3D printer that prints out a mixture of cement and sand in layers measuring 20mm by 5mm, using technology and software from the open-source RepRap 3D printing project.

However, Rudenko, who has a background in architecture and engineering, is critical of Ma’s design. He thinks that the ten 200 sq m houses that Ma printed are more like shells than homes.

“A cheap house built in 24 hours is not my goal. As an experienced builder, I know that to avoid problems in the future, it is more important to produce homes of a good quality, which may take longer to build than cheaper homes made quickly,” Rudenko said.

“It would be more beneficial to print a complete home, including the foundation for the staircase, fireplace, certain furniture (kitchen island etc), columns, interior walls, and any wiring or plumbing that would fit inside the printed walls.”

He has also designed his 3D printer to print the concrete at such a high viscosity that the printed walls can act as a decorative element, as opposed to the Chinese homes, which had quite rough-looking jagged edges, and would require sheetrock (dry wall) to be added on top before they would be habitable.

Rudenko’s castle was printed completely outside in his garden, where the cement sets quickly in the warm summer temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Farenheit).

The structure is large enough for adults to walk into, and to give you a measure of how long it took to print, the darker area of the castle, which measures 50cm in height, was constructed in eight hours using his 3D printer.

“I still have some imperfections, mostly when I stop the printer, but if I print nonstop, the layers look great,” said Rudenko.

“Though I’m not completely finished with this structure yet, from the current progress, I can already see that I am ready for the next step, which is printing a house with this technology.”

Rudenko is looking to collaborate on his 3D printer project with other architects, engineers, builders and 3D-printing enthusiasts (his email is listed at the end of the video).

The race to produce 3D printers that can print buildings continues as, in theory, the technology could bring affordable housing to people in developing countries and revolutionise the construction industry.

Slovenian firm BetAbram plans to release a 3D printer that can print a house next month. The BetAbram P3 can print structures measuring up to 144 sq m.

by  | July 31, 2014 16:15 BST