6 futuristic 3D printed clothes!

http://www.engadget.com/2015/09/04/6-futuristic-3d-printed-clothes/

6 futuristic 3D-printed clothes

3D printing is revolutionizing the way we make things, from buildings and cars to medical devices. But that’s not all: Many forward-thinking designers in the fashion industry are using 3D printers to cut down on material waste and explore new possibilities for unique and exciting designs. Read on to learn about some of the most advanced 3D-printed clothes and wearables that they’ve cooked up.

References:

engadget.com

by Inhabitat | September 4th 2015 At 2:00pm

http://www.engadget.com/2015/09/04/6-futuristic-3d-printed-clothes/

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3D printing helps China’s economy

http://www.scmp.com/tech/innovation/article/1852059/3d-printing-can-help-modernise-chinas-economy-premier-li-keqiang

A 3D printed building in Shaanxi. Chinese premier Li Keqiang has called for greater investment in the technology. Photo: SCMP Pictures

3D printing can help modernise China’s economy: premier Li Keqiang

The development of 3D printing technologies must be part of a push to modernise China’s economy, the country’s premier, Li Keqiang, said during a speech to the State Council.

Echoing his “Internet Plus” doctrine, Li said a new technological revolution is at hand, and China needs to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in order to maintain competitiveness in a global rush to “reindustrialise”.

His address to the State Council focused on accelerating the development of advanced manufacturing in China, touching on technologies ranging from the internet to industrial robotics and automated machinery.

Since assuming office in 2013, Li has stressed the need for economic reform and a “new normal” growth plan at a sustainable, albeit slower, pace of development. That plan has been rocked by volatility in the stock market in recent months as well as a sharp slowdown in economic growth and flagging demand.

During the address, Li stressed the importance of marrying information technology with traditional manufacturing – a key tenet of his “Internet Plus” strategy – and pointed to 3D printing as “representative of a disruptive technology in the manufacturing industry … which has transformed traditional conceptions and methods of manufacturing.”

Li further highlighted in his address weaknesses underlying the Chinese economy, pointing to weaknesses in innovation, low ‘value-added’ production, poor quality in managerial and sales services, which are further exacerbated by resource and environmental constraints.

The premier’s statements come as Chinese firms working on 3D printing in the construction sector have announced multiple recent successes.

In July, real estate development firm Zhuoda Group assembled a 3D printed 200 square metre home in three hours, having printed the materials over 10 days at a cost of US$400-480 per square metre.

Also this year, construction firm Winsun 3D printed around a dozen 60 square metre houses in one day at a cost of US$5,000 per house. The firm is also currently partnering with the UNited Arab Emirates National Innovation Committee to 3D print an office building in Dubai.

According to Winsun, 3D printing can decrease the material cost of construction by 60 per cent, labour costs by 80 per cent and cut construction time by 70 per cent. The process can also incorporate recycled construction waste into the printing.

scmp.com

by Tim Chen | Monday, 24 August, 2015, 11:53am

 

3D printed model of NASA’s rover

http://www.popsci.com/now-print-model-nasas-curiosity-rover-your-desk

Curiosity

3D-PRINT A MODEL OF NASA’S CURIOSITY ROVER FOR YOUR DESK

EXPLORE STRANGE NEW WORKSPACES

If you always wanted your very own Curiosity Rover, but couldn’t afford the $2.5 billion to build and launch your own, don’t worry: NASA has your back.

NASA recently released the plans to 3D-print your own mini Mars rover. It may not be able to fire lasers, send back amazing science and pictures, but it will look really cute on your desk.

Curiosity Plans

The British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution have all made 3D models of artifacts from their collections available for printing. The National Institutes of Health is even in on the game, with biosciences-related models available for print.

But If you’re looking for more out-of-this world designs, check out NASA’s growing collection, which includes spacecraft classics like the Hubble Space Telescope and the Voyager probe, along with asteroids like Vesta, and of course, you can always print a wrench. Just like a real astronaut!

popsci.com

by Mary Beth Griggs | August 17, 2015

Eco-friendly 3D printed supercar!

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/12/us-usa-3d-printed-supercar-idUSKCN0Q91W020150812

Eco-friendly 3D printed supercar

A California automotive start-up is hoping their prototype supercar will redefine car manufacturing. The sleek race car dubbed ‘Blade’ didn’t come off an assembly line – but out of a 3D printer.

Kevin Czinger of Divergent Microfactories has spent most of his career in the automotive industry. One day he realized that no matter how fuel-efficient or how few tailpipe emissions the modern car has, the business of car manufacturing is destroying the environment.

“3D printing of metal radically changes that. By looking at 3D printing not for that overall structure but to create individual modular structures that can be combined, that 3D printing transforms everything,” said Czinger during an interview with Reuters in Silicon Valley.

According to Czinger, 3D printing transforms everything by changing the way the structural components of cars are fabricated. Currently cars are pieced together on long assembly lines inside large factories that use massive amounts of energy. Even the most fuel-efficient car has a large carbon footprint before ever leaving the plant.

Czinger and his team’s approach was to take the large plant out of the equation. To accomplish this they printed the modular pieces that are used to connect carbon rods that make up the Blade’s chassis.

“The 3D printed chassis is only 102 pounds and has the same strength and safety protection as a frame made out of steel,” said Brad Balzer, the lead designer on the project.

By using carbon fiber instead of steel or aluminum for the body, the entire vehicle only weighs 1400 pounds (635kg), giving it twice the weight to horsepower ratio of a Bugatti Veyron.

The Blade is fitted with a 700 horse power engine that runs on natural gas, reducing its carbon footprint even further.

Balzer says designing an eco-friendly speed demon supercar as their first prototype was intentional.

“We focused a lot on the aesthetics of this car because it is very important to capture the people’s imaginations, especially when we are talking about the core enabling technologies,” he said.

The core enabling technology, the ability to print out car components that can be easily assembled, is what Kevin Czinger hopes will revolutionize car manufacturing. He says electric cars are a step in the right direction, but alone they won’t be enough to curb greenhouse emissions given the projected rise in demand for cars globally unless the way they are manufactured changes.

“By constructing a car this way it has less than one third of the environmental and health impact than the 85 hours all electric car for example has,” he added.

Czinger and Balzer are starting small but they believe their new 3D printing method for car manufacturing will have a huge impact on how the cars of the future are built.

reuters.com

by BEN GRUBER | Wed Aug 12, 2015 3:14pm EDT

Drugs of the future

http://smallbiztrends.com/2015/08/3d-printing-drugs-spritam-aprecia-pharmaceuticals.html

spritam

Could 3D Printers Manufacture the Drugs of the Future?

You can now use 3D printing to create items using a wide range of filaments, and not just plastics. Metals, edibles, bio and construction materials are just some of the examples that are being developed for 3D printing.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Spritam, an epilepsy medication made using 3D printers.

This makes Spritam the first 3D printed product approved by the FDA for use inside the human body.

The company that developed it, Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, used powder-liquid three-dimensional printing (3DP) technology, which was developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the late 1980s as a rapid-prototyping technique. Rapid prototyping is the same technique used in 3D printing.

According to the company, this specific process was expanded into tissue engineering and pharmaceutical use from 1993 to 2003.

After acquiring exclusive license to MIT’s 3DP process, Aprecia developed the ZipDose Technology platform. The medication delivery process allows high doses of up to 1,000 mg to rapidly disintegrate on contact with liquid. This is achieved by breaking the bonds that were created during the 3DP process.

If you advance the technology a decade or more, having the medication you need printed at home is not that implausible. While big-pharma may have something to say about it, new business opportunities will be created that will be able to monetize the technology.

As impressive as that sounds, there are many more medical applications in the pipeline.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has a website with an extensive database of 3D printing applications in the medical field. This includes the NIH 3D Print Exchange special collection for prosthetics, which lets you print next generation prosthetics at a fraction of the cost of the ones now being sold in the marketplace.

The next evolution in the field of medicine is printing complex living tissues. Also known as bio-printing, the potential applications in regenerative medicine is incredible.

In conjunction with stem cell research, printing human organs is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Currently different body parts have been printed, and the days of long transplant waiting lists will eventually become a thing of the past.

It’s important to remember that a lot more goes into the creation of a medication or other medical break-through than just being able to “print” drugs. Other costs include intensive research and development and then exhaustive testing.

So there’s no reason to believe 3D printing alone will allow smaller drug firms to more effectively compete with huge pharmaceutical firms. But the break through will certainly create more opportunities in the medical industry for companies of all sizes.

Outside of medicine, 3D printing has been used to print cars, clothes and even guns, which goes to prove the only limitation of this technology is your imagination.

Many of the technologies we use today were developed many years ago, but they take some time before they are ready for the marketplace.

3D printing is one great example. It was invented in 1984, but its full potential is just now being realized.

In 2012, The Economist labeled this technology as, “The Third Industrial Revolution,” and that sentiment has been echoed by many since then. This has generated unrealistic expectations, even though it is evolving at an impressive rate.

smallbiztrends.com

by Michael Guta | Aug 10, 2015

New optical fibre 3D printing technique!

http://www.itproportal.com/2015/07/03/new-optical-fibre-3d-printing-technique-being-researched/

New optical fibre 3D printing technique being researched

New optical fibre 3D printing technique being researched

The researchers at the University of Southampton are currently investigating a new way of manufacturing optical fibre. And that is through 3D printing, or, in other words, additive manufacturing.

This new research could potentially pave the way for more complex structures that can be capable of unlocking a host of applications in many different industries, such as telecommunications, aerospace, biotechnology, etc.

As of now, there are a couple of ways to manufacture optical fibre. One of them is with the help of a piece of glass from which the optical fibre is drawn. This gives manufacturers a consistent length and shape of the fibre. In the case of 3D printing, it is difficult to control the shape and composition of the fibre, which results in limited flexibility in design and the capabilities that the fibre can offer.

The new additive manufacturing technique is currently being developed by Professor Jayanta Sahu, along with his colleagues from the University of Southampton’s Zepler Institute and co-investigator, Dro Shoufeng Yang from the Faculty of Engineering and Environment. We believe that the new manufacturing technique will help manufacture preforms that are far more complex and have different features along their lengths.

Professor Jayanta Sahu says that “We will design, fabricate and employ novel Multiple Materials Additive Manufacturing (MMAM) equipment to enable us to make optical fibre preforms (both in conventional and microstructured fibre geometries) in silica and other host glass materials.”

Professor Sahu further says “Our proposed process can be utilised to produce complex preforms, which are otherwise too difficult, too time consuming or currently impossible to be achieved by existing fabrication techniques.”

One of the most challenging things of 3D manufacturing optical fibre, is making the preform, especially when it has a complex internal structure. Consider the photonic bandgap fibre for instance. It is a new type of microstructed fibre that is anticipated to revolutionise the telecoms and datacoms industries in particular.

With the help of the new additive manufacturing technique, the researchers will be able to design and manufacture the complex internal structure of the optical fibre using ultra-pure glass powder. And as is the case with 3D printing, the researching will be able to manufacture a complex preform, layer by layer, gradually building up the shape of the optical fibre.

There are still numerous challenges that they will have to face, such as the high melting temperature of glass, the need for precise control of dopants, refractive index profiles, waveguide geometry, etc. any changes in those things will result in the alteration of the fibre.

itproportal.com

by Nabil Ansari | 03/07/2015

3D printing and the new economics of manufacturing

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ricksmith/2015/06/22/henry-ford-3d-printing-and-the-new-economics-of-manufacturing/

Production Equation 1

3D Printing And The New Economics Of Manufacturing

3D printing production is just scratching the surface of the multi-trillion dollar global manufacturing industry. But its dominance is already pre-determined.

This is because modern manufacturing, despite numerous technological and process advances over the last century, is still a very inefficient global system. Today’s world of mass production is based on one simple rule: the more things you make, the lower the cost of each of those things. We have literally pushed this equation to its extreme limits.

This approach was dramatically accelerated by Henry Ford, arguably the most impactful character in the industrial revolution. For starters, Ford proved out the model of mass production. He wasn’t the first to create the assembly line, but he was the first of his time to perfect it. He built massive factories, and greatly standardized his product and processes. He once famously stated, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants, so long as it is black.”  The quote may be familiar, but do you know why only black? It wasn’t due to Ford’s forward-thinking design sense, but rather because black was the only color that could dry fast enough to keep up with his assembly lines.

By 1915 he had reduced the time it took to build an automobile by 90%. By 1916, an astounding 55% of the automobiles on the road in America were Model Ts.

Ford mastered mass production and created the world’s first mass consumer product. But there is another reason why Ford is such an important figure historically.  Henry Ford literally punctuated the industrial revolution. We have all been taught about the industrial revolution as if it were a binary switch. There was a before and an after. We all believe we live safely in the after. This IS the future.

But what if that’s wrong?  What if mass production is not the end of this story, but rather just a stop along the way to something completely different? What if a technology came along that could turn everything upside down all over again?

3D printing is a technology that allows you to create things differently, from the ground up, layer by layer until you have a fully formed 3 dimensional object. Just like you now send a computer file of a document to a printer in your home or office, you can now send a computer file of an object to a 3D printer, and out comes that physical object. Eventually, you will be able to print almost anything you can imagine.

forbes.com

by Rick Smith | JUN 22, 2015 @ 5:11 PM

3D printed model car shop

http://3dprint.com/72827/ford-3d-store-printed-cars/

ford3

Ford Launches Online 3D Printed Model Car Shop – Print Your Favorite Ford Car or Truck Today

The automobile industry has long been known to be one of the most aggressive when it comes to using 3D printing technology. In fact, car manufacturers were some of the very first businesses to utilize 3D printing in order to rapidly prototype various automobile parts and designs. This has been going on literally for decades, but in recent times, we have begun to see car manufacturers take the idea of 3D printing a few step further. There have been car parts which have been completely 3D printed, entire cars — in the case of Local Motors — that have been printed in plastic, and various other innovations going on within the automobile industry. 3D printing certainly has its place not only in current car manufacturing but in the future as well.

ford1

Today, Ford Motor Company has informed 3DPrint.com that they are taking things to a whole new level when it comes to 3D printing. No, they aren’t 3D printing an entire car, nor are they allowing people to 3D print replacement parts, but what they are doing will certainly appeal to both fans of the company as well as car enthusiasts and collectors in general.

“Just in time for Father’s Day! Today Ford announced that it is the first automaker to open a one-stop 3D digital shop – the Ford 3D Store,” Ford Motor Company tells 3DPrint.com. “Now, with the help of Turbosquid, Ford fans can use advanced technology to make their own models of Ford vehicles or opt to purchase a 3D digital file from a growing library of more than 1,000 Ford vehicle images.”

Available to order models include the new Ford GT, F-150 Raptor, Shelby GT350R, Focus ST, and Fiesta ST with plenty more models coming in the very near future. These models are printed at 1:32 scale in plastic and are priced at $39.00. However, if you own a 3D printer yourself, or have access to one, you can purchase the 3D design files for a measly $4.99. This allows you to scale the car to whatever size you wish and print it out yourself.

fordnew

“3D printing at home is a growing trend, and it makes sense for us to offer our customers a chance to make their own 3D Ford models,” explained Mark Bentley, licensing manager of Ford Global Brand Licensing. “At Ford, we’re using 3D printing every day to rapidly prototype parts, and now we want to share that fun with our fans.”

So what exactly spurred Ford into making these incredibly detailed and accurate replicas available to 3D print? Seemingly it is the fact that researchers are predicting that sales of desktop 3D printers will exceed 1 million units within the next 3 years, over twenty times the number sold last year.

ford2

The Ford 3D Store website has been built by Turbosquid, a company that specializes in selling 3D models and stock images. They have extensive experience when it comes to selling similar models which are capable of being 3D printed, so they have a clear understanding of IP laws and various methods of securing files. When users purchase a 3D model, they must agree not to distribute it elsewhere.  This has the potential of bringing up an issue which certainly has been looming for the 3D printing space for the past few years. It should be interesting to see how companies like Ford and Turbosquid ultimately deal with such IP conflicts that may arise if people begin to freely share these files, without providing Ford with any royalties.

“TurboSquid already allows customers to purchase more than 1,000 unique, licensed digital images of Ford products ranging from the Model T to the all-new Ford GT,” said Bentley. “We’re at the forefront of licensing 3D automotive images, and it made sense that TurboSquid help us complete that connection to the consumer.”

Without a doubt, this is huge news for the 3D printing space. The idea that individuals can now purchase 3D printed models of licensed replicas, or the design files for these vehicles and then print them out themselves, is something that no other car manufacturer has yet to do. It should be interesting to see how well this business model works, and we will certainly be keeping an eye out for future models which are released to the Ford 3D Store.

ford5

What do you think about this announcement? Will you be downloading and printing your own Ford vehicles anytime soon? Should other car manufacturers contemplate doing the same thing as Ford has? Discuss in the Ford 3D Store forum thread on 3DPB.com.

3dprint.com

by  | JUNE 11, 2015

19 year old creator of cheap robotic arm controlled by brainwaves

https://www.yahoo.com/tech/19-year-old-uses-3d-printing-to-create-cheap-120454888024.html

19-Year-Old Uses 3D Printing to Create Cheap Robotic Arm Controlled by Brainwaves

For Easton LaChappelle, a 19-year-old from Colorado in the United States (U.S.), the difficulty with robotics has never been the technology itself – something he says he managed to master in a matter of months from his bedroom in his parent’s house – but the cost.

The technology used by most robotic arms and hands on the market – and many more of those in development – typically comes with large overheads.

In the last five years, though, learning almost exclusively online in forums and emails, LaChappelle has managed to synthesize a series of robotic hands that could change industries and lives – and most of which cost just a few hundred dollars.

While other developments in countries like Austria and Argentina have pushed the boundaries of prosthetic offerings, helping those missing limbs to start to regain use of them with robotics, LaChappelle has done so using 3D printing.

And he’s made one that he says can read your mind. It’s called Anthromod.

“This reads right about 10 channels of the brain, so it kind of works kind of like a muscle sensor in that it picks up small electric discharges and turns that into something you can actually read within software, and then we actually track patterns and try and convert that into movement. So with this I’m actually able to change grips, grip patterns, based on facial gestures, and then use the raw actual brainwaves and focus to actually close the hand or open the clamp or hand,” he told Reuters Television.

One of the most important aspects of the Anthromod design is the way in which it’s controlled by the software, which LaChappelle says is different from the types of control that exist in other robotic platforms.

While it’s the hand itself that moves, as more advanced controls are created it’s the software that’s doing the heavy lifting, using algorithms that make the arm easier to use.

“A good example is we actually had an amputee use the wireless brainwave headset to control a hand, and he was able to fluently control the robotic hand in right around about 10 minutes, so the learning curve is hardly a learning curve any more,” he said.

The arms themselves might not look polished and ready for the shop floor – but LaChappelle sees them as cutting edge.

His robotic arms are all prototypes, each fulfilling a different need according to their design, with some using a wireless brainwave headset, designed more for prosthetic use. Another of his tele-robotic controlled hands was created with dangerous environments in mind, where human-like robots could be sent to allow people to monitor situations and intervene from afar.

“I really tried to make this as human-like as possible – this is probably about my fifth generation of the full robotic arm, and this is controlled using a full tele-robotic system, so there’s actually a glove that you wear that tracks your hand movements, accelerometers to track your wrist and elbow, and then an IMU sensor as well to track your bicep rotation as well as your shoulder movement, and that gets all translated wirelessly to the robotic arm where it will copy what you do,” he said.

One of the most impressive aspects of the arm is not the hardware itself, or even the software that controls it – but the fact that it can be 3D printed for a fraction of the cost of modern prosthetics.

This allows him to make complex internal structures to the designs which would otherwise be impossible, using not just any 3D printer, but precisely the kind many expect people to have at home in the near future.

“So 3D printing allows you to create something that’s human-like, something that’s extremely customized, again for a very low cost, which for certain applications such as prosthetics, is a really big part of it,” he told Reuters.

“The full robotic arm is actually open source, and so people are now actually able to take this, reproduce it, and adapt it for different situations, applications, and really see what you can do with it,” he added.

The Anthromod itself cost only about 600 dollars to make, LaChappelle said.

His work is documented in the videos he made at home, showing his handiwork – all part of his effort at making the invention open source – which means anyone can take his technology and customize and build on it.

The idea, he said, is not to create something that can solve problems for those with prostheses and other needs for robotic arms like the ones he’s invented – but rather to create a platform that people around the world can use to customize their own versions of to suit their needs.

“A big reason we designed this on the consumer level is because we made this open source, we want someone that has a 3D printer, or very little printing experience, to be able to replicate this, to be able to use this for new applications, to be able to adapt it into new situations, so it’s really exciting to see what people will start doing with something like this,” he said.

“For the actual arm, we designed everything to be modular, meaning all the joints can actually interchange, and there’s a universal bolt pattern. So you can now create something human-like, or you can create a big 20 degree freedom arm for complex filming or even low cost automations. So we really want to make a robotics platform, not so much just a robotics hand from this,” he added.

LaChappelle hopes his efforts will contribute to developments in bomb defusal robots, heavy equipment and heavy industrial automation robotic arms, as well as exoskeletons.

yahoo.com

3D printed titanium bike!

http://www.cnet.com/news/how-a-3d-printed-titanium-bike-points-the-way-to-products-custom-fit-for-you/

How a 3D printed titanium bike points the way to products custom-fit for you

Design firm Industry has developed a bike that demonstrates how the lines are blurring in design, engineering and manufacturing. This shift will ultimately allow companies to tailor products to individuals.

PARIS – The Solid is an unusual bicycle: it’s 3D-printed out of titanium, it’s unusually streamlined, it will take you on routes designed to help you discover a city and it tells you where to turn by buzzing signals in the handlebars. It’s also a harbinger of how products will be built in the future.

But the Solid, designed by a Portland, Ore.-based firm called Industry and unveiled Thursday here for the Connected Conference, is unusual in another way, too. It’s not a product to be sold, but instead a project to help Industry figure out the future of design and manufacturing.

Figuring out that future is tough. In the old days, designers would come up with a product’s look on paper or clay, then hand it off to engineers who’d try to make it work in the real world. Nowadays, designers and engineers work simultaneously, scanning sketches, printing prototypes in plastic and iterating from one possibility to the next as fast as possible. And 3D printers, which fuse raw materials layer by layer into metal or plastic components, will open the door to new levels of customization.

The end result may not mean you can buy the Solid in a bike shop next year. But according to Industry co-founder Oved Valadez, it will completely transform the products you do buy.

“The future is about bringing ‘personal’ back to service,” Valadez said. Instead of buying something in size small, medium or large, you’ll buy it in “size me,” he said.

That approach will apply to footwear, bicycles, cars and more, he predicted. “You’ll scan yourself with your handheld [phone], and it’ll give you a recommendation about what is your perfect size.”

Valadez’s profession changed dramatically decades ago with the gradual spread of computer-aided design (CAD) and manufacturing (CAM), but the arrival of 3D printers means the technological transformation isn’t over. Another big shift is the spread of computing hardware and software beyond personal computers and smartphones and into cars, toys, thermostats, streetlights, traffic signals and myriad other devices – a trend broadly called the Internet of Things.

Competitive pressure

The computing industry’s appetite for competitive, fast-paced change also has helped bring the once-separate disciplines of design, engineering and manufacturing closer together, said Marc Chareyron, co-founder of French design firm Enero.

“If you have a designer who hands the work to an engineer who hands it to the software engineer, then the iterations are so long, it takes years to build something,” Chareyron said. That’ll doom a project: during that wait, products will be overtaken by competitors’ models or by new technology trends.

For Valadez and Industry, the Solid bike project was a way to bring new hardware, software, and collaborative approaches into the business. They’d photograph life-size sketches and import them into Autodesk‘s Fusion 360 and Alias software. They’d make old-style cardboard and use new-era 3D printers to create components for the bike. And when it was time for manufacturing, they combined 3D printing with traditional hand-finishing and hand-welding techniques drawing on the expertise of titanium bike frame maker Ti Cycles.

“It’s the new way. It’s more iterated and collaborative. It allows you to quickly bring form and function to the same level,” Valadez said. “Unlike 10 years ago, utility and beauty are now one.”

They built a bike with software, too. A smartphone app lets people select routes through a city that spotlights interesting attractions, shopping areas, restaurants. And inside the bike itself is an Arduino-based electronics board that handles the bike’s GPS position tracking and signals to the rider when it’s time to turn right or left by buzzing the appropriate handlebar grip.

Among Industry’s clients are Nike, Intel, Starbucks and InCase, a maker of bags and cases for carrying delicate electronic products.

3D printing still immature

3D printing is good for making prototypes, but the technology can’t handle everything yet when it comes to manufacturing, he said. There are size limits to fusing parts out of titanium powder, for example, and 3D-printed parts still require a lot of finishing.

But 3D printing opens up new options. For one thing, it permits much more complicated shapes that can do multiple jobs. Some of the Solid’s components have interior walls that both increase strength in high-stress areas and serve to route brake and gear-shifting cables internally for a sleek look, for example.

Building complex parts that serve dual or triple functions is important, especially in areas like the automotive industry where durability is important. A part that serves multiple jobs means designers can avoid bolting together components that over time can rattle loose and break.

For Industry, the 3D printing was a learning experience — for example in understanding how much the titanium needed to be finished with grinders and bead-blasting and how much that would change the dimensions of the product.

Despite the rough patches, though, Valadez is a convert. As with early technologies like molding and computer-controlled machine tools, 3D printing is maturing. “There are limitations,” Valadez said, “but it is the future.”

cnet.com

by | May 28, 20155:30 AM PDT