3D printed parts for a car

http://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/news/71751824/the-car-of-the-future-to-use-3d-printed-parts

Car parts could use 3D printing techniques in the future, according to BMW

The car of the future to use 3D printed parts

Car companies will soon make use of 3D printing to manufacture parts, bringing benefits in cost and strength that will improve the affordability and driving character of future vehicles, according to BMW’s head of lightweight design Florian Schek.

While most vehicle manufacturers use the advanced technology during the development and design phase to quickly create prototype parts or models, Schek believes it won’t be long before the technology is transferred into end-consumer production techniques.

He admitted that it is likely to be used on low-volume speciality vehicles first as the time needed to mass-produce parts by 3D printing is not as quick as conventional methods such as casting and forging for metals, or as affordable as plastics. But he said the rapid advances in the technology will ensure its future application is viable.

“We have that already in prototyping,” he told Drive.

“But there is definitely a future for it in mainstream production. It will come.

“I think it will take some time in high-volume production, but it is not that far away for specialist models like the i8. We can do some very interesting things with 3D printing that we cannot do with other methods and it is quite exciting about the benefits, both in terms of design and structure.”

Schek said the benefits of 3D printing structural elements – including major components such as shock absorber towers – could see improvements in weight reductions and rigidity, as the printing process could create components more intricately.

“With 3D printing we can see advantages in being able to build parts with strength where it is needed and not in places where it isn’t, and this will help improve decreasing weight. We can design the part according to the forces that are running through it, this will be a big step forward for some areas,” he told Drive during the launch of the all-new BMW 7-Series, which uses different materials in its skeleton – including steel, aluminium and carbon fibre – to reduce weight and increase overall strength.

“I can also see it eventually improving time to production in some circumstances too, because some components currently need to go through many processes to be ready for assembly whereas with 3D printing it is designed to be a finished product.”

stuff.co.nz

by ANDREW MACLEAN | 06:00, September 6 2015

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3D printed beef slices?

http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/do-you-still-need-cows-if-you-can-3d-print-beef-slices

Do you still need cows, if you can 3D print beef slices?

Two scientists look at how Singapore is preparing to embrace two leading technologies – 3D printing and robotics.

Additive manufacturing (AM) or 3D printing, as it is more commonly known, is a term that is becoming more familiar, used not only by large corporations and institutions but also smaller enterprises and even individuals.

Simply put, 3D printing refers to processes that produce a 3D part from a computer-aided design model by adding materials successively, usually in a layer-by-layer fashion. These materials can be made of paper, plastic, metal or even organic materials such as tissue from cells.

3D printing in itself is not new. It has been used for over three decades, such as for printing out prototypes for designs or architectural works. But today, its usage has expanded beyond prototyping. Many industries and people now use 3D printing to make things they want, which include producing unmanned aerospace vehicles (UAVs) used in Aerospace and Defence.

As technology continues to develop and become more widespread, we are led to potentially discover new or more extensive benefits to society. In building and construction, the ability to print complicated design structures within a shorter time and with fewer resources would help to reduce housing shortage in countries like Singapore. Globally, this could also help disaster-struck countries to quickly rebuild affected communities.

Due to its game-changing potential, AM or 3D printing is forecast by The Economist magazine to be the third Industrial Revolution.

Today, manufacturers are already witnessing the positive impact of 3D printing technology in terms of enabling greater customisation while reducing costs and waste.

As products are manufactured on demand, this reduces tooling costs and the need to maintain a massive product inventory typical of traditional manufacturing methods.

From a business perspective, we also see companies evolving towards more flexible and cost-effective business models. Some may choose to focus solely on design and leave customers to manufacture the actual product. Conversely, smaller players can now manufacture their own products instead of relying on larger manufacturing chains. Along with lower investment costs and risks, this has opened doors and created opportunities for new entrants within the manufacturing field. These will shake up manufacturing as we know it today.

Companies that now produce spare parts or equipment for big manufacturers may find themselves squeezed out if the manufacturers find it more worthwhile to 3D print the parts themselves.

Shipping too can change, if ships carry their own 3D machines to print parts, or 3D print their own supplies, eliminating the need to stop at ports for repairs and resupplies.

Even space travel can be revolutionised: One exciting area of potential application is 3D printing in space, which can be used to produce necessities such as food as well as essential tools and spare parts necessary for extensive space missions.

Over the coming decades, 3D printing technology certainly has tremendous potential to revolutionise our next phase of development.

The promise of bioprinting – or the printing of live tissue – is immense. This potentially allows us to 3D print a new organ for transplant. Bioprinting has the eventual goal of improving the quality of life whether for transplant patients or for society at large.

It also has clear applications in food. After all, 3D printing allows us to produce meat for consumption by printing them with layers of animal tissue – without the need for animal husbandry or slaughter.

Bioprinting food will also minimise the risk of diseases such as mad cow disease or bird flu by eliminating the need to rear livestock for human consumption.

With the aim of empowering the average home user, the Blacksmith Group invented the Blacksmith Genesis, the world’s first 3D printer-cum-scanner. As compact as a home printer, the Blacksmith Genesis allows users to scan, edit and print any item up to 6,650 cubic cm in 3D easily. This user-friendly device enables users without much knowledge of 3D software to engineer their own products.

The Blacksmith Group is a spin-off from the Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) newly established Singapore Centre for 3D Printing (SC3DP).

Supported by Singapore’s National Research Foundation, SC3DP was set up to drive research and collaboration towards growing Singapore’s 3D printing capabilities for the aerospace and defence, building and construction, marine and offshore and manufacturing industries.

Taking it one step further is 4D printing, which refers to the printing of three-dimensional materials with properties that will transform according to external or environmental stimuli, such as time, temperature or humidity.

Possible applications that would prove useful are using it to print the soles of shoes or sofas which can then be easily manipulated to fit the shapes and sizes of human bodies.

4D printing might also be useful for printing structures for transporting across dramatically different environments, such as from earth to space. In this case, imagine if we could print a piece of furniture in a compact format that can be subsequently assembled into a larger, complex structure in space.

Given the rate at which 3D printing technology is progressing, it is not difficult to envision that 50 years from now, we could be living in 3D printed houses, travelling on 3D printed airplanes, wearing 3D printed garments, consuming 3D printed food and much more.

The possibilities are limitless.

  • Professor Chua Chee Kai is the Executive Director, Singapore Centre for 3D Printing, at the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University.

References:

straitstimes.com

http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/do-you-still-need-cows-if-you-can-3d-print-beef-slices

MIT’s glass 3D printer

http://gizmodo.com/watching-mits-glass-3d-printer-is-absolutely-mesmerizin-1725433454

Watching MIT's Glass 3D Printer Is Absolutely Mesmerizing

Watching MIT’s Glass 3D Printer Is Absolutely Mesmerizing

MIT’s Mediated Matter Group made a video showing off their first of its kind optically transparent glass printing process. It will soothe your soul.

Called G3DP (Glass 3D Printing) and developed in collaboration with MIT’s Glass Lab, the process is an additive manufacturing platform with dual heated chambers. The upper chamber is a “Kiln Cartridge,” operating at a mind-boggling 1900°F, while the lower chamber works to anneal (heat then cool in order to soften the glass). The special 3D printer is not creating glass from scratch, but rather working with the preexisting substance, then layering and building out fantastical shapes like a robot glassblower.

It’s wonderfully soothing to watch in action—and strangely delicious-looking. “Like warm frosting,” my colleague Andrew Liszewski confirmed. “Center of the Earth warm frosting.”

gizmodo.com

by Kaila Hale-Stern |  8/20/15 4:30pm

The world’s smallest phone charger

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150819-3d-printing-helps-uk-designers-develop-the-nipper-the-worlds-smallest-phone-charger.html

3D printing helps UK designers develop The Nipper, ‘The World’s Smallest Phone Charger’

When considering that nearly everybody carries a smartphone these days – in addition to their keys and wallet – it makes perfect sense why so many designers and manufacturers have been actively designing accessories ranging from speakers and cases to stands and sleeves for the mobile devices.  However, the one problem that everybody runs into is also among one of the most difficult to solve: battery life.

Inspired by the need to create a portable, on-the-go power solution for smartphone users that doesn’t involve carrying bulky cases or powerpacks, designers Doug Stokes and Chris Tait of Design on Impulse in the UK recently created what they are calling “The World’s Smallest Phone Charger” – AKA “The Nipper”.

Consisting of two AA batteries and a magnet that reside on a user’s keyring (the batteries are only installed when in use), the 10 gram Nipper is capable of charging smartphones while users are out and about or perhaps most importantly – during an emergency situation.

“The Nipper was primarily designed for emergency use,” explain the designers.

“When all else fails, when all hope is lost – in situations where you desperately need to use your phone but have no access to laptops, electrical sockets, wind turbines or solar panels the Nipper will be there for you.”

The design of the Nipper contains 3 neodynium magnets that are responsible for both making an electrical connection to the circuit board as well as holding the batteries together.  According to the designers, the circuit is actually a “boost converter” that converts the power from the batteries into a 5v power supply to charge your phone.  For today’s modern smartphones, this means that the batteries can supply an additional 10% battery capacity in 30 minutes, and 20% in just over an hour.

Like so many other hardware developers today, Stokes and Tait turned to 3D printing to make their idea for the World’s Smallest Phone Charger real – and have put the concept on Kickstarter to help it gain some traction; already, the campaign has surpassed their $10K goal by more than $3K and it has three weeks left to go.

“If we’re making small volumes of Nippers, we’ll 3D print the cases out of high quality nylon, but if demand is high and we have to make a full Nipper army we’re going to injection mold the cases out of polypropylene,” says the designers.

“The two halves of the Nipper are connected by either fabric or genuine leather straps. The neodynium are nickel plated on the classic Nippers, and gold plated on the premium Nippers.”

While the concept is certainly impressive, the fact that Tait and Stokes just graduated school together and entered a national design competition to develop The Nipper makes the story all the more impressive.

“One moment we were doing our finals and the next we were in the centre of London, working on a product we’d come up with in our flat which we’d been given support to make into a reality,” said Stokes.

“A lot of people who have just graduated are spending the summer travelling or trying to find a job and move out of home. But being able to go straight from university to working in Somerset House every day, where you’ve got Parliament on one side and St Paul’s on the other, is pretty amazing.”

Considering that the device comes in a number of colors and will likely expand to include multiple strap options, the charger is likely to fit with anybody’s style similar to modern smartphone case designs.

For those interested, a ‘Classic Nipper’ can be purchased starting at just $23 over on Kickstarter.

3ders.org

by Simon | Aug 19, 2015

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150819-3d-printing-helps-uk-designers-develop-the-nipper-the-worlds-smallest-phone-charger.html

Shuty 3D printed pistol

http://3dprint.com/89919/shuty-hybrid-3d-printed-pistol/

3dp_3dprintedgun_liberator

The Shuty Hybrid 3D Printed 9mm Pistol Raises Questions About 3D Printed Gun Control

I say this as both a firearm enthusiast and an advocate for strong firearm regulation. It is becoming evident that there is a point when we as a society are just going to have to accept that 3D printed weapons are not going to disappear behind walls of legislation. Will that point be when entire guns can easily be 3D printed and constructed at home? Because it is pretty evident at this point that 3D printable firearms will be here soon, and both sides of the controversial issue are going to have to stop chipping away at each other’s platforms and start a real conversation about what kind of society we will have when they get here.

At this point, we have all heard of the Liberator created by Cody Wilson, the original 3D printed handgun that got gun nuts overly excited and anti-gun nuts wildly up in arms. For those of us in the middle, realistically the Liberator is a single shot firearm completely made of plastic and is probably not much of a real threat to anyone. And I don’t believe that even with subsequent upgrades and redesigns that have turned it into a much more reliable and dependable firearm, that has really changed. But firearms enthusiasts with 3D printers obviously weren’t going to stop with the Liberator, and they have turned to designing hybrid firearms made of 3D printed parts combined with more durable parts culled from traditionally manufactured guns.

One of the most sophisticated and impressive hybrid designs out there is the Shuty, a 9mm semiauto based on a combination of parts from a standard AR-15 and the homemade firearm designs of P.A. Luty. The design for the Shuty combines a metal bolt, an AR fire-control group and the barrel of a Glock combined with a 3D printed bolt carrier, upper and lower receivers and even a 3D printed magazine.

The 3D printed parts are all made from standard PLA printed on an Orion from SeeMeCNC. The design intentionally combines metal parts that will be exposed to repeated use with its printed parts that will encounter less wear and tear. With so many plastic parts the Shuty is obviously going to have a rather short period of usability, but because of the clever mixing of metal and printed parts it will be far longer than the one-and-done Liberator.

The unassembled Shuty.

One of the fears of those in favor of banning 3D printed guns is that they might be used in crimes, mass shootings or even for political assassinations. Anyone who has used or 3D printed a gun, regardless of their stance on the issue, is going to be able to tell you with some authority that that isn’t a fear that is based in reality. In terms of actual, practical usability the Shuty really isn’t going to score many points there, especially with no stock or sights. It also looks like a brick, and isn’t going to be comfortably or surreptitiously tucked into any waistbands without looking like an idiot.

But while the Shuty isn’t the prettiest gun on the block, it is certainly a cleverly designed one, and most importantly not only does it work, but it actually works pretty well. But it is still a work in progress, so it will undoubtedly be improved with each new iteration. So while right now 3D printed guns are probably the last firearm anyone would choose when planning to commit a crime, that is likely to change at some point. Especially as more advanced 3D printing materials far stronger than standard PLA become available.

3dp_3dprintedgun_shuty_assembled

However, as Derwood says in the description of one of his test videos, at this point the Shuty “is now functioning perfect” and certainly looks intimidating despite its clumsy appearance. If the plastic parts are replaced with more durable and advanced 3D printing materials then it could become a little more of a threat. And even now it is an excellent example of a homemade firearm proof of concept.

Gun control advocates insist that eliminating guns in the United States would save lives and reduce (our already record low) crime rates, and they have the Facebook memes about gun availability in European countries to prove it. But you simply can’t erase the last 200 years of our history and culture, and those same European countries don’t have the right to own firearms written into their constitutions. Not to mention the fact that there are an estimated 8.8 guns for each 10 people in the country, so even banning guns isn’t going to result in a gun shortage. They’re going to have to understand that guns aren’t going away, and neither is the culture that surrounds them.

But firearms enthusiasts and gun owners are also going to have to face up to some hard realities. They can quote the second amendment all that they want, while trying to pretend that the words “well regulated” aren’t in it, but it simply does not mean all or nothing no matter how much you want it to. The Supreme Court has already ruled that regulation doesn’t violate the Constitution, and because of the fragmented nature of our country, each state sets its own gun laws that are often wildly out of sync with each other. Rather than fighting the inevitability of gun regulation, the smarter move is to implement sane, logical and effective legislation that preserves gun owners’ rights but puts a system in place to help prevent those who would misuse them from getting their hands on them.

What Congress thinks a 3D printed gun is.

As much as both sides of the gun debate, as well as the 3D printed gun issue, want their problems with it to go away, that simply isn’t going to happen. The fact that both sides can be less than mature when responding to the opinions of the other certainly isn’t helping settle the issue either. (As I can attest with the hate mail from both sides that I often receive after I write anything on the issue.) Ultimately, some things are going to have to change with the way that we debate and discuss the politics of firearm ownership, especially as it relates to the 3D printing industry. If we don’t, then history has taught us that the option for us to debate the issue is going to be replaced with poorly thought-out laws rammed through Congress.

How long until laws are passed requiring manufacturers to include blocks for 3D printed firearm parts? The fact that it is almost un-implementable wouldn’t alter the fact that it has already happened with other technologies. And beyond guns, I’m extremely uncomfortable with the law regulating what someone can and cannot print on their printer. It isn’t as far a leap from preventing the printing of gun parts to preventing materials considered obscene, or preventing trademarked materials from being printed at home. 3D printing is still highly emergent technology that, while opening entirely new possibilities, is still struggling to find its proper place in our world. Things rarely go well when governments step in to regulate technology that they don’t understand.

Let us know what you think of the 3D printed firearm issue (or call me a pinko scum or a fascist or a micro-penised gun nut, depending on your political ideology) over on our Shuty 3D Printed 9mm Pistol forum thread at 3DPB.com.

3dprint.com

by  | AUGUST 19, 2015

Startup hopes to revolutionize construction with 3D printing

http://www.manufacturing.net/news/2015/07/startup-hopes-to-revolutionize-construction-with-3d-printing

Startup Hopes To Revolutionize Construction With 3D Printing

A Tennessee startup company’s 3D printing technology could enable builders to create strong, lightweight structures while dramatically cutting costs.

Branch Technology, based in Chattanooga, uses a technique called cellular fabrication to print matrices that serve as the internal structure for buildings.

A matrix weighing 2.5 pounds and complemented with spray foam, for example, can support nearly 3,000 pounds, and the process could reportedly reduce construction costs from thousands of dollars per square foot to as little as $80.

Conventional 3D printing gradually applies layers of plastic to create a structure; cellular fabrication, by contrast, prints a combination of plastic and carbon fiber into solid building material.

The system can create a structure up to 25 feet wide and 58 feet tall at the construction sites themselves.

“We fit them together like big Lego blocks on site,” founder and CEO Platt Boyd told Fortune.

Once printed, builders can add concrete, insulation or other materials to the structure.

“It’s the real deal,” Boyd said.

Branch thus far raised just more than $900,000 in funding and hopes to acquire another $1.5 million. The company is also sponsoring a home design competition in an effort to apply the technology at scale.

manufacturing.net

by Andy Szal | Thu, 07/30/2015 – 2:39pm

Candy mechanics uses 3D printing

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150720-candy-mechanics-uses-3d-printing-to-turn-selfies-into-edible-candy.html

Candy Mechanics uses 3D printing to turn selfies into edible candy

The 3D printing of food is one of the most exciting and amusing developments within the world of additive manufacturing, but hasn’t been able to recreate very detailed designs. Now a new British startup has put an unusual spin the production process to achieve a much higher quality. Called Candy Mechanics, they use 3D scanners and 3D printed molds to turn selfies into edible lollypops made in an impressive six different flavors. If anything, it really proves how much fun you can have with desktop technology and a creative mind.

The project in question is called Heads on Sticks, that has just completed a very successful six week trial at Selfridges London. Startup Candy Mechanics was founded by Sam Part and Ben Redford out of a love for fun and ridiculously awesome stuff. These two modern-day Willy Wonkas were fortunate enough to get on board with Makerversity, a pioneering making community established in 2013. They specialize in bringing innovative designers together with workshops, materials, tools and the environment necessary to develop a startup. Makerversity set the two makers up with a workshop in the iconic Selfridges London for six weeks, where they pioneered these fascinating edible lollypops with the help of customers from the streets and Selfridges’ staff members.

The final products are then made through a remarkably simple process. First, scans of customers are made, which are used to make 3D printed mini busts. These are then used to make molds, which can be filled with chocolate or any flavor you prefer. ‘In all seriousness though, there’s some incredible tech out there at the moment and we feel like it’s a great time to apply some of that tech to the world of candy. We’re not just about lollipops, we want to push the boundaries of how people think and interact with candy in all its forms,’ they say in an interview with Makerversity.

This process was developed during their trial at Selfridges. ‘We had six weeks to develop a product from scratch all the way through to retail,’ they wrote on their blog. ‘It was like christmas morning breaking open brand spanking new machines and all the tools we needed to get started.’ Their goal? To develop a kit that can be used to make your own chocolate heads. ‘In the kit we put a 3D print of you, chocolate, sticks, instructions & a custom made mould of your very own head,’ they add. This six weeks trial turned out to be an amazing prototyping period at one of the busiest shopping areas in Britain, enabling them to develop a fantastic product and get a lot of feedback.

This process has now prepared them for a production run of their six favorite flavors, all made with their custom production process. ‘Using 3D scanners, 3D Printers and 3D humans beings (you), we have developed a process that makes your face scrumptious, no matter what you look like,’ they write. The available flavors are: chocolate, raspberry and pistachio, banana and salted peanut, raspberry and black sesame seeds, salted corn and chocolate crumb, peanut and chocolate crumb.

And why lollipops? ‘Two reasons. A: We think everyone has always wanted to lick their own (or someone else’s) face. B: We also think that at some point, everyone has wanted someone else’s head on a stick. We’re just providing the means to do it – call us a public service,’ the duo explains.

But in all seriousness, cofounder Ben Redford explained what an impact 3D printers can make on original and small scale manufacturing. ‘3D printers have massively reduced the time to get from an idea to something that resembles a good working prototype. They’ve changed the making process because you can now make rapid iterations and developments on a product very quickly, hack other products with printed parts and even produce small batches of products from the comfort of your desk, kitchen or space rocket,’ he says. And when combined with a fantastic making environment like that provided by Makerversity, beautiful (and tasty) things can happen.

3ders.org

by Alec | July 20, 2015

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150720-candy-mechanics-uses-3d-printing-to-turn-selfies-into-edible-candy.html

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 printing color

http://mashable.com/2015/06/19/3d-printing-color/

3d-prints

3D printing has been taken to a whole new level: Color

3D printing is driving a huge revolution in the world of design and technology. In the process, it is changing the way we think about the design, prototyping and manufacturing of just about everything.

But anyone who has played with a 3D printer will be aware of one significant problem. This 800-pound gorilla is the issue of color. 3D prints can be magnificent copies of more or less any shape. But in terms of color, they are mere shadows of the originals.

Today, that looks set to change thanks to the work of Alan Brunton and pals at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research in Germany, who have worked out how to produce accurate colors in a 3D print for the first time. Their work promises to take 3D printing to an entirely new level.

The approach takes advantage of a relatively new way to make 3D prints. In general, these objects are made one layer at a time by fusing powder or laying down extruded plastic. Neither approach gives anything but rudimentary control over an object’s color.

What’s needed instead is a way of creating objects in the same way as 2D printers make images, pixel by pixel. In other words, this requires 3D prints to be laid down, not in layers, but voxel by voxel.

In the last year or so, exactly this technology has come to market. It works using a number of inkjets that lay down an object, droplet by droplet. These droplets are instantly cured by UV light to form a solid.

That immediately allows the possibility of much more accurate control of color, since each droplet can be thought of as a voxel. This is the approach that Brunton and pals have taken, but it is easier said than done for a number of reasons.

The first is the sheer volume of data and number crunching involved in creating a virtual color 3D object, even before the printing begins.

The droplets from inkjets are tiny — there are some 18 million of them in a solid cubic centimeter. So any decent-sized object must be made up of tens of billions of voxels and the impact that each one has on the final color has to be calculated.

The second is that the droplets are translucent because UV light must be able to pass through to cure them. This has a significant impact on their visual appearance since light ends up passing through several layers of voxels, being scattered along the way.

That means droplet color has to be carefully controlled to a depth of several voxels throughout the object. And this dramatically increases the complexity of the algorithms needed to calculate their required colors.

The final challenge comes from the nature of 3D printing. In 2D printing, it is possible to combine up to three different inks at any point on an image. In a 3D print, each droplet must be a single material and that places important constraints on what is possible colorwise.

Nevertheless, Brunto and co have made significant advances by bringing to bear the many decades of research that has been done on color management for 2D printing and for color imaging in general.

Their approach is to combine two techniques. The first is the 3D equivalent of a 2D printing technique called half-toning. This is where continuous shade and color is replaced by an arrangement of dots of different sizes and spacing. The second is a way of calculating the color of a surface given the way light has been scattered for several layers of voxels below.

And the results look impressive. In the pictures above, three apples and the thumb are real. The rest are 3D prints but it is not easy task to tell them apart.

And Brunton and co say the results should get better in the near future as materials scientists develop less translucent printing materials and as printers become even higher resolution. In both these respects, the team’s algorithms are future proof. Less translucent inks should be easier to handle and the higher resolution should be manageable too.

The ability to combine translucent and opaque inks should even make it possible to reproduce the surface appearance of many biological materials that are also semi-translucent, such as skin.

That’s fascinating work. It will usher in a new generation of printing application. And it will make the current generation of printers look thoroughly old-fashioned in just a few years.

References:

mashable.com

http://mashable.com/2015/06/19/3d-printing-color/