A brief history of 3D printing

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/the-evolution-of-3d-printing

A 3D printer used by a clinic in France to create skull and facial implants.

A brief history of 3D printing

On that evening, more than three decades ago, when he invented 3D printing, Chuck Hull called his wife.

She was already in her pyjamas, but he insisted that she drive to his lab to see the small, black plastic cup that he had just produced after 45 minutes of printing.

It was March 19, 1983. Hull was then an engineer working at a U.S. firm that coated furniture with a hard plastic veneer. As part of his work, he used photopolymers — acrylic-based liquids — that would solidify under ultraviolet light. Hull thought the same sort of process might be used to build a three-dimensional object from many thin layers of acrylic, hardened one after another, with targeted UV light from a laser beam.

Hull pursued his research on nights and weekends until finally sharing his eureka moment with his wife, Anntionette.

“I did it,” he told her simply.

Chuck Hull, inventor of the 3D printer

Hull took out a series of patents on his invention and went on to co-found a company, 3D Systems, that remains a leader in the field. Last year, the 75-year-old was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Hull’s invention launched a wave of innovation. Design engineers embraced 3D printers as the answer to their prayers: Instead of waiting weeks or months to have new parts produced, they could design them on computers and print prototypes the same day.

3D printers have since evolved and can now use all kinds of materials, including metals, ceramics, sugar, rubbers, plastics, chemicals, wax and living cells. It means designers can progress rapidly from concept to final product.

Advances in the printers’ speed, accuracy and versatility have made them attractive to researchers, profit-making firms and even do-it-yourselfers.

The cost of the machines has also dropped dramatically, which means it’s easy for home inventors to enter the field. Home Depot sells a desktop version for $1,699 while Amazon.com markets the DaVinci Junior 3D printer for $339.

The machines have been used to print shoes, jewellery, pizza, cakes, car parts, invisible braces, firearms, architectural models and fetal baby models (based on ultrasound images).

The wave of innovation triggered by the 3D printer is only now beginning to crest in the field of medicine. Researchers are racing to engineer implantable livers, kidneys and other body parts with the help of 3D printers.

In Canada, scientists are using 3D bioprinters as they work toward creating new limb joints made from a patient’s own tissue, and implantable skin for burn victims.

ottawacitizen.com

by Andrew Duffy | August 28, 2015 2:00 PM EDT

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First 3D printed pill

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/architecture-design-blog/2015/aug/05/the-first-3d-printed-pill-opens-up-a-world-of-downloadable-medicine

Pink Pills

The first 3D-printed pill opens up a world of downloadable medicine

Now that the US has approved a 3D-printed drug, pharmaceuticals companies in the UK are hoping their patents will be next – from the pyramid-shaped pill-makers to the man who has done for drugs what Apple did for music.

With architects printing lumpy plastic houses, fashion designers printing oddly-shaped dresses and food companies printing dodgy-looking hamburgers, the hype around 3D printing can often seem like a novelty. But news that the world’s first 3D-printed drug has just been approved suggests that, beyond the realm of personalised plastic trinkets, the technology still has a huge amount to offer.

Developed by Ohio-based pharmaceutical company Aprecia, Spritam levetiracetam is a new drug to control seizures brought on by epilepsy. Approved by the US Food and Drug Administration this week, it employs the company’s trademark “ZipDose” technology, which uses 3D printing to create a more porous pill. Its structure means the pill dissolves more quickly on contact with liquid, making it much easier to swallow high doses than a conventional tablet.

The 3D printing process also allows layers of medication to be packaged more tightly in precise dosages, and it points to a future of more personalised medicine. 3D-printed pills could be custom-ordered, based on specific patient needs, rather than on a one-drug-fits-all approach.

“For the last 50 years, we have manufactured tablets in factories and shipped them to hospitals,” said Dr Mohamed Albed Alhnan, a lecturer in pharmaceutics at the University of Central Lancashire. “For the first time, this process means we can produce tablets much closer to the patient.” By making slight adjustments to the software before printing, hospitals could adjust doses for individual patients, a process of personalisation that is otherwise prohibitively expensive.

The porous pill technology could also have important benefits for other drugs, according to Marvin Rorick, a neurologist at Riverhills Neuroscience in Cincinnati. “In my experience, patients and caregivers often have difficulty following a treatment regimen,” he said. “Whether they are dealing with a swallowing disorder or the daily struggle of getting a child to take his or her medication, adherence can be a challenge. Especially for children and seniors, having an option for patients to take their medication as prescribed is important to managing this disease.”

While 3D printing has already been embraced in other medical fields – from printing new jawbones in facial reconstruction to custom-shaped teeth and other dental implants, as well as producing personalised prosthetics – this is the first time the technology has been approved for the production of drugs; and it won’t be the last time.

Researchers at the School of Pharmacy of University College London have been developing a technique to 3D-print pills in different shapes, from pyramids to doughnuts, using a technique known as “hot melt extrusion”. The different forms, which would be hard to manufacture using standard production techniques, release drugs at different rates. Their research has found that the rate of drug release is dependent not on surface area, but on the surface area-to-volume ratio. A pyramid-shaped pill, for example, releases a drug slower than a cube or a sphere, allowing absorption to be controlled.

While the Spritam pill similarly uses 3D printing primarily to change the physical structure of the pill, other researchers have been working on how the technology could be used to develop new drugs at a molecular level. Professor Lee Cronin at Glasgow University has been working on a “chemputer”, a sort of 3D-printing chemistry set, which can be programmed to make chemical reactions and produce different molecules. Describing the process as similar to what Apple did for music, he envisages a world where patients will be able to download the “recipes” for drugs and print them at home. In the future, he suggests, we won’t be buying drugs, so much as blueprints or apps.

theguardian.com

by  | Wednesday 5 August 2015

First drug made by a 3D printer

http://qz.com/471030/the-fda-has-approved-the-first-drug-made-by-a-3d-printer/

The FDA has approved the first drug made by a 3D printer

3D printing, a technology still in search of a market, may have just found a home in the world of medicine. The US Food and Drug Administration approved an epilepsy medicine called Spritam that is made by 3D printers, making it the first 3D-printed product that the FDA has approved for use inside the human body.

Aprecia, the pharmaceutical company behind Spritam, says that its new type of tablet is made by 3D-printing layers of the powdered drug, binding the layers of powder together, and then blowing away the excess powder. The drug’s unique structure allows it to dissolve considerably faster than the average pill, which as the news site 3DPrint points out is a boon to seizure sufferers who often are prescribed large, hard-to-swallow pills. Aprecia also says 3D printing will allow doctors to know that the medicine they’re prescribing delivers the exact dose intended, as each pill will be completely uniform.

This could prove to be an important step for integrating 3D printing more deeply into the US health system. Doctors in the US already use a government-sponsored 3D-printing repository to share tool designs to aid in surgeries and treatments; now scientists are working on 3D-printed tracheas and bones, as well as ears, kidneys and skin—which could one day help cover the massive shortage in donor organs.

While the quick-dissolving Spritam tablet is a world away from 3D-printed organs and body parts, its approval shows that the FDA thinks certain 3D-printed materials are safe for human consumption.

Rather like 3D printing itself, this drug could be the base layer the technology slowly builds upon, perhaps generating future medical innovations.

qz.com

by Mike Murphy | August 03, 2015

US Navy 3D prints custom drones

http://3dprint.com/85654/us-navy-3d-printed-drones/

drone4

US Navy is 3D Printing Custom Drones Onboard the USS Essex

Back in April of last year,we reported that the United States Navy had installed a 3D printer onboard the USS Essex. This was quite a significant move at the time, allowing sailors to print replacement parts and surgical tools when needed, at sea.

Boy, has a lot changed within a year. Today we get word that the US Navy is now 3D printing custom drones onboard their ships. They’ve apparently been testingthe use of the onboard 3D printers to print out parts used to construct and assemble the drones.

The idea of printing drones, as needed, is one which could greatly improve intelligence while also decreasing the likelihood of Navy personnel being put into harm’s way, and has been on the minds of military planners around the world for some time now. In fact, just last week we reported on a story in which the British Royal Navy had launched 3D Printed SULSA drones from their ships.

ussexxex

Data files and models of the drones can be sent via satellite from land to the USS Essex, and eventually other ships within the Navy fleet, and then these files can be 3D printed in a matter of hours. Once printed, the parts can be assembled together with other electronic devices held in storage on these ships, to create virtually any type of drone that may be required.

The project, which is being carried out by researchers at the Naval Postgraduate School, looks to provide sailors with modern-day technology which could benefit them and the United States in more ways than one.

“The challenge aboard a ship is logistics,” explained Alan Jaeger, faculty research associate at the Naval Postgraduate School. “Once a ship leaves, getting additional parts to that ship becomes difficult.”

drone5

The idea that ships can leave port with just a small supply of electronic components and parts, common to the majority of drones, means that completely custom bodies can be designed on land and then quickly sent to the 3D printers on these ships for quick fabrication. While the drones could be designed to perform many different tasks, the example drone that was 3D printed on the USS Essex, this past December, was designed to carry a transmitter and tiny camera that was capable of sending live video back to a head-mounted display worn by one of the sailors on the ship. Its mission was to fly over ships in order to help stop piracy and drug smuggling at sea.

“This kind of concept — the flight controller and the major parts — doesn’t matter if it is a four-bladed or six or eight(-bladed drone), or whether it is 18 inches across or four feet across, as long as the electronics stay the same, the sailors can essentially create a platform, based on what their need would be,” explained Jaeger.

drone2

While the testing of this process onboard the USS Essex has been deemed very successful, there have been some problems that the researchers have run into.

“Even with a small amount of wind, something this small will get buffeted around,” explained Jaeger.

This isn’t exactly an issue with the 3D printing process, but rather an issue with tiny drones in general. Certainly continued research into the 3D printing of drones will result in better, more well equipped UAVs for the US Navy in the future. What do you think about this latest breakthrough? Discuss in the US Navy 3D Prints Custom Drones forum thread on 3DPB.com.

3dprint.com

by  | JULY 30, 2015

3D printing and climate change

http://3dprint.com/71924/3d-print-climate-change/

clim1

What is 3D Printing’s Role in Combating Climate Change?

We already have heard enough about climate change that I don’t have to drag you through the litany of weather-related changes we have already seen or the futuristic scenarios that anticipate rising sea levels and an increase in extreme weather events such as tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. There’s also been a lot of talk that humanity will not be able to work its way out of these issues via quick technological fixes: there needs to be a great shift in social priorities that seek ways to turn the situation around, and some think it may already be too late.

Well, although it would be a mistake to presume we can fix our way out of the problem, it is interesting to consider how 3D printing can be a positive part of the solution. But this makes sense when you consider how efficient 3D printing can be. As the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists explains, “the ability to print replacement parts for generators, water filters, or temporary shelters—on site—may become a critical and inexpensive tool of climate adaptation, particularly in zones of instability and conflict.” And another advantage 3D printing has in the fight against climate change is that it can allow for cost-effective greenhouse gas reduction for societies seeking greater energy efficiency in manufacturing processes and products.

clim4

There are many examples of the military’s knowledge, testing, and use of 3D printing in extreme conditions; these conditions give us a glimpse of possible scenarios attached to climate related catastrophes. Since 1997, the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to predict and prepare for weather events in the Global South. (Some critics would say that this preparation is nowhere near what it should be today.) Recently, as an example of an application of 3D printing, 3D printed weather stations are cutting costs and increasing the ability to print replacement parts quickly in remote locations. This makes sense, right?

clim2

But we don’t just want to kick back and think that it’s all in the military’s hands and that poor countries of the Global South can rest assured that wealthier countries have their backs when it comes to climate disaster preparedness.  In fact, the great thing about 3d printing is that it empowers civilians to take things into their own hands and design and print the devices and items they envision using to confront extreme weather conditions. The ability to share open-source designs and empower grassroots knowledge of the technology is probably 3D printing’s greatest overall contribution to combating climate change.

According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, there are other characteristics of 3D printing that make it amenable to climate change preparedness: it can de-globalize hazards, making it easier to enact on-site local production of parts instead of shipping costly items around the world. It can increase accessibility of goods in more remote areas that are difficult to reach. It can enhance energy efficiency since on average additive manufacturing uses 50% less energy and can save up to 90% in material costs. Also, it allows you to only print the parts required, and shipping costs are greatly reduced with on-site production capabilities. Also, 3D printed parts can be made lighter than original parts, and lighter objects require less fuel.

clim8

While the verdict is still out on how seriously the world’s wealthiest governments are taking climate change science and recommended preparation measures, it’s clear that 3D printing can contribute in multiple arenas in helpign us prepare for the possibility of increasing catastrophic weather events. We only hope that all of this can be done in time.

Do you think that 3D printing will have a major role in combating climate change?  If so how?  Discuss in the 3D Printing and Climate Change Forum thread on 3DPB.com.

3dprint.com

by  | JUNE 22, 2015

 

3D printing is about to change the world forever

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ricksmith/2015/06/15/3d-printing-is-about-to-change-the-world-forever/

3D Printing Is About To Change The World Forever

I believe, along with a growing number of leaders around the world, that 3D printing will change the way things are produced more in this century than the industrial revolution did over the last 300 years.

Consider these two recent events:

A little over a year ago, a young Indonesian man named Arie Kurniawan participated in an open innovation challenge hosted by the global industrial company GE. The goal was to redesign the bracket that attaches a jet engine to an airplane wing. Arie’s design beat out over 1,000 other submissions, which was surprising to almost everyone. For one, Arie had absolutely no experience whatsoever with industrial manufacturing. None. Secondly, he had used a completely new design technique enabled by industrial 3D printing technology. But Aries’s bracket worked perfectly. It passed every one of the rigorous end use industrial tests for durability, stress and reliability.

And it weighed 83% less than the part it replaced.

At about the same time, halfway around the world, GE’s radical new fuel injection system for a jet engine first emerged from a industrial 3D metal printer. The previous system had 21 separate parts, which needed to be produced, shipped to the same location, and then assembled. The new 3D printed system had only one. It was five times stronger, and contributed to an increase in fuel efficiency of an astonishing 15%! That a savings of over $1 million dollars per year on fuel. On every single airplane that uses the new system.

Reports of these two startling events quickly spread throughout GE and beyond. While certainly no one expected these single parts to have an immediate impact on the company’s overall financial performance, the implications of these two events were disarmingly clear.

  • If 3D printing enabled individual parts to be redesigned with such massive improvements in efficiency, what possibilities existed for the companies’ other millions of parts?
  • If someone with no training in industrial production could so impact a company stocked with top engineers, what were the implications for the current global workforce?
  • If the new technology could reduce 21 component parts to one, what did this mean for the future of GE’s longstanding parts producers?
  • If these parts could now be cost effectively produced in the United States, what did this mean for the global supply chain?

Even bigger, what if these new technologies could be used to redesign not only a few parts, but an entire airplane?  Could we envision reducing the entire weight of a plane by 5%, 10%, even 20%?  An outcome like this would not simply result in a financial uplift for companies like GE—it would change the economics of an entire industry!

In fact, it would change every industry.

forbes.com

by Rick Smith | JUN 15, 2015 @ 2:05 PM

 

3D printed prosthetics for Ugandan schoolchildren

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150603-3d-printed-prosthetics-get-ugandan-amputees-back-on-their-feet.html

3D printed prosthetics get Ugandan schoolchildren back on their feet

Although we’ve heard numerous stories about how 3D printing has helped enable hundreds of those in need of prosthetic limbs, a majority of the cases have been located in the United States or the United Kingdom where 3D printers or 3D printing providers are becoming increasingly common and access to a 3D printer is getting easier than ever before.  While this is excellent news, there are still many world locations where affordable prosthetic devices – and even 3d printers in general – are needed and could be used perhaps even more than those located in more developed Western countries.

In the meantime – thankfully – various organizations and 3D printing providers have been picking up 3D printing jobs as needed to ensure that those who need the prosthetic devices the most are getting the proper care that they need.  More recently, the University of Toronto and charity Christian Blind Mission took it upon themselves to produce prostheses for a Ugandan schoolboy who had been in need of a prosthetic device for years.

The schoolboy, Jesse Ayebazibwe of Kisubi, Uganda, tragically had his right leg amputated after he was hit by a truck after walking home from school three years ago.  Since then, the nine-year-old has been maneuvering with the aid of crutches – however they have since made it difficult to play or move around.  “I liked playing like a normal kid before the accident,” he said.

Thanks to the support of a local orthopaedic technologist, Moses Kaweesa of the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services (CoRSU) in Uganda, Ayebazibwe was able to use an infrared scanner and some 3D modeling software to create a prosthetic solution for the young boy before shipping the files to Canada to be 3D printed.

“The process is quite short, that’s the beauty of the 3D printers,” said Kaweesa.  “Jesse was here yesterday, today he’s being fitted.”

While Ayebazibwe previously wore a traditional-style prosthesis last year, his new 3D printed prosthesis is among the first in a trial that could see more 3D printed prosthetic device across Uganda for others in need – thanks in no small part to the efforts of Kaweesa.

Currently, the entire country of Uganda has just 12 trained prosthetic technicians for over 250,000 children who have lost limbs, which are often due to fires or congenital diseases.  At $12,000, a portable solution consisting of a laptop, a 3d scanner and a 3d printer is not cheap – however when considering the impact that a portable prosthetic device system could have on over 200,000 children in need – in northern Uganda alone, many people have lost limbs due to decades of war where chopping off limbs was a common reality.

“There’s no support from the government for disabled people … we have a disability department and a minister for disabled people, but they don’t do anything,” said Kaweesa.  “You can travel with your laptop and scanner.”

Upon receiving his 3D printed prosthetic, Ayebazibwe was clearly ecstatic.  “(It) felt good, like my normal leg,” he said. “I can do anything now — run and play football.”

The boy’s 53-year old grandmother, Florence Akoth, looks after him, even carrying him the two kilometers to school after his leg was crushed and his life shattered. She too is thrilled.

“Now he’s liked at school, plays, does work, collects firewood and water,” said Akoth.

3ders.org

by Simon | Jun 3, 2015

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150603-3d-printed-prosthetics-get-ugandan-amputees-back-on-their-feet.html

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

Warehouse A

http://www.pymnts.com/in-depth/2015/3d-printing-may-make-the-warehouse-a-thing-of-the-past/#.VdXcMPntmkp

Innovation

3D PRINTING MAY MAKE THE WAREHOUSE A THING OF THE PAST

Not long ago, during his 2013 State of the Union Address, U.S. President Barack Obama called attention to 3D printing, saying it “has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.” While the c is expected to alter the way consumer goods are made, 3D printing could also affect the entire supply chain—from warehousing to profit models.

Collapsing the Supply Chain

In the not-so-distant future, manufacturing may no longer be associated with warehouses filled with stacks of finished products waiting for shipment. Instead, 3D printing allows manufacturers to easily produce goods to order.

According to Ed Morris, director of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, 3D printing brings an on-demand business model to suppliers. “Whenever you need a product, you just make it,” herecently told third-party logistics company Cerasis. “That collapses the supply chain down to its simplest parts, adding new efficiencies to the system.” This simplification will spread throughout the entire supply chain, from assembly and carrying to distribution.

The value of 3D printing is maturing from its early days of product prototyping and expanding into the realm of finished products. Currently, finished products make up just 28 percent of the money spent on printing technology. That figure is expected to jump to 80 percent by the end of the decade. For manufacturers looking to cut costs, the advantages of moving toward 3D printing are numerous. On-demand printing requires little physical storage space, allowing manufactures to reduce overhead by moving production closer to the intended market, and shortening the length of the chain.

Printing is also well suited for low-volume and specialized products, particularly replacement parts. Shifting this segment of work to printers from factory floors frees up traditional manufacturers to focus their time, energy and talents on other goods. Some experts expect the change to be drastic. Cutting the need for high-volume production facilities and low-level assembly workers, 3D printing effectively cuts out half of the supply chain in “one single blow,” according to Cerasis.

Caution: Bumps Ahead

Despite the advantages and positive growth, the expense of 3D printing machines, materials and maintenance is slowing mass adoption. Printers now range from $1,000 to over $1 million. The price of materials remains high. Data collected by Supply Chain Quarterly with the Center for Supply Chain Research at The Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal College of Business revealed 3D polymers can cost up to 104 times more than the polymers used in injection molds. Metals also cost more, some 7-to-15 times more than metals used in traditional manufacturing methods.

But 3D printing can reduce the expense and complexity of production, lowering the cost of entry for new manufacturers. Printing allows for low-cost prototyping and the ability of small orders opening up the market for new companies to challenge legacy companies or to cater to a niche market. The increased level of competition could force suppliers and manufacturers to find ways to differentiate themselves or offer additional value-added services.

Profit-making potential expands beyond the classic buyer-seller relationship in the new 3D printingsupply chain. In its review of the disruptive forces that accompany the 3D printing revolution, McKinsey & Company highlighted the option for businesses to sell blueprints to be printed somewhere else. As the tools needed to print products become more widely available, buyers could print aftermarket or replacement parts on their own equipment using data supplied by manufacturers.

The on-demand wave has hit many aspects of B2B transactions, from credit cards to business travel, as buyers demand to do business in real-time. Now, that wave is washing over manufacturing, too – and the opportunity could be quite lucrative. McKinsey Global Institute research estimates 3D printing could have a yearly impact of $550 billion on the manufacturing process alone by 2025. But for now, high costs are likely to keep 3D printing a pipedream for many manufacturers today.

References:

pymnts.com

by  | 8:15 AM EDT April 28th, 2015

Jet Engine!

http://gizmodo.com/this-is-the-first-3d-printed-part-thats-approved-for-a-1698939385

This Is the First 3D-Printed Part That's Approved for a Jet Engine

This Is the First 3D Printed Part That’s Approved for a Jet Engine

3D printing has just reached another major milestone as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has officially approved GE’s T25 as the first 3D printed part cleared for use on a commercial jet engine.

GE is now working with Boeing to retrofit over 400 of its GE90-94B engines—used on the modern 777—with the new part.

But before you get second thoughts about ever flying again, it’s important to note that this part wasn’t created using the consumer-grade 3D printers that churn out toys, smartphone cases, and other plastic trinkets. The fist-sized silver metal housing designed to protect a compressor inlet temperature sensor from icing was created using a 3D printer using additive manufacturing techniques. But instead of extruding plastic from a heated nozzle, a highly-accurate laser is directed at layer after layer of cobalt-chrome powder to slowly build up the part over time.

What you’re left with is a part made from lightweight cobalt-chrome alloy metal that’s just as strong and durable as parts made with more traditional manufacturing techniques like metal stamping or milling. Except that using a 3D printer means these parts are actually faster to produce and refine, they can be far more complex in their design, and they result in little to no wasted material during production.

This Is the First 3D-Printed Part That's Approved for a Jet Engine

gizmodo.com

by Andrew Liszewski | 4/20/15 10:15am