11 myths about Additive Manufacturing, Part 1

AM is surrounded by much hype, but are you getting the whole story?

Five years ago, Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman gave us Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing,1 helping to both create and ride a wave of enthusiasm for 3D printing. This enthusiasm, combined with the infusion of U.S. government funding and the expiration of key patents, prompted many to buy a 3D printer for the kids and make stock investments in rising star companies.

Powder bed processes

Along with their book, Lipson and Kurman  gave us the 10 Principles of 3D Printing as a roadmap into the future to explain why 3D printing will disrupt manufacturing and product design. I bought and read the book and enjoyed it. I get that “no one wants to follow a small dream,” but as a process engineer with a background in advanced materials, digital design, and manufacturing, I knew it was not that easy.

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Will 3D printed human skin make animal testing for cosmetics obsolete?

It may sound like science fiction but the beauty industry is experiencing a makeover and for the first time it’s not at the expense of animals

Damien Hirst

Back in 2015, L’Oréal announced that it was experimenting with printing human skin tissue on which to test its cosmetics. The French beauty giant – which owns Lancôme and Maybelline, among many others – was the first beauty conglomerate to announce such intentions. The same year, L’Oréal partnered with Organovo, a San Diego-based start-up that designs and creates functional human tissues using bioprinting technology. These 3D printed tissues, which Bloomberg predicts could be a reality by 2020, mimic the form and function of native tissue in the body and testing on them could signal a revolution in the world of cosmetic testing. ‘‘What was once a plot for a science fiction novel is now advancing our scientific research,’’ Taylor Crouch, Organovo’s CEO said to the Financial Times last year.

There are two types of skin tissues that can be created by bioprinting technology, according to Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist and the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital. One type of skin tissue is developed with an individual’s own cells and it can be used to treat burns or skin conditions that the subject may have. The second is a regular skin formed using a stock of genetic human cells. Here cells are taken from donor organs and plastic surgery leftovers and then turned into a printable bio-ink. It is this second type of tissue that could one day make animal testing obsolete.

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3D printing applied to MRO of F/A-18 Hornet by U.S. Marines

A pilot looks out of the canopy of his F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft. U.S. Navy photo by Cmdr. Ian C. Anderson

At the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, southern Japan, 3D printing is now in use to keep F/A-18 Hornet multirole fighters airborne.

MCAS Iwakuni engineers have devised two products that reduce the time it takes to repair the fighter jets, saving costs for the U.S. Department of Defense. The products help with the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of the fighter jets, covering all tasks carried out to ensure the airworthiness of an flight vehicle.

The 3D printed products include an engine ship kit, designed by the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 (MALS 12), and a plastic ring kit that helps the maintenance of the bearings on the F/A-18’s Gatling gun.

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How emerging technologies can transform the supply chain

Most companies are still only at an early stage on their journey towards a true digital supply chain transformation. That’s partly due to history, because companies have traditionally sold products and services through linear value chains as well as an antiquated IT infrastructure making even relatively simple digital initiatives a big challenge.

However, as digital ecosystems consisting of market networks enable hybrid forms of cooperation and competition with shared data in the cloud, it is no longer an option to not be digital. One important challenge is identifying the right supply chain use cases that will provide a competitive advantage and can be addressed utilizing a digital-based solution. There are three key digital supply chain trends having significant positive impacts on clients: lights-out planning, blockchain and 3D printing.

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Medical 3D Printing: Where Are We Now?

In 2015, market research firm Gartner projected that medical 3D printing would become the pioneering field that would drive additive manufacturing (AM) into the mainstream in two to five years. Four years have passed, so we’ve decided to examine the industry to determine if Gartner’s predictions have come true.

Gartner’s 3D printing hype cycle curve from 2017, the most recent graph made public by the firm. (Image courtesy of Gartner.)

In this article, we’ll explore a handful of medical 3D printing stories from the past year to gain perspective on the level of adoption at which the technology stands.

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Is 3D printing ready for scaled production?

While additive manufacturing has received attention for its promise of mass customization and generative design, not everyone believes it’s ready for large-quantity production.

Forecast 3D, 3D printing, additive manufacturing, prototyping, mass customization, HP multi-jet 3D printing

3D Printing is revolutionizing design and customization. It has become the go-to process for prototyping. As an additive manufacturing (AM) process, 3D printing has proved effective in many applications in Aerospace and Medical, but technical constraints may be holding 3D printing back from become that next manufacturing revolution.

For one, few companies have redesigned their products and supply chains for AM friendliness. “One of the biggest barriers to additive manufacturing is that the way companies utilize the technology doesn’t match what their production requires,” Ken Burns, technical director at Forecast 3D, told Design News. “When opportunities to use additive manufacturing come to the production side, there are so many barriers. You need to do x, y, and z, to make it work, and that affects the price point.”

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Guns: Just a red herring in 3D printing or something more problematic

If a group of people was asked about the legal concerns associated with 3D printing, most would likely mention 3D printed guns. But the moral and legal debate the technology raises is much broader

3D printing. Photo: Reuters

If a group of people was asked about the legal concerns associated with additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, most would likely mention 3D printed guns. More specifically, the fear that nefarious individuals will print undetectable firearms in the privacy of their own home for nefarious purposes. In fact, as recently as this past summer, a U.S. Senator introduced draft legislation to prevent just such an occurrence by criminalizing attempts to proliferate the software blueprints for guns.

3D printing is not a young technology per se. The basic technology has been around for decades, but it has experienced a resurgence of innovation over the past couple of years. There are many different methods for 3D printing, but most involve the use of computer-aided design software (CAD) to instruct a digital fabricating machine that extrudes materials, via a layering pattern, to form objects. The technology is relatively unlimited in the materials it can print with, and in the complexity or size of the objects. 3D printers range broadly in cost and use from the industrial to home-based, and even to child-oriented devices. Notably, 3D printing is likely seeing this resurgence because of the expiration of foundational patents in the field that previously prevented too much innovation.

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Truck OEMs, suppliers look to online growth, 3D printing

Equipment and component manufacturers in the trucking industry are looking to expand their online presence and also see potential in 3D printing, both of which could help them reach more customers, they said.

A technician works on a part that was made using a 3D printer.

Daimler Trucks North America is expanding alliancetruckparts.com, its e-commerce platform, and has seen an increase in customers using pinnacletruckparts.com, its dealer-sponsored e-commerce solution.

Ultimately, customers will decide how they communicate with the company, said Stefan Kurschner, DTNA’s senior vice president of aftermarket.

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Janne Kyttanen: does speed really matter in 3D printing?

Kyttanen Speed 3D printing

Demonstrating lighting speed 3D printing will inevitably get a lot of Youtube hits, but where does speed really matter? If you are able to make Eiffel tower miniatures at super fast rates, how would the entire logistics, inventory, distribution etc. compare to how a Chinese factory is already doing it?

I use this as demo example to demonstrate the clear challenge most companies in the 3D/AM space have, which is being able to come up with creative and truly business driven applications for their technology. If the applications were known, the demo parts would reflect that knowledge.

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3D printing and additive manufacturing – what’s the difference?

If you do it in your garage, it’s “3D printing”. If it’s used to build a car, it’s “additive manufacturing”? Where’s line between these two terms? Let’s see if we can’t find it.

A new way of making.

Are “3D printing” and “additive manufacturing” (AM) the same thing? In general, we know that terms stretch over time to include more than just their default meanings. Most of us carry digital entertainment supercomputers around in our pockets, and call them “phones”.

Whatever the name, new ways of fabricating directly from bytes to stuff are radically changing the what, where, how, and when of making objects. What roles, then, do the two terms “additive manufacturing” and “3D printing” play in describing new ways of making?

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