Medical technology continues to advance all the time, with life-saving procedures and medicines that were previously unheard of. Now, Global Data believe that 3D printing could be as disruptive to healthcare as the internet has been to retail.
The company initiated a study for its Disruptor Tech database, and the results revealed that 3D printing could revolutionise the supply chain by limiting the gaps between sourcing, production, and distribution. 3D printing has the ability to create ‘clinical trial ready’ devices without the need for expensive tools, computer-aided manufacturing, and computer numerically controlled manufacturing. As a result of this, price is lowered and waiting times are also reduced.
What happens when two financial juggernauts in the same industry combine? It seems we are about to find out. Just a few weeks ago, it was confirmed that Wabtec Corporation is entering a definitive agreement to merge with GE Transportation, a branch of General Electric Company. This major transaction will not only boost Wabtec into a Fortune 500, global transportation leader in rail equipment, software, and services, but it will significantly influence the direction of 3D printing with regard to the railway industry as well.
3D printing has cemented itself as a core component in the evolution of railway manufacturing and equipment over the last several years, with several agencies and companies investing research and development resources into exploring further applications for the technology. The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has integrated 3D printing technology as a cost-effective method of creating and developing parts for the train system, including the ticket gates, ticket vending machines, and even the railways themselves as well as other assets across the metro network. In 2013, rail freight operator Union Pacific (UP) began experimenting with 3D printing to create handheld automatic equipment identification (AEI) devices to ensure that rolling stock is properly tracked and assembled. UP has also implemented 3D printing processes to greatly accelerate their production cycles, with parts now able to be 3D printed within mere hours.
The German automotive manufacturer, Audi, has integrated the Stratasys J750 3D printer into its design operations.
The printer, the world’s only full-colour, multi-material 3D printer, has been adopted by Audi to innovate and accelerate its design process.
The firm has found that it is able to produce prototypes efficiently and effectively through additive manufacturing.
At its Pre-Series Centre in Ingolstadt, Germany, Audi has been able to reduce the prototyping time for its tail light covers by 50% since implementing the Stratasys printer, against methods such as moulding and milling.
“Design is one of the most important buying decisions for Audi customers, therefore it’s crucial we adhere to supreme quality standards during the design and concept phase of vehicle development,” explains Dr. Tim Spiering, Head of the Audi Plastics 3D Printing Centre.
A startup working to build 3D-printed concrete towers for land-based wind turbines now wants to do the same for offshore projects.
The towers and foundations for offshore wind turbines currently being deployed at sea, and the even larger machines under development, are so massive that shipping the components via road or rail is becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible.
To address the issue, a startup founded by a former National Renewable Energy Laboratory engineer aims to use concrete additive manufacturing, also known as 3D concrete printing, to build turbine towers and foundations at or near ports for less money and in less time than with conventional methods.
MCRC is a cooperative research center dedicated to helping Australian companies increase their global relevance through research-led innovation in manufacturing. Its latest project involves a partnership with Downer’s Mineral Technologies business as well as the University of Technology Sydney Rapido advanced technology development unit. The three organizations will work together to research solutions that will advance ways in which composite polymers are used to manufacture mineral separation equipment and create new manufacturing technologies.
3D printing will be involved in the project, which is anticipated to run over a three-year period. The work will take place at a new additive manufacturing facility at the University of Technology’s Broadway campus, and will involve Rapido, a rapid prototyping unit established by the university in 2016 to help industry, government and community partners transform ideas and problems into solutions and products.
Good opinion piece from Rob Enderle
Last week, I was in Spain with HP and much of the conversation was on how 3D printers were going to disrupt and revolutionize manufacturing. However, underneath all of the discussions was a growing concept that the factory itself, as these 3D printers advance and become more capable, would evolve into a huge and vastly more capable 3D printer. Except, rather than printing parts, these huge printers would print things like fully capable automobiles. Granted, we are likely a couple of decades out but talk about disruptive technology revolutions this could be a massive game changer because it anticipates a time when, rather than regional warehouses, Amazon might have regional mega printers.
Let’s talk about that this week.
Evolution of 3D Printers
Until recently, 3D printers were more of a science experiment than an actual tool. The parts, while physically representative, weren’t very robust or, if they were robust, they cost more than most other manufacturing methods. HP’s Jet Fusion printers changed that by producing parts that were about 1/10th the cost of aluminum, had similar strength, but came in around 1/10th the weight as well. Suddenly, we had 3D printers that could produce parts that were arguably better than traditionally produced parts and, rather than being more expensive, they were significantly less expensive.
3D printing is transforming certain industries – so why hasn’t it been widely adopted in the pharma sector? There are likely to be a number of barriers to entry for 3D printing in this field, including identifying how to make it economically viable. Whilst a number of the key patents relating to 3D printing have expired and certain 3D printers have become cheaper, the printers and inks required for the 3D printing of pills are not yet readily or cheaply available. In addition, 3D printed pills are still being researched. Even when these challenges are overcome there is the further potential difficulty of changing the supply chain; switching from centralised to local manufacture and the supply of “inks” to enable the 3D printing of a pill instead of the pill itself.
However, as can be seen from some of the opportunities that this technology provides, there doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing adoption of 3D printing; it can be used to complement a company’s existing manufacturing techniques.
3D printing is giving a Spanish university team the edge in the annual Formula Student competition.
The ETSEIB team is comprised of engineering students nearing the end of their studies at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) Spain. Working with 3D printers from local manufacturer, BCN3D Technologies has streamlined the manufacturing process.
Since 1998, the Formula Student competition, has pitted international university students against each other to produce, construct, test and then race small-scale formula style racing cars. The event is organized by The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, (IMechE) to promote innovative engineering.
The team has over four years of experience in manufacturing combustion and electric cars.
In this Q&A, Gartner analyst Pete Basiliere discusses how advancements in 3D printing may move beyond prototyping to help improve traditional manufacturing processes.
Although 3D printing technology is not new, aside from a few use cases and industries, it has yet to make significant inroads as a manufacturing alternative. However, developments in 3D printing technology — also known as additive manufacturing — continue to advance, with new printing machines, processes and materials becoming available. Equally important are the software systems that help companies manage and run 3D printing and newly emerging 3D printing networks that can enable it on demand for organizations that don’t want to implement such activities in-house. In this interview at the recent Rapid + TCT trade show of 3D printing technology, Pete Basiliere, Gartner research vice president for additive manufacturing, spoke about the industry and how 3D printing may become an integral part of manufacturing processes.