Making factories run better with 3D Printing

Current advances in 3D printing are making it an integral part of manufacturing, including electronics manufacturing. It can cut down processes from weeks to days and costs from thousands to hundreds. The 3D printed option is not only more efficient and economical, but actually better in terms of performance, as well as carbon footprint.

“We make your factory run better” is the tagline for the maintenance services offered by ATS.

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3D printing and the future of food

Printing out your meal may not sound appealing, but 3D technology could revolutionize food manufacturing. There could come a day in the near future when it’s a tablet to table kind of lunch.

It’s Friday night and you want a pizza, but instead of calling the local pizzeria for delivery, you just print out your dinner. Think that sounds a bit too farfetched? Think again.

Foodini from Natural Machines is a 3D printing kitchen appliance that makes pizza, pasta, breads and cookies. It assembles layers of fresh ingredients to take a complex process, like making ravioli, and simplifies the steps, as well as easing the kitchen clean up which is a big value-add.

Initially targeting professional chefs, Natural Machines’ co-founder Lynette Kucsma envisions a time in the near future when a 3D food printer will be a common kitchen appliance. Foodini, which is currently available in limited production with general availability in 2016, will cost about $1,500, according to the Natural Machines website. And, as competitors hit the market and prices start to plummet, a 3D printer could be a convenient way for consumers to make healthy meals on-the-go rather than turning to highly-processed foods packaged for the microwave.

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Military 3D printing projects face challenges

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, has the potential to revolutionize the U.S. military’s logistics system. But numerous hurdles stand in the way of that dream becoming reality, experts said.

Unlike the traditional manufacturing process, which creates items by taking raw materials and subtracting from them by drilling or whittling, additive manufacturing takes digital data and creates 3D objects by stacking printed layers of raw materials.

Brennan Hogan, a program manager at LMI — a Virginia-based not-for-profit corporation that is consulting with the Defense Logistics Agency about the implications of 3D printing — said additive manufacturing provides an opportunity for “turning the supply chain on its head.”

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Is 3D printing the future of fine jewellery?

In 2013 researchers at Princeton University created a “bionic ear” – capable of detecting frequencies a million times higher than a human’s hearing range, and manufactured by blending biological tissues with electronics via a 3D printer. First invented in 1984, 3D printing is now capable of producing human organs and limbs, NASA rocket engine parts, car chassis, entire five-storey concrete houses and more. The possibilities are mind-boggling.

Graff sapphire and diamond earrings with traditional jewellery making tools

The design world has cottoned on to the possibilities of 3D printing too, using it to create everything from crockery to lampshades, while watchmakers have used the precision it affords to create intricate mechanisms and entire watch cases. But while there is a clutch of jewellers championing this new technology, others are disparaging about its use.

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Talking helmets and robot builders: The Army’s future of 3D printing


A researcher at the service’s Weapons and Materials Directorate lays out a vision for additive printers on the battlefield
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If you go by the Hype Cycle — Gartner’s annual tech-buzz assessment — then consumer 3D printing is about to tumble from the “peak of inflated expectations” into the “trough of disillusionment,” part of the coming five- to 10-year slog to the practical applications that await atop the “plateau of productivity.” But Larry “L.J.” Holmes, the principal investigator for materials and technology development in additive manufacturing at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, (ARL) isn’t waiting around for that.

In a presentation last month at the Intelligence and National Security Alliance summit, Holmes sketched out a variety of potential uses for 3D printing for the military, ranging from intelligence to communications to terraforming the battlefield. Here are a few highlights.

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What impact could 3D printing have on small businesses?

Here, we look at the benefit of the still-developing technology for SMEs.

Earlier this week, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the world’s first ever 3D-printed drug. Aside from being an astronomic breakthrough for the pharmaceutical industry, this news comes amid a flurry of similar stories; each demonstrating the growing potential and endless possibilities of 3D printing.

Upon its invention, 3D printing was limited in terms of its usability. Aside from architects building advanced 3D mock-ups, fashion designers producing radical new garment designs, and tech enthusiasts creating toys and other novelty bric-a-brac, the full potential of 3D printing took several months to materialise.

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3D printing: the future of manufacturing medicine?

As the pharmaceutical industry shifts from mass manufacture towards personalised medicine, 3D printing could become part of the drug production line.

Imagine a paediatrician talking to a four-year-old child who is having trouble adjusting to taking daily doses of steroids after being diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy the previous month. “What’s your favourite animal?” she asks. “A zebra,” quietly replies the child, who we will call Sam. The paediatrician smiles as she makes a note on her office computer. “But not a black and white one, a blue and green one,” adds Sam, with a little more confidence. Later, the toddler watches with wide eyes as the uniquely coloured, zebra-like tablets appear from a three-dimensional (3D) printer in the hospital pharmacy.

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The 3-D Printing revolution

Industrial 3-D printing is at a tipping point, about to go mainstream in a big way. Most executives and many engineers don’t realize it, but this technology has moved well beyond prototyping, rapid tooling, trinkets, and toys. “Additive manufacturing” is creating durable and safe products for sale to real customers in moderate to large quantities.

The beginnings of the revolution show up in a 2014 PwC survey of more than 100 manufacturing companies.  At the time of the survey, 11% had already switched to volume production of 3-D-printed parts or products. According to Gartner analysts, a technology is “mainstream” when it reaches an adoption level of 20%.

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Volvo Trucks cuts production time by 94% & costs with Stratasys 3D Printing Systems

Volvo Trucks is a global truck manufacturer based in Gothenburg, Sweden, owned by AB Volvo, and the company is the world’s second largest heavy-duty truck brand. The first Volvo truck was produced in 1928, and by 2011, the firm employed some 19,000 people around the world who manufacture and assemble trucks in 15 countries. The company produces and sells more than 100,000 units every year.

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And now Stratasys says Volvo Trucks has decreased turnaround times of critical assembly line manufacturing tools by more than 94% since incorporating additive manufacturing technology into their engine production processes in Lyon, France.

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3D opportunity for the Department of Defense

At the same time that global hostilities mount, fiscal pressures weigh heavily on the Department of Defense’s (DoD) ability to confront them effectively and efficiently. The challenges are particularly acute in the DoD’s maintenance and supply chain enterprise.

The DoD’s extensive Maintenance Enterprise poses daunting risks (see sidebar, “The Department of Defense Maintenance Enterprise”). Maintenance needs are complex and highly unpredictable even in peacetime. The Department’s current operations require high levels of customization and production of parts in remote locations in low volumes and on tight timelines, imposing high entry barriers for suppliers of traditionally manufactured parts. The consequences are lower operational readiness and sortie rates, higher transportation costs, reduced process predictability, long lead times, and considerable excess inventory and waste.

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