We’ve been in Long Beach, California all week at SME’s RAPID 2015 conference and exhibition. If you want to learn what’s new exciting in things 3D, this is the place to be. Hardware and software vendors, service providers, distributors and resellers, and educational institutions all showcase new offerings in 3D printing, scanning, and additive and subtractive manufacturing.
RAPID is an interesting mix of industry experts, pundits, users, and people just curious about this fascinating 3D world that continues to grow at an exponential rate. This year about 4,000 attended RAPID with almost 200 exhibitors
RAPID is about the most recent developments in the field, as well as what may be coming in the future. A number of technologies, techniques, and innovations are discussed during technical sessions, but this year, we found among the most interesting topics to be 3D bioprinting and 3D printing in space.
The first morning’s keynote was made by Jason Dunn, CTO of Made In Space, who talked on the topic of “Bringing Additive Manufacturing to Space.” The company was founded in 2010 with the goal of enabling humanity’s future in space. It has developed additive manufacturing (AM) technology specifically for use in the space environment (no easy task). By manufacturing space assets in space, as opposed to launching them from Earth, the company is attempting to accelerate and broaden space development while also providing unprecedented access for people on Earth to use in-space capabilities (the ultimate goal of a business model to monetize its cash outlay in space on earth).
We’re heading to Long Beach, California next week to participate in one of SME’s marquee events — RAPID 2015.
I’ll be at the conference all week taking in the keynotes, new hardware and software products and service announcements, as well as sitting in on a few technical sessions.
This is an especially pivotal year in the evolution of 3D printing as it strives to get to the next level with higher quality parts, lower cost materials, and greater presence in manufacturing direct part production.
I’ll be hitting the floor running early Tuesday morning and will be Tweeting throughout the event, as well as posting blogs at the end of each day.
If you’re going to RAPID 2015 in Long Beach, feel free to contact me at 719.221.1867 or email@example.com and let’s meet up for discussing the latest technologies, trends, rumors, etc.
This week Sigma Labs a developer of advanced, in process, non-destructive quality inspection systems for metal-based additive manufacturing and other advanced manufacturing technologies, announced that it has been granted its first contract, worth approximately $500,000, from GE Aviation. The company was previously announced as a member of the winning team of companies and universities awarded an “America Makes” additive manufacturing (AM) research project. This project is funded by the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) and covers Sigma Labs’ proprietary In-Process Quality Assurance (IPQA) software for advanced AM monitoring.
The contract will implement the Sigma Labs’ PrintRite3D technology across multiple platforms, specifically those requiring high-volume, high-quality aerospace components. Over the next 18 months Sigma Labs is expected to deploy a total of three systems – one each to GE Aviation and to other team members Honeywell and Aerojet Rocketdyne.
The Story Behind Sigma Labs
“We are very pleased to announce this first contract under our previously-announced award with NAMII,” said Mark Cola, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sigma Labs. “Working with some of the best known companies in the industry, including GE Aviation and Honeywell, we will use this project to further demonstrate our PrintRite3D technology and provide for additional data collection. We believe awards such as this open up the way for business development opportunities and, at the same time, strengthen Sigma Labs’ position in the nascent yet rapidly-growing AM space.”
Sigma Labs through its wholly-owned subsidiary, B6 Sigma, develops and engineers advanced, in-process, non-destructive quality inspection systems for organizations worldwide seeking solutions for metal-based additive manufacturing or 3D printing, and other advanced manufacturing technologies.
As impressive as it is, last month we gave 3D printing a bit of a dressing down based on personal experience. The blog post was a reality check and a look at the technology not through rose-colored glasses. That’s not to say, though, that 3D printing is still one of the biggest innovations on the manufacturing front, if not the biggest, in recent memory.
Even with the major advances that have transpired in 3D printing, there are still a number of skeptics who view the technology as little more than a promotional stunt or gimmick.
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 took place this week. It’s an annual tech festival that began in 1967 that today attracts more than 160,000 attendees checking out about 3,500 exhibitors. Over the years, some of the more significant technologies first released at CES have included:
1970 – VCR
1981 – CD player
1985 – Nintendo Entertainment System
1998 – High-definition TV
2000 – Satellite radio
2003 – Blu-Ray DVDs
2015 – 3D Printing(?)
We didn’t attend CES this year, but we have been monitoring the activities in a pavilion dedicated to innovative technologies, including 3D printing.
Like a large portion of the product design and manufacturing world, I have a lot of enthusiasm for the potential of 3D printing. I have also experienced the reality of 3D printing – most of it positive, but not all by any means. In other words, 3D printing has come a long way, but it’s still got a long way to go on three fronts: hardware, software, and materials.
When I learned about and made a move to experimenting with 3D printing and other additive technologies a few years ago, I thought by now I would have had no use for subtractive technologies, such as milling and drilling. However, experience (and some hard knocks) have taught me that additive technologies cannot be used exclusively as my only tools. They are actually complementary in what I’ve come to realize is a hybrid approach that employs both additive and subtractive technologies.
Like many others who have been relatively early adopters of 3D printing, problems have been encountered – some of which can be resolved, while others continue to frustrate. Although the video below discusses problems with a specific 3D printer, they are somewhat typical for so-called “low-end” 3D printers using PLA or ABS materials (these are the only materials I currently use).
Autodesk, Inc. announced that it will be investing up to $100 million in 3D printing companies over the next several years. The Spark Investment Fund, which will be operated within Autodesk, is the first of its kind for the 3D printing industry and will invest in entrepreneurs, startups, and researchers pushing the boundaries of 3D printing technology and accelerating the third industrial revolution.
Check out the video below from May 2014 at the MakerCon Bay Area event where Carl Bass, the president and CEO of Autodesk, announced the company’s first venture into digital fabrication hardware:
Autodesk Spark Demonstration With Carl Bass, Autodesk CEO
We just returned from three exhausting but exhilarating days at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) 2014 in Chicago. This biennial, week-long exhibition and conference is by far the biggest manufacturing showcase in North America. As a matter of fact, it had over 110,000 registrants when we left the show at the end of its third day. IMTS occupies virtually all of the buildings at McCormick Place, covering millions of square feet, so you have to strategize how to see everything you want to see. It showcases just about anything you can imagine for manufacturing – metal cutting, abrasives, additive processes, CAD/CAM, controls, inspection – you name it, and it’s probably at IMTS.
IMTSTV – Live IMTS Coverage
MCADCafe conducted several video interviews that will be available for viewing in the very near future at www.mcadcafe.com. The interviewees were a diverse group, everything from traditional CAD/CAM vendors, to software component suppliers, and even a reseller.
This week Deloitte University Press announced the launch of a massive open online course (MOOC) on the business implications of additive manufacturing (AM). Entitled, “3D Opportunity: The Course on Additive Manufacturing for Business Leaders,” it is the first course of its kind to be offered by a large professional services firm and is designed to help educate the market on the business drivers behind additive manufacturing/3D printing.
3D opportunity: Deloitte’s MOOC on additive manufacturing (3D Printing) for business
Is 3D printing truly the miracle it’s purported to be?
That’s a question I’ve asked myself numerous times, especially when I see yet another announcement from a hardware or software vendor or service provider that is often hype and little else. A lot of companies (and their marketing/PR/communications engines) count on the fact that just about anything that states or implies “3D printing” is going to automatically generate “a buzz” of notoriety, and maybe even some venture capital.
On one hand, yes, 3D printing has shown great promise and results. But, on the other, it’s largely wait and see.
Many have been lured into the promise of 3D printing with sensationalistic demonstrations as shown in the following video.
During the course of a year I get the opportunity to attend several events and meet a lot of new people involved with various aspects of design, engineering, and manufacturing. This week I attended an event called “3D Printing Day @ CSU.” Held on the campus of Colorado State University, it showcased the Idea-2-Product Laboratory, the brainchild of its director, and our good friend, Dr. David Prawel. It was a combination seminar series and tours of the Lab where a number of 3D printers were demonstrated.
One of the most interesting and compelling seminar talks was given by Easton LaChappelle, a 17-year-old from Mancos, CO who graduated from high school last month. His talk was on his experience with 3D printing, prosthetics, and telerobotics