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Posts Tagged ‘3D printing’

SPEE3D: Making Additive Manufacturing Easier Is Only the Beginning

Monday, July 18th, 2022

It’s 2022 and additive manufacturing (AM) companies and technologies continue to proliferate, some more successful than others. While many new companies in this space claim to be unique and innovative, truth be told, relatively few actually are. That said, when we spot something that truly is innovative we take note, and feel that SPEE3D definitely qualifies.

We recently spoke with SPEE3D CEO and co-founder, Byron Kennedy, about his company and its unique AM technologies, materials, and processes.

SPEE3D is an Australian-based company and a manufacturer of metal-based 3D printers. The advantage of these 3D metal printers is that they’re very fast and also transportable. This means customers can put them in trucks or ships and take them right to the front line where parts can be manufactured and immediately used.

SPEE3D printers enable affordable metal additive manufacturing processes. They make metal parts quickly, leveraging metal cold spray technology to produce industrial quality metal parts in minutes, rather than days or weeks. The process is powered by kinetic energy, rather than relying on high-power lasers and expensive gasses. Finally, the process provides metal 3D printing at costs normally associated with traditional production methods.

How did SPEE3D get started? Kennedy said, “Our (he and the other co-founder and CTO, Steven Camilleri) background was in manufacturing. We previously had another company designing electric motors, sold that to a large US multinational and worked with them for near on 10 years in manufacturing. We saw 3D printing coming, but the reality is that it was just too expensive, and too slow. So when we finished up at the motor company, we wondered if we could take 3D printing into the production space and really solve this cost and speed issue. Thus, the company was born”.

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Boston Micro Fabrication: Mega Results From Producing Micro Parts

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

With new and innovative techniques for 3D printing/additive manufacturing continuing to emerge, we recently interviewed John Kawola, CEO of Boston Micro Fabrication, a unique company that specializes in (as its name implies), micro components and machines that produce them.

Boston Micro Fabrication (BMF) was co-founded in 2016 by Dr. Nick Fang, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Dr. Xiaoning He, a serial entrepreneur. BMF manufactures high-precision micro 3D printers. The company’s microArch system uses a 3D printing approach called PμSL (Projection Micro Stereolithography) that leverages light, customizable optics, a high-quality movement platform, and controlled processing technology to produce accurate and precise high-resolution (2μm printing resolution and +/- 10µm tolerance) 3D prints for product development, research and industrial short run production using polymers and composite materials. Today, BMF is the only industrial 3D printing company that can match the quality of high-resolution injection molding and CNC processing.

John Kawola, BMF’s CEO, should be familiar to readers of MCADCafe, as we have written about him and some of the companies he’s been associated with over the years.

“I’ve actually been in additive manufacturing longer than most people, about 20 years. I was at another MIT startup called Z Corp, which was about 20 years ago. That did very well, and sold the company to 3D Systems. I spent about three years helping Ultimaker build their business in North America, but I was interested in getting back into an early-stage company and saw opportunities with BMF”.

 

“I wanted to get back into the early stages of an additive manufacturing company, but at the same time, I know that it’s a crowded space. There are lots of companies, and many of them are doing the same thing, whether it’s a desktop 3D printer companies or companies producing very large-scale parts. There’s also several metal companies now, too. What I was really looking for was something that was high value, and a portion of the market that had not been well served in the past. That’s really the whole theme behind our company, and so I was excited to join BMF about a year and a half ago”.

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Essentium: Bridging the 3D Printing and Manufacturing Gap

Friday, February 19th, 2021

Since in-person meetings are still not possible, we recently interviewed Blake Teipel, CEO and co-founder of Essentium, an innovative additive manufacturing organization that sets itself apart from the competition in several ways.

At its core, Essentium is comprised of builders, designers, and engineers who have experienced the divide between 3D printing and manufacturing and asked the question, “How can we bridge the gap in manufacturing?

Essentially, Essentium was born out of a desire to open new possibilities for builders and designers. It began in 2013 when four friends gathered around a kitchen table and thought about the possibility of what could be. The initial group wanted to create a new paradigm for using additive manufacturing in the industrial world. Simply put, they wanted to change how things are made.

Essentium exists to help propel its partners forward by addressing additive manufacturing, at scale, by delivering a supply chain solution that entails machines, materials, and processes. With its High Speed Extrusion (HSE) Platform, FlashFuse plasma technology, and its industrial-grade materials, customers are ensured they will receive a no-compromise solution for their needs.

MCADCafe Interviews Blake Teipel, CEO and Co-Founder, Essentium

When asked about some company and technology background, Teipel said, “Essentium is an additive manufacturing solutions company. What that means is that we make very fast 3D printers and we make materials for printing parts, particularly of an industrial variety. We are serving clients in the manufacturing space. You can find Essentium solutions anywhere from planes to trains, to cars, to computers, to shoes, so we’re sort of the stuff behind the stuff in terms of where we fit”.

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Ultimaker Faces AM Challenges Head-On and Thrives During Trying Times

Friday, August 14th, 2020

Accepting the reality that in-person trade shows and interviews are out of the question right now and into the foreseeable future, via Zoom we recently interviewed Greg Elfering, President of Ultimaker Americas. During the course of the interview, he spoke how the company is adapting to changing market conditions for 3D printing/additive manufacturing (AM) as it continues to innovate with its hardware and software products and services.

When asked for a little background, Elfering said, “Ultimaker is a company that was founded on 3D printing [also known as additive manufacturing] hardware and software technologies. We’re based in Utrecht, Netherlands, and headquartered here in the United States just outside of Boston in Waltham, Massachusetts. We’ve been in the American market for approximately five years.”

“Prior to joining Ultimaker, I was with 3D Systems for 15 years. I joined a year and a half ago and I had a chance to learn the business for a year, understand our products and resellers. I was given a chance in January to take over the responsibility as President for the Americas. So, I’m six months into this position with Ultimaker.”

MCADCafe Interviews Greg Elfering, President of Ultimaker Americas

Since 2011, Ultimaker has built an open and easy-to-use solution of 3D printers, software, and materials for professional designers and engineers. (more…)

MCADCafe Industry Predictions for 2019 – RIZE Inc.

Friday, January 11th, 2019

Execution will be paramount in 2019. Many 3D printing companies are bubbling with innovation, but some of those companies will not make it; that is the nature of any industry. The companies that execute well will succeed. This means machines and technology that deliver on promises, management teams geared toward solving customer problems and technology that is easy to use for both non-expert and expert users.

The recent trend toward building trust into functional 3D printed parts with secure marking, such as QR codes, will intensify. 3D printing is a digital technology, not just a physical technology – combining the virtual and real. Users will look to 3D print more digital information into parts for authenticity, traceability and compliance and then extract that information on demand. This will become a major area of focus as people try to solve problems in the areas of service, production and engineering.

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Markforged Prevails In 3D Printer IP Lawsuit

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

Markforged, a 3D printer manufacturer, announced this week that following a 21-day trial, a jury in the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts, Boston, unanimously found that Markforged did not infringe any claims of IP belonging to Desktop Metal, another developer of 3D printing machines.

Desktop Metal had filed a patent infringement lawsuit against rival metal 3D printing company Markforged. Markforged responded, saying it “categorically denies” the allegations. Markforged responded to those allegations, denying any wrongdoing and responded with its own court filings. Desktop Metal sought significant damages from Markforged.

Desktop Metal CEO Ric Fulop said: “We believe Markforged products clearly utilize technology patented by Desktop Metal and we will do what is necessary to protect our IP and our company.”

Desktop Metal had claimed that the manner in which the Markforged Metal X printer forms ceramic release layers in order to print complex parts infringed on their patents. After deliberating for less a day, the jury returned a complete non-infringement verdict, finding that Markforged did not infringe and had not induced or contributed to infringement by its customers.

In a nutshell, the lawsuit alleged that Markforged used Desktop Metal’s patented technologies on the Metal X 3D printer, specifically technologies relating to support structure breakaway.

The most relevant Desktop Metal patents, numbers 9,815,118 and 9,833,839, were first put to use in Desktop Metal’s Studio and Production 3D printing systems. In its legal complaint, Desktop Metal compares the patented technology to apparently similar technology used in Markforged’s Metal X 3D printer.

Other patents referenced in the case included:
9,815,118 – Fabricating multi-part assemblies
9,833,839 – Fabricating an interface layer for removable support
5,182,056 – Stereolithography method and apparatus employing various penetration depths
5,182,170 – Method of producing parts by selective beam interaction of powder with gas phase reactant
5,204,055 – Three-dimensional printing techniques
5,242,098 – Method of explosively bonding composite metal structures
5,286,573 – Method and support structures for creation of objects by layer deposition
5,387,380 – Three-dimensional printing techniques
5,496,682 – Three dimensional sintered inorganic structures using photopolymerization

For Markforged, this verdict validates the history of independently developed IP that has fueled its year-over-year growth. To date, Markforged has 100 filed patent applications and 15 issued patents, the most recent of which – US Patent 10,000,011 – was issued last month.

Announced in 2017, the Markforged Metal X 3D printing system is transforming the way businesses approach their manufacturing operations, amidst a quickly growing metal 3D market that IDTechEx estimates will be worth $12B by 2028. Markforged Metal X customers print end-use parts that the company claims are 50% lighter and 95% faster than other part creation processes.

Greg Mark, founder and CEO of Markforged, said, “I founded Markforged in my kitchen six years ago. I dreamt of giving every engineer the ability to 3D print real, functional, mechanical parts. We invented something that had never existed before — a continuous carbon fiber 3D printer. Our Metal X product is an extension of that platform. We’ve come a long way. We now have the most advanced technology platform in 3D printing, and I’m incredibly proud of what our team of engineers have accomplished. A competitor filed a lawsuit against us, including various far-fetched allegations. Markforged categorically denies these allegations and we will be formally responding shortly in our own court filing”.

“Markforged printers have changed the way businesses produce strong parts while dramatically impacting the delivery times, cost, and supply chain logistics.” said Mark. “We feel gratified that the jury found we do not infringe, and confirmed that the Metal X, our latest extension of the Markforged printing platform, is based on our own proprietary Markforged technology.”

Something struck me as weird with this whole legal debacle. Ironically, the Desktop Metal CEO was on the Markforged board, he left and started Desktop Metal, and less than two years later Markforged announced the Metal X with prototype parts. Likely both parties had worked on this particular project for a while. I just wonder how much the Desktop Metal CEO knew before he left the Markforged board.

Although patent infringement lawsuits like this are nothing new, and will certainly continue, I’m torn. On the one hand, lawsuits like this do the industry no good. I wasn’t so sure the patents would hold up considering that using a binder that gets “sintered” out is not novel to 3D printers – that science has been around a long time. The fact they are pushing it out of a nozzle into shapes also does not make it unique.

On the other hand, to the extent these companies are relying on external investment, and to the extent patents mean the company experiences less competition and is worth more in case of liquidation, patents can accelerate the industry.

Desktop Metal has raised well over $200 million in investment, and obviously some of that was on the based of the value of its patents.

Ultimately, I wasn’t so sure the patents would hold up considering that using a binder that gets “sintered” out is not unique to 3D printers. A quick scan of the two patents in question makes them look a little deeper than just that. I’m not sure how unique they truly are, but it’s more than just “binder + sintering.” However, that does make it unique, as long as they properly reference prior art. That’s how patents work.

Without reading the independent claims of the patents in question, its impossible to know how good or bad the patents are. And unless you’re experienced in reading patents (either because you’ve been trained in it or are a patent attorney), it’s hard to really determine the specific set of claims, just because of how obtuse they’re written. I did a quick skim of the claims in both and didn’t see anything that seemed unusually broad, and they do reference a number of prior patents. One of them, for example, has a few independent claims, but they all are clones of the first one.

That’s not about sintering material with a binder, its specifically about how to do so with two parts in close proximity with them maintaining their mechanical association, but without becoming bound by the binder. All the dependent claims derive from that, and the other independent claims call out specific materials to use as the interface to prevent the bonding of the two sintered parts. That is not obvious, and is justifiably patentable.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on developments in the Desktop Metal versus Markforged case because it certainly won’t be the last.

Carbon 3D: Taking AM From Prototyping To Production

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Carbon is an additive manufacturing system company that bridges hardware, software, and molecular science to further digital 3D manufacturing that goes far beyond prototyping. With Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) technology and its SpeedCell system, manufacturers can explore new business opportunities such as mass customization, on-demand inventory, and differentiated products made with unique functional materials.

Carbon’s vision is a future fabricated with light, where traceable, final-quality parts are produced at scale with Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) technology. CLIP is a fast photochemical process that eliminates the shortcomings of conventional 3D printing by using light and oxygen to rapidly produce objects from a pool of resin.

Carbon entered the market just over three years ago with its innovative resin-based 3D printing technology, bringing to market its first 3D printer, the M1, a year later. The SpeedCell system with the M2 3D printer and Smart Part Washer was introduced in 2017.

Carbon M1 3D Printer Demonstration

The Process

Despite industry advances, traditional approaches to additive manufacturing force trade-offs between surface finish and mechanical properties. In contrast, DLS (Digital Light Synthesis) technology, enabled by Carbon’s proprietary CLIP process, is a unique technology that uses digital light projection, oxygen permeable optics, and programmable liquid resins to produce parts with excellent mechanical properties, resolution, and surface finish.

Traditionally 3D printed parts have been notoriously inconsistent. Conventional 3D printed materials often exhibit variable strength and mechanical properties depending on the direction in which they were printed. DLS parts behave consistently in all directions. The resolution and gentleness of the process — where parts aren’t harshly repositioned with every slice — make it possible to exploit a range of materials that have surface finish and detail needed for end–use parts.

CLIP is a photochemical process that carefully balances light and oxygen to rapidly produce parts. It works by projecting light through an oxygen-permeable window into a reservoir of UV-curable resin. As a sequence of UV images are projected, the part solidifies and the build platform rises.

The heart of the CLIP process is the “dead zone” – a thin, liquid interface of uncured resin between the window and the printing part. Light passes through the dead zone, curing the resin above it to form a solid part. Resin flows beneath the curing part as the print progresses, maintaining the “continuous liquid interface” that powers CLIP.

Once a part is printed with CLIP, it’s baked in a forced-circulation oven. Heat sets off a secondary chemical reaction that causes the materials to adapt and strengthen.

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Wohlers Report 2018: AM Grows Overall With Metal Rising

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

An independent consulting firm and industry source that we know quite well, Wohlers Associates, Inc., recently released the Wohlers Report 2018, the company’s annual detailed analysis of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing worldwide.

Wohlers Associates is widely recognized as the leading consulting firm and foremost authority on additive manufacturing and 3D printing. This annual publication has served as the undisputed industry-leading report on the subject for two decades. Over the 23 years of its publication, many (including me) have referred to the report as the “bible” of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing—terms that are used interchangeably by the company (and industry).

Wohlers Report 2018 is filled with insightful data and perspective to inform readers of the most critical developments in the industry. According to the new report, an estimated 1,768 metal AM systems were sold in 2017, compared to 983 systems in 2016, an increase of nearly 80%. This dramatic rise in metal AM system installations accompanies improved process monitoring and quality assurance measures in metal AM, although more work is ahead. Increasingly, global manufacturers are becoming aware of the benefits of producing metal parts by additive manufacturing.

 

The Dramatic Rise In Metal AM System Sales (Source: Wohlers Report 2018)

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RAPID + TCT 2018: Metal and Post-Processing

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

This past week I had the pleasure of attending RAPID + TCT 2018, a conference and exhibition that showcases 3D printing/additive manufacturing with a myriad new technologies, materials, and processes. The event, put on by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) is a highlight of the year for us, and again, we came away overwhelmed (in a very good way) by all that we witnessed.

Much like last year, if there were three words to describe the SME’s RAPID + TCT 3D Printing & Manufacturing Event they would be metal, metal, and metal — machines producing metal parts were everywhere. This year marked the 28th event and seemed more like a mini IMTS than an additive manufacturing show with exhibitors ranging from material suppliers to post processors to traditional machining companies. There were, of course, the industry heavy hitters, but there were also a lot of startup companies exhibiting for the first time that made things really interesting.

Post-processing also got a lot of exposure as companies providing these technologies had more of a presence and recognizing that this important aspect of AM needs to be an integral part of the production process, and not relegated to being an afterthought.

This year’s theme was “3D In 360°,” meaning the industry is starting to come full circle in terms of capabilities and potential, and this theme was clearly evident in the technical sessions and on the exhibit show floor. This year continued a distinct change of industry direction from one-off rapid prototyping of parts to production quantities in the hundreds and even thousands.

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Ultimaker Extends AM Reach

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

3D printing, or more accurately, additive manufacturing (AM), has come a long way since its inception, and especially the past few years. It also continues to grow at an amazing rate. IDC forecasts worldwide spending on 3D printing to be early $12 billion in 2018

A new update to the Worldwide Semiannual 3D Printing Spending Guide from International Data Corporation (IDC) shows global spending on 3D printing (including hardware, materials, software, and services) will be nearly $12.0 billion in 2018, an increase of 19.9% over 2017. By 2021, IDC expects worldwide spending to be nearly $20.0 billion with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.5%.

Discrete manufacturing will be the dominant industry for 3D printing, delivering more than half of all worldwide spending throughout the 2017-2021 forecast. Healthcare providers will be the second largest industry with a spending total of nearly $1.3 billion in 2018, followed by education ($974 million) and consumer ($831 million). By 2021, IDC expects professional services and retail to move ahead of the consumer segment. The industries that will see the fastest growth in 3D printing spending over the five-year forecast are the resource industries and healthcare.

The leading use cases for 3D printing are prototypes, aftermarket parts, and parts for new products. As the primary use cases for the discrete manufacturing industry, these three use cases will account for 44% of worldwide spending in 2018.

As testament to this tremendous growth, this week, 3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker announced that Robert Bosch GmbH, a leading global supplier of technology and services, will invest in Ultimaker 3 Extended printers on a global scale. After comparing several desktop 3D printers, the additive manufacturing department of Bosch selected Ultimaker as the most reliable, easy-to-use, and machine that produced the highest quality parts. The printers will now be used in different locations across GermanyHungaryChinaIndiathe United States and Mexico for printing innovative prototypes, tooling, jigs and fixtures, while cutting design and manufacturing costs.

Ultimaker Interview at Westec 2017

As the world’s largest supplier of automotive components and an important supplier of industrial technologies, consumer goods, and energy and building technology, Bosch, has a strategic objective to deliver innovative products. In order to save time and costs, and for a faster time-to-market for its new products, the company decided to invest in desktop 3D printing on a global scale. Now, with the Ultimaker rollout, all departments of the additive manufacturing department of Bosch can benefit from a uniform 3D printing solution with materials, training and global support. This approach will ensure consistent, quality 3D printing results across teams and locations.

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