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Posts Tagged ‘AM’

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”.


Addifab: Pushing the Boundaries of Additive Manufacturing

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022

We recently spoke with Lasse Guldborg Staal, CEO, Addifab about his take on his company as well as the state of the additive manufacturing (AM) industry – where it is and where it’s going.

Based in Denmark, Addifab is a global company built on market knowledge and high ambitions. Based on its experience, the company has developed a unique soluble mold tool enabling a process known as Freeform Injection Molding (FIM).

With its innovative Print→Inject→Dissolve process, the Freeform Injection Molding technique is free of any design or material choice limitations. By printing the tool, you can create unseen designs. You can mold unseen products and business potential by injecting virtually any available material before dissolving the molding tool.

Staal kicked things off by saying, “Addifab was founded in 2014, December, 2014, by me and two other co-founders. We have a background in the hearing aid industry, and decided to found Addifab to create better 3D printers for high-precision manufacturing. Early in the life cycle of the company, we got into injection molding, and we now believe it to be the best possible alternative for injection molders wanting to adopt 3D printing for support of their processes.

MCADCafe Interviews Lasse Guldborg Staal, CEO, Addifab

“Injection molders work with plastic materials and normally use metal tools to produce parts. Metal tools are expensive and time consuming to produce. So, what we do with the 3D printing is to create injection mold tooling that is faster and cheaper, and it’s actually also greener than the conventional metal tooling. If you want to have a low cost injection molded prototype, I think the Addifab technology freeform injection molding is probably your best and most cost effective alternative.”


“At Addifab, we are committed to helping innovators capture the full potential of their ideas, and to bring their products to market faster. With Freeform Injection Molding, we deliver on this commitment; start-ups bring their ideas to market using our technology, and global industry leaders adopt our technology to boost their product development.”

Lasse Staal, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, Addifab


“What we’ve tried to do with our technology freeform injection molding is to reduce the costs and reduce lead times. We also want to provide injection molders with a new level of design freedom. And for this reason we have created injection mold tooling that is soluble because if you can dissolve your injection mold tooling, you can create geometries that are impossible to mold with any other method.”


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”.


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”.


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…)

Despite the Pandemic, Things Are Adding Up for Autodesk in Manufacturing

Friday, June 12th, 2020

Although traditional in-person software vendor conferences, such as Autodesk University, and industry events, such as RAPID and IMTS have been cancelled this year, some vendors are forging full speed ahead with product development and introductions. Autodesk is proving to be one of these companies.

We had intended on conducting in-person video interviews at RAPID 2020, but COVID-19 got in the way. However, we have been able to conduct them virtually via Zoom.

The following is based on a virtual interview we conducted with Sualp Ozel, Autodesk Senior Product Manager.

We started the conversation by asking how he and Autodesk were faring in the midst of the pandemic. He said, “We are busier than ever. Now that most of us are working from home, it feels like we’re working 24/7”.

MCADCafe Interviews Sualp Ozel, Autodesk Senior Product Manager


Velo3D Releases Unique Metal Hardware & Software AM Solution With New Approach

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

The march of new metal AM machines continues as this week, Velo3D announced its comprehensive metal additive manufacturing (AM) solution comprised of the Sapphire system, Flow print preparation software, and Intelligent Fusion technology. According to the company, the solution solves some difficult AM challenges including product design limitations, part-to-part consistency, process control, and cost-effective manufacturing.

“Additive manufacturing has the potential to be revolutionary,” said Ashley Nichols, general manager at 3D Material Technologies (3DMT), a leading metal additive manufacturing services bureau. “Systems are getting bigger, but not delivering on the promises of metal additive manufacturing. Through a collaborative partnership, 3DMT and Velo3D are unlocking new applications, pushing the envelope of what is currently considered possible. We look forward to continued success, and to delivering on the promises of the potential of metal additive manufacturing.”


Sapphire System

The Sapphire system is a laser powder bed metal additive 3D printing system designed for high-volume manufacturing. Sapphire is capable of building complex geometries including designs with overhangs that are less than five degrees and large inner diameters without supports. To deliver part-to-part consistency, Sapphire’s integrated in-situ process metrology enables closed loop melt pool control. To maximize productivity, the Sapphire system contains a module that enables automated change-over with offline unpacking.


The Velo3D Sapphire automated system in action

Build envelope is 315 mm diameter, z-axis 400 mm. Build materials include IN718 and Ti6AlV with a typical throughput of >60 cm^3/hour of IN718.


Flow Print Preparation Software

Flow print preparation software includes support generation, process selection, slicing and simulation of complex part designs to validate execution feasibility before the build. Geometrical feature-driven processing enables low angles below 5 degrees. In addition, deformation correction technology enables the user to produce parts without the need for iterations, achieving a first print success rate of up to 90 percent. Flow minimizes the need for supports, reducing typical support volume by 3-5 times, which removes or at least reduces the labor intensive post processing necessary with conventional approaches.

Supporting a part may seem like a straightforward proposition, but there are significant hidden costs and complexities in this process. The first is in the design of the supports. Deciding where to put supports takes design time and effort during print preparation, because support shape and placement is not a simple process; it requires experience and judgement in order to get the best results.

A frequent outcome is that designers err on the side of over-supporting low-angle surfaces, in order to avoid build failure. This results in many supports that later need to be removed, and depending on the complexity of the supports, this can be a difficult proposition, requiring multiple set-ups on a CNC mill, or wire EDM, or a turning step. It takes time to print so many supports; this adds to the total build time, and build cost is primarily a function of build time.



The Velo3D Sapphire System is a 3D metal printer for high-volume manufacturing


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.

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)


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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