Browsing articles in "Rapid Prototyping"
Sep 3, 2015

Chinese FDA Approve 3D-Printed Hip Implants


Implants are an important medical tool, used for over a century to allow those who have lost the use of a limb through injury or overuse to regain functionality in the limb.  Initial efforts were crude compared to the methods used today, and over time the implants have become more sophisticated- lighter, stronger and better fitting.  Now the parts are being 3D-printed using metal sintering to create better, more tailored parts.

3D-Printing has been growing in importance within the field and now China has approved the use of 3D-printed parts for hip implants.  This is a huge step. as hip implants are one of the most regulated medical devices in China.  Having undergone trials since 2012, the patients who received the implants have seen a vast improvement.  The lighter parts are much more comfortable, and 3D-printing them has proven more affordable than traditional methods.

The secret to the 3D-printed hip joint is in the fact that it is partially hollow, which both allows for and encourages normal bone growth and helps speed up the recovery time for the patient.  No doubt this will be the first of many 3D-printed devices as the Chinese government- and the world- realise the potential impact 3D-printing can have to advance medical technology.

Aug 29, 2013
Comments Off on Graham Tromans to speak at TCT Show + Personalize

Graham Tromans to speak at TCT Show + Personalize

Rapid Prototyping veteran will be taking to the stage at TCT Show + Personalize 2013 to deliver his annual presentation, a talk that is always over-subscribed on Additive Manufacturing.  This years speech entitled Additive Layer Technologies Technical Briefing , Tromans will take a look at how the Additive Manufacturing market has evolved and what can we can learn from the past.

As somebody with over two decades in the field and who has witnessed the 3D Printing boom within recent years the subject of Additive Layer Technologies means a lot to Tromans personally. Speaking on the presentation he stated “The inclusion of this type of technical briefing is vital to an industry of this type that is getting a lot of media hype at the moment, hopefully educating the audience into the real world of additive manufacturing . As the premier UK show and conference, it is imperative that delegates get this type of education at TCT Show.”

In addition Tromans has a keen interest in how the technology will be used by the next generation and believes starting this training and understanding at school level is imperative for future development. ” Education is very important as far as these technologies are concerned, both in the classroom and in industry itself. As a consultant with 25 years experience in running systems and developing applications, a lot of my work is being used by companies globally in educating designers and engineers into how they can apply the technolgoies for specific applications and which technologies suit their requirements best. The Bright Minds programme being run by TCT is also very important as we need to ensure students of all ages understand these technologies, hopefully this will be one of the technology areas that helps lead more people back into manufacturing in the future”.

With first rate expertise in additive manufacturing it is worth subscribing for his talk at TCT Show + Personalize.

To register for your free visitor pass for TCT Show + Personalize click here.

Aug 14, 2013
Comments Off on Prototyping for the packaging industry.

Prototyping for the packaging industry.

Bottle produced in Watershed and SL7820 Stereolithography resins.

This week 124 years ago Dan Rylands of Hope Glass Works, Yorks, patented the worlds first screw bottle top. Despite changes in the materials, and overall aesthetics the screw bottle cap remains a prominent feature of the packaging industry and to mark this anniversary we take a look at the role of Rapid Prototyping can play in the packaging industry.

Regardless of industry, packaging can prove more important than the product itself when it comes to sales, it is the first thing a customer sees and can be the driving force between someone choosing your brand over one of your competitors. Getting the design of packaging right (in terms of both functionality and aesthetics) within tight project lead times and on budget can prove challenging and it is here that Rapid Prototyping proves a useful tool for the packaging industry.

Prototype models can be produced in a range of near production grade plastics suitable for functionality testing. Stereolithography can be used to produce high detailed, accurate models ideal for testing of blister pack fit, shelf footprint and overall functionality. In addition to offering a transparent model, water safe Watershed SLA resin also allows for design verification of liquid packaging.

Snap fits and living hinges can also be faithfully recreated in Nylon, from 3D CAD data using the Selective Laser Sintering process. Low volume runs of living hinges can also be achieved through Vacuum Casting using PX205 resin.

For firms wishing to move ahead with the creation of marketing materials prior to receipt of final packaging prototypes can be hand finished to simulate final production units for photography purposes.

By Roisin McLaughlin

Feb 14, 2013
Comments Off on King Tutankhamen replicated with Rapid Prototyping

King Tutankhamen replicated with Rapid Prototyping

On the 16th of February 1923, Archaeologist Howard Carter opened the fourth and final chamber in the Tomb of Tutankhamen, revealing the sarcophagus and remains of the then little known young Pharaoh.

Now a world famous icon of Ancient Egypt King Tut’s remains permanently rest at his tomb in the Valley of the Kings, while an exact replica of the Mummy can be viewed outside of Egypt thanks to Rapid Prototyping and the work of historical model maker Gary Staab.

Commissioned to produce a replica model of the world famous mummy in advance of the final stop in the second  Treasures of  Tutankhamen world tour Staab turned to Rapid Prototyping to speed up the development process.

CT scans of the mummy were imported into proprietary 3D software which created an exact 3D CAD file of the actual mummified remains. This file was then hollowed out to reduce build times and weight of the final Stereolithography model. Once hollowed the file was fixed to ensure the model was “water tight” prior to sending to print.

Once built support structures were removed before the 3D model of King Tut traveled to the Staab Studio. Gary Staab then set to work developing the colour and texture until the monochrome model was transformed into a realistic replica model of the mummified Pharaoh.

Oct 26, 2012
Comments Off on 3D Printing meets the general public at the 3D Print Show

3D Printing meets the general public at the 3D Print Show

At 3D Printing News we have been shouting about the merits of 3D Printing Technology for nearly a year but now thanks to the 3D Print Show in London last weekend it seems that 3D Printing is finally getting the notice it deserves. From musical instruments to medical prosthetics and everything in between the 3D Print show provided a unique opportunity for the general public to experience 3D printing first hand.

For those who missed the show here are just some of the interesting applications on show.

3D Printed Musical Instruments

3D Printed Guitar
With its own soundtrack the 3D print show featured performances from world-class musicians, including drummer Paul Stewart of the Feeling however it was the instruments themselves that stole the spotlight. Produced entirely using 3D printing technology the instruments were able to closely replicate the sound quality of their traditionally manufactured counterparts. The instruments featured included guitars and basses, a 3D printed Stradivarius violin and a drum ensemble played with 3D printed drum sticks.


3D Printed fashion

3D Printed Guitar

We have previously mentioned the role of 3D printing in the creation of bespoke fashion pieces and it seems this application caught the eye of the 3D Print Show organisers who held a fashion show in honour of 3D printing. Featured in the catwalk show were various items of clothing, accessories and footwear all printed in 3D and all fully functional.  Using 3D technology it is possible for fashion designers to create bespoke items of clothing and accessories designed to the models unique dimensions and in the most intricate and complex of designs. Creations on display included a hat developed by leading milliner Stephen Jones and the Exoskeleton footwear collection from fashion student Janina Alleyne.


Film Props

3D Printed GuitarWith film makers such as Laika turning towards 3D printing technologies to develop award winning films it is little wonder that one of the most respected effects studios in Hollywood made an appearance at the 3D Print Show. Legacy Studios , known for their use of 3D printing to aid in the development of blockbusters such as Thor and Iron-man attended the event bringing along and Iron Man helmet and giving seminars on 3D printing in Hollywood. Representing Legacy Studios was 3D printing expert and lead systems engineer, Jason Lopes



Conceptual 3D Printed House

Lurking in the corners of the show, and guarded by security lay one of the most intricate designs on display at the exhibition. Staring at this impressive piece of design you would be likely to question what it was. The design a result of a years worth of research by London based Softkill design is in fact a miniature model of a SLS house – a house which could be build for real in 31 pieces using SLS technology and then assembled on site.  Designed around an algorithm that mimics bone growth the conceptual house consists of a fibrous interweaving web rather than traditional bricks which ensures material is only placed where it is most structurally efficient.

To find out more on this 3D printed house watch the below video



Aug 28, 2012
Comments Off on 3D printing to help Astronauts survive on Mars.

3D printing to help Astronauts survive on Mars.

The Curiosity Rover is now 23 days into its two year exploration of Mars, aiming to unlock the mystery of Mars. While the project seeks to determine if there is organic matter on Mars, telling us if life can or does exist on Mars, the ultimate goal is to send humans to Mars.


NASA engineers have already begun testing the next generation Rover. Described by NASA test engineer as a “personal SUV” for space the new Rover will act as a housing module for astronauts with two small beds and an observation module so astronauts can get up close and personal with their new surroundings.

The team at NASA decided to use 3D printing to help with the development of the next generation Rover, thanks to the processes ability to create tough, durable components from lightweight materials in a matter of hours. Approximately 70 components used in the Rover, ranging from vents, to external housings were 3D printed using an FDM machine. In addition to the production of end use components Rapid Prototyping also featured in the early design and development stages, prototyping the form, fit and function of the parts prior to tooling.

3D printing helped the team at NASA save time and money at both the prototyping and production phase.

See the new Rover in action below.

Aug 15, 2012
Comments Off on 3D Print mobile to bring Rapid Prototyping technology to school children

3D Print mobile to bring Rapid Prototyping technology to school children

As young children we would rush home from school with our arms laden with wonderful creations to amaze our parents. However somewhere along the way we simply stopped making things, learning became increasing focused on ingesting and regurgitating as much information as possible and we abandoned our much loved crafting tools in favour of pen and paper.

Now a team of students from the University of Stanford aim to foster new opportunities for creativity amongst 7-13 year old school children  (seen as a key developmental pocket where creativity diminishes) with SparkTruck. A bookmobile for makers packed to the brim with crafting goodies. From high tech rapid prototyping equipment used by engineering and design houses to crafting basics such as scissors and glue guns,  SparkTruck is equipped to provide the perfect compliment to a child’s attention span.

Rapid Prototyping while presently the go of industrial designers, is a technology that holds potential even within the tight budgetary constraints of the education system as raw materials and running costs for 3D printers are relatively low”. Coordinator of the SparkTruck project Jason Chua believes that with technologies such as Rapid Prototyping providing fun, open-ended opportunities to children as they move through school and life, children will have assistance in overcoming fear of failure in turn growing increasingly confident in their ability to be creative and work through tough problems.

Jul 23, 2012
Comments Off on Automotive components achieve pole position with Rapid Prototyping

Automotive components achieve pole position with Rapid Prototyping

Aston Martin LMP1 AMR-One Engine produced with Rapid Prototyping technologies

Aston Martin LMP1 AMR-One Engine produced with Rapid Prototyping technologies. (Source: formula1-directory)

Rapid Prototyping has grown in popularity within the Formula 1  industry over the past decade thanks largely to the new techniques pioneered in the aerospace industry along with ongoing research into the materials available. Today many Formula 1 teams run SLS brake ducts and air ducts in addition to many more components produced in SLA.

Operating within a highly competitive and time sensitive industry, Formula 1 teams fight to remain ahead in terms of design, wind tunnel testing and race track testing.  Rapid Prototyping or manufacturing decreases production lead times by allowing design errors to be identified and corrected within days making it a critically important tool in the development of Formula 1 components.

Capable of producing almost any shape Rapid Prototyping allows for teams to create even the most complex of geometries. Material developments have also lead to an increase in the range of applications available as materials such as Nanotool, CeraMAX and Bluestone offer the benefits of SLA components (smooth surface finish and high dimensional accuracy)  with the durability and thermal resistance required to withstand wind tunnel testing.  For Formula 1 teams running wind tunnels more or less 24 hours a day, these material advancements  mean it is possible source components for testing within days rather than weeks.

Leading Autosport teams such as Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin are both early adaptors of this technology. In 2011 Red Bull Racing opted to transport two Rapid Prototyping machines to the races inside the trucks. This move allowed the team to source components quickly with parts printed overnight and simply fitted into the cars on site the next day.  The same year Aston Martin’s LMP1 prototype car, AMR-ONE, raised one big question, just how did George Howard Chappel and the team develop a car from scrath in just six months. The answer through the use of 3D printing and Rapid Prototyping technologies.

Jan 24, 2012
Comments Off on Rapid Prototyping bureau releases complimentary Automotive Report

Rapid Prototyping bureau releases complimentary Automotive Report

With the UK Automotive industry reporting growth in 2011, Rapid Prototyping bureau Laser Prototypes have released the latest in their series of Additive Manufacturing reports, focused on Rapid Prototyping as a tool for the Automotive Industry.

Boasting a strong history the UK Automotive industry appears to be fighting back against the global economic slowdown with Nissan Renault reporting a record 10% growth in sales during 2011. Premium brands too have experienced strong growth in 2011 with Rolls Royce quoting a 31% increase in UK sales.  The 107 year old Automotive giant attributes this sales increase to a strong dealership network and manufacturing developments, however it was the design launch of two bespoke collections that were cited by Rolls Royce as a key factor for the 2011 growth.

With continual development of product range central to the growth of UK automotive firms, this industry report highlights how Automotive leaders such as Aston Martin and Chrysler have used Rapid Prototyping technologies to minimise production errors and speed up the traditional design process. Learn just how tough prototyping models really are and uncover the materials and processes that help Automotive designs become a reality.

A complimentary copy of this report can be found in the downloads section of our blog.


Dec 20, 2011
Comments Off on Christmas Greetings

Christmas Greetings