Browsing articles in "Selective Laser Sintering"
Mar 24, 2014
Comments Off on Could Selective Laser Sintering hold the future for athletic footwear design?

Could Selective Laser Sintering hold the future for athletic footwear design?

Much has changed since the first Modern Olympics was held in Athens, Rome in 1896. From a private funded, little publicized event the Olympics has grown in popularity to become a highly anticipated sporting event with some 200 nations competing  across the various events.

Fierce competition within the running events means victory is often won by seconds rather than minutes, for example the men’s 100 meter dash, with approximately 2% of a percentage difference separating current record holder Usain Bolt and 5th ranked fastest runner of all time Nesta Carter. Therefore shaving just 3.5 % off a runners time can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

French engineering and design student, Luc Fusaro aims to provide runners with the key to  unlocking this 3.5 second difference, a 3D Printed running show branded “Designed to Win”.

Unlike existing custom footwear where slight changes to material or spikes allow for cosmetic customization, it is at a structural level the customization occurs for the “Designed to Win” footwear. Scans are taken as the athlete performs  a number of different athletic feat such as jumping off a box or running with these scans then used to tweak performance of the shoe. Once tweaks have been finalized the shoe is then build layer by layer in a Nylon powder using the Selective Laser Sintering (LS) process.

The resulting shoe weighs just 96 grams, making it the lightest racing shoe to  date (the super light Nike Mayfly weights 136 grams). Currently Fusaro is tweaking to pattern of the material to achieve the required level of flexibility. With the structure all about functionality the gold coating and spikes ensure the final product will look really neat. Fusaro hopes to debut fully functional “Designed to Win” footwear in 2016.


Apr 25, 2013
Comments Off on 3D Printing the moon!

3D Printing the moon!

London based SinterHab envision a 3D printed Moon base baked from lunar dust.



Collaborating with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory a team of UK architects have developed plans for a modular architectural structure which would be build using microwaves, solar energy and lunar dust at the lunar south pole.

Based on a system of rigid models that can be pieced together to form a structure, and inspired by the formation of bubbles found in nature the team boast that their design and development concept could “significantly decrease mass, costs and environmental impact” as there would be no need to send glue or other building agents to the moon. Lunar dust would be bonded using microwaves and solar energy to heat the particles to the right temperature for natural bonding. Once sintered the lunar dust would produce a ceramic-like material.

The nano-sized iron particles in lunar dust can be heated up to 1500°C and melt it even in a domestic microwave oven. When heated and the temperature is maintained below the melting point, particles can be bond together to create the lunar habitat building blocks. The use of lunar dust helps mitigate hazards of contamination from the highly abrasive lunar dust.

The internal membrane system of SinterHab offers up to four times the volume of classic rigid modules at the same weight shipped from earth. Modules large enough to accommodate a green garden to recycle air and water for the lunar outpost could also be produced, offering higher levels of habitability and enhancing the comfort and psychological well-being of inhabitants.

This construction method is based on the Microwave Sinterator Free-form Additive Construction System (MS-FACS) with Scientists at NASA proposing the use of a six legged multi-purpose robot called ATHLETE , which would hold a microwave printer head, for the construction of walls and dome. Lunar dust would be excavated and manipulated by Chariot rover in bulldozer configuration and then fed to ATHLETE. This lunar dust would then be used to cover inflated membranes of Kevlar, Mylar and other materials.


Mar 22, 2013
Comments Off on 3D Printing to make every step more comfortable

3D Printing to make every step more comfortable

Selective Laser Sintering making every step more comfortable

Selective Laser Sintering making every step more comfortable for New Balance Team athletes

Comprising of so many muscles, bones, joint and ligaments  the foot is as individual as a finger print. Different shapes, sizes and patterns of movement ensure no standard off-the -shelf shoe can be designed to correctly fit all requirements.  For athletes custom fit training shoes can make the difference in avoiding long term injury due to stress and strain on ligaments and muscles and enhance the comfort and efficiency of every step.

Imagine then going into your local sports shop and purchasing training shows customized for your feet. The team at New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc. may be bringing that day closer than you think. Using 3D-Printing technology the Brighton-based company have supplied their sponsored athletes with customised running shoes.

In January Jack Bolas ( a member of the Team New Balance) became  the first athlete to compete in the customised shoes. Bolas went on to finish fourth out of the ten competing runners.

Measuring movement

Bolas was taken to the Brandeis University in Waltham, where he was fitted shoes wired with a hundred sensors each tracking and measuring pressure as he ran the campus track. Motion capture cameras were also placed around the track.

The assembled data was then analysed by New Balance technicians using advanced algorithms and software to create a digital model of the customised spike plates for Bolas’ shoes. Rapid Prototyping software then cut the 3D data into thin slices for print.  Speaking on the decision to use Rapid Prototyping technology Katherine Petrecca, manager of studio innovation at New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc stated

“We could make  the custom spikes using a traditional injection mold system, but we wanted the athletes to be able to test the shoes very quickly. Injection molding could take months. With our system, it takes on to three hours, depending on the complexity, and you can make multiple parts at the same time”

In addition to Bolas 2012 Olympians Barbara Parker (Britain) and Kim Conley (US) along with 1500 meter World Champion gold medalist Jenny Barringer Simpson are also involved in helping New Balance develop their highly customizable footwear. The goal is to extend the service to non-professional athletes competing in spikes with the eventual goal to revolutionize future footwear manufacturing.

Mar 8, 2013
Comments Off on An Eco-Friendly approach to 3D Printing

An Eco-Friendly approach to 3D Printing

A 3D object produced on the Solar Sinter Machine in August 2011

While on holiday last month I ventured into the Krakow Museum of Modern Art only to discover (much to the joy of my inner geek) a Solar Sinter machine designed and developed by Markus Kayser.

Selective Laser Sintering is the process of creating a very precise 3D object from a variety of powdered plastics, resins and metals using high tech lasers to trace out shape based on computer drawn 3D designs.  Laser sintering has within recent years become a key tool in 3D printing or design prototyping. The Solar Sinter machine takes this Selective Laser Sintering process and adds and Eco twist.

Deserts occupy some 20% of the earths land surface with two elements dominating, sand and sun. Visiting the Egyptian desert in August 2010 as part of his Sun cutter project led Kayser to realise the potential of a new machine  that could bring together these the vast energy source of the sun and the almost unlimited supply of silica in the form of quartz.

Using a sun tracking device the entire Sinter Machine rotates about its base throughout the day to ensure a large Fresnel lens (1.4m x 1m ) faces the sun at all times. Taking direction of computer drawn model of the object the machine moves the sand box along the X, Y and Z coordinates at a carefully calculated speed, whilst the  print head lens focuses a concentrated beam of light reaching temperatures of up to 1600ºC  which melts the sand.  Layer by Layer the object is built and once completed and cooled the object is simply dug out of the sand box.

Objects printed using the solar sinter consist of a rough sandy reverse side whilst the top surface is hard glass. As composition of the sand varies between regions different results can be produced in different deserts and by mixing sand different combinations of colour and material can be achieved.

Watch the video on this process below:

Markus Kayser – Solar Sinter Project from Markus Kayser on Vimeo.


With even the battery used to move the solar sinter machine powered by the sun, could this new 3D printer hold the key to developing a more sustainable form of manufacturing in some of the the worlds poorest regions.




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



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.

Jun 13, 2012
Comments Off on Loire Valleys largest Château recreated in SLS.

Loire Valleys largest Château recreated in SLS.

                                                                                                                 Loire Valley's Chateau de Chambord

Some four hundred and fifty years after construction began on one of Frances most iconic architectural landmarks, Rapid Prototyping bureau Laser Prototypes have unveiled a scale model of Château de Chambord, produced entirely in using the Selective Laser Sintering process.

With some 11 kinds of tower and 3 types of chimney the complex roof scape alone would represent a significant challenge for any model making process, particularly in light of the customers tight project lead times. With rapid build times, and the ability to produce complex geometries with minimal post production processing the Selective Laser Sintering Process would prove the ideal process for meeting the project brief.

SLS Scale model of Chateau

Customer supplied 3D CAD data of the Château was sliced into a series of 2D cross sectional layers using proprietary software to create an STL file. Once compiled this file was then fed to the companies SLS machine, where the model was grown layer by layer on a bed of PA Nylon powder.  Parts produced in the Selective Laser Sintering process require no support structure, as the Nylon powder proves self supporting with minimal clean up required, ensuring no damage to fragile/ fine features of the Château chimneys and towers.

Complex roof scape accurately recreated in SLS


Mar 15, 2012
Comments Off on Can 3D printing make musical instruments more affordable?

Can 3D printing make musical instruments more affordable?

Demonstrating the potential of e-Manufacturing, Germany company EOS (Electro Optical Systems) have printed a violin! The 3D printed violin was produced in days and demonstrates how rapid prototyping technology can be applied to conventional manufacturing process across a wide range of industries as a tool for overcoming production challenges.

Renowned for their artisanal craftsmanship each Stradiviarius stringed instrument has been designed to the unique and complex specifications of  the Stradivarius brand.  A highly labour intensive process each violin produced consists of about five hundred work steps and usually takes up to three months of handicraft time.

Manufactured in a high performance industrial polymer (EOS PEEK HP3) the entire body was grown within hours on a laser-sintering machine. This form of 3D printing involves the use of a high powered laser to fused small material particles layer by layer until the 3D product is fully built. With the help of a traditional violin maker the body was then assembled and additional components including strings, fine tuners and the peg box were added.

The real test came next, would the 3D printed violin sound like a violin should. To my untrained ear the project appears to have been a success (watch the video below to decide for yourself).

3D printed musical  instruments may prove a popular option for those seeking an inexpensive alternative to what can often be a major investment.


Nov 25, 2011
Comments Off on Continuum Fashion design first 3D-printed bikini

Continuum Fashion design first 3D-printed bikini


Rapid Prototyping has broken into the fashion world thanks largely to the durability of Selective Laser Sintering materials such as PA Nylon. Previous 3D printed fashion collections such as footwear and dresses have been designed solely as haute couture experimental pieces, unavailable to purchase, however thanks to Consortium Fashion you can now purchase ready to wear SLS fashion in the form of the N12 bikini!

Named after the material its made out of, Nylon 12, the N12 bikini has been made entirely by 3D printing with all fixtures and fastenings snapped together without any sewing. Innately waterproof Nylon 12 was selected as the ideal material, as not only is it strong enough to allow bending even when printed very thin (a minimum wall section of 0.7mm can be achieved) it actually becomes more comfortable to wear when wet.

Designing such a bikini was not as easy as simply entering the shape on a 3D modelling software, designers Jenna Fizel and Mary Haung had to ensure it would be comfortable, cost-effective and printable without leaving too little to the imagination. Designed using Rhino 3D CAD software a unique algorithmic script was specifically written to create the structure of the 3D printed fabric.When speaking on the design Mary Haung stated

“The bikini design fundamentally reflects the beautiful intricacy possible with 3D printing, as well as the technical challenges of creating a flexible surface out of the solid nylon. Thousands of circular plates are connected by thin springs, creating a wholly new material that holds its form as well as being flexible. The layout of the circle pattern was achieved through custom written code that lays out the circles according to the curvature of the surface. In this way, the aesthetic design is completely derived from the structural design”

Bikini printed with Selective Laser Sintering

Bikini printed with Selective Laser Sintering

One of the goals of this particular circle patterning system is to allow for its application to any surface making the N12 bikini just the start. Future adaptation of this technology could allow absolute customization with bespoke articles of clothing created from a 3D body scan.

While the N12 claims  to be the first affordable 3D printed bikini, it will still set you back a little more than your traditional bikini with prices starting off at approximately £160 pounds for the top alone. For those of you with £1000 to spare you can get a bespoke fitted model designed around your body alone.

Nov 9, 2011
Comments Off on 3D printed spiderbot designed to save lives

3D printed spiderbot designed to save lives

When choosing a form of locomotion for their robotic creations, roboticists often draw on nature to inspire alternatives to the tried and  tested tank like tracks or wheels.  This is exactly where the team at the Fraunhofer institute have turned in the creation of their new eight-legged robot.

Agile and purposeful, the Spider-Bot can transverse hazardous environments and unstable ground. Like its biological counterpart, it keeps four of its eight legs on the ground at any one time, while the remaining four legs turn and ready themselves for the next step ensuring stability.  Despite lacking muscles to stretch their long extremities, a number of spiders can jump, using built up body pressure to force fluid into their limbs to extend them and this principal has been applied to the Spider-Bot through elastic drive bellows that operate pneumatically to bend and extend its artificial limbs.

3D printed spiderbot to assist in search and rescue missions

3D printed spider-bot to assist in search and rescue missions

Despite combining rigid and elastic shapes in a single component the spider-bot has been produced at low cost and with just a few production steps, thanks to the help of Selective Laser Sintering, the process by which thin layers of a fine polyamide powder are applied one at a time in thin layers and melted in place with the aid of a laser beam. The use of SLS allows for complex geometries, inner structures and lightweight components to be produced while keeping the costs and development times of the Spider-Bot low. The lightweight polyamide powder also ensures the end-product is lightweight.

With the Spider-Bot body capable of carrying various measuring devices and sensors it is anticipated that future applications will include an exploratory tool in environments considered too hazardous for humans, or too difficult to get to.

A prototype model of the robot will be on display at Euro Mold 2011  (Frankfurt) later this month.