Jun 19, 2014
Comments Off on 3D Printing takes centre stage at 2014 FIFA World Cup

3D Printing takes centre stage at 2014 FIFA World Cup

With World Cup fever taking over at the LPE office and the use of a partially 3D printed exoskeleton featuring in the opening ceremony it was only a matter of time before we got around to writing a post on 3D Printing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

While 3D printings appearance at the Opening Ceremony may have been brief the $20 million contribution by the Brazilian government to the Andar de Novo(Walk Again Project) was perhaps the most note worthy, as a young paraplegic took the ceremonial first kick with the assistance of 3D printing and bionic technology . Headed by Brazilian neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, the project aims at restoring movement to people who have suffered brain lesions or neuromotor diseases by using their minds to control a exoskeleton which substitutes for the functioning of the lower limbs. The World Cup kick off while symbolic to football fans everywhere has become something much more significant, it has become the first step of a much larger project a project aimed at helping countless paraplegics walk again. (Find out more about the Walk Again Project)

Sporting giant Nike have invested considerably in 3D Printing technology in recent years with an increase in their sporting goods not only designed by also manufacturing using Rapid Prototyping technology. Designed exclusively for its roster of top world cup players, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Neymar Jr. Nike have introduced the Rebento Duffel, a 3D printed performance sports bag. The bag features a 3D Printed that echoes the stud plates on the Magista boot (also designed for the 2014 games) with the lower body also taking cues from the Flyknit pattern on the Magista boot and features Selective Laser Sintering technology. Hand-crafted premium leather upper and straps which seamlessly fits into the base without the need for any glue/adhesive allow for further weight reduction and flexibility. The Rebento also features a custom 3D printed piece of Gold hardware with the player’s name

May 6, 2014
Comments Off on 3D Printing in the Cycling Industry

3D Printing in the Cycling Industry

LS Bike - Selective Laser Sintering

In 2011 EADS, the European Aerospace and Defence group produced Airbike, the worlds first bike built using Additive Layer Manufacturing technology. Produced in Nylon but strong enough to replace steel or aluminium the Airbike was ‘grown’ in one piece using the Selective Laser Sintering (LS) process. With complex designs achievable at no extra cost a range of unique design features were incorporated into the Airbike design such as the auxetic structure to provide saddle cushioning or the integrated bearings encased within the hubs. Despite the technologies capacity to produce complex designs up to 65% lighter than traditional manufacturing techniques, high machine and material costs in 2011 prevented  LS technology from becoming an alternative to traditional manufacturing processes.

The past three years have seen considerable improvements in the range of materials and technologies available, with Rapid Prototyping growing in popularity within the UK cycling industry. In 2012 UK firm Crux Product Design used 3D printing technologies to produce helmets for the Team GB cycling team. Designed to ensure best fit, 3D laser scans were created for each individual athlete with these scans used to develop the 3D CAD data. Rapid Prototyping was used to convert designs into physical prototype models over night. The prototypes were then used as part of the helmet fitting process, giving the athletes complete confidence in final fit and function of their Olympic cycling helmets.

Team GB Cycling Helmet - Rapid Prototyping


Not just a tool for accessory design verification Rapid Prototyping has proven popular in the design verification of various bicycle components. UK based Brompton Bicycle have incorporated 3D printing technology into their product design process with prototype models used for early design verification and product testing of components such as pedals etc.

Earlier this year British bicycle company Empire Cycles created the worlds first 3D printed titanium bike frame. Specialising in the design and manufacture of bikes specifically tailored to the demanding performance requirements of mountain bikers and downhillers, a significant challenge for Empire Cycles was the reduction of overall bike weight, carbon fiber while lighter would be more likely to suffer damage when “chucking yourself down a mountain”. By using 3D printing technology it was possible for all unnecessary materials to be removed allowing for a weight saving of 44% against the original aluminium alloy seat post and a 33% weight saving against the original bike frame, with further weight reductions possible on future design iterations. The use of additive manufacturing technologies allows all the advantages of a pressed steel monocoque construction used in construction of motorbikes and cars, without the need for significant tooling investment.

Worlds First 3D printed Bike


The 3D Printed seat post bracket has been tested using the mountain bike standard EN14766 and not only passed standard by continued to perform without failure to 6 times the standard. Testing of the bicycle and frame will continue both in lab and on mountainside with the project aim to produce a fully functional bicycle.

There are no immediate retail current plans for the Ti Trail Bike however it presents an interesting glimpse into the future of bike manufacturing




Apr 28, 2014
Comments Off on Helping young people design & 3D Print assistive technologies.

Helping young people design & 3D Print assistive technologies.

Hereward 3D is a collaborative project between Hereward College and The University of Warwick funded by The University of Warwick Science Park. This project combines the students at Hereward College expert knowledge of young people using assistive technology with Warwick University’s expert knowledge of 3D printing technologies, with the aim of empowering young people to design and 3D print assistive technologies tailored to their own specific needs.

Since September 2013, staff and student tutors from the WMG and the Department of Computer Science have been working with Hereward students at a weekly workshop. One of the collaborations ongoing projects involves the design and production of a bespoke iPhone Communication Aid Mount for a wheelchair user as shown below.

iPhone mount for wheelchair user developed by Hereward 3D

A proactive project, Hereward 3D shows how 3D Printing technology can be used to improve the quality of life and increase independence for those living with disability. To check out the projects progress visit the Hereward 3D webpage.


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.


Feb 10, 2014
Comments Off on UK Surgeon performs 1st of a kind 3d printed pelvis implant

UK Surgeon performs 1st of a kind 3d printed pelvis implant

Surgeon Craig Gerrand with model of pelvis

Surgeon Craig Gerrand with model of pelvis

Using 3D printing technology Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Craig Gerrand helped patient who lost half of his pelvis to bone cancer walk again.

The 60 year old male patient was diagnosed with a rare bone tumor known as chondrosarcoma.  This form of cancer, which affected virtually the entire right hand side of the patients pelvis, does not respond to drugs or radiotherapy leaving the only option to surgically remove the affected area. With so much bone affected there would be nothing left to which a standard hand made implant could be attached leading to Craig Gerrand offering his patient an extraordinary reconstructive innovation; to 3D print an custom made implant in titanium which would be designed to form a perfect fit into the space left by the surgery. The implant then covered in a mineral into which the remaining bone cells could grow. Speaking on the surgery Gerrand stated that the patient was aware of the risks including the implant not fitting properly or fracturing  before opting in to the surgery.

Meticulous planning was required to provide the greatest chance of success. CT and MRI scans of the pelvis were fused to calculate precise dimensions for the space to remain and the quantity of bone to be removed. Using this data it was possible to produce a bespoke 3D printed model of the half pelvis, which provided an exact dimensional match to the bone lost by the patient. Following the creation of the implant surgery proceeded with Gerrand utilising surgical navigation technology to ensure the bone was cut exactly where planned. Once the bone was removed the titanium implant was fitted, followed by a standard hip replacement which fitted seamlessly into the titanium socket.

Just over three years on the patient is able to walk with the aid of a stick and is still very happy with his 3D printed implant.

Jan 7, 2014
Comments Off on Tornado fighter jets fly with 3D printed parts.

Tornado fighter jets fly with 3D printed parts.

Earlier this week defence company, BAE Systems announced the successful test flight of a RAF Tornado fighter jet, which featured 3D Printed components.

The metal components which included protective covers for cockpit radios and guards for power take-off shafts are to form production components for four squadrons of Tornado GR4 Aircraft at the RAF Marham base in Norfolk. With some components costing less than £100 it is hoped that 3D Printing technology could cut the RAF maintenance and service bill by over £1.2 million in the next four years.

Speaking on the implications of 3D Printing technology on manufacturing, head of airframe integration at BAE Systems, Mike Murray stated;

“You are suddenly not fixed in terms of where you have to manufacture these things. You can manufacture the products at whatever base you want, providing you can get a machine there, which means you can also start to support other platforms such as ships and aircraft carriers. And if it’s feasible to get machines out on the front line, it also gives improved capability where we wouldn’t traditionally have any manufacturing support”

With both US space agency NASA and the defence sector looking at the long term manufacturing capabilities of 3D Printing technology we can expect to see significant developments in 3D Printing as a tool for manufacturing in the coming years.

Dec 9, 2013
Comments Off on For the one who a everything …3D Print yourself

For the one who a everything …3D Print yourself

Everyone has a least one on their Christmas list, that hard-to-buy for person who already has everything. This year why not surprise them with something truly unique, a 3D printed replica figurine of yourself.

How do you get your hands on one, simply visit the  iMakr pop-up shop in London Selfridges where a mechatronic engineer will guide you through the 3D scanning and printing process. Customers are requested to step inside the 3D-Scanning booth where 40 or so cameras positioned at various angles and levels create 3D Data for print which will then be recreated on an iMakr printer. Customers are advised of certain print limitations for example issues recreating splayed fingers and curly hair.

Allowing loved ones to hold a miniature version of yourself in there hands does not however come cheap with a mini-me figurine likely to set you back £159.


Alternatively with iMakr printers starting at £699 you could treat yourself to your very own 3D Printer a create a mini-me army.

Sep 27, 2013
Comments Off on Digital Grotesque – the new face of architecture.

Digital Grotesque – the new face of architecture.

3D Printed Digital Grotesque


Entering into the grand 16 square meters of “Digital Grotesque” you could easily mistake it for the intricate interior of a Baroque cathedral in fact what stands before you is the first ever “fully immersive, solid, human-scale enclosed structure entire 3D printed out of sand.

Designed and developed by Swiss architects Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger, the 11 tonne structure exhibits an impressive 260 million surfaces with a layer resolution of 0.13mm.

Speaking on the projects website the team describe the project as “neither foreign nor familiar” as it straddles both chaos and order  and the natural and artificial. The building was not created by traditional design methods rather by an algorithm which at its most basic level gradually refines and enriches a simple input form. Their website stated “any reference to nature or existing styles are not integrated into the design process, but are evoked only as associations in the eye of the beholder”

The project took 13 months to complete with the entire structure built in just one month! Less concerned with functionality than with the expressive formal potentials of digital technologies, the work of Hansmeyer and Dillenburger examines the spatial experiences and sensations that these technologies enable.

Watch the video below

Digital Grotesque . Printing Architecture from Digital Grotesque on Vimeo.


Sep 13, 2013
Comments Off on Join in the Mysterabbit Urban Art Project at this years TCT Show + Personalize

Join in the Mysterabbit Urban Art Project at this years TCT Show + Personalize

A modern twist on the age old cliche “Stop and smell the roses” urban art project Mysterabbit is taking the world by storm. From South Korea to the United States thousands of tiny meditating bunny statues  are appearing in random spots in across the world.

The project aims at encouraging hurried city residents to slow down and enjoy life’s small pleasures. Speaking on the project Ji Lee and his team of public art enthusiasts stated “we hope [Mysterabbits] will stop people from their daily routine for a brief moment, make them wonder about their mysterious, newly found gift”.  To find out if Mysterabbit sculptures have already reached your town check out the map on the Mysterabbit website.

The public is actively encouraged to get involved in the project with a blueprint for the Mysterabbit sculptures available online to print on your own 3D printer. Free sculptures can also be ordered directly through the Mysterabbit website however expect a wait due to growing demand for these sculptures. Belfast based Rapid Prototyping and Additive Manufacturing bureau LPE have decided to show support for this project by producing 200 free Mysterabbit sculptures which they will be giving away at the TCT Show + Personalize later this month (25th & 26th September), simply visit their stand F42 at the NEC Birmingham  for your free model.


Mysterabbit visit Belfast

Mysterabbit visits Belfast

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.