Mar 8, 2013
3DPrintingNews
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.

 

 

 

Feb 18, 2013
3DPrintingNews
Comments Off on 3D Printing gets Presidential seal of approval.

3D Printing gets Presidential seal of approval.

Last week during his annual State of the Union address, US President Obama not only mentioned 3D Printing, he earmarked it as a key strategy for the re-invigoration of the US manufacturing Industry.
In August 2012 Obama initiated early testing of this strategy through the funding of a National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Youngstown, Ohio. Youngstown represented the heart of steel manufacturing within the US and has been one the areas hardest hit by the American recession, today a once shuttered off warehouse is home the a state of the art lab where workers are mastering the 3D printing process.
With a vision to create a 15 node 3D printing network across the US it is clear Obama has faith in the potential for growth presenting by 3D printing technologies. Obama announced the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs “where businesses will partner with the Departments of Defence and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high tech jobs”
Some argue that the potential for 3D printing to revolutionize American manufacturing is greatly over hyped due to high labour and logistics costs within the US. Only time will tell if Obama’s policy will have the desired impact however for 3D printing advocates his mere mention of the technology in one of the the most widely listened to public speeches is likely to further strengthen public interest in 3D printing technologies.
Feb 14, 2013
3DPrintingNews
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.

Feb 4, 2013
3DPrintingNews
Comments Off on Mobile goes 3D as Nokia release 3D Development Kit for Lumia 820

Mobile goes 3D as Nokia release 3D Development Kit for Lumia 820

While 3D printing for mobile device development is nothing new Nokia are embracing the growing consumer interest in 3D printing technology with the Lumia 820 3D printing community.

A simple concept the 3D printing community will allow users replace the removable mobile shell with a range of Nokia made casings capable of enhancing user experience, from special ruggedized shells  – for those demanding a more robust mobile casing to shells adding a wireless charging capability allowing chatterboxes to talk for longer.

In addition to these product add on’s the team at Nokia have realised that with 3D printing it will now be possible to take customer experience and the desire for individuality even further with 3D templates available online for users to build their own unique shell casing.

Nokia Community and Developer Marketing Manager, John Kneeland  believes that the future for mobile phones lies in more modular and customizable products, with the hope that some day Nokia will sell some kind of phone template allowing entrepreneurs the world over to build a local business on developing phones specifically tailored to the needs of his or her local community.

Jan 30, 2013
3DPrintingNews
Comments Off on Plans developed for first 3D printed house!

Plans developed for first 3D printed house!

Dutch architect, Janjaap Ruijssenaars has unveiled designs for Landscape House, the worlds first ever 3D-Printed house. Plans  for Landscape house do not include reinforced cast concrete rather 3D printed layers of sand to allow for absolute design freedom.

Taking the form of a continuous looping Möbius strip which rises out of the landscape before folding seamlessly back on itself Landscape House is to be comprised of 6x9m printed hollow sand shell sections. These sections will then be infilled with fiber-reinforced concrete for extra strength, while steel and glass provide the facade. Expected lead times of 18 months have been proposed from start to completion.

Speaking on this 1,100 square metre property Ruijssenaars stated that the building which could serve as either a home or museum was not originally designed for 3D printing, rather this modern production process turned out to be the most appropriate. In order to make a Möbuis shape, Ruijssenaars realised that regardless of the material used it is first necessary to make a strip and then bend it, achieving this would prove impossible using traditional construction techniques. “With a 3D printer..we could make the whole structure from bottom to top without anyone seeing where it is beginning or ending”

With an estimated cost of £3.3 – 4.2 million the ultimate use of Landscape House remains unclear however a Brazilian national park is reported to have expressed interest in use of the structure as a museum. Regardless of its end use successful construction of Landscape House is likely to have a profound impact on the way future buildings are designed and constructed.

 

Jan 18, 2013
3DPrintingNews
Comments Off on US Military invests in front line Rapid Prototyping

US Military invests in front line Rapid Prototyping

Recent reports indicate that the US military is developing its own range of 3D printers, designed to enable soldiers on the front line to quickly and cheaply produce space parts for their equipment.

By bringing this emerging technology to the battlefield spare parts and sensitive equipment for devices such as GPS receivers and air drones can be produced onsite rather than waiting on parts from overseas.

In a statement released by operations research analyst D. Shannon Berry it was announced that 3D printers small and light enough to be easily carried in a backpack could be used to in place of a massive manufacturing logistics chain when sourcing spare parts for military equipment. Further announcements from military research facilities include the development of 3D printers costing just $700 (compared to at least $2000 for commercial models)

While the development of 3D printing for front-line military manufacturing proves a controversial topic, it further highlights the growing interest in 3D printing technologies and follows President Obama’s investment of $30 million government funding in the development of a national 3D printing center in Ohio.

 

Oct 26, 2012
3DPrintingNews
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

 

 

Oct 5, 2012
3DPrintingNews
Comments Off on Could 3D printed lighting be the next big thing for children’s toys.

Could 3D printed lighting be the next big thing for children’s toys.

Children’s entertainment giant Disney are currently researching the role of 3D printing in the creation of a new kind of toy. The research focuses on developing interactive devices with active components, with these devices created as a single object rather than assembled from individual parts. The team of researchers at Disney’s Pittsburgh lab have used 3D printing technology to create “light pipes” which provide flexible alternative  to optical fibre. By printing the pipes to fit a toys specific form it was possible to place and light pipe intersections with greater ease than would have been possible with traditional lighting fibres.

This technology was outlined in the research teams first paper which also details some prototype toys developed to date including;

  • A bug like toy with glowing eyes that displays various graphics.


             Incorporating a series of light pipes into the design of a 3D printed demon toy, engineers were able to create the impression that the toy was rolling its eyes, blinking or in love (cartoon style – with two small throbbing hearts) by simply controlling which bits of the eye were illuminated in a specific colour.
  • A chess set with light up pieces that display their location on the board 


             Similarly by creating chess pieces with a large number of light pipes which form a dot matrix display, the team was able to make text and numbers glow through the sides of the bases of each chess pieces, this could be used to show location or suggest moves for each chess piece during chess games.

While the technology sounds promising there are a number of kinks to be worked out by the team. Currently there is too much light loss from longer 3D printed light pipes and some complications have arisen in the creation of entirely enclosed hollow areas. The team however should also be aware of costing factors which may prove a challenge once the prototype design nears completion. Developing 3D printing for the toy industry is not a new concept however industry watchers suggest that production costs for 3D printed toys remain high which pushes prices upwards, making 3D printed toys more suitable to the adult collectors.

 

 

Sep 24, 2012
3DPrintingNews
Comments Off on US Army sends Rapid Prototyping labs to the front line.

US Army sends Rapid Prototyping labs to the front line.

REF Expeditionary Lab, inside a shipping container

While Spark Truck has been bringing 3d Printers to schools across the US, the Rapid Equipping Force (REF) division of the US Army, tasked with ensuring soldiers are equipped with the latest and greatest kit, has begun sending Rapid Prototyping technology to the front line in Afghanistan.

The REF consists of a team of scientists and engineers who work to ensure any hardware bugs are ironed our as quickly as possible. With the REF team based in the US lead times are stretched for the development and deployment of solutions to any unexpected equipment errors. Scientists and engineers must first fly over to the soldiers to discuss their requirements. Once the problem is identified the team must return to the US to develop the new prototypes, which in turn are shipped to the soldiers.

Built out of a 20 foot shipping container each Expeditionary Lab is expected to remedy this time delay, allowing prototypes to be produced within a couple of hours. Each lab has been kitted out with all the tools required to modify and create tools and weapons in the battle field. Costing $2.8 million per unit each lab contains a state of the art 3D printer, industrial CNC equipment and a satellite link  not to mention a whole host of engineering equipment. With its own electricity generator and internal air conditioning / heating system each unit is entire independent of its local environment ensuring it can be placed anywhere.

To date three such labs have been created with the first currently in place at the Royal Command South near Kandahar, the second scheduled for deployment at Royal Command East later this year and the third lab is to be kept within the US and used in the event of a natural disaster. At the end of each mission the lab can be simply be trucked or lifted to its next destination.

Sep 7, 2012
3DPrintingNews
Comments Off on ParaNorman takes 3D printing for film one step further.

ParaNorman takes 3D printing for film one step further.

In 2009 stop motion animation Coraline introduced  the world to 3D printed stop motion character models, offering unparalleled levels of detailing to both character expressions and film backdrops, above all 3D printing allowed stop motion animations to finally hold their own in a CGI dominated market. Next Friday (14/09/12) the latest instalment from the 40 man team at Laika, ParaNorman, hits cinema screens across the UK and Ireland.

When creating Coraline 3d printing allowed the team at Laika to create some 200,000 possible facial expressions for the films leading character resulting in greater emotional range and smoother lip syncing, in comparison with the 800 lead character facial expressions created painstakingly by hand by the artists behind The Nightmare before Christmas in 1993.  During the creation of Coraline 3D colour printing was still in its infancy and as a result the team had to handpaint each of the 200,000 possible facial expressions, a challenging task as each of Coraline’s freckles had to be painted on exactly the same spots.

By 2010 3d printing had reached the stage where objects could be coloured in on the computer and then printed in colour. Having had considerable success with 3d printing puppet faces for Coraline the team at Laika were eager build on this success with the incorporation of 3D colour printing into the production of ParaNorman.

Speaking on the project Brian McLean director of Rapid Prototyping at Laika commented on a number of early production issues including problems achieving consistency in colours. The team overcame this by carrying out thousands of tests in order to figure out the best file formats and colour profiles to send to the printer. To overcome the chalky consistancy of  the printed faces the team had to find and follow an exact process for dipping the parts in super glue, sanding and then baking the parts in an oven at specific temperatures and times in order to achieve different effects. All of which required completion within just 3 months.

Thanks to the latest 3d printing technology ParaNorman exceeds all expectations with some 88,00 faces and 1.5 million expressions for the lead character alone. The colour printer also provided some unexpected benefits. The printer injects colour 16th of an inch into the face rather than on the surface allowing for subsurface scattering, while the silicon material is similar to skin allowing gentle reflection and absorption of light. This translucency and vibrancy have allowed the team to achieve a kind of translucency to Normans ears which closely matches real human ears.

Why not catch ParaNorman in cinemas next week and see how 3d printing has evolved.