Materialise to Introduce New 3D Printing Software Features at formnext, Says It's Time for Industry …

materialise3D printing industry, it’s time to grow up. So says Materialise, and they would know, having been around for the early days of the technology’s emergence. Now, 3D printing is becoming mainstream in nearly every industry, and while that’s undoubtedly a positive thing, Materialise cautions that additive manufacturing companies need to avoid becoming too relaxed and complacent about their success. 3D printing may be doing great things for manufacturing, but it has to continue to evolve into a permanent, preferable alternative to traditional manufacturing processes. That means strict quality standards and a continual push to create parts that are more than just a novelty but a true improvement, in order to stay competitive with traditional manufacturing giants.

“It truly is a new reality we’re dealing with,” said Stefaan Motte, Vice President of Materialise’s Software Unit. “The new benchmarks for our industry have to be Automotive’s ultra-efficiency, Aerospace’s absolute accountability and Medical’s full traceability. That feels like a departure from what we’re used to, but in fact, a lot of the building blocks are already in place. At Materialise, we’ve already built the tools we need to reach these new benchmarks – and have used them in our own production.”

Materialise is one of the leading providers of additive manufacturing software, offering comprehensive solutions for a wide range of industries and applications, and they never stop updating, improving, and adding to their numerous software suites. Next week at formnext, which will run from November 15 to 18 in Frankfurt, Germany, the company plans to unveil a whole new slate of features for one of their most popular software offerings: the Materialise Magics 3D Print Suite.

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Earlier this year, Materialise announced that they were combining their multiple Magics software solutions into one integrated, customizable software package. They’ve been adding to it on a regular basis since then, and at formnext, they will introduce what they state is the most advanced additive manufacturing package available today.

“We’re in the lucky position that we’ve been acclimatizing to the new reality for quite some time now,” said Motte. “We’re already used to the high quality standards, certifications and specifications of an industry like Aerospace, or the uncompromising efficiency of Automotive. We’ve run into and have overcome a lot of the challenges already and have built the learnings into our software suite.”

3dprinting-lighting_formnext-2016_mesago_frankfurtNew tools that will be introduced next week will focus on effficiency and repeatability, speeding up, as one example, preparation time for builds through automated support generation and orientation recommendations. Other features will streamline steps, improve first-time success rates, and facilitate better use of specialist skills – especially for metal 3D printing applications. An entirely new software program will be unveiled as well, designed for monitoring and inspection and addressing waste, scrap rates and validation issues.

“Metal is the fastest growing area in AM at the moment, so we’re adding a raft of features and functionalities to our software package that will accelerate progress in metal AM at a mass manufacturing scale,” said Motte. “To keep up with the demands of high-end, fast-paced manufacturing environments, AM processes have to be able to fit in with complex, very disciplined ecosystems. That means we have to start looking at the whole thing end-to-end. We have to be able to join up all steps of the AM process seamlessly, control it tightly and integrate it with other production processes. A lot of that can be done through software, but to work in the world of real manufacturing, this software has to be open, agnostic, collaboration-ready and helpful. That’s still not always the case.”

Materialise has always taken pride in their open development philosophy, allowing for co-creation and fast advancement into new areas. Now, says Motte, it’s time to focus on those areas in which additive manufacturing still hasn’t made significant inroads.

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Stefaan Motte at formnext 2015

“I predict that the last few remaining ‘walled garden’ solutions in AM software will now come under pressure to open up,” he continued. “For us, openness has always been a no-brainer, as it allows us to get our technology out there quickly, partnering with industry leaders to prove it in as many scenarios as possible. In a way, this biggest shift in the industry is the moment we’ve been waiting for – to show how much we can achieve together.”

Motte will speak about the new era of additive manufacturing, and how companies can leverage it to their greatest advantages, in a presentation entitled “Playtime is Over: How to Take Full Control of Processes and Quality?” at formnext on November 17 at 1:50 PM. If you’ll be at the conference and would like to talk to Materialise in person about their views on the industry and their newest software solutions, you can stop by their booth or schedule a meeting ahead of time here. 3DPrint.com will be in Frankfurt as well, so hopefully we’ll see you next week!

Baby's first 3D printed sword proves it's never too early to cosplay

Apr 9, 2016 | By Kira

When it comes to new parents, crossing those first few frontiers can be an extremely exciting time: baby’s first book, baby’s first shoes…but baby’s first sword? No, we’re not condoning anything irresponsible here—we’re talking about this epic, 3D printed baby rattle sword created by 3D print enthusiast and loving father, Matthew Harrell.

Harrell, a.k.a Targ of Targ’s Workshop, recently created this miniature 3D printed broadsword for his 8-month-old ‘wee little warrior’ after being inspired by DutchMogul’s Baby’s First Mace. Even babies, it seems, need to be prepared for the harsh realities of life, and what better way than to outfit them with the latest armor from the forge? (that is, your FDM 3D printer, of course).

Harrell’s 3D printed rattle consists of four main components: the handle, blade, pommel and jewel. All were 3D printed with no supports on a Lulzbot Taz 5 desktop 3D printer.

To keep this baby toy non-toxic and kid-safe, he 3D printed the majority out of bioplastic PLA filament, and chose TGlass 3D printing filament for the jewel. Not only is TGlass non-toxic and FDA approved for use in food containers, but its translucent finish also gives the sword a high-end, ‘jewel-esque’ look.

The secret to getting kids to actually play with their 3D printed sword is the rattle sound effect, achieved thanks to 3D printed plastic peas. To get the peas inside the entirely sealed-off blade, Harrell simply inserted them directly into the hollow structure while it was being 3D printed. Once the 3D print is complete, the blade is completely sealed shut, ensuring the peas are safely ‘entombed’ for eternity.

In terms of assembly, all that’s needed is some minimal cleaning of the parts, and superglue or epoxy to secure all the pieces together.

Despite the precaution taken to make the 3D printed sword as kid-safe as possible, including using non-toxic materials, superglue to bind the parts, and designing it with rounded edges, Harrell does caution parents that adult supervision is required. Should any parts happen to brake off, they could present sharp edges or choking hazards. That being said, he has already 3D printed and assembled 10 baby rattle swords with no issues so far.

It’s a simple yet clever 3D print that will be sure to entertain family and friends as much as the children themselves. After all, what could be cuter than a baby-cosplayer, fiercely wielding their rattle sword in the face of all evil—broccoli, diaper changes, and bedtime included?

You can find the free 3D printable files for the baby sword rattle on Thingiverse, or enter for a chance to win your own. Watch Harrell’s 3D printing process and get the full Targ’s Workshop contest details in the video below:

Posted in 3D Printing Application

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The Possibilities of 3D Printing: It's Only the Beginning

Dr. Elena Polyakova, Chief Operating Officer, Graphene 3D Lab

A 3D-printed battery. Images: Graphene 3D LaboratoriesThe future of 3D printing is bright and full of exciting promise. But the most intriguing scenario for this technology isn’t in the manufacture of objects we see every day—that will only be a small niche in the 3D-printing industry. Instead, 3D printing will realize its full potential when it enables people to innovate and create all new objects and devices in a one-touch process.

3D printing allows for distributed manufacturing—meaning products can be created on demand in a facility nearby. In the near future, this will allow consumers to purchase goods which fit their very specific needs. It will also have these goods printed and shipped in a matter of hours, as opposed to the weeks it can take to receive a custom item.

Furthermore, 3D printing will allow people to exchange their creative designs quickly and easily, from a new take on an everyday objects to an entirely new electronic device. The ability to create and share like never before is what really makes 3D printing the process of the future. While it has endless possibilities to improve the world around us, it’s still in the early stage of commercial development. Currently, 3D-printing technology allows people to print parts for a broken washing machine, granted the part that’s broken doesn’t need to withstand high force and can be made out of plastic. But within just five years, I foresee 3D printers capable of printing high-quality parts on-demand; and within 10 to 15 years, we will see at-home 3D printing for the majority of needs.

So what are some hurdles that need to be overcome to achieve these big feats? The two biggest problems are there are limits in production capabilities and 3D printers aren’t easy to use. But when 3D printing evolves into a simple-push button process, people will be able to go to a local store and use a 3D printer or use one at home to print useful items, as opposed to just models.

The way forward to overcome these problems is two-fold. The first is to incorporate advanced materials into thermoplastics used in 3D printing, allowing for functional 3D printing materials. The second is to develop a user-friendly 3D-printing ecosystem which makes the technology more accessible to non-engineers.

Moreover, for 3D printing to be used in commercial applications, the speed at which prints are completed must be improved upon, as well as the quality of prints themselves. For example, 3D prints currently have a sub-optimal quality to them when compared to products on store shelves. However, since many products are made solely out of plastic, if these two problems were solved, we would probably see its widespread use for producing both custom and generic objects. The applications of 3D printing can be further expanded with an improvement in available 3D-printing materials. A combination of functional materials with plastics within 3D prints would allow for the printing of operational devices.

The advancement of materials for 3D printing is essential to its future. Take graphene for example—a highly conductive nanomaterial—which when introduced to thermoplastics used in 3D printing, adds electrical conductivity to the final product. This is a major step forward because graphene enables us to make a number of applications through 3D printing, including capacitive touch sensors and circuitry. There are also a number of other advanced materials worth experimenting with for 3D printing, including MoS2 and boron nitride. Such materials can bring their own unique functionalities to 3D printing, which can prove useful for very specific applications. For instance, MoS2 has a high level of photoluminescence, which can be used in the creation of optoelectronics.

Graphene 3D employee at work in the lab.In addition to development of materials, one of the greatest challenge is in making one printer capable of printing a wide range of objects with several materials. Such a machine should be able to print a faux-wooden chess piece, as well as an operational device with some embedded electronics. The development of 3D printers capable of printing objects in more than just plastic will move the 3D-printing process forward. 3D printers are wonderfully disruptive already, but much innovation needs to occur for these devices to do more, print more and be used by everyday people who have no former experience in 3D printing.

This brings us to the next big challenge in 3D printing—the software. Today, it takes someone with some level of expertise in designing, as well as troubleshooting mechanical devices, to be successful with a 3D printer. However, in the future, troubleshooting a 3D printer will be a rare occasion and the software will be easy and quick to learn, much like desktop printing today. When that happens, at-home 3D printing will flourish.

3D printing is poised to make big breakthroughs in the way people create and acquire goods; and the industry is well on its way to overcoming its key challenges—improving the printers, advancing materials used in printing and improving the software that enables 3D printing. The good news is we are only 10 to 15 years away from achieving 3D printing’s full potential.

The Ultimate Arkham Origins Batman Suit is Fabricated Using 3D Printing and it’s Amazing

arkham-tundrafeaturedThere are people who dress up in costumes for Halloween, then there are others who need more than just one day a year to put on costumes and take on an entirely new persona. These people consider themselves cosplayers, taking part in costume play, oftentimes referred to as “cosplay”. Cosplay has become quite a bit of a subculture that has really taken off thanks to technological innovations such as the internet, 3D modeling, and now 3D printing.

arkham-crimson3D printing has lead to the creation of a plethora of unique costumes as well as detailed replica masks and other attire of some of our favorite movie and television characters. When it comes to cosplay, superheros are a bit of a subcategory within this growing culture. Whether it is Spiderman, Superman, Iron Man, The Hulk or Batman, there are always people who take a liking to one character or another.

In a recent collaboration between several companies, a Batman suit was created, using advanced 3D modeling and 3D printing techniques. Tundra Designs, Gauntlet FX, and Crimson Coscrafts teamed to create what may be the most incredible 3D printed Batman suit that I have ever seen. The Arkham Origins suit was first 3D modeled before being 3D printed. Then a mold was created in order to cast it for creation of the final product.

“The colours are not the standard issue Arkham Origins, as I wanted to go with the Dark Knight Skin you get at 100% completion,” explained Stevie Dee of Crimson Coscrafts. “The suit is quite comfy to wear and movement is great. I cant bend at the stomach but I didn’t expect that.”

Crimson Coscrafts did the 3D modeling work on the project, while Tundra Designs was responsible for the 3D printing and finishing, and Gauntlet FX provided the molding and casting. The team worked tremendously well on the project and the end results will surely please just about any Batman fan. Everything from the cowl, to the abs and obliques were precisely created, showing off plenty of intricate detail.

“Tundra and Gauntlet had really thought about [the abs and obliques] and provided some squares of ribbed rubber to fit the pieces together, so I set to gluing these all up with some trust urethane glue with added gorilla glue,” said Dee.

arkhamfeetFor those individuals interested in getting one of these suits made for them, they can contact Guantlet FX, or Tundra Designs directly. No prices have been announced publicly as of yet.

2015 should be a heck of year for cosplayers everywhere, with more and more design companies beginning to utilize 3D printing technology in order to completely customize their costumes. While companies will still utilize more traditional mold casting techniques in their creations, 3D printing is playing a major role in driving the growth of Cosplay. If it weren’t for the technology, creating detailed custom costume pieces would be a lot more difficult.

What do you think about this Arkham Origins Batman suit? Would you have done anything different as far as design goes? Discuss in the 3D Printed Batman Suit forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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It's All Thumbs Up For The 3D Printed Facebook Like Counter, Fliike

We cover 3D printing concepts, entrepreneurs, and companies every day that are very inspiring, but this 3D printed product takes likability to a new level in a genius, lighthearted, very socially necessary product.

We all need to know when we are being liked, right? We would all like to know right away — and what the heck, the rest of the world should know too. Rolling onto the scene with a style that’s a little bit retro and a little bit high-tech, Fliike deserves a big social media thumbs up as they gift us with the ability to watch the Facebook likes roll in — raising our self-esteem with each click.

Fliike, the Facebook likes counter

The masterminds at Smiirl, a French startup, have teamed up with Sculpteo to bring Fliike to the world, in the form of a 3D printed counter that literally sits on your counter as well — or your desk, or shop window. It’s the perfect marketing tool for grabbing attention, as well as a sure way to make more ‘friends.’

“While big brands can afford huge advertising campaigns to get more likes, local businesses can’t. The Fliike instantly displays Facebook page metrics, via a flip-board type display. Therefore, it’s totally possible to create entirely fliike-packnew kinds of communication operations,” said Romain, co-founder of Smiirl.

Smiirl’s design department already had 3D printing in mind for the manufacturing of Fliike, and zeroed in on Sculpteo for 3D printing the prototype with their polyamide material, which was a perfect match for the device.

“3D printing those pieces enabled us to test them out, and refine them as best as possible; thus, when we ordered our plastic molding, we were entirely sure about the product we’d get,” said Romain regarding using the material from Sculpteo, as well as their services.

“Sculpteo’s services, and their quick delivery time helped us validate all the details about our product. A startup such as ours can then quickly launch their product. This way, we initiated production in record time.”

10650043_355353941296988_67321455299120728_nThe polyamide material also lends itself to polishing and dyeing in 11 different colors. It can also be left up to the consumer to polish or color it themselves with varnish or paint, easily.

While the folks at Facebook are probably clapping their hands together in glee, I imagine many shopowners are getting ready to hit the “order” button for one of these right now. This is not only an informational tool, but it puts exponential marketability into the Facebook venue.

With your digital community clocking in right in your window, your popularity is advertised, and everyone will want to friend you. I know some marketing gurus who will be very excited about this product. If there were a want button, we’d be clicking away. Is this something you’d like to order for your business or home? Do you think this will be a good marketing tool? Tell us about it in the Facebook Fliike forum at 3DPB.com.

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Autodesk Has Just Launched The First Ever 3D Printing Investment Fund – And It's Set To Be Worth …

The 3D printing industry is set for some major innovation now Autodesk, Inc. has launched the world’s first investment fund for the industry.

With plans to invest up to $100 million into entrepreneurs, startups and researchers pushing the acceleration of the new technology over the next several years, Autodesk hopes the fund will unlock 3D printing’s potential.

Samir Hanna, Autodesk’s vice president and general manager of Consumer Products and 3D Printing, said “the days of taking a closed, top-down approach to innovating for additive manufacturing are behind us”.

“Numerous industries recognise the value of tapping into entrepreneurs or startups with better ideas and approaches, and 3D printing is no exception.”

Companies and individuals in the 3D printing industry with big ideas and developing software will have to apply to become apart of the The Spark Investment Fund portfolio. If successful, not only will they receive funding but they will also become part of the Spark partner program and have access to marketing and other developer services.

In 2012, Business Insider US listed Autodesk as one of the hottest investment ideas on Wall Street due to its high foreign sales exposure. Two years on, Citi is saying the company’s 4D technology is set to utterly transform the world – watch this space.

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