The 3D Printers of CES

Brian Benchoff for HACKADAY:  CES is over, and now we can take a step back, distance ourselves from the trade show booths, and figure out where 3D printing will be going over the next year.

The Hype Cycle is a great way to explain trends in fads and technological advances. VR and autonomous cars are very early on the Hype Cycle right now. Smartphones are on the plateau of productivity. 3D printing is head-down in the trough of disillusionment.

For this year’s CES, 3D printing is not even a product category. In fact, the official documentation I found at Prusa’s booth listed their company in the ‘Assistive Technologies’ category. These are dark days for the public perception of 3D printing. 

The perception of 3D printing has been tied inexorably to Makerbot. Makerbot presented the only 3D printer on The Colbert Report. Only Makerbot had their 3D printing storefronts featured on CNN. It’s been like this for half a decade, and hopefully things will get better.  Cont'd...

3D printer builds a cube from a vat of goo … using a phone screen

Ed Oswald for DigitalTrends:  What if we told you that you could be holding in your hand a key piece to your next 3D printer? If Taiwan-based 3D-printing startup T3D has anything to do with it, your smartphone will have you creating 3D objects in no time. While the printing surface contains a mechanically operated plate that is dipped into a special resin, it’s your smartphone that tells it how to operate.

From within the printer’s app, you select the shape you’d like to print. From there, the light from the screen moves through a series light patterns necessary to create the object in a special light sensitive resin. While it works a bit slow — as you can see, the cube structure in the video demo above takes over seven hours to print on an early prototype — it’s like nothing we’ve seen before.  Cont'd...

Spanish City Installs 3D-Printed Bridge

Jen Kinney for Next City:  Alcobendas, Spain, this week unveiled a 3D-printed pedestrian bridge, reports 3ders.org, a 3D printing news site. The approximately 40-foot concrete bridge is made up of eight separate parts that fit together, and was created using an additive manufacturing process. It spans a small canal in Castilla La Mancha Park.

According to a statement from the Alcobendas City Council, the 3D printing process resulted in far less waste than normally produced while creating concrete structures, making it less expensive than traditional processes.

Large-scale 3D printing holds the promise of versatility — since structural elements can be created without molds or forms — and of sustainability, since raw material can often be recycled and fewer resources are required during manufacture.  Cont'd...

Hospital to get first dedicated 3D tissue-printing facility

Steve Dent for enGadget:  You still can't get a 3D-printed liver transplant made from your own cells, but an Australian hospital is trying to push the tech into the mainstream. The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane is building a dedicated "biofabrication" space where doctors and researchers can develop tech to model and print cartilage, bone and other human tissue. "It will be the first time a biomanufacturing institute will be co-located with a high-level hospital," said Australian Minister of Health Cameron Dick.

The facility will occupy two floors of the hospital and use state of the art tissue manufacturing tech in surgery procedures. "Our vision for healthcare is that the biofabrication institute will pave the way for 3D printers to sit in operating theaters, ready to print tissue as needed, in our hospitals of the future," Dick said.  Cont'd...

Additive Manufacturing

The most popular and widespread technology is FDM (fused deposition modeling), known also as FFF (fused filament fabrication). The majority of companies apply this technology in numerous printers, both of "amateur" and of "professional" classes.

Home 3D Printing 'Just Not There Yet' Admits MakerBot

Alex Cranz for Gizmodo:  MakerBot was going to change the world. It was going to bring 3D-printing, long a product limited to designer offices and workshops, into the home (or at least the garage). But earlier today, under a veil of marketing speak and glitzy videos, the company announced a new focus on commercial—not consumer—products, and in so doing, finally admitted what we’ve all known for a while. No one really wants a 3D printer in their house.

CEO Jonathan Jaglom called MakerBot’s event an “an overall repositioning” for the brand. That’s a market savvy way of saying MakerBot is abandoning the home and hobbyist and embracing offices and schools. Later, when I asked about MakerBot’s former dream of getting 3D printers into people’s homes Jaglom’s answer seemed to come easily, the consumer market’s “just not there yet.”  Cont'd...

This Time, 3D Printer Makers Think They Found a Sweet Spot

Olga Kharif for Bloomberg Technology:  3D printing has long been a cool technology in search of a huge market. The industry may have found one in mass production.

Because of its high cost and slow pace, 3D printing’s use in manufacturing has been limited mostly to prototyping, making plastic molds for teeth alignment and creating tools. That may be about to change, potentially lifting the shares of printer makers 3D Systems Inc. and Stratasys Ltd. after a long slump. 

HP Inc. will introduce a $130,000 printer later this year, which it says can make parts at half the expense and at least 10 times faster than rival printers -- and likely use lower-cost materials. While HP’s entry could be a competitive blow, it may also help expand the market for 3D mass production, where other printer companies have already turned their focus.

Jabil Circuit Inc. plans to be an early adopter of HP’s device, printing end plastic parts for aerospace, auto and industrial applications that it currently makes using processes such as injection molding, John Dulchinos, vice president of digital manufacturing at the electronics-manufacturing service provider, said in an interview.  Cont'd...

FIRST 3D TOOLS PRINTED ABOARD SPACE STATION

Evan Gough for UniverseToday:  Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have manufactured their first tool using the 3D printer on board the station. This is another step in the ongoing process of testing and using additive manufacturing in space. The ability to build tools and replacement parts at the station is something NASA has been pursuing keenly.

The first tool printed was a simple wrench. This may not sound like ground-breaking stuff, unless you’ve ever been in the middle of a project only to find you’re missing a simple tool. A missing tool can stop any project in its tracks, and change everybody’s plans.

The benefits of manufacturing needed items in space are obvious. Up until now, every single item needed on the ISS had to be sent up via re-supply ship. That’s not a quick turnaround. Now, if a tool is lost or destroyed during normal use, a replacement can be quickly manufactured on-site.  Cont'd...

Low Volume Production Using 3D Printing

If you are new to the 3D printing industry, don't rush to buy the least expensive printer. Some of these might be too simple for your manufacturing requirements and lack some important features like print bed auto-calibration or Wi-Fi connectivity.

3D Printing - Is this the Next Wave of Technology?

Like a superstrong magnet, 3D printing will pull manufacturing away from the manufacturing hubs and redistribute it, product by product, among thousands or tens of thousands of smaller factories across the globe.

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