Additive manufacturing (AM) is improving the standard of living for people around the world. Quite apart from its contributions to science and industry, 3D printing is capable of offering solutions to complex medical problems. One area of particular note is the AM of prosthetics and bone reconstruction, with multiple surgeries taking advantage of the technology.
One of the latest recipients of 3D printed reconstructive elements is Stephen Powers, a 31 year-old man from Cardiff, Wales. Powers was involved in an automobile accident in 2012 while riding his motorcycle. Though wearing a helmet, he suffered a number of serious injuries, including damage to his face and left eye. Continue reading
The battlefields of patent litigation have been fairly quiet recently, at least in the world of additive manufacturing (AM). That seems like a positive sign for the industry as a whole, allowing companies to focus on research and development, rather than courtroom theater. During this time of peace, new patents are finding their way to approval, and while not every patent is earth-shaking, some are worth examination.
Optomec has recently received a patent for its miniaturized aerosol jet print head, titled “Miniature Aerosol Jet and Aerosol Jet Array” (patent # 8,640,975). The patent ensures exclusivity for an aerosol jet print head design that is smaller, lighter, and less expensive to manufacture than previous iterations. The patent also leaves room for Optomec to grow, including provisions for multiplexing the miniaturized print head geometry within linear arrays or custom arrangements for high-volume production scale-up. Continue reading
Despite the fact that additive manufacturing (AM) isn’t really a new market, the business side of the technology is still maturing. Part of that maturing process is company growth, either through the construction of new facilities, expansion of current facilities, or through acquisitions. For most companies, this is a gradual process, though there are some exceptions.
ExOne launched a $75 million IPO last January to expand its productions, pay off a $9.6 million line of credit and retain a $3 million lease on production equipment. With the IPO a year in the past, it looks as though the company is using some of the investment revenue to pursue additional resources. ExOne has announced the acquisition of Gesellschaft für Industrielle Mikrowellentechnik mbH (MWT) for $4.8 million and Machin-A-Mation for around $5 million. Continue reading
Even if you never feel the need to own a 3D printer of your very own, the odds are fair you may want to take advantage of additive manufacturing (AM) at some point for a special gift, hard to find item, or just for the novelty. Print-on-demand manufacturing is a growing business, already operating at enough volume for companies such as Shapeways to build their own dedicated factories.
Following the general modus operandi of, “If it’s sold online, we want a piece of the action,” Amazon has taken note of the potential for sales in the print-on-demand market. The result is a partnership with 3DLT to launch a pilot program offering both print-on-demand items and digital designs ready to be printed at home, or at the office if you are sneaky enough.
Most of us were lucky enough to have at least one box full of Lego bricks as children. Along as serving as an unintentional caltrop for unsuspecting adults, Lego was an early way of expressing ideas in a physical form. Additive manufacturing (AM) operates in much the same manner. 3D printers can build nearly whatever a designer or engineer can imagine and build in a CAD program.
Lego and 3D printing have been in the news a fair amount recently, following an article in the Financial Times about the potential threat to the toy maker from AM. Both Time and The Washington Post have covered the story, talking with people at Lego and in the AM industry about the potential for later complications. Continue reading