3D Printing Applications

Rapid Ready Roundup: FIRST, Aerodef, Firearms, and Hershey’s

In the course of my diligent efforts to keep you good people up to date on the state of additive manufacturing (AM), I come across many interesting news items. I’ll gather them up every so often and present them in a Rapid Ready Roundup (like this one). You can find the last Roundup here.

We’ll start today’s Roundup with news from FIRST. If you haven’t previously heard of the organization, FIRST promotes STEM education with a number of different programs, the most popular of which is probably the robotics competition. Continue reading

Hero Forge is Game for Additive Manufacturing

A shift is coming to additive manufacturing (AM). Where AM systems were previously used mainly for prototyping or small part run needs, more and more of the business of AM is turning to end-use products. Whether it’s printed aerospace parts by the thousands or print-on-demand services from service bureaus, expect to see more 3D printed products in the future.

Of course, not every end-use product has to be serious business. Plenty of the designs on display at Shapeways are little more than novelty items. It makes perfect sense that some companies would turn to AM to create custom products for smaller market segments. Hero Forge is looking to use 3D printing to custom build miniatures for tabletop gaming. Continue reading

3D Printing Brings Prosthetics to Africa

The rise of 3D printing has made a different kind of manufacturing possible. Instead of parts being built in a dozen or more locations around the globe, then shipped to a final destination to be assembled, digital information is compiled and transmitted to any location with the capability to receive the data. Not only does this paradigm shift save companies money in shipping, it also makes it possible to set up end-use manufacturing shops around the globe.

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MakerBot Announces 2014 Lineup

The pace of 3D printer releases looks to be speeding up. Companies used to release information about one system at a time, slowly rolling out each new product. 3D Systems broke the trend at Euromold, and again at CES by announcing multiple systems simultaneously. Not to be outdone, MakerBot has announced its 2014 lineup of additive manufacturing (AM) systems and accompanying products.

On display at CES were promotions for three new AM systems from MakerBot; the next generation Replicator, Replicator Mini, and Replicator Z18. Alongside the new 3D printers comes an expansion of what MakerBot calls its “Ecosystem.” Adding to the library of downloadable objects at Thingiverse is MakerBot Printshop, the company’s first stab at simplified 3D design. Continue reading

A Look Back at Additive Manufacturing in 2013

This year was an interesting one for additive manufacturing (AM), with plenty of big moves inside the industry and hints of upcoming changes to the landscape from without. Medical uses for 3D printing really started to gather steam, with prosthetics being one of the largest areas of development. In 2013, we also saw a general shift in AM from a pure prototyping tool to an increase in end-use production.

Stratasys moved into the home 3D printer arena with its acquisition of MakerBot in June. That particular move, along with the merger with Objet in 2012, helped Stratasys to diversify its portfolio, branching out into areas of AM in which the company previously had little or no presence.  Continue reading