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.
Additive manufacturing (AM) is an amazingly flexible tool. It can construct complex objects during the course of a single build that would normally require multiple other traditional manufacturing processes. No matter how remarkable, however, every technology comes with a few limitations.
For AM, one limitation is the static nature of 3D printers. While the object inside an AM system might be able to take almost any shape, the printer itself must sit still in one place to produce that object. The Joris Laarman Lab has been working on more freeform versions of AM, last year with a resin/plastic based system, and this year working with metals. Continue reading
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
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.
For our first Roundup of the 2014, we’ll start by looking across the pond to Ireland. Mcor Technologies has been given a boost with a €15m (a little over $20 million) investment from Silicon Valley venture capitalists. According to the company, the investment will be used to expand and scale up the business. Continue reading
The Information Age is glorious. At no other point in history have humans had such easy access to enormous amounts of information. Movies, books, music, and more are all at our fingertips. With the advent of 3D scanning, we can even experience objects we might otherwise never see, from museums and collections around the world.
The Smithsonian is on top of the digitalization of information. In addition to the massive amount of written material that has been digitized, the museum has added 3D printing to its arsenal, allowing easier examination or “lending” of exhibits. Now, with the new Smithsonian X 3D Collection, users can take a close-up look at history, or even print out replicas to educate and impress. Continue reading