Additive manufacturing (AM) is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry by offering increased customization for consumers. Sites like Shapeways exist to provide customers with unique 3D printed products that can be tweaked to suit the customer’s desires. Only AM could offer the sort of end-use products sold on Shapeways, thanks to the technology’s design and material flexibility.
Following its acquisition by Google, Motorola has also been focusing on customization. The early steps were similar to those taken by Nokia, offering variously colored cases and different configurations of the Moto X. Perhaps unsatisfied by mainly cosmetic options, Motorola has moved on to Project Ara, and the goal of developing a modular smartphone with the assistance of 3D Systems. 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.
We’ll start today’s Roundup with some business news. MakerBot has inked a deal with Ingram Micro to distribute its lineup of AM systems and related products throughout the US. While MakerBot has a similar deal with Microsoft to sell 3D printers in the software giant’s brick-and-mortar stores, this represents the first time the company has used a large, independent distributor in the US. Continue reading
Not only is additive manufacturing (AM) a useful tool for prototyping and production, it can also be used to seriously reduce costs. By now most people interested in the technology realize that an AM-built prototype can often be constructed more quickly and less expensively than prototypes built using traditional manufacturing methods. The same is true for end-use products.
Low-cost prosthetics are just one example of how AM can be employed to build functional products at a fraction of the usual price. Now, students from Tsinghua University, Peking University and University College London teamed up with the LEGO Foundation to develop another low-cost alternative product. Using LEGO, 3D printed parts, an Arduino board, and commonly available electronics, the students were able to build a functioning atomic force microscope (AFM). Continue reading
Additive manufacturing (AM) is a fantastically flexible tool that has brought new possibilities to life for handicapped people around the world. AM has been used for everything from 3D printed prosthetics to high-tech wheelchairs for Paralympians. The technology also represents a wealth of opportunity for the blind.
3D printing produces objects you can touch, and is capable of building everything from architectural models to reproducing paintings. Hands On Search, from Yahoo Japan, combines the power of AM with humanity’s largest database, the internet, to give blind children at the Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired a chance to feel the world around them. Continue reading