It’s sometimes easy to forget that additive manufacturing (AM) isn’t really a brand new technology. 3D printers toiled away in labs and back rooms for years cranking out prototypes and the occasional custom part without receiving much in the way of attention. Only recently, with the rollout of home AM systems, has the technology entered the general consumer’s consciousness.
One expression of increased awareness is the push to move 3D printers from the back of the shop to the front. Staples has been at the forefront of this movement, adding AM systems to store shelves, and offering AM printing services in Europe since last year. Now a new partnership with 3D Systems (3DS) will bring AM services to Staples in the US.
By this point, we expect additive manufacturing (AM) advances in areas such as aerospace and the medical field, but the technology is so flexible, it turns up in many other industries as well. Hollywood is using AM to build props and costumes for the movies, musicians have benefited, as have athletes. Slowly but surely, AM is working its way into nearly every field where with a need to build complex designs or for rapid manufacturing.
Researchers at the University of West England (UWE) Bristol have developed yet another use for AM, this time for creating ceramics. UWE’s ceramic 3D printing research first caught Rapid Ready’s attention in 2012 when the team discovered new uses for the ancient Egyptian ceramic called faience. Since that time, the team has perfected its ceramic printing process. 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.
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 patent news. Royal DSM has won a patent dispute in Europe concerning the development of materials for stereolithography. The patent in question, EP1232198, titled, UV Curable Compositions, was held by 3D Systems. The successful challenge allows DSM to expand its Somos brand of stereolithography materials, and opens the door for other companies to do the same. Continue reading
So you say you have no use for 3D printed cellphone covers, no desire for building statuettes in your own image, and see no practical value in owning a home additive manufacturing (AM) system? What if it could make your clothes? Real clothes, not like the crazy outfits you see on the catwalk.
Tamicare is well on its way to bringing 3D printed textiles to the public, but other companies are hard at work on the same project. San Francisco-based Electroloom is planning to bring together 3D printing and clothing design by the end of 2014, and to accomplish its goals in an environmentally friendly manner.