Texas Tech Research Focuses on Strengthening 3D Printing Materials

No matter how large or small the 3D printer, how quickly it can print and at what resolution, the most important element in additive manufacturing (AM) is material. As is the case in most manufacturing, half of the job of building a part with AM is deciding on the proper material to use. In many cases the simplest material, plastic filament, is really only useful for prototyping or promotions.

Brandon Sweeney, a chemical engineering graduate student at Texas Tech, thinks plastic can do better. Rather than print out multiple prototypes that are then, at best, recycled, Sweeney wants a prototype that could then be used in the field most of the time. Sweeney and his fellow researchers at Texas Tech are working on a method to improve the strength and durability of plastic parts. Continue reading

President Obama Announces Launch of Two New Innovation Institutes

Last May, President Obama announced his plan for improving the technological backbone of manufacturing in the US with the formation of a series of 15 public-private funded manufacturing innovation institutes throughout the country. The pilot institute, America Makes (or NAMII), opened shortly thereafter in Youngstown, OH and began to serve as a hub for high-tech manufacturing, including additive manufacturing, for the region.

With the pilot program humming away, the President has announced two new institutes led by the Department of Defense and supported by a $140 million in Federal funding that has been matched by $140 million in private funding. The new innovation hub in Detroit will focus on lightweight and modern metals manufacturing, while the hub in Chicago will concentrate on digital manufacturing and design technologies. Continue reading

NAMII Announces Second Project Call Winners

Certainly not everything has gone the way President Obama might have wished during his presidency, but one move that seems to be working just fine is the foundation of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), which was recently branded “America Makes.” The program has thus far managed to connect partners from both the private and public sectors, handing out nearly $30 million in funding meant to advance AM in the US.

“We also have the chance, right now, to beat other countries in the race for the next wave of high-tech manufacturing jobs,” said President Obama in his State of the Union address. “My administration has launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing in Raleigh and Youngstown, where we’ve connected businesses to research universities that can help America lead the world in advanced technologies.” Continue reading

Rapid Ready Roundup: Office Depot, Running Shoes, Robugtix, and Minecraft

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 3D printing service news. Office Depot announced it would be expanding its in-store AM service to 150 stores across the US. The office supply chain will be placing 3D Systems Cube or the CubeX in both the service department and on the floor. Office Depot will also be providing 3D printing demonstrations at select stores in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, and Texas. Continue reading

Bring History into Your Home with the Smithsonian X 3D Collection

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