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
I’m a pretty big additive manufacturing (AM) cheerleader. How can you not be a fan of technology that can produce everything from new ears to airplane wings? I also tend to believe that most of the limitations with current generation 3D printers can and will be solved by future advances in the field.
While the size of prints offered by desktop AM systems might not be considered a huge limitation, it does have an impact on consumers that require a certain build envelope for their work or home projects. It’s certainly possible to print out multiple parts of a larger object using a system with a small build envelope, but a larger build area allows for prints that are really meant to be one, solid piece. Continue reading
One of the first “big” news stories to catch the mainstream media’s attention was about a wrench built through additive manufacturing (AM). People just couldn’t get their heads around the idea that an object with moving parts could be built in basically one step. Time and the emergence of actual 3D printed oddities have faded recollections of the wrench from the public mind, but tool creation is still one of the strongest applications of AM.
A company named Roller Clutch Tools has gone back to the basics of AM and used the technology to build a new version of the venerable ratchet. Called the “New Ratchet 3rd Generation”, or NR3G for short, the wrench has a patented design that employs compression rather than sheer to tighten or loosen nuts and bolts. Continue reading
Additive manufacturing (AM) is a rapidly evolving industry. The past few years have seen a number of new developments, with AM becoming a cornerstone of diverse industries including dental, medical and architecture. Part of my job here at Rapid Ready is to keep you informed about current trends in AM, and I would be remiss not to announce the release of Wohler’s Report 2013.
The report, produced on an annual basis by Wohler’s Associates, tracks the 3D printing industry as a whole and offers analysis and company information pertaining to AM along with other useful information. If you happen to be unfamiliar with Wohler’s Associates, the company is run by Terry Wohlers, a recognized expert in AM. Last year I had a conversation with Wohlers about the industry, which you can find here. Continue reading
Additive manufacturing (AM) is one of the least expensive and quickest ways to get a prototype completed. In place of the machining, tooling and loss of material that comes with standard manufacturing processes, AM offers object turn around in days rather than weeks with low waste. A 3D printer isn’t a magic box, though, it does still take multiple hours to complete a print.
Build times can be sped up by reducing the resolution of a print. Choosing speed over resolution generally results in obvious strata lines and a prototype that looks somewhat rough around the edges, particularly in the case of material extrusion printers. The 3D Refiner by 3D Prints Express offers a potential solution to the quandary by smoothing the strata in low res prints. Continue reading