3D Printing Leaders: Outlook and Predictions for 2018

Opinions and Predictions

Experts and leaders in the 3D printing industry are putting forth their opinions and predictions on the technology that has swept the world.

People in the industry are saying that we are going to see an increased adoption of 3D full-scale manufacturing. The speed, reliability and capability of 3D printing will significantly increase due to the advances in technology. 3D printing will sweep new countries, more companies will enter the marketplace with new materials, thus driving innovation, lowering costs and increasing materials diversity. Commercial applications will become more defined across major industries-automotive, medical, aerospace, consumer goods, heavy industry, etc.

While some leaders acknowledge the lead of aerospace in production part adoption, they say that the automotive sector will be catching up to aerospace with more and more parts in vehicles. Others reinforced the practical application of the technology, emphasizing its shift away from prototyping and towards end-use parts.

Major trends in design will be occurring in 2018. There will be massive investment in design for 3D printing. Understanding that design for additive manufacturing is key to it transforming from a very small part of manufacturing to a substantial part of the economy. Consolidating an entire assembly into a single 3D printed part can massively reduce the manufacturing cost, completely compress the supply chain and improve the performance within a single design change.

Polymers (plastics) and other 3D printing materials are also evolving along with the technology. There are also new materials being developed, specifically ceramics. the growth of materials in 3D printing will offer many viable solutions. Materials like aluminum alloy, precious metals, advanced thermopolymers, concrete, among others are developing. Large-scale, industrial 3D printers are being manufactured to deposit multiple materials simultaneously. And there are large-scale metal 3D printers that could usher in an era of fully automated 3D printing.

Metal 3D Printing

Another trend on the rise is metal 3D printing, which will never replace traditional manufacturing, but as a complimentary manufacturing technology, its position is becoming increasingly important. One vision of the future offered by 3D printing was that of mass customization, in which large runs of customer-specific products would be manufactured at once.

Robust Outlook in Seattle

The future looks robust for 3D printing, and so it is in Seattle. 3D Composites is looking to 2018 with our more innovative designs and range of materials, with better productivity and customer service.

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food

Enjoy! The Food You Eat May Be 3D-Printed

What’s With The World of 3D-Printed Food?

You must have heard about the different stuff that can be 3D-printed today – cosmetics, electronics, jewelry, hearts, cars, planes, houses, etc. However, you don’t hear a lot about food. But can food items be 3D-printed? Sure enough. Does it have a purpose and how’s it done? Let’s look into the world of 3D-printed food so we’ll know that it’s not just the most palatable output of this amazing technology.

What is 3D-printed food?

It’s a way of preparing a meal in an automated additive manner. Take a pizza, for example. The dough base is extruded line-by-line by a food 3D printer and the tomato sauce is also applied using the same 3D printer. By hand, cheese, oregano and other toppings are added. It tastes as good as any well-prepared pizza the old-fashioned way. Imagine every home kitchen with a food 3D-printer! See what else have been 3D-printed – hamburgers, croquettes, breadsticks, crackers, dumplings, mooncake, spaghetti, bread rolls, gnocchi, chicken nuggets, hash browns, macaroons, chocolates, cereals, cake, and many more.

What are the advantages?

3D printed food could enable us to reinvent our culinary techniques on many levels, from texture to shape and artistic look. You can choose to print healthy, sustainable food. It is good for the environment because it can help to convert alternative ingredients such as proteins from algae, beet leaves, or insects into tasty products. It also opens the door to food customization, tailored to individual needs and preferences. 3D-printed meals are also making airline and space travel more comfortable.

What are the disadvantages?

There are several food printers on the market that have a couple of drawbacks. Some are able to create attractive works of edible art, but they’re made from sugar. Some printers can create food from paste, but that paste must be either precooked, edible when raw, or the resulting food must be cooked after printing, which doesn’t really offer any benefits over buying the food from the grocery store and then cooking it yourself. Also, only the specialized food 3D printers will give satisfactory results and they are quite pricey.

What types of food can be 3D-printed?

As long as the ingredients can be puréed, it can be printed. The key consideration is that the food being printed needs to be forced through a syringe-like mechanism to be extruded onto a plate. Is it safe to eat 3D-printed food? If the printer is appropriately food-safe and clean, it is safe to eat the food product. Like any kitchen, hygienic standards should be met when 3D-printing food.

Experimentation Can Be Fun

Do you have a bright food idea? Ideas are meant to be experimented. Let’s experiment and see. Contact us at 3D Composites!

Saving Hearing Loss Via 3D Printing

Printing the Perfect Fit: Key to Hearing

A team of Maryland researchers have pioneered a technique using 3D printing to substitute damaged parts of the middle ear with artificial equivalents. It proved to have huge potential for treating hearing loss and other related hearing issues.

They are just the size of rice grains, three little bones (called ossicles) in the middle ear that conduct sounds from the ear drums. They enables one to hear outside sounds. When damaged, from physical trauma or bacterial infection, surgeons can replaced them with ceramic or metal. But they have to fit right for they can shift and cause further hearing damage. The shifting can happen during or after surgery or they can no longer conduct sound once scar tissue grows over them. Success rates are between 55 to 75%. Hence, failure rates are considerable.

From the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, researchers were inspired to use 3D printing technology to replace damaged ossicles. If 3D printing can manufacture prostheses for different body parts, it might just do the same for parts as tiny as these middle ear bones.

So the team tested out the concept by working on cadavers. They removed the middle link of the ossicles which connect to one another like a chain. They CT scanned the cadavers, used a desktop 3D printer to create a simple strut out of resin to fit into the gap. They used four cadavers and managed to correctly fit each with its corresponding 3D printed ossicle. They turn out to be snaply fitted. This should be able to address one failure rate cause – incorrect sizing. The replacement must be custom-designed to fit.

One problem that can’t be addressed now is that during surgery, the bone’s anatomy and relationships change. If the hearing loss is caused by infection, surgeons have to clean out first, changing the anatomy between a preoperative CT scan and the operating room. To solve this, a scan and printer must be available in the operating room to create custom-fitted ear bones in the middle of surgery.

The printed material must also be biocompatible – must not be too elastic, spongy or heavy or it will affect sound transmission. The possibilities are promising though there are limitations now. With more research and improvements, higher rates of success can be achieved for surgical interventions in hearing loss treatment.

Imaging the Perfect Fit in Seattle

It all starts with the imaging data. Anything you want 3D-printed as a small part of a whole, putting accurate measurements into the data make that perfect fit. Done right at the start saves time here at Pro 3D Composites in Seattle.

3D Printing Mannequins: Fast And Furious At Last

From Slow To Fast, Expensive to Affordable

Do you appreciate mannequins when you see them at store displays, or find them attractive doned in designer clothes at pre-fashion shows? The faceless yet perfectly proportioned life-sized statues are integral to the fashion industry and retail clothing stores all over the world.

A Dutch company, Hans Boodt, a top supplier and manufacturer makes unique high-end mannequins for distinguished clients like Karl Lagerfeld, Hermès, and Emilio Pucci. Most mannequins for high-end customers are sculpted by hand in order to produce anatomical perfection, which makes their creation a lengthy and often expensive process. It takes eight weeks to sculpt one particular mannequin with its realistic features, fluid poses, eyelashes, and human hair wigs. High quality brands can fetch more than $1,000 per unit.

There are other companies, other than Hans Boodt, that want their own mannequin styles to describe their collection. There will be clients who would have their own specifications, so the mannequin producer should be able to turn a design brief in as little time as possible and of a high quality.

Now, Hans Boodt is able to meet the challenges in today’s industry. Using less time to manufacture, from 8 weeks to just 2 days, the company resorted to using large-scale 3D printers from Tractus3D, a fellow Dutch company.

With the Tractus3D T3500, a delta-style FDM 3D printer with a 100 cm printing diameter and 210 cm height, Hans Boodt has been able to 3D print entire mannequins in one piece, eliminating the need for outside suppliers and reducing costs by around 10 per cent. The company has an entire fleet of this printer model, all of which are able to fabricate entire personalized mannequins that are ready for immediate use and shipping.

While the Tractus 3D printer is too pricey for personal use, Hans Boodt as an established company has come to realized that the speed of 3D manufacturing, the decreased material cost, and high quality results made their move a good investment. They are able to ship new mannequins faster than ever. The company has become a huge draw for fashion labels that want to get personalized, branded mannequins onto the shop floor or exhibition space in the shortest possible time.

Have a Mannequin Idea in Seattle?

Got a start-up business where you might use a mannequin? 3D Composites is inviting you to come over for a chat and an idea. We might just be able to help you.

3D Printing Companies: Saving Coral Reefs

Why Corals Are Losing Their Colors

Environmentalists are concerned with the degradation of coral reefs around the world, but governments and private sectors are moving to salvage the ecosystem that many life forms are dependent on.

Many coral reefs are enduring bleaching events, one of the longest and most pervasive on record. Bleaching renders the reefs to turn white, loosing their vibrant colors. Made of tiny, squishy polyps that attach to rocks on the seafloor and secrete calcium carbonate at their base. The secretions turn into hard coral, providing the structure of coral reefs.

Inside polyps algae thrives, supplying nutrients and lending corals their vivid color. Bleaching happens due to the unusually warm waters brought about by climate change, stressing the corals and making them lose their algae. To make matters worse, carbon pollution is turning oceans more acidic, making it harder for polyps to absorb the calcium needed to produce hard coral.

How can 3D printing help the coral reefs? People have created artificial reefs by sinking ships or dropping concrete blocks into shallow waters, providing a rock-like surfaces where corals, together with algae, barnacles, anemones and other species could make a home. 3D printing improves this process, producing reefs that better imitate hard coral.

3D printing companies, from Bahrain and Monaco, are working to recreate the environment conducive to reef development. They manufacture pastel-colored sandstone reefs with the same shape and texture of coral. Sandstone’s neutral pH makes the artificial reefs an attractive destination for baby coral polyps.

A Melbourne company will feature a porcelain coating that more closely resembles the chemical makeup of coral. In addition, to combat the increasing acidity of oceans, teams from London are 3D printing artificial coral made of calcium carbonate. When placed in a reef, the coral would slowly dissolve, turning the surrounding waters less acidic.

Saving coral reefs, though they only represent 1 percent of the seafloor, can impact a worldwide ecosystem that affects half a billion people who depend on it for food or income.

Protecting the Endangered

Concerned also about saving coral reefs? Come by to visit 3D Composites in Seattle and let’s talk serious about endangered reefs. We all do what we can to deal with climate change.