The Integration of AI and 3D Printing: The New Volkswagen

AI Designed and 3D Manufactured

The bright orange components of the new Volkswagen retrofitted 1962 Microbus are hard to ignore. The components are very complex yet incredibly lightweight. VW, the German automotive manufacturer, has trained Artificial Intelligence to change how car components are made and is manufactured resulting parts are 3D printed. The modern, electric version was recently showcased at its Innovation and Engineering Center California (IECC).

The orange parts are Generatively Designed shapes. They include the steering wheel, side mirror supports, and even the wheels. By training AI, VW engineers can use the Generative Design program to focus on their priorities and as the technology meets these criteria, a lightweight yet structurally sound design is produced. The parts look a lot less modern chic – with straight edges and hard lines – and a lot more like tree roots.

Auto Industry and 3D Printing

As any vehicle is composed of thousands of parts, 3D printing can only produce some of these parts, certainly not all of them. The VW team of researchers, designers, engineers, among others are working together to find out which of the parts can be effectively replaced with 3D printing. The use of Artificial Intelligence will aid them in flagging those potential parts.

VW has big plans for the future. The manufacturer will use technology to create a closed-loop recycling system that will use plastics from old components to create new ones. This is good news for the environment as it will save fuel resulting in less waste. What VW has proved is that using AI and 3D printing in car design results in more flexible designs, lightweight parts and, of course, financial gains.


Let Your Car Standout in Seattle

Do you have got a car part or parts that you’re thinking about 3D printing? Contact 3D Composites and let’s see what we can do for you.

The Golden Age of 3D Printing: Printing Fast and Big

Small Start-ups Thinking Big and Winning

3D printing is a technology that could someday incorporate into many other industries, even currently you various field are taking advantage of 3D printing technology.

There are a few companies and researchers are on the verge of major breakthroughs; such as a functioning heart the size of a rabbit that’s complete with blood vessels, created in Israel. A company named Carbon is working on a 3D printer capable of using multiple materials to print, when most products use only one type of material. Where shoes are concerned, they’re often made using rubber or another durable material for the sole, while the toe vamp, collar, and other parts are made out of synthetic cloth. Now a pair of shoes can be printed using different materials.

How do we justify 3D printing products of real value?

3D Hubs, the world’s largest network of manufacturing services, based in Amsterdam, is shaking the 3D printing industry up even further. 3D Hubs offers a good example of how companies evolve. Initially, the company was more of a community, allowing individual 3D printers and small companies to complete projects in exchange for cash. Now, 3D Hubs is focusing on high- end customers and is using high-end plastics, metals, and other materials to produce advanced components and products. It can produce components, parts, or even whole products in a matter of days. This should speed up innovation and reduce product development times.

Kepler Communications is a startup looking to put satellites into space where only a few commercial companies can. Development and delivery costs can be absurdly expensive. Only the super-rich can afford this, apart from governments. Kepler reached the final frontier, putting a nanosatellite into space within 12 months. They rapidly engineered prototypes. They jot ideas down quickly and validated many concepts. That’s because of 3DHubs. It takes weeks to assemble a satellite built completely by hand. 3DHubs was able to quickly crank out high-quality components that could then be studied and tested.

“3D printing services by Carbon, 3DHubs, and others could shake up entire industries and lead to much quicker and more affordable research and development. This should spur innovation and ensure that more ideas are brought to life.” –


Shaking Up Industries in Seattle

If you have a great idea that can be realized via 3D printing, all you have to do is visit 3D Composites in Seattle. Big things start small.

Sneakers’ Soles: When 3D Printing Impacts Sports

New, Lighter, Faster Sneakers

Boston-based New Balance Athletics, best known as New Balance, is one of the world’s major sports footwear and apparel manufacturers. This midyear the brand had a major win when Toronto Raptors won the NBA title over the heavily-favored Golden State Warriors. The company has just embraced 3D printing and is making a big technology shift in the production process for their new sneaker designs.

Also Boston-based, Formlabs, a 3D printing company, went into an exclusive alliance with New Balance in 2017 to develop high performance materials and hardware for the manufacturing process for their athletic footwear. The new platform will use 3D printing technology that will bring performance cushioning to the next level. The new 990 Sport Shoe will use this technology and will debut soon. A second shoe printed with 3D printing, called the FuelCell Echo, will hit the market in September. Both shoes will feature TripleCell technology and will retail for $185 and $175 respectively.

The premium technology platform is called TripleCell, only from New Balance powered by Formlabs 3D printers and uses a completely new material, called Rebound Resin. The material is a new proprietary photopolymer resin, designed to create springy, resilient lattice structures with the durability, reliability, and longevity expected from an injection molded thermoplastic. 3D printing technology has eliminated the dependence on molds and direct printing for both prototyping and production. It enabled the development and production cycles to shift from months to hours.

The new technology is now scaling exclusively within all New Balance factories in the U.S. increasing efficiency, facilitating on-demand and regionally-based manufacturing, reducing the lead time needed for a product, lowering shipping costs by being able to produce in a variety of locations to better suit their global demand. They can also customize on an order-by-order basis if desired.

TripleCell technology in the heel seamlessly delivers a 10% lighter cushioning experience than the classic style and maintains the Made in the USA designation. Then they designed the forefoot of the FuelCell Echo based on the growing focus of forefoot technology. The 990 Sport with TripleCell is Made in the USA at the New Balance Lawrence factory and the FuelCell Echo with TripleCell is assembled in the USA. Additive manufacturing’s future is really the ability to create high-performance parts for athletes, manufacture on demand and really be able to customize for the individual athletes’ biomechanics.


For Better Athletic Performance

Looking forward to better athletic performance gear where 3D printing is able to produce and manufacture sleeker, lighter and faster footwear.

paint and brushes

Famous Paintings and 3D Printing: Replicating the Masters

Priceless Art Becomes Accessible

If you are an art aficionado, lover of the Masters, you would want to see Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, or Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, or Picasso’s La Vie, up close and personal. However, you’d have to fly halfway around the world to view these original masterpieces. From time to time priceless art pieces are exchanged, borrowed by other prestigious museums and art galleries around the world for limited exhibitions. These trips can be long distances, entailing huge expenses and manpower.

Can you imagine if these masterpieces can be viewed at your museum right in the city where you live? Art galleries could one day replace priceless masterpieces with replicas that look virtually identical to the real thing. That’s thanks to a new 3D printing technique. The process uses artificial intelligence (AI) with 3D printing to recreate colors from an original artwork with astounding accuracy.

How does it work?

A 3D printer will stack ten different transparent inks in wafer-thin layers on a canvas. The technique known as RePaint is combined with a decades-old technique called half-toning, where an image is created by tiny colored dots rather than in continuous tones. These two processes will blend to capture the nuances of the different colors in extraordinary detail, making a copy just like the original.

The technique was created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the scientists there claimed it is four times more accurate than current printing techniques.

The good side to this is that the best art pieces and most notable in the world can be displayed as replicas in as many galleries, fostering exchange and appreciation among art lovers. Rather than the pieces confined to one huge and moneyed institution, famous art works can be viewed by as many people in different venues. Art should be more communal and accessible. This can also encourage a wider fan base to go see the real thing after seeing a replica in their own home town or museum.

At MIT, though there is progress, improvements are called for. For example, while the colors are almost exactly the same, the texture of the ink does not match the rough texture of artworks painted with oils or acrylics. Likewise, the researchers would still like to improve on the dazzle of some of the paintings, such as Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”.


Looking Forward to Priceless Artworks in Seattle

It might happen that you’ll find a priceless work of art displayed at our city museum one day. Your eyes are not fooling you, it’s a replica, brought to you by 3D printing. There are so many possibilities with 3D printing technology.

rib cage and spine

Canada Supports 3D Printing Technology In Healthcare

Towards Providing Patient Quality Care

Health Canada, a department of the Canadian government, is committed to supporting the integration of 3D printed technologies into health care systems in the country, hence, providing Canadians with the highest possible quality of care.

Health Canada has issued new guidance for the 3D printing of medical devices. The guidelines aim to give the proper and required information for the manufacture of moderate to high risk devices, including orthopedic implants, and pacemakers. It has been deemed the “first phase” policy for the country.

After several revisions since its first draft in November 2018, it has now been published as Guidance Document – Supporting Evidence for Implantable Medical Devices Manufactured by 3D Printing.

It’s quite a comprehensive document that informs 3D manufacturers about the standard information required for conventionally made medical devices, that the 3D printed products should have an overview of the 3D printing process, key device design parameters, design parameters altered to meet patient-matched specifications, and a description of critical features. It should also have a Medical Device License (MDL) application. It is imperative that all manufacturers should have undergone Health Canada preclinical performance testing for the devices and give overviews of the software-related workflows used. And for some clinical devices, clinical data is also needed when utilizing novel designs, materials or intended uses.

The guidelines are intended for any Class III (moderate risk) and Class IV (high risk) medical devices made using 3D printing, and do not cover the production of anatomical models, standalone software, 3D bio-printed objects, or patient-specific devices. Patient-specific devices require a separate classification on an as-needs basis. The guidelines are also applicable to the volume production of 3D printed medical devices that have an equivalent already on the market, e.g. spine implants, hip cups and stents.

Health Canada realizes that due to the fast-changing technological pace in 3D printing and its growing accepted usage, it will continue adapting its policy approach to 3D printing as issues evolve.