by Hugh Evans, VP, Corporate Development & Ventures

Yesterday I spent the day in Chattanooga, TN, at GigTank. Under the capable leadership of Mike Bradshaw, GigTank has created the very first 3D printing (3DP) accelerator in the US. Ten 3DP start-ups from across the country have spent the past two months here working with mentors, collaborating and problem-solving with each other, familiarizing themselves with leading print technology, such as 3DS' ProJet 3500, and improving their business plans. Yesterday was Demo Day, the coming out party for all ten.  It was their chance to impress the audience… and to ask investors for money.

It was a great performance, and Chattanooga’s Southern hospitality was in full bloom.  One start-up announced that they were sufficiently impressed by their new surroundings that they will be pulling up stakes from California and relocating to Chattanooga full-time.

This choice highlights the role of geography within our current digital manufacturing revolution.  As of now, there are few geographical incumbents. The digital manufacturing space is still a vastly open plain with generous opportunities for new business creation and employment that will deliver inter-generational benefits to our new age pioneers. Those places that promptly and effectively organize and mobilize towards relocalized manufacturing will create lasting benefits to their citizens. At the frontier of this transition, it is exciting to see mid-sized, industrial cities have equal play to the traditional tech-hubs on the coasts. Building the critical mass that we call an ecosystem is hard to incept, but once begun, it is also hard to extinguish. Chattanooga has raised the table stakes for localities that want to grab a share of this big prize. Which other communities will rise to the challenge?

photo courtesy of GigTank

Every summer for the past five years, the North Carolina-based Richmond County School District has been hosting 3D summer camps aimed at encouraging students to try, experiment and achieve in 3D and software coding. Led by educators Jeff Epps and Chad Osborne, the 3D Academy has consistently proved cynics wrong by showing that students 5th grade and younger can learn and adapt to 3D, software coding and more. All they need is the challenge.

The camp has continued to grow this summer, with about 30 students coming back to school to learn each week. Using 3D software, Sense 3D scanners and Cube 3D printers, the students are equipped with the tools they need to easily capture content, design items and 3D print them.

Click below for a video from the first week of the G.R.E.A.T. 3D Academy. 

In the Internet Age, you can search online, find something you like, and make it your own. In the emerging era of customized 3D printing, these possibilities expand in fantastic ways, as demonstrated by Natasha, who has taken personal design assimilation literally. With the help of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, NovaCAD Systems, Think Robot Studios, and artist Melissa Ng, Natasha took a pattern she liked and made it part of her: more specifically as a prosthetic leg after losing own below the knee in a car accident in 2013.

For as long as humans have been using prosthetics, we have been able to rehabilitate functionally, but this step forward in accessible and customizable design eases the accompanying and inevitable aesthetic transition. Through personalized design and manufacture, prosthetics must no longer be so foreign, and can instead incorporate art and design for new opportunities in self-expression. Cases like Natasha’s reveal that more is possible.

From start to finish, the process of creating Natasha’s new leg took just two weeks. This included the 3D scanning, accuracy checks and balances, and CAD file preparation before the physical production, assembly and fitting. In this short span of time, Natasha had a functional figurative sculpture that not only filled the negative space of her body, but that complimented her personality through design. Natasha’s leg was printed on a ProJet® 7000 SLA 3D printer by 3D Systems.

For more on the design process and Natasha’s reaction to her new limb, check out the video below.

As we delve deeper into the digital age, pockets of curiosity are popping up about the future of human-robot interaction. LIREC, a European funded research project, explores our interaction with digital and interactive companions, and partners with the Department of Fundamental Cybernetics and Robotics at Wroclaw University of Technology in Poland. The robotic head project, EMotive headY System (EMYS), was initiated there by Professor Krzysztof Tchon and his team, with the purpose of examining the function of interaction.

The specific task of this project was to create a robotic head capable of generating recognizable facial expressions, and react appropriately to both soothing and irritating stimuli.  

The unique design of the EMYS robot required customized hardware and non-traditional construction, but traditional milling or tooling methods would have added tremendous time and cost to the process. Instead, the research team chose to use 3D printing for both prototyping and final elements. Every EMYS cover element, from the head cover to functional parts, like the moving eyelids and the connectors linking the eyes to the servomotors, were produced using the ProJet HD 3000 3D printer (now sold as the ProJet 3510) in a matter of hours.

To read more about the EMYS, check out this feature. To see the EMYS emote interactively, watch the video below.

 

This weekend, 3D Systems will join the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum as part of their third annual Space & Science Festival on Pier 86, next to the historic WWII aircraft carrier, as well as the Space Shuttle Enterprise, to celebrate our great advances in science and technology. 3D Systems will invite visitors to experience their Sense 3D scanners, engage the interactive ‘Mission to Mars’ rocket designer, and take part in 3D printing demonstrations on the Cube 3D printer.

The Intrepid Museum and 3D Systems have now been partners for two years, united by their mission to bring 3D technologies to the museum’s Education and Exhibits departments. 3D printing and scanning are revolutionizing the museum’s ability to digitize and replicate historic artifacts from its collection, as well as introduce 3D Systems’ revolutionary technology in STEM education practices. The Education Department at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum boasts a comprehensive media lab featuring 10 student desktop computers, three 3D printers (including the Cube and CubeX), Sense 3D scanners, and the Cubify Digital Design Suite, all of which aide in digital student engagement for the 21st Century.

This partnership not only allows for hands-on 3D educational experiences, but also highlights a current trend in astro- and aerospace technologies, contextually emphasized by the Intrepid’s collection of aircraft and spacecraft, including 3D printed rocket boosters and jet-engine intakes. With 3D Systems’ support, the company Made in Space, is currently working to achieve the goal of having a 3D printer on board the International Space station by the end of this year. Their goal is to enable in-space manufacturing for astronauts to advance the future of space exploration.

If you’re in the New York City area from July 18-20th, join us on Pier 86 in Manhattan to experience interactive science displays from NASA, 3D Systems, First Robotics and more. Celebrated American astronauts will be there as well, giving talks and signing autographs for visitors, including with Buzz Aldrin, who is commemorating 45 years since the moon landing.

We hope to see you there! Don’t forget to follow us on social media to stay in the loop on future 3D Systems events. 

 

High-performance sports cars require special care and a skilled technician to ensure that all their critical components are reaching their maximum potential. To take full advantage of each system’s capabilities, most racing vehicles also incorporate a series of customized parts that stretch performance. English Racing, a group passionate about tuning and racing cars, wanted to use such custom parts to push the boundaries of what’s possible for a Mitsubishi Evo. 

English Racing was having trouble at high RPMs (revolutions per minute), as the Evo was exceeding tolerable oil pressure limits and causing significant damage to the car’s engine. After several engines were destroyed, English Racing designed an innovative new pulley that had a larger diameter, which would cause it to turn slower and thereby lower the oil pressure. Though the solution was theoretically sound, the issue of manufacturing their part at low quantities for testing posed a problem. With traditional casting processes, part production would have been both time-consuming and costly, so English Racing searched for an alternative.

By working with Metal Technology Inc. (MTI), English Racing was able to 3D print their pulley on a ProX 300 direct metal printer bye 3DS in 17-4 PH Stainless Steel. Using this method, creating the final part only took 5 hours, and the Evo was on the track and testing three days later. A few months after their test print, the English Racing team ran the Evo at the Pikes Peak ½ mile top-speed event and placed first in the Sedan Class, reaching 184.9 miles per hour.

For more insight on direct metal printing, hear from the technicians and engineers of English Racing and MTI in the video below. To explore the subject in greater depth, register for our joint webinar with MTI, English Racing and 3DS, scheduled for Tuesday July 22, 2014, at 11:00 AM EST.

After spending a record 31 days living 63 feet below the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, Fabien Cousteau finally surfaced on July 2, 2014. During the aptly named “Mission 31,” Fabien Cousteau, grandson of renowned ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, led a rotating team of scientists, documentarians, and activists to their temporary home, Aquarius, in a joint effort to deepen our understanding of marine life and the effects of pollution and climate change. (Image left courtesy of 360 Heros.)

Among the filming expedition was Jonathan Woods from TIME Magazine, who spent a day diving with researchers. To document every angle and facet of Aquarius and Cousteau’s research, Woods used 360 Heros scuba gear, a specially designed and 3D printed camera mount for 6 GoPro cameras. The rig generates fully spherical HD video, allowing Woods to create an interactive 360˚ tour of the aquatic research facility.

Mission 31 was a success in part due to its astounding duration, but more importantly because of the vast quantity of data that was collected during the expedition. The time saved from avoiding back and forth trips to the surface and having a continuous supply of oxygen allowed researchers to collect the equivalent of approximately two years’ worth of information in one month underwater.

Click here to read more about Woods’ experience and explore the research facility in 360˚video.

After receiving the Industrial Award at the recent European Inventors’ Award ceremony in Berlin, Chuck Hull, our founder and Chief Technology Officer, sat down for an interview to share his story and thoughts on 3D printing, the technology he invented over 30 years ago.

Reflecting on 3D printing’s origins and how far it’s come, Chuck says, “I saw it was just the beginning, but I couldn’t anticipate what we have today.” New applications are surfacing daily, and we are responding with research and development to include better materials and faster, more accurate processes.

To find out the most surprising application Chuck has witnessed with 3D printing, read the full article by Stuart Nathan of The Engineer UK.

How does 3D printing fit into your world?

Good design is its own reward, but official recognition is certainly icing on the cake. 3D Systems is proud to share that our Bespoke design innovations for the Ekso Bionics Exoskeleton received bronze in the Social Impact category of the 2014 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) from the IDSA and Core77, while Bespoke Braces received honorable mention.

The suit is the first-ever 3D printed hybrid robotic exoskeleton, created by 3D Systems’ designers Scott Summit and Gustavo Fricke in collaboration with Ekso Bionics. Using 3D scanning to generate a personalized 3D model of patient Amanda Boxtel’s unique shape, Summit and Fricke crafted a 3D design to custom fit her while seamlessly incorporating the electronics needed to help her walk. Witness Amanda’s exoskeleton in action here.

Bespoke Braces for the hand and wrist enable the automated scanning of limbs to create custom 3D printed braces using 3D Systems’ SLS technologies. The braces can be shipped to patients within a matter of days. Andy Miller, Andrew Zukoski and Gustavo Fricke were the lead designers around the technology of this innovation.

Read more here.