Release Date: 
Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 11:30
Media File: 

Stunning Architectural Models by the ProJet 4500 3D Printer

Fujikon Takes Fast-Moving World of Headset Products to New Heights with 3D Systems’ SLA 3D Printing Technology

In 2013 Apple sold more than 170 million iPads® worldwide. With a reported 500 million iPhones® in use along with millions of Samsung® Galaxy phones and a variety of other mobile devices, it goes without saying this market is hot. Likewise, the ensuing demand for peripheral devices, such as headsets, is exploding.



The University of Michigan’s Human Powered Submarine Team is an annual participant in The International Submarine Races in both Maryland and England. To prepare for these competitions, the students design and build a submarine from scratch, relying on their creativity and innovation to devise clever and effective propulsion and guidance techniques. As the team went through its preparations this year, it ran into difficulties with its propeller design. 

In a happenstance meeting between the President of the Human Powered Submarine Team and Rick Kerkstra, Vice President of Burton Precision and 3D printing specialist, it was revealed that the team was struggling to make use of their propeller file. Specifically, they were unable to export their file in a toolpath-friendly format. Kerkstra took an interest in their project and assisted in converting their file to a usable format using 3DS’ Geomagic® Studio Software.

Though the team had originally planned to create their propeller using a CNC machine, Kerkstra was eager to show them what was possible with 3D printing. Kerkstra says, “Because 3D printing technology is new to most of our customers, we still have to do some educating as to what it takes to develop a 3D printable file, and that it only takes a few hours to print the part."

The team agreed to try it out, and their propeller was printed using a 3DS ProJet 3500 HDMax printer. In its final rendition, the blade assembly was 10” long, and to the delight of both the team and Burton Precision, the propeller worked beautifully in the full-scale submarine test. As university workshops expand to match their students’ needs with the available technologies, it may not be long before teams like this one have 3D printers of their own.

Release Date: 
Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 11:30
Media File: 

Forging Ahead with the ProX 300 Direct Metal 3D Printer

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

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.


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