As we reach new levels in technological capability, we likewise heighten our expectations for what’s to come. The demand for new and improved devices regenerates seemingly daily, and as core devices evolve, so too must their accessories. For their part, high-end headphone manufacturer Fujikon, is constantly exploring better noise-cancelling functionality, wireless connectivity and sound quality, as well as innovating more attractive products, all with faster time-to-market.

To accelerate their innovation, Fujikon’s R&D team decided to try their hand with 3D printing, and settled on the ProJet® 7000 after testing and evaluating all the leading 3D technologies. A workhorse in the world of Stereolithography, the ProJet 7000 offers Fujikon the sizeable build platform they need, along with the precision, surface finish and material properties required to assemble, drill and screw printed pieces without breaking. Because it uses two lasers of different sizes, the ProJet 7000 enables Fujikon to rapidly create parts while ensuring feature accuracy and allowing choice in layer thickness. This allows Fujikon to test and create samples with complex geometries that they wouldn’t have considered before.

Fujikon reports that 3D printing has made them 62% faster, allowing them to evaluate designs, verify parts and assemblies, and perform acoustic testing for a sharper competitive edge. For more on their experience and details on their transition to 3D printing, read the full case study.


Clarence and Carl Aguirre celebrate two birthdays: April 21st, commemorating the day the conjoined twins were born, and August 4th, commemorating the day they were surgically separated and began to develop separate lives. The 2004 surgery, which this year celebrates its 10 year anniversary, was the final of four staged operations that were undertaken to divide the boys, who were attached at the top of the head. 

The surgery was one of the first successful operations of its kind, and was especially challenging as the boys were not just attached at the skull, but shared a brain connection. This translated to a delicate surgical navigation of all their complex shared vascularity. The odds of the surgery’s success were daunting, but there was no true alternative, as without the operation doctors believed the boys would have perished within 6-8 months.  

Aware of the risks and eager to avoid them, the surgical teams at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York conducted significant research to prepare for the surgery, including the creation of 3D printed models using CT and MRI data. Lead pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. James T. Goodrich says the models were extremely helpful in planning and gave him critical advance insight into potential anatomical complications. The life-size models were printed in 3DS’ ClearView® material, demonstrating the children’s bone structure with selectively colored representations of the critical blood vessels.

“The medical team had to carefully plan out how to gradually separate the vital blood vessels in the brain that were used by both twins,” said Andy Christensen, Vice President of Personalized Surgery and Medical Devices, 3DS. “The surgeons reported that the 3D printed anatomical models were a key part of the surgical planning for this incredibly complex case.” The use of virtual surgical planning is increasing and is changing the way surgeries are performed for dramatically improved results and recovery times. More than a thousand 3DS advanced manufacturing-grade SLA 3D printers are in use in the medical field, producing tens of millions of medical devices annually.

Now, 10 years after surgery, Clarence and Carl are happy 12-year-old boys with distinct personalities. While Carl loves playing video games and spending time with his brother, Clarence is enthusiastically exploring dancing and likes to swim. For their mother Arlene, the past 12 years have been full of challenges and blessings, and she says it is heartwarming to watch her sons interact. “Their bonding is very close. Sometimes we’ll be sitting at the dinner table together and they’ll just look at each other and start to laugh. They still have a very strong connection.”

For more on the twin’s story, watch the video below.

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

Release Date: 
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - 13:45
Media File: 

A Leg that Fits: Making Natasha's 3D-Printed Prosthetic in Two Weeks

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.

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?

Rapid Manufacturing Leader at Sahara Force India, Patrick Hawtin, plays a crucial part in the process that delivers upgrades to Formula One cars. With the help of 3D Systems’ stereolithography machines, he helps by turning ideas into parts that are then tested in the team’s wind tunnel.

In essence, what does your position entail?

My position has its challenges, as our department is responsible for scheduling and manufacturing hundreds of components for aerodynamic testing each week. We also manufacture components for the race car and various Research and Development projects - so there is usually a lot going on!

What we do is use 3D Systems' stereolithography machines, which effectively are very big and very accurate 3D printers, to create the parts for the wind tunnel models. This allows our aerodynamicists to test in real life what their calculations predicted.

What are the main challenges of your work?

The production deadlines are always tight, and in order to meet them the department operates around the clock, except on summer shutdown. We respond to demands from other areas of the team, so the day doesn't follow a structured schedule: I have to work to the job, and this means also regular evenings and weekends. They say you can never sleep in Formula One and sometimes that's exactly the case! The good thing is that we've got a good team with two other Rapid Prototyping Engineers on hand to help. With our fleet of rapid prototyping machines from 3D Systems everything gets taken care of quickly and easily.

How long have you been a member of the Sahara Force India Family?

I joined Force India in December 2007 and I have to say that time has flown by! This team is very much a family and whilst we are steadily growing, we are still relatively small compared to the teams around us. You get to know everybody by name which is nice and I think it enables us to be more dynamic - I hope that never changes.

Have you always been passionate about Formula One? How did you end up working in the sport?

Like so many of my colleagues, I grew up watching F1 with my Dad. I also have an uncle that works for one of our rivals, so it is fair to say the sport has always been in the family!

I started life as a Mechanical Engineering Apprentice and during that time I completed my HNC (Higher National Certificate) in Mechanical Engineering and specialized in Stress Analysis and Dynamics. Soon after that, I joined 3D Systems as a Field Service Engineer. I worked on additive manufacturing machines in every industry you can imagine and did a lot of travelling - UK, Europe and America.

Once my children started coming along, my wife told me I needed to knock the travelling on the head and it was at this point I was lucky enough to arrive here at Force India as an SLA Technician. Here has been home since!

What is your favorite Sahara Force India moment?

My favorite single moment has to be our team’s Belgian Grand Prix pole position and subsequent podium finish in 2009. That weekend really got people's attention and put the team on the map. It was the start of the progress that we have been continuing ever since.

And the most challenging part of your work?

The most challenging part of my work is reacting to any last-minute request that may come when the department is already running at full capacity. Deadlines are very tight and every minute is essential, and sometimes this requires a review of the whole production schedule. By liaising with the aerodynamicists, designers and the model shop, we look at where we can fit additional projects and what elements can be rescheduled. Once this is done, we still have to wait for the components to be issued, program them, prepare the build files and then start the builds on the 3D Systems' machines.

And what about the Paddy away from work?

I am always busy at home, I have 3 children under 8-years-old and they find the best ways to keep you busy! I do make a little time for myself though as I do karate once a week. My wife has an addiction to holidays too; to give you an idea, we currently have Croatia, France (skiing), camping in Wales and New York all booked for before the end of 2014. I will get her some counseling!

Release Date: 
Friday, June 13, 2014 - 13:45

It’s the kind of thing you might need to see to believe, but 3DS is proud to share that our fab-grade 3D printers now match and exceed the speed and productivity of traditional injection molding for the direct manufacture of functional parts. This is big news for manufacturers who want to quickly produce working, precision parts without tooling or a stretched supply chain. Using our SLA and SLS advanced printers, record-setting print speeds can now be achieved, without sacrificing quality and while gaining complexity. This enhancement indicates a shift from low volume production to high volume direct manufacturing of complex parts, across use cases and industries.

Read more about this exciting development here, and to see for yourself, check out the video below.

It all goes to show that we need to expect the unexpected with 3D printing.

Release Date: 
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - 08:30
Media File: 

Breaking the Speed Barrier


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