Your Shoes Will Be Printed Shortly

Your Shoes Will Be Printed Shortly

May 16, 2017

By Christopher Mims, Wall Street Journal Innovative techniques in 3-D printing mean some previously impossible design will start showing up in consumer products This may be the year you get 3-D-printed shoes. By the end of 2017, the transformation of manufacturing will hit a milestone: mass-produced printed parts. Until now, that concept was an oxymoron, since 3-D printing has been used mainly for prototyping and customized parts. But the radical innovation of 3-D printing techniques means we are finally going to see some previously impossible designs creep into our consumer goods. In the long term, it also means new products that previously would have been impractical to produce, and a geographical shift of some manufacturing closer to customers. I have two very different examples of this milestone, one plastic, the other steel. There’s a running shoe from Adidas AG, with a 3-D-printed latticed sole that looks almost organic, like the exposed roots of a plant. Then there’s a steel hinge, indistinguishable from any other metal part except for incredibly fine striations in its surface, as if it had been deposited like sandstone rather than forged. In a feat impossible with conventional manufacturing, all three moving pieces of the hinge were crafted together. 3-D printing is more than two decades old, but to date the process has been limited to making novelties, prototypes, bits of machines for factories, or expensive specialized parts, like fittings for prosthetic limbs or fuel nozzles in jet engines. After years of searching for a 3-D printing tech that is up to the challenge of sneakers, Adidas came upon a startup called Carbon Inc., which has raised $222 million to date. Instead of the plodding process of depositing plastic one layer at a time from a nozzle, Carbon’s “digital light synthesis” printers transform a liquid plastic into a solid using UV light and oxygen. This yields products comparable in quality to molded plastics at a competitive speed and cost, at least when making tens of thousands of a given object. Why Now? Because traditional manufacturing requires molds, casts and machining, it has high upfront costs. It’s great if you want to make a million of something, but not so great if you...

3D printing could usher in a revolution, but small…

3D printing could usher in a revolution, but small…

Mar 30, 2017

“3D printing could usher in a revolution, but small, local businesses unlikely to benefit” By Kevin Smith, San Gabriel Valley Tribune Large manufacturers benefitting from advances in 3D printing and other technology are saving time and money, but the speed of change will likely leave small and mid-sized companies behind. Gregg Profozich, director of advanced manufacturing technologies for California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC) in Torrance, said nearly 99 percent of U.S. manufacturing businesses are considered small, with many employing 20 or fewer workers. And integrating the latest technology — regardless of its efficiency — is often not a priority for these businesses. For many, it’s not even possible. “The problem is that most small manufacturers are so busy working in the business that they can’t work on the business,” he said. “When Joe doesn’t show up they have to go run the press mill, or the injection molding machine or they have to do the billing. They are in the business but they are not stepping back. They don’t have a department for stepping back and thinking about the future, and that’s where we try to come in. That’s what my role is about, to think about new technologies that we might be able to use to help them adopt.” Profozich was a featured speaker at Tuesday’s “Exploring the Next Generation of the Technology Revolution” forum at Caltech’s Athenaeum. The event was sponsored by Technolink Association, a coalition of leaders in aerospace, academia, innovation and other fields who are seeking to develop a virtual high-tech corridor in Southern California. Profozich displayed a pair of slides that clearly illustrate how manufacturing processes have become more efficient. The first showed a circular metal piece that had been machined out of a large metal block by a CNC (computer numerical control) cutting tool. The piece was surrounded by piles of metal shavings that had been carved away to create the part. “It’s like the old sculptor who starts with a block and keeps chiseling away until you end up with the art you want,” he said. “That’s the mentality we had the past. But now we have technologies that allow this.” At that point he displayed another slide that showed...

HP reveals next move in making 3D printing competitive…

HP reveals next move in making 3D printing competitive…

Mar 27, 2017

“HP reveals next move in making 3D printing competitive with injection molding” By Norbert Sparrow, Plastics Today HP (Palo Alto, CA) has a storied past, but it may have an even more glorious future if it is able to deliver on its vision of industrial-scale 3D printing that can rival injection molding. Its opening salvo in achieving this long-term ambition came just about one year ago, when it unveiled the HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, which prints quality parts up to 10 times faster and at half the cost of current 3D printers, according to HP. The newest milestone came last week, when it launched its 3D Open Materials and Application Lab at its sprawling facility in Corvallis, OR. HP invited several journalists, myself included, and analysts to tour the lab and to lay out its strategy for embedding 3D printing within the $12 trillion manufacturing sector. The Corvallis facility, a stone’s throw from Oregon State University’s Reser Stadium, was the birthplace of thermal inkjet technology some 30 years ago, and remains a hotbed of innovation, where material scientists and engineers design, test and build printheads, silicon wafers and thermal inkjet printer heads. Right now, all eyes are on the capabilities of its additive manufacturing system and the development of compatible materials. Multi Jet Fusion is the culmination of decades of research, Timothy Weber, PhD, Vice President and General Manager of 3D Materials and Advanced Applications, told journalists during the site visit. “The total market for 3D printing is around $5 to $6 billion,” said Weber. “The market wasn’t big enough to interest a $50+ billion company like HP, and we didn’t have a technological differentiator,” he added to explain why the company waited as long as it did before dipping its toe in the additive manufacturing pond. That changed with the development of Multi Jet Fusion technology, which has the potential to compete with conventional plastics processing techniques, and the ability to engineer materials at the voxel level. The mighty voxel HP describes the voxel as a volumetric pixel. With Multi Jet Fusion, HP can manipulate materials at the voxel level by dosing liquid functional agents in the powder bed as the parts are...

Rural, and making it: Bringing manufacturing to small towns

Rural, and making it: Bringing manufacturing to small towns

Dec 20, 2016

By Ben Rowley, Rural Business HQ He charged companies whatever he wanted as a freelance industrial designer, but he left it all to become part of a rural manufacturing renaissance. It started five years ago, when after 15 years of designing, Jonathan Baker said goodbye to his comfortable career in New England and moved to the Pacific Northwest to design and manufacture his own product in a town of under 1,000 people. On top of fighting long odds that come with starting a business, in a tiny town no less, Baker started his company in an industry that has been on the decline in the U.S. for decades. He and his business partner set out to create a product and manufacture it domestically, with no outsourcing to other countries. Period. Nevermind that this goes against decades of conditioning saying it is more expensive to manufacture in America. Nevermind Baker didn’t yet know what he was going to make. For him, this was about more than a product. “I knew I had to make it here,” he said. “To export all that opportunity to an overseas factory would be missing out on one of the biggest benefits of a successful design – jobs. The government doesn’t encourage this, and the tax code doesn’t either, but it is the right thing to do if you believe in the pride of making things where you live and the profound effect that can have.” Soon Baker discovered the town of Twisp, Washington, a place transformed over the years by a declining timber industry and an influx of retirees and seasonal recreationalists. There he found a vacant 1920s barn and saw in it the potential for both design and manufacturing to live under one old roof. Baker loved what Twisp offered – character, originality, a unique economy and proud, self-reliant people. “When we came into Twisp we saw that history and we felt this sense of place that hasn’t really been influenced by the rest of the world,” he said. “We thought it was a great environment to remove yourself from the influences of the mainstream.” With “the heritage and beauty of building things in your community” guiding their...

Stratasys Reveals Large-Part 3D Printing Demonstrator

Stratasys Reveals Large-Part 3D Printing Demonstrator

Nov 7, 2016

Featured in Design-2-Part Magazine MINNEAPOLIS & REHOVOT, Israel—The 3D printing and additive manufacturing company Stratasys is working with Ford and Boeing on new technology to 3D print large aerospace and automotive parts. Demonstrations of the technology, including the Stratasys Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator, were to be previewed at IMTS 2016 as part of the company’s Shaping What’s Next™ vision for manufacturing. In a company release, Stratasys said that its Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator builds on the company’s industrial FDM® 3D printing expertise to respond to the needs of customers’ most challenging applications. The 3D demonstrator is said to address manufacturers’ needs to rapidly produce strong parts ranging in size from an automobile armrest to an entire aircraft interior panel.     The Stratasys Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator is designed to address the requirements of aerospace, automotive, and other industries for large lightweight, thermoplastic parts with repeatable mechanical properties. The Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator offers what the company calls a revolutionary approach to FDM extrusion that increases throughput and repeatability. The system is said to turn the traditional 3D printer concept on its side to realize an “infinite-build” approach that prints on a vertical plane for practically unlimited part size in the build direction. Aerospace giant Boeing played an influential role in defining the requirements and specifications for the demonstrator. Boeing is currently using an Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator to explore the production of low volume, lightweight parts. Ford Motor Company is also exploring innovative automotive manufacturing applications for this demonstrator, and will evaluate this new technology. Ford and Stratasys will work together to test and develop new applications for automotive-grade 3D printed materials that were not previously possible due to limited size, enabling and accelerating innovative automotive product design, Stratasys said. “3D printing holds the promise of changing automotive design and manufacturing because it opens up new ways to innovate and create efficiencies in production,” said Mike Whitens, director of vehicle enterprise sciences at Ford Research & Advanced Engineering, in the release. “Our vision at Ford is to make high-speed, high-quality printing of automotive-grade parts a reality. We are excited about the future opportunities that the scalable and versatile Infinite-Build concept can unlock, and look forward to collaborating with...