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Metals 3D Printer Gets a Smaller Footprint

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morosem
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Madeleine Wragge
morosem   6/25/2013 7:33:44 AM
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La Solution Aux Régimes

 

 
When it comes to sophisticated test equipment, sometimes a clothespin can take you to a new level of accuracy and usefulness.


Pubudu
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Re: Madeleine Wragge
Pubudu   6/27/2013 2:20:58 PM
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And also morose it will be lead to popularize the tech which is ultimately will have a positive impact.  

Ann R. Thryft
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Start of a Trend?
Ann R. Thryft   6/25/2013 3:08:27 PM
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I wonder if this isn't possibly the beginning of a trend: 3D printer manufacturers making smaller versions of their machines with smaller build volumes that still can use complex 3D printing technologies. This one's aimed at a the growing number of AM labs in various universities for R&D, but also to train the next generation of engineers in the technology. And the fact that this university is a member of NAMII, which aims to bring together academia, government agencies and commercial interests to further the technology, seems significant to me. What do others think?

far911
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Re: Start of a Trend?
far911   6/26/2013 3:53:24 AM
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@Ann - Good point. With advancements and measures like this, 3D printers are sure to make it to mainstream usage in a short period of time. 

78RPM
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Re: Start of a Trend?
78RPM   6/26/2013 12:09:24 PM
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This smaller printer would be useful for model builders (including model engines) if the price is right. Of course, 3D service bureaus would be an option. I see news today that Stratasys plans to grow by acquiring companies that make 3D metals printers.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Start of a Trend?
Ann R. Thryft   6/26/2013 12:42:44 PM
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78RPM makes an interesting point about metals printers and service bureaus. Right now, these machines/processes and their materials are probably way too pricey for that. They were developed to serve high-end applications in industrial, military and aerospace markets, so pricing is on a very different scale from anything aimed at consumers. This is an important point to keep in mind about 3D printing/AM--there are two very different ends of the industry.

shehan
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Re: Start of a Trend?
shehan   6/26/2013 4:47:14 PM
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@Ann – All technology comes at a high price most of the time, later when there is competition in the market the manufacturers are forced to bring down the prices for the product to survive in the market. 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Start of a Trend?
Ann R. Thryft   6/26/2013 4:59:18 PM
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Yes, but...prices coming down as volumes go up doesn't usually happen as fast in the industrial/commercial sector as it does in consumer products, and especially as it does in electronics. We've have all been trained to think in terms of high-volume consumer electronics, and that model simply doesn't apply to non-electronic, non-consumer products, technologies and markets.

shehan
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Re: Start of a Trend?
shehan   6/26/2013 4:43:27 PM
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@78RPM - Yes model builders will definitely find this very useful; it helps them save their time. Now it's just a matter of designing the 3D model and the printer will do the rest for you, whereas sometime back you need to craft the object. 

Pubudu
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Re: Start of a Trend?
Pubudu   6/27/2013 2:38:36 PM
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Yes shehan this will be allow people to take the full advantage of CAD & CAM 

eafpres
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Re: Start of a Trend?
eafpres   6/26/2013 8:02:35 PM
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When the only fast modeling choice was SLAs and the equipment to do them was expensive, service companies jumped in.

When more technologies came along (SLS, etc.) they upgraded first and offered more services.

There surely is a spot where the same companies offering proto plastic parts etc. will jump in and offer metal parts, before the use of the machines becomes widespread.

We are a long way from an SLS printer on every desktop, so there is plenty of room in the market.

I've been critical of all the loose uses of definitions of 3D printing to the point it has become an overused buzz term.  Trade press has glorified misguided attempts to "go to production" becuase everyone is so excited.  Well, printing Ti that is as good or better than a cast and annealed part makes it for real.  There are definitely applications for either proof of design, early entry into validation (think of all the things you need to validate in automotive or aerospace that require "production intent" parts), or one or a few offs (say, F1 race teams, satellite builders, the LHC, etc.--big budget, only need 1 or 10, would like to be able to change late, etc.).

This one has my vote--the price will be determined by the market.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Start of a Trend?
Ann R. Thryft   6/27/2013 12:24:45 PM
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eafpres, thanks for your comments. I agree, SLS printers for metals (there are also versions used with plastics) will not be available anytime soon for small jobs and prototyping. That said, I reported this precisely because it shows that metal production parts are possible and actually being achieved, something that many people don't yet believe, probably because they think 3D printing means applications like making your own plastic jewelry.

NadineJ
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
NadineJ   6/27/2013 3:07:58 PM
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That's true.  3D printed plastic jewelry has been around for almost a decade.  I think most people who have heard of 3D printing realize it's beyond jewelry but they still think it's plastics only.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Start of a Trend?
Ann R. Thryft   6/27/2013 3:40:21 PM
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It's important to remember that the technology for SLS with metals and with plastic is not the same, so it's not a matter of a 3D printer company using one line of printers for either materials set. It's also a really different expertise set. So far, plastic-based companies like Stratasys are partnering with metals-based companies like Optomec, and 3D Systems has bought the expertise.

eafpres
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Re: Start of a Trend?
eafpres   6/28/2013 8:36:06 PM
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After reading and commenting on your article, I started seeing 3D metal printing services everywhere.  A full page ad in this months Medical Design magazine caught my eye, for Fineline Prototyping:

Fineline Concept Laser Mlab

I also came across other vendors, such as GPI Prototyping and Manufacturing Services:

GPI Metal 3D Printing

and Axis Rapid Protyping:

Axis DMLS

I'm sure there are many more.  Good news for designers and specialized needs!

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Start of a Trend?
Ann R. Thryft   7/1/2013 11:42:55 AM
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eafpres, I had a similar experience after writing my first metals 3D printing article several months ago: it seemed like suddenly I saw media coverage of similar manufacturers everywhere. Of course, there are always way more service bureaus than manufacturers of the technology. Good to know the service bureaus are available.

etmax
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Re: Start of a Trend?
etmax   6/28/2013 6:05:45 AM
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Interesting that a company which made its name spending money on the R&D to make FDM printers now wants to just buy grow really big which usually results in less R&D and in general innovation. Sad.

shehan
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Re: Start of a Trend?
shehan   6/26/2013 4:37:51 PM
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@Ann  - all devices come in small sizes with same or better performance, I think the same concept applies here. 3D printer manufacturers making smaller versions of their machines with smaller build volumes that still can use complex 3D printing technologies

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Start of a Trend?
Ann R. Thryft   6/26/2013 5:30:25 PM
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Aside from where the technology came from, the other big difference here is the materials. This is metals, not plastics. They are not made for consumer applications, not likely available in small quantities, and sure as heck aren't cheap.

NadineJ
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
NadineJ   6/26/2013 6:09:43 PM
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This isn't the start of a trend, in the true definition of the word.  I've mentioned here before that MIT is working on digitizing materials and assemblage as the next generation of AM and 3D technology.

It's a progression of a much larger trend.  How soon will we be able to say "Tea, Earl Grey hot" in a posh British accent and have it appear?  I don't know....

(I'm pretty sure that EVERYONE here gets the Star Trek reference)

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
Ann R. Thryft   6/26/2013 6:23:02 PM
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The possible trend I asked a rhetorical question about was very specific: whether makers of high-end, industrial metals 3D printing machines would release smaller, simpler versions for universities, as this company has. Whether they will or not--and whether this therefore becomes a trend--remains to be seen.
Regarding MIT's work, the link you gave goes to another comment you made, but not to MIT's work. Can you give us links to their work?



NadineJ
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
NadineJ   6/26/2013 7:56:05 PM
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The word trend is used a variety of ways.  But, according to the true definition, which is what I do for a living, this isn't an overall trend.  It's a really good progression though.

I heard about MIT's research at a lecture in Dublin last year.  I don't have any links from the web but I'm you'll find something in your research.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
Ann R. Thryft   6/27/2013 12:21:58 PM
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Thanks for the additional info, Nadine. I watch (and sometimes identify) trends for a living, and you're right, there are different definitions of the word depending on context.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
Ann R. Thryft   6/27/2013 6:10:12 PM
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Nadine, I googled "MIT digital materials" and came up with several links that seem to be talking about LEGO-like "printing", although it looks more like assembly to me. At the micron level described in a 2009 paper
http://cba.mit.edu/docs/papers/06.09.digital_materials.pdf
one might be able to call this "digital assembly," but at larger scales that terms seems misleading. Is this what you were referring to?

In any case, it seems to be related to self-assembled and self-reconfigurable devices and materials, on several scales, which DN covered here:
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=261138
and which I find much more compelling.




NadineJ
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
NadineJ   6/27/2013 11:37:19 PM
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Ann - I'm a little confused.  Which do you find more compelling?  The article you wrote or the MIT research?  I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

78RPM
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
78RPM   6/28/2013 9:27:24 AM
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NadineJ -- I think the "more compelling" concept is a matter of timeline. The MIT papers do like digital assembly similar to Lego blocks. An article in Wired in recent months discussed a method being used to construct skyscrapers in China in two weeks using a modular approach.

We have seen the open software approach be applied to hardware in the Arduino and BeagleBone and the modular shields we stack upon them. Xerox PARC has done work on 3D printing of circuit boards.  These concepts are making traction in the marketplace already.

Ann's earlier article http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=261138 seems to be more futuristic where objects act like (maybe become?) living organisms and adapt their shape and purpose to the environmental need at hand.  Science fiction such as the Transformers movies always inspires invention of the future.

NadineJ
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
NadineJ   6/28/2013 9:36:14 AM
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78RPM-thanks for jumping in.  The "lego" assembly that you're referring to isn't what I heard about in Dublin.  But, what was discussed may not be online.

It involved using 3D printers and assemblage to have machines create machines from data.  It was more Matrix 3/Animatrix than Transformers.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
Ann R. Thryft   6/28/2013 12:48:58 PM
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78RPM, the self-assembly and self-reconfiguring concepts in my other article are definitely more futuristic. OTOH, this Transformer-like robot is pretty here and now, if still small: http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=256018

78RPM
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
78RPM   6/28/2013 4:09:34 PM
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Thanks, Ann,

I want one of those Transformers. I've seen other Design News articles about robotic snakes and the like. It will be really useful when snake robots can crawl through small spaces, then reconfigure to lift a fallen piece of concrete rubble or take out a firehose or whatever the need is. The future is really being invented very fast, isn't it?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
Ann R. Thryft   7/1/2013 11:39:22 AM
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78RPM, those snake and worm robots are fun, aren't they? The idea of their self-reconfiguration ability makes them even more interesting. And yes, things are moving awfully fast in these design areas. It often feels like the future is already here.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
Ann R. Thryft   6/28/2013 12:44:11 PM
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What I found more compelling was the concept of self-assembly and self-reconfiguration, rather than the lego-like MIT digital materials in the link I gave before: http://cba.mit.edu/docs/papers/06.09.digital_materials.pdf Was this the MIT digital materials you referred to? If not, can you tell us what you were referring to?

NadineJ
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
NadineJ   6/29/2013 3:52:24 PM
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@Ann: based on that, I can see why you find your article more compelling.   I mentioned what I heard about in a comment below--

The "lego" assembly that you're referring to isn't what I heard about in Dublin.  But, what was discussed may not be online.

It involved using 3D printers and assemblage to have machines create machines from data.  It was more Matrix 3/Animatrix than Transformers.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
Ann R. Thryft   7/1/2013 11:36:29 AM
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Nadine, to clarify again, I don't find my article more compelling, I find the concepts discussed in it of self-assembling and self-reconfiguring robots and methods more compelling than the lego-like so-called "digital materials" in the MIT paper.
Anyway, too bad what you heard about isn't findable anywhere online. If you ever do find links, please let us know. It sounds a bit like MIT's so-called 4D printing, which is actually self-assembly combined with 3D printing. I wrote about that here:
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=260118



NadineJ
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
NadineJ   7/1/2013 5:48:49 PM
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Ann-thanks for the link to your other article.  Intersting stuff.

rick oleson
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
rick oleson   7/5/2013 8:33:09 AM
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I'm reluctant to plug a commercial service, but have any of you looked at www.shapeways.com? It's an online 3D printing service where you can upload STL files and they mail you your part - in an amazing variety of available materials.  I recently had a camera part made in stainless steel for a fraction of just the material cost to make it by machining from bar stock.  There may be other similar things out there, but this is the one I've happened to come across.

etmax
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Re: Start of a Trend? -- No
etmax   6/28/2013 6:06:27 AM
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Of course we do :-)

David_Cartwright
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Pricing of the 450
David_Cartwright   6/26/2013 2:18:39 AM
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It is disappointing that Optomec is so secretive about the cost of this unit. What do they achieve by this as competitors will easily come up with ways to find out?

In the recent numerous articles on the unit I have been unable to find any reference to its price, that will determine whether or not it is applicable for my application.

Does anyone know the price of the unit?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Pricing of the 450
Ann R. Thryft   6/26/2013 12:39:02 PM
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David is right, and I agree. I couldn't find price info anywhere either.  I've found this to be a common practice among various vendors that supply defense and aerospace markets.

shehan
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Re: Pricing of the 450
shehan   6/26/2013 4:45:49 PM
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@Ann – I am wondering if they only give out prices for quotations and proposals to keep their price hidden from the rest of the world. 

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Pricing of the 450
Cabe Atwell   7/31/2013 7:20:02 PM
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It will be interesting to see what the private sector does with this technology. Very informative piece!

shehan
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Re: Pricing of the 450
shehan   6/26/2013 4:40:16 PM
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@David – I think we should give it few more days for the product to establish its self in the market and automatically the prices will fluctuate with the competition. I am sure it would not be a monopoly or oligopoly, as there are many manufactures waiting to enter into the market.

Pubudu
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Re: Pricing of the 450
Pubudu   6/27/2013 2:30:42 PM
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True shehan this competition will be good from the customers point of view, because ultimately it will give a quality product to a reasonable price. 

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