Unattended, low-volume production of functioning circuitry is now an option
It’s been a year of firsts for electronics 3D printing, with the launch of Lights-Out Digital Manufacturing (LDM), a manufacturing technology in which systems run with little or no human intervention around the clock. Here’s a quick look at LDM technology and the development of a variety of innovative 3D printed applications for printed electronics.
3D printing is transforming the way we design and manufacture electronics. It overcomes constraints in traditional approaches to the printed circuit board (PCB) and electronics production, regarding speed, complex workflows and resources. New designs can be quickly run through a more efficient in-house manufacturing process, providing faster execution of design, build, and test cycles.
This is enabling manufacturers to push boundaries, drive innovation and get to market faster than their competitors. However, with the coming digital manufacturing revolution, automation is increasingly pursued to extend the capabilities of additive manufacturing from rapid prototyping to low-volume, short-run manufacturing. The main goal is to increase factory output, reduce operational costs and produce unique functional electronic circuitry that is impossible to make with any other method.
Will 3D printing encourage companies to move to decentralized manufacturing or stick with centralized manufacturing?
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), could be a game-changer for manufacturing, enabling significant savings of cost, time, and materials. In traditional manufacturing, parts are made in large quantities at centralized factories, then shipped to consumers. But with the growth of 3D printing, many wonder if technology will cause a shift from this centralized model to a more distributed model, in which facilities in different locations coordinate to fill manufacturing needs.
A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s Engineering and Public Policy Dept. (EPP) and the University of Lisbon investigated how 3D printing could contribute to distributed manufacturing. They examined whether 3D printing will disrupt this central model, specifically in the context of spare parts for the aerospace industry, where being able to quickly print parts instead of stockpiling them would be attractive.
A feature in the March 2016 company magazine for Kongsberg Gruppen – one of Norway’s oldest and largest companies – delves into the future of 3D printing within the multi- faceted technology manufacturer.
The article focusses on the in- house 3D printing by the R&D team at Kongsberg Maritime. Using the now defunct 3D Systems Cube Pro, Kongsberg fit and form prototypes. In the article, Alf Pettersen, Technical Manager at Kongsberg Aerostructures reveals a reluctance to invest in a more industrial solution.
“3D printing has come a long way in terms of medical devices and prototypes, but mass production is still a problem. This is because of challenges relating to repetition and quality. It is not good enough in so many areas, particularly in the aviation industry, where there are extremely strict requirements governing quality and the qualification of methods.”
It may sound like science fiction but the beauty industry is experiencing a makeover and for the first time it’s not at the expense of animals
Back in 2015, L’Oréal announced that it was experimenting with printing human skin tissue on which to test its cosmetics. The French beauty giant – which owns Lancôme and Maybelline, among many others – was the first beauty conglomerate to announce such intentions. The same year, L’Oréal partnered with Organovo, a San Diego-based start-up that designs and creates functional human tissues using bioprinting technology. These 3D printed tissues, which Bloomberg predicts could be a reality by 2020, mimic the form and function of native tissue in the body and testing on them could signal a revolution in the world of cosmetic testing. ‘‘What was once a plot for a science fiction novel is now advancing our scientific research,’’ Taylor Crouch, Organovo’s CEO said to the Financial Times last year.
There are two types of skin tissues that can be created by bioprinting technology, according to Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist and the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital. One type of skin tissue is developed with an individual’s own cells and it can be used to treat burns or skin conditions that the subject may have. The second is a regular skin formed using a stock of genetic human cells. Here cells are taken from donor organs and plastic surgery leftovers and then turned into a printable bio-ink. It is this second type of tissue that could one day make animal testing obsolete.
With a plethora of companies using additive manufacturing in their production process, we want to identify industries that we believe benefit most from additive manufacturing. By looking at these industries, it’s easy to understand how and why 3D printers are changing manufacturing as a whole.
A few years ago, 3D printing was considered a novelty, mostly used for small-batch projects and prototypes. Today, this technology has exploded and is being used for things we once only dreamed of, including the mass production of car parts for manufacturers like Volkswagen.
Although these emerging uses are impressive, the capabilities of 3D printing are far from fully realized. The experts of Forbes Technology Council follow the latest industry trends and have some insights on which sectors might be impacted by 3D next. Below, 12 members share their predictions for which industries are ripe for a 3D-printing revolution.
In this Q&A, Gartner analyst Pete Basiliere discusses how advancements in 3D printing may move beyond prototyping to help improve traditional manufacturing processes.
Although 3D printing technology is not new, aside from a few use cases and industries, it has yet to make significant inroads as a manufacturing alternative. However, developments in 3D printing technology — also known as additive manufacturing — continue to advance, with new printing machines, processes and materials becoming available. Equally important are the software systems that help companies manage and run 3D printing and newly emerging 3D printing networks that can enable it on demand for organizations that don’t want to implement such activities in-house. In this interview at the recent Rapid + TCT trade show of 3D printing technology, Pete Basiliere, Gartner research vice president for additive manufacturing, spoke about the industry and how 3D printing may become an integral part of manufacturing processes.
What new applications do you see 3D printing being adopted for over the next year or two?
3D Printing has been widely used for over three decades; primarily for prototyping and low volume or specialized production. However, novel technologies have recently been developed by start-up companies that will enable the transition of 3D printing from a niche process technology to cost-effective additive manufacturing for large parts produced in high volume.
Examples include bike frames, baby strollers, outdoor gear, sporting goods, mobility devices, and furniture.
Jetsons! Do you remember the erstwhile animation series that had been an addiction for many? Well who won’t! It gave us a glimpse of the far-fetched future that only existed in our imagination.
Well, a 3D printer has come up as the most innovative and useful tool in recent times that reminds us of the fantasy that we once thought to be implausible. From computer parts to prosthetic limbs to dolls and bicycles, 3D printers have been utilised to create almost anything and everything.
3D printing has revolutionised a number of primary industries like aerospace and automotive. But today, this technology is also benefitting small and medium sized businesses. It doesn’t matter whether you sell t-shirts, shoes, clothes, cars or caps. With 3D printing you can create the right prototype for communicating with your customers visually.