UK’s MTC to provide Additive Manufacturing Benchmarking Center for European Space Agency

The application of 3D printing to the space industry will receive a boost with the opening of a new ‘one stop shop’ based at the UK’s Manufacturing Technology Center (MTC) in Coventry.

The Additive Manufacturing Benchmarking Center (AMBC) will be established by the European Space Agency (ESA) and managed by the MTC. When 3D Printing Industry visited the MTC earlier this year for the UK Intelligent Engineering forum we saw first hand some of the advanced work conducted.

The objective with the AMBC is to draw on the world-leading resources and pool of knowledge available at the MTC to assess the use of 3D printing for ESA high-tech projects. Using the state-of-the-art 3D printing capabilities at the MTC, prototypes for a range of ESA projects will be produced, assessed and the subsequent results disseminated to a wider audience.

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Share Cloth’s fashion design software to bring 3D printing to retail industry

Good summary of the supply chain challenges of the fashion retail market and how the signs are the 3D printing has a major role in turning those around

The world of fashion retail could be completely revolutionized in the upcoming years, with the influence of 3D printing technology, and a new software solution released this year could be one of the first major signs pointing the way forward for the industry. Hitting the market in September, Share Cloth’s application of the same name will be compatible with Windows and Mac OS, and it will allow designers to create 3D designs for products or garments that can be 3D printed.

The current state of the global fashion industry seems unsustainable for a number of reasons. Most garment production takes place far away from the initial design centers or sales locations, in high-output, low-wage economic environments. This long-distance supply chain is made even more complex and unwieldy by the dominance of huge high street and online retailers, which require an intermediary network of warehouses and distribution centers. When a designer comes up with a new idea for a product, it can be sometimes up to 6 months until the garment line is available for sale to customers.

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3D printing design theft could be sabotaged by secret flaws in CAD files

Engineer works with 3D printer in a darkened roomOnce 3D printing files have been stolen, nothing can stop the illicit production of objects indistinguishable from those made by the manufacturer. To prevent this, American researchers suggest embedding flaws into designs such that only under specific conditions are they neutralised.

In the past year, the 3D printing – or additive manufacturing – industry has grown nearly 26 per cent and is now worth more than $5 billion. 3D printing is used to produce prostheses, buildings, puddings and countless other objects of practically any shape imaginable.

US R&D Tax Credits support 3D Printing for changing jewellery industry

With the growing introduction and use of 3D printing, the jewelry industry has seized the opportunity to produce quality and customizable designs at more affordable prices. According to the National Jeweler, 956 retail jewelers, wholesalers, and manufacturers closed in 2015. This number increased to 1,564 in 2016, marking a 64% decline in jewelers throughout North America. 3D printing can benefit the changing industry, since the technology enables jewelers, manufacturers, and designers to test with patterns, colors, and designs, which, in the past, was a more timely process. 3D printing offers a new way to produce jewelry that is not as expensive or time-consuming, but that still maintains a high level of quality. With substantially reduced retail distributors, new 3D printer-based jewelry can sell directly to consumers via the internet.

The Research & Development Tax Credit

Enacted in 1981, the federal Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit allows a credit of up to 13 percent of eligible spending for new and improved products and processes. Qualified research must meet the following four criteria:

  • New or improved products, processes, or software
  • Technological in nature
  • Elimination of uncertainty
  • Process of experimentation

Eligible costs include employee wages, cost of supplies, cost of testing, contract research expenses, and costs associated with developing a patent. On December 18, 2015 President Obama signed the bill making the R&D Tax Credit permanent. Beginning in 2016, the R&D credit can be used to offset Alternative Minimum Tax and startup businesses can utilize the credit against $250,000 per year in payroll taxes.

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Live Experiment: Same Day Production & Delivery

The live experiment was carried out during a customer event sponsored by IT service provider AXIT and viewed by more than 100 participants online and in real time on monitors set up at the venue in Frankenthal, Germany. It showed the path of an urgently needed replacement part as it moved from the initial order through production to final delivery: all in a single day. Every link in the chain – man and machine alike – worked together seamlessly in a fully automated and digital process using modern tools of digitalization such as the internet of things, cloud-based technology, and data analytics. The cloud-based IT platform AX4, operated by AXIT, served as the central “control tower.”

“This example shows that same-day production and delivery of urgently needed parts can succeed if the processes are digitalized end to end and the production equipment and 3D printers can be connected with the logistical processes in a network”, says Frauke Heistermann, Member of Management Board, AXIT GmbH, Chief Digitalization Officer (CDO), Siemens Postal, Parcel & Airport Logistics GmbH (SPPAL).

To see the video of the demonstration, click here.

3D Printing the next five years

This is a guest post in’s series looking at the future of 3D Printing. To celebrate their fifth year of reporting on the 3D printing industry, they invited industry leaders and 3D printing experts to give their perspective and predictions for the next five years and insight into trends in additive manufacturing.

Stephan Thomas and Joe Inkenbrandt co-founders of Identify3D.Stephan Thomas is the co-founder of Identify3D. The Identify3D digital supply chain platform provides design protection, quality assurance, and data logistics for digital manufacturing. The California based company recently won the Innovation Award at RAPID 2017.

3D Printing: the next 5 years by Stephan Thomas, co-founder of Identify3D

Predicting the future by looking at the past

So, where were we in 2011? 3D printing was a concept largely confined to R&D departments. According to the Wohlers report, the market was about $1.6 billion and at that time the prediction for the market was to reach $5.7B in 2017 and about $10B in 2021, a 21% CAGR.

Fast forward to 2017 and the market is about $8.8B, 4.5 times larger than 2011 and 54% greater than estimated. There is only one thing certain with 5 year predictions: they will always be wrong, even if directionally correct. If we apply the similar margin of error then the 3D printing market will be a lot bigger than the $26.5B projected for 2021. Or perhaps even greater than $50B.

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Four ways 3D Printing is shaping technology in 2017

If you think printing is just putting ink on paper, the fast-moving train of technology has left you behind. Since the advent of printing, beginning with Johannes Gutenberg inventing the first printing press, printing technology has been growing at an astonishing rate. Recently, it has given birth to the new kid on the block, whom everyone is talking about: 3D printing.

Innovators are testing the waters with this new technology. And this revolutionary manufacturing process, considered impossible just a few years ago, has exceeded our expectations. It produced spectacular results spanning different industries, pushing them in new directions.

Here are four ways 3D printing is shaping technology in 2017.

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Virtual Inventory in the Virtual Warehouse: Will 3D Printing kill the traditional supply chain?

Gordon Styles, the founder and president of Star Rapid, a 3D printing service provider, has been 3D printing since 1993, about which he quips, “It was a huge surprise to me when, in 2011, I found out that 3D printing was just invented.” As Styles implies, 3D printing has only recently become a buzzword, which is sort of oxymoronic.

Star Rapid Factory 4 59010bbbd0670While it is still considered a major disruptive technology, the process was patented in 1984 and commercially available three years later. And while the technology may not be new today, its applicability in supply chain and logistics is going to revolutionize the way we design, manufacture, store and transport products tomorrow.

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Marines take 3D printed drones from the lab to the field

nibblerThe Marines are planning to take their do-it-yourself ethos further and begin prototyping, manufacturing and deploying full-blown 3D printed systems, such as surveillance drones.

The Marines were the first service to 3D print military-grade ammunition and spare parts for weapon systems.

In the coming weeks the service will deploy a tiny unmanned aircraft dubbed the “Nibbler,” which would become the first 3D printed drone used in combat operations by conventional forces. Marines see it as just the beginning of a new way of equipping and supplying forces in the field.

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