CNC Machining as a business strategy for 3D Printing

As the additive manufacturing company 3rd Dimension Industrial 3D Printing prepares for production, it has one critical advantage over the competition: a standalone CNC machine shop.

In 2013, additive manufacturing (AM) was having its moment. The possibilities of the technology for industrial production were just then becoming apparent to manufacturing at large. Indeed, at that time, the view of AM was soaring from lofty media hype into a stratosphere of impossible promises. Bob Markley was having a moment of his own at that time. He had just finished a 10-year stretch as an engineer for an Indy 500 racing team before moving on to work for Rolls Royce and then General Motors, the latter of which was consolidating its Indiana workforce to Pontiac, Michigan. Unable to relocate his family from their Indiana home, the then-31-year-old Mr. Markley wrote up a business plan centered around AM — a technology he’d barely used, but one that appealed to the experimental engineering style he’d developed through racing.

Machined metal part

Thus, 2013 proved to be the year that Mr. Markley went all-in on AM, launching 3rd Dimension Industrial 3D Printing in a 1,800-square-foot facility outside of Indianapolis. After opening for business, he quickly partnered with 3D Systems and brought in the company’s ProX 200 — a laser powder-bed fusion machine he still refers to today as his workhorse. Sustained financially by his original loan and a small but growing base of customers, Mr. Markley purchased a second ProX 200, followed by a 300 model and later a 320 that he beta tested for the company.

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Sustainability trends in 3D printing you need to know

HP released its list of predictions for 3D printing and digital manufacturing in 2020. Informed by extensive interviews with a team of experts, this year’s research identifies top trends that will have a major impact on advancing Industry 4.0 such as the need for more sustainable production, how automation will transform the factory floor, and the rise of data and software as the backbone of digital manufacturing.

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“The year ahead will be a time of realizing 3D printing and digital manufacturing’s true potential across industries,” said Pete Basiliere, Founder, Monadnock Insights. “As HP’s trend report indicates, digital manufacturing will enable production of users’ ideal designs by unlocking new and expanded software, data, services, and industrial production solutions that deliver more transformative experiences while also disrupting legacy industries.”

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EPA looks at 3D Printing emissions

The EPA is examining possible adverse effects of emissions on human health.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is increasing its scrutiny of 3D printing emissions just as recent predictions say the technology is just beginning to revolutionize manufacturing and the supply chain.

3 D Printer

Working in cooperation with the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), EPA is studying possible harmful emissions that are emitted during the 3D printing process. Also conducting research on 3D printer nanomaterials is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

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Lego’s mostly obnoxious IP bullying of the 3D printing community doesn’t make any sense

In the earlier days of Techdirt, Lego made multiple appearances as an IP bully. However, its IP bullying ran into some legal headaches as various courts pushed back again and again and again. The company failed, pretty spectacularly, in its quest to argue that no one could make similar, or even interconnecting, Lego bricks. Its patents long expired, and any copyright and trademark rights were much more limited.

For years, the company has relied on the fact that even with the ability of other companies to copy its designs, really only Lego could manufacture the toy bricks with the kind of exact precision that made them work properly. Knock-offs tended to not connect nearly as well. And Lego’s manufacturing was such that beyond the precision in the blocks, it could also make the blocks so cheaply that it was difficult for anyone to undercut them anyway. Finally, Lego’s brand is pretty powerful in its own right, and many people would buy official Lego products as the default anyway, because of the brand association.

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UK: 3D printing the circular economy through re-distributed manufacturing

As 3D printing revolutionizes industries around the world, it is inevitable that economies will be affected too as business models and supply chains are transformed. Researchers discuss these issues and their findings in the recently published ‘Sustainable Production in a Circular Economy: A Business Model for Re-distributed Manufacturing.’

The researchers list new technological elements that are having an impact such as robotics and the Internet of Things—combined with localized issues like labor costs and the UK economy, as well as enormous global concerns like climate change. The concept and study of re-distributed manufacture (RdM) is developed with an IDEF (Icam DEFinition for Function Modelling) description to serve as a guide for the implementation of the RdM concept in the consumer goods industry.

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3D printing everything: Ultra-cheap, zero-waste products are coming

makerbot 3d printing printer

3D printing is about to transform manufacturing as we know it, decimating waste, multiplying speed to market, and harnessing never-before-used materials.

Additive manufacturing products and services are projected to more than double by 2024, just five years from today. But not only will 3D printing turn supply chains on their heads here on Earth—shifting how and who manufactures our products—but it will be the vital catalyst for making space colonies (and their infrastructure) possible.

Welcome to the 2030 era of tailor-made, rapid-fire, ultra-cheap, and zero-waste product creation… on our planet, and far beyond.

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How 3D printing is being improved using advanced non-destructive testing

I’ve spent 30 years optimizing materials for use in aerospace and automotive applications, looking at how we design, make and use them. My latest research focuses on the additive manufacturing (AM) of alloys for use in aerospace applications. We’ve received a £2.6 million (US$3.2 million) grant for the next ten years which will enable us to develop AM alloys for industrial applications. We’re using one of the world’s most advanced tools to help investigate the challenges associated with AM alloys – Diamond Light Source the UK’s National synchrotron science facility at Harwell near Oxford. The synchrotron lets us see inside the alloys as the AM machine makes components. 

The synchrotron emits electrons at the speed of light and bends them using electromagnetics to create a continuous beam of light at wavelengths from near infrared to hard x-rays. At the point where the beam of electrons bends it gives us a flux of light up to 10 million times brighter than the sun. 

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How emissions from 3D printers pose a potential health hazard

The advent of 3D printing allows for an hours-to-days turnaround time for rapid prototyping and production of parts, by bringing manufacturing abilities closer to the engineers designing the parts being produced. The commodity cost of 3D printers, likewise, has led to their inclusion in schools as part of a broader push for STEM education.

However, air quality is likely to suffer as a result—a 3D printer is essentially a miniature manufacturing plant, in form and function, and is often deployed in facilities, such as standard office buildings, not properly equipped for ventilation. Volatile organic compound (VOC) concentrations in air increase with the use of 3D printers, with a two-year study by UL and the Georgia Institute of Technology finding 216 individual VOCs released into indoor air through the use of 3D printers.

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Could 3D printing keep the UK at the forefront of innovation during economic uncertainty?

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The UK is renowned as a global innovator. As the world’s first industrialised nation;  innovation, creativity, and – to an extent – risk, have all played a part in some of the UK’s greatest achievements. 

But have we reached a tipping point where UK creativity is in danger of being stifled as a result of increasing trends towards risk aversion in the innovation ecosystem? What’s more, is it now harder to find the commercial backing to get truly innovative ideas off the ground? And what role will the 3D printing industry have in facilitating economic growth in the UK in the face of an increasingly conservative business environment?

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Materials Solutions achieves NADCAP accreditation for additive manufacturing in Aerospace

Materials Solutions, a Siemens business, has received accreditation from the National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program (NADCAP) for additive manufacturing in the aerospace sector. A reported first for a UK 3D printing company in this industry Phil Hatherley, General Manager at Materials Solutions, comments, “We knew that in order to deliver the highest quality parts for the aerospace sector we needed to get the NADCAP accreditation to show we were serious about working in the sector.”

NADCAP and the aerospace sector

Siemens uses Additive Manufacturing to produce various gas turbine components. Materials Solutions manufactures burner heads for Siemens gas turbines in series production. This burner heads have to withstand extreme conditions during commercial power plant operation. Photo via Materials Solutions.

NADCAP is a cooperative, industry-managed approach assessing the conformity of ‘special processes’ set by technical experts, suppliers, the National Physical Laboratory, and the National Measurement Institute.

It is universally recognized and incorporated by the aerospace industry for risk mitigation activity as it validates compliance with industry standards, best practices, and customer requirements. Both Italian metal 3D printing service provider Beam IT and QC Laboratories, Inc., a non-destructive testing (NDT) services company, have NADCAP approval for aerospace production.

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