3D Systems launches new SLS 3D printer, new factory solutions, and a new contract

OEM 3D Systems has announced the launch of its ProX SLS 6100 system for functional prototyping and low volume part production, aimed at a wide range of applications.

The Denver-based OEM has also announced the launch of a new factory floor additive metal production platform based on its direct metal printing (DMP) technology, an expanded direct 3D production platform, and a 3 year contract with German automotive company BMW to design and produce functional prototypes.

Example of the DMP 8500's build volume. Photo via 3D Systems.Example of the DMP 8500’s build volume. Photo via 3D Systems.

3D System’s latest SLS 3D printer, the ProX SLS 6100

The ProX SLS 6100 is 3D Systems’ latest 3D printer since the ProJet MJP 5600 was launched in May 2017. is aimed at industrial plastic prototyping and production, offering  larger parts than small-frame systems.

Among the ProX SLS 6100’s features are a continuous automatic sifting and filtering capabilities as part of its compatible material quality control (MQC) system and a new air-cooled laser to remove the need for a chiller.

Along with the hardware, 3D systems is also launching three new materials “DuraForm ProX FR1200” material, nylon 11-based plastic “DuraForm ProX EX BLK”, and “DuraForm ProX AF+ aluminum” designed for high stiffness components requiring high heat resistance.

The ProX SLS 6100 is compatible with the 3D Sprint software to manage its selective laser sintering process and the 3D Connect platform to provide secure cloud-based print job processing.

Vyomesh Joshi, president and chief executive officer, 3D Systems emphasised that the new system would address “accuracy, durability, repeatability” and a “lower total cost of operation”.

A direct metal printing factory solution

3D Systems’ DMP 8500 Factory Solution offers a powder to finished part production capability for parts up to 500 mm x 500 mm x 500 mm in volume. The DMP 8500 will also integrate 3D Systems’ 3DXpert software.

Aimed at making factory floor adoption of additive manufacturing accessible, the solution offers removable print modules (RPMs) to assist continuous production, powder management modules (PMMs) for efficient powder recovery, and reduction of production time through transport modules.

Commenting on the launch, Joshi stated that “the DMP 8500 Factory Solution was developed by experts with deep knowledge and experience in factory solutions and takes metal printing technology to a new level of economic efficiency.”

Figure 4 production platform begins shipment

After its forthcoming commercial availability was announced in March and reported by 3D Printing Industry), 3D Systems has announced that its Figure 4 production system is ready for shipment.

The Figure 4 production platform is named  after the “figure 4” in Chuck Hull’s original 1984 patent application, uses SLA technology and offers an alternative to industrial injection molding.

Green light for BMW deal

3D Systems will be offering its on demand 3D printing services to BMW for 3 years. It will offer its SLA and SLS technologies and also provide finishing services such as painting, dying and tumbling.

The services to BMW will include the provision of prototype and functional interior and exterior automobile test parts.  BMW will use parts supplied by 3D Systems during its summer and winter ride-out testing periods.

A ticket to ride, 3D Systems has previously worked with BMW. Photo via 3D Systems.

In context ahead of formnext

This series of announcements follows a disappointing set of financial results in Q3 for the OEM. 3D systems will be exhibiting at formnext 2017 in hall 3.1, booth F10 from 14-17 November.

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Featured image shows 3D Systems’ ProX SLS 6100 3D printer. Photo via 3D Systems. 

Materialise to build Europe's largest and most modern 3D printing factory near Wroclaw in Poland

Aug 11, 2016 | By Alec

Belgian 3D printing specialists Materialise hardly need introduction. The largest provider of high quality 3D printing services in Europe, they are especially known for taking on the hardest and largest 3D printing challenges – such as this 3D printed medical grade replica of Ötzi the Ice Man. They are also experts when it comes to medical 3D printing innovations, which is perfectly illustrated by this life-saving 3D printed tracheal splint. But Materialise is now ready for the next phase in their career, and are about to start construction on Europe’s largest and most modern 3D printing factory. Built in the Polish village of Bielany Wrocławskie (near Wrocław), it will allow them to cope with 3D printing projects of a much larger scale.

It’s a huge project that will cost several million zlotys (or several hundred thousand dollars) to complete. Construction, which is set to begin later this year, is planned to end in mid-2017. Once open, this 3D printing factory will employ about fifty people. Aside from 3D printing, the factory will also house a state-of-the-art post-production facility, where all kinds of manufactured items will be perfected in-house – making this a truly comprehensive 3D printing factory.

But of course you might wonder: why is a Belgian 3D printing specialist building a factory in Eastern Europe? In part, it will allow Materialise to become a leading player in the Eastern European 3D printing market. But more importantly, it’s because they already have a strong presence in Wrocław. Two years ago, Materialise acquired e-Prototypy, the leading Polish 3D printing provider at the time, who was known for providing a very wide range of 3D services.

That move in 2014 was already seen as an attempt to establish a strong presence in Poland, after  Materialise previously did the same in the Czech Republic. “We see a lot of opportunities for growth in the Polish market and by joining Materialise, the e-Prototypy team looks forward to helping even more people in the region realize the benefits of the services and solutions we have to offer,” e-Prototypy co-founder Grzegorz Sworobowicz said at the time. “As part of Materialise, our customers will be given access to even better service with a larger range of 3D Printing technologies and they can benefit from Materialise’s 23 years of experience in this industry.”

As a result, Wrocław is already home to sales, accounting, IT and research and development departments, making it a logical location for this expansion. But according to local Materialise branch leader Piotr Adamczewski the effects of this new factory will be felt far beyond Poland as well. “We are concerned with maintaining a leading position in the global industry,” he said. “We expect to benefit from offering attractive prices, allowing us to more strongly compete in international markets while we are simultaneously improving our own technological and digital solutions.”

This new factory is thus a perfect opportunity for Materialise to extend their presence in the automotive, aerospace and medical industries. Materialise is already working with Airbus on 3D printed aircraft parts, and a larger factory will only contribute to the development of similar innovations. It will doubtlessly also strengthen their foothold in the consumer and design sectors.

But according to Adamczewski, they are particularly focused on medical care as well. “We are helping to develop new life-saving medical care solutions, in close collaboration with the surgeons themselves. One example of what we already achieved is the production of cardiac models for two patients in India – thanks to the 3D printed models, hitherto impossible surgeries could be meticulously planned and executed.” A lot more medical tools, all adapted to the individual needs of the patients, can thus be expected. Materialise is about to enter the next phase of their 3D printing life.

Posted in 3D Printer Company

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Researchers 3D Print Large-Scale Factory for Nano-Scale Particles

With the power to use unique materials for specialty applications, nanoparticles open up entirely new physical properties for the objects around us.  In 3D printing, we’ve often seen these particles, 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, mixed into conductive inks for electronics 3D printing, particularly by companies like Voxel8 and Nano Dimension. One big issue with these tiny materials, however, is the inability to scale up production for widespread use.

Manufacturing nanoparticles requires batch production that is both expensive and time consuming, but, now, researchers at the USC have published new research detailing the large-scale production of these powerful particles. To pull it off, the team, led by Noah Malmstadt of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and Richard Brutchey of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, created what they believe to be the smallest, fully enclosed 3D printed tubes anywhere in order to build an entire nanoparticle mixing station.

Malmstadt and Brutchey tell USC News just how difficult and expensive it can be to make nanoparticles.  For instance, gold nanoparticles can cost $80 for a single milligram, adding up to $80,000 for a gram. A gram of pure, raw gold, however, has a price of just $50. Malmstadt explains, “It’s not the gold that’s making it expensive. We can make them, but it’s not like we can cheaply make a 50-gallon drum full of them.”

The cost is associated with the time it takes for a technician to mix the materials up in a lab by hand, using flasks and beakers.  To break this model, the team turned to microfluidics, 3D printing tubes 250 micrometers in diameter and assembled in a parallel network of four tubes.  They then ran two nonmixing fluids through the network, which, due to their non-mixing nature, had to compete to exit openings in the setup. This resulted in the formation of tiny droplets that forced the materials to mix together via chemical reaction and create nanoparticles.  Because each 3D printed tube can create millions of identical droplets, Brutchey and Malmstadt had essentially built a microfluidics factory.

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From Nature Communications: “(a) Schematic of the parallel network assembled by connecting a distribution manifold to four droplet generators. The continuous phase was linked using low resistance jumper tubing (ID=762 μm) and the dispersed phase was linked using various lengths of tubing (ID=127 μm) to create a gradient of resistances across the four branches. (b) Droplet diameters (n>1,000) produced by the four branches of the parallel network (left) by dispersed and continuous phase flow rates of 10 and 70 ml h−1 (purple circles) and 30 and 210 ml h−1 (black triangles) while operating in and beyond the flow invariant regime, respectively. Error bars represent the s.d.”

3D printing played a key role in the construction of these tiny tubes, just 5 times the diameter of a speck of dust.  In the past, such a microfluidics system was impossible, as jamming that might occur in one tube would consequently jam those connected in parallel. But by 3D printing unique geometries into the tubes, the junctions between tubes were designed to prevent an reaction to such pressure changes, allowing for the particles to come out in uniform size.

usc-researchers-use-3d-printing-to-help-produce-nanomaterials-on-a-larger-scale-03

From Nature Communications: “(a) Computer-aided design (CAD) rendering of a droplet generator with two inlets for the dispersed and continuous phases and a single outlet that accepts tubing (OD=1/16 inch) with various IDs to control the droplet size. (b) CAD rendering of a droplet generator in which the vertical segment is fully constructed by stereolithography (SLA) rather than being formed by external tubing. (c) Micrographs depicting different views of the device during the droplet breakup process. (d) Micrographs of the droplet breakup process in full SLA droplet generators with an outlet size of 250 or 500 μm.”

As one might guess, this new platform for the production of nanomaterials could result in a reduced cost in these unique materials overall. Soon, maybe we’ll see companies like Nano Dimension and Voxel8 take a cue from these researchers and develop their own microfluidics factories. This, in turn, will fuel the global nanomaterials industry, which is expected to grow from $3.4 billion in 2015 to $11.8 billion by 2020.

8 New 3D Printing Technologies From Formnext & the AM Factory of Tomorrow

Last month, engineers and others interested in prototyping and end-production using 3D printing (3DP) and additive manufacturing (AM) were attending the Formnext trade show in Frankfurt, Germany. So were representatives from several 3DP companies, showing off new systems, functions, and concepts.

Two main themes stand out: metals and more metals for fabricating high-quality end-products, and, not coincidentally, more in-process automated control and monitoring for the same reasons. In the view of at least some in the industry, these are ultimately aimed at enabling fully digital manufacturing by creating an entire ecosystem that makes it possible to link design and manufacturing with the “digital thread,” as we heard from David Leigh of Stratasys Direct Manufacturing earlier this year.

At Formnext, Concept Laser displayed its architecture of the digital manufacturing environment, which it calls the AM Factory of Tomorrow. Based on modular configurations, this somewhat parallels Additive Industries’ MetalFAB1 3D printing system. We tell you about both of these in the slideshow below.

Click on the image to see a sampling of new products, technologies, and manufacturing concepts from Formnext 2015:

Adding to its existing stable of industrial 3D printers based on laser metal deposition (LMD) technology, German laser manufacturer TRUMPF has launched a new line of additive manufacturing machines based on what it calls the laser metal fusion (LMF) process, a powder bed technique. The new TruPrint 1000 LMF machine's build volume has a maximum diameter of 100 mm x 100 mm tall (3.9 inch x 3.9 inch). The 200W laser, optics, process enclosure, filter unit, and control cabinet are all integrated into the machine's housing. Metals include stainless steel, tool steel, aluminum, or other weldable materials in powdered form. TRUMPF also unveiled a prototype of the larger TruPrint 3000, which can print larger parts up to 300 mm in diameter and 400 mm high (11.8 inch x 15.7 inch). To ensure a robust process and high parts quality, the process enclosure in the 3000 model is tempered to as much as 500C.
  (Source: TRUMPF)

Adding to its existing stable of industrial 3D printers based on laser metal deposition (LMD) technology, German laser manufacturer TRUMPF has launched a new line of additive manufacturing machines based on what it calls the laser metal fusion (LMF) process, a powder bed technique. The new TruPrint 1000 LMF machine’s build volume has a maximum diameter of 100 mm x 100 mm tall (3.9 inch x 3.9 inch). The 200W laser, optics, process enclosure, filter unit, and control cabinet are all integrated into the machine’s housing. Metals include stainless steel, tool steel, aluminum, or other weldable materials in powdered form. TRUMPF also unveiled a prototype of the larger TruPrint 3000, which can print larger parts up to 300 mm in diameter and 400 mm high (11.8 inch x 15.7 inch). To ensure a robust process and high parts quality, the process enclosure in the 3000 model is tempered to as much as 500C.

(Source: TRUMPF)

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Ann R. Thryft is senior technical editor, materials & assembly, for Design News. She’s been writing about manufacturing- and electronics-related technologies for 27 years, covering manufacturing materials & processes, alternative energy, and robotics. In the past, she’s also written about machine vision and all kinds of communications.

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