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Wohlers Audio Series—Episode 2

July 25, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,CAD/CAM/CAE — Terry Wohlers @ 07:17

By Noah Mostow

The challenge of educating and training users on how to design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) must be overcome before the industry can reach mass adoption of AM. In the second episode of the Wohlers Audio Series, Terry Wohlers talks with Olaf Diegel, associate consultant and lead DfAM instructor at Wohlers Associates. They discuss advancements in DfAM and how to optimize new products with straightforward techniques.

Diegel is an expert designer and has developed more than 100 commercial products for theater lighting, security, marine, home health-monitoring, and other industries. He is a professor of additive manufacturing at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. He previously worked at Lund University in Sweden and Massey University in Auckland. Diegel is perhaps best known for his family of ODD guitars, which have been featured in previous blog posts.

                                         

Wohlers and Diegel discuss a wide range of approaches and software products used to reduce material and weight, eliminate part numbers, and improve product performance. This episode can be found at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and here. Please share your feedback and ideas for a future episode.

A Name 18+ Years Later

July 11, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 06:09

In April 2003, this two-paragraph blog post discussed the name of the process used to produce parts additively. Back then, most people used the term “rapid prototyping” to describe this process. It was far from perfect, as stated in the blog post, but it worked reasonably well for many years.

Since then, two terms have become common when referring to additive processes and applications. “Additive manufacturing (AM)” gained a foothold when ASTM Committee F42 on Additive Manufacturing Technologies was formed in 2009. It became the industry standard term and later reinforced when ISO Technical Committee 261 on Additive Manufacturing (ISO/TC 261), launched in 2011, adopted the term.

The second term—3D printing—is more popular, according to Google results, and became a de facto standard term before becoming a formal standard term, as published in the ISO/ASTM 52900 terminology standard. Many use AM and 3D printing interchangeably, although some associate AM with larger and more expensive equipment and production applications.

                                         

Thankfully, the AM/3D printing industry has agreed on the use of these two terms. However, many continue to use and confuse many related terms in this industry. Instead of following the ISO/ASTM 52900 standard, they use a mix of words that they may have heard from others or chose to “invent” on their own. This miscommunicates and confuses the message.

Last week, we were working with a Fortune 100 client company who referred to “SLM,” an acronym used in the company name SLM Solutions. (SLM stands for selective laser melting.) Given the context, I thought the client was referring to SLM Solutions, but it was instead referring to metal powder bed fusion, which is an ISO/ASTM 52900 standard term. Fortunately, our communication was clarified, but it could have led to a problem.

Imagine if a mistake like this occurred when considering a proposal, contract, or some other important document. Taken to the extreme, it could lead to a dispute or litigation between two or more organizations. The bottom line is this: use industry standard terminology to help ensure accuracy when communicating.

Wohlers Audio Series

June 29, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,education,future — Terry Wohlers @ 12:58

By Noah Mostow

The additive manufacturing industry is evolving rapidly. To continue to bring insight throughout the year, Wohlers Associates has launched the Wohlers Audio Series. As part of it, we are talking to experts from across the AM industry to discuss the history of the industry, creative ways of applying the technology, and perspectives on where it is headed. We have an exciting lineup of guests who will provide an exclusive look into the 3D printing industry.

The first episode is a conversation between Terry Wohlers and me. We touch on the origin of the Wohlers Report and views on what the future may look like. We are fortunate to talk with people from around the world on new developments and trends in AM. Terry is part of a unique group of experts who have been following this industry since its inception.

                        

Terry and I frequently talk and exchange emails about new and exciting applications. Many of them get posted on this blog or LinkedIn. I am excited to share this conversation because I think it is critical to understand the past and look to the future of our industry. You can find the first episode at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and here. Please share your feedback and let us know if you have ideas for a future episode.

The Biltmore

June 13, 2021

Filed under: life,review,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 13:11

My wife and I stayed on the Biltmore property in Asheville, North Carolina last week. I knew little about it prior to booking the trip. The more I learned about it, the more interested I became. The 250-room home, covering 16,630 sq meters (179,000 sq ft), is the largest in the U.S. and resembles a European palace. It was completed in 1895 by owner George Washington Vanderbilt, the grandson of Cornelius H. Vanderbilt, who created enormous wealth from railroads and shipping. The mother of CNN’s Anderson Cooper is Gloria Laura Vanderbilt. Her grandfather, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, is George’s brother.

The mansion includes 35 bedrooms and 65 fireplaces. We spent a couple hours inside but did not see all of it. Several rooms and spaces stood out. The large swimming pool was interesting, especially given that pools and swimming were not common back then. The primitive nature of the gym was captivating, yet not that different from those of today. The setting of pins in the two-lane bowling alley was not automated, but the design made it easy to return the balls to the players.

                                

The technology in the building was years ahead of its time. An elevator, powered by electricity, was functional in 1895 and is still operating today. We saw it taking people up and down. A much smaller version for food and tableware, called a dumbwaiter, is adjacent to the kitchen. The house included five electric refrigerators, including a walk-in unit. The home’s 43 bathrooms were complete with plumbing, bathtubs, and toilets, but only two had sinks with running water. I recall my parents not having indoor plumbing in their farmhouses 40+ years later.

I found the visit to the Biltmore house intriguing. I had no idea a home with such impressive technology of the time was in the U.S. We stayed at one of two hotels on the property, making it convenient for visiting the many gardens and hiking/biking trails, winery adjacent to our hotel, and mansion. Both staff and visitors were extremely friendly. I highly recommend a visit to the Biltmore.

Newest ODD Guitar

May 29, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 08:01

By Noah Mostow and Terry Wohlers

Olaf Diegel, an associate consultant at Wohlers Associates, is a world-renowned designer of one-of-a-kind products, including musical instruments. His Beatlemania guitar was covered in a previous blog post. Other instruments he has created can be found at the ODD website. Olaf has used additive manufacturing (AM) to produce these impressive products, but it has been difficult to create full-color parts by AM in the past. Fortunately, relatively new machine technology has become available that overcomes this limitation.

Recently, Olaf worked with Mimaki to create the 3D-printed body of his Scarab ST guitar. Mimaki is the manufacturer of a system that prints photopolymer parts in up to 10 million colors using a material jetting process. In a previous version, the body of the guitar was manufactured using a powder bed fusion (PBF) system in white polyamide. Color was added after the guitar body was printed, but it required hours of sanding, masking, and detailed artistry using air or paint brushes. The newest version of the guitar, shown in the following image, was 3D-printed in full color, without the need to manually add color. The neck, frets, pickup, bridge, and other parts are standard and were not 3D printed.

                                

The time to 3D print the guitar’s body was 31 hours. Water-soluble support material was removed in a “bath” in about 12 hours. The Mimaki process produced a wood-like appearance, along with transparent wings for the bugs inside the body. Creating these complex patterns and structures by hand, or with conventional manufacturing, would have been time-consuming at best. To learn more about the process of creating this guitar and some history from Olaf, watch Lucas Crossley’s interview with Olaf and Josh Hope. Lusas and Josh are with Mimaki.

The Ride of a Lifetime

May 16, 2021

Filed under: life,review — Terry Wohlers @ 05:59

I recently finished The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger. It has become a new favorite of mine. Iger served as Disney’s CEO from 2005 to 2020 and led the entertainment giant to a period of enormous growth. Early in the book, it became clear that he is incredibly bright, hardworking, passionate, and caring of people. He is a person of great integrity and is a terrific role model.

                                                           

As CEO, he guided the acquisitions of Pixar for $7.4 billion, Marvel ($4 billion), Lucasfilm ($4.06 billion), and most recently, 20th Century Fox in 2019 for $71.3 billion. The first three had generated nearly $34 billion for Disney at the box office, as of August 2019. Under Iger’s leadership, the company’s net income increased more than 400% and market capitalization grew from $48 billion to $257 billion.

Everyone in business should read this book, not because of Iger’s success, but for who he is as a person and leader. He discussed an almost countless number principals throughout the book—ones that most of us can apply at work and in every-day life. Few titles receive an average score of 4.8 with more than 10,000 ratings at Amazon. When you read it, you will know why.

3D-Printed Meat

May 2, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,future,life — Terry Wohlers @ 09:02

By Noah Mostow and Terry Wohlers

Nearly every week, we see a new headline on 3D-printed meat. More than a handful of companies are working on it, but none look like the real thing. If we step back from the visual appearance of these first prototypes, it could be an excellent application of additive manufacturing. Full disclosure: Only occasionally do I eat meat. I prefer alternative forms of protein for many of reasons, including taste and ease of cooking.

It is uncertain whether plant-based meats will develop to become exactly like beef, pork, lamb, or chicken, but it is likely to get close. 3D-printed meat alternatives, such as Beyond Meat and Redefine Meat, are not meat as we know it. If you have tried an Impossible burger and concluded it does not taste like meat, you are right because it is not. Most meat substitutes include a combination of water, legume proteins, oil, and seasoning.

                                            

Meat alternatives is a new category of “meat” that are safer to cook and will someday be less expensive. To many of us, they also taste great. 3D printing will take it from burgers and sausages to something that looks and cooks like a prime cut of beef and maybe one day, more complex structures, such as chicken wings. With 3D printing, it may be possible to someday produce a steak that offers a better experience, compared to an actual steak.

If you have never tried a meat alternative, I urge you to give it a try, while considering how the ingredients are put together. 3D printing will eventually revolutionize meat production by optimizing the most ideal marble and the perfect fall-off-the-bone ribs.

Beyond these reasons to get excited about 3D-printed meat, it will have a major impact on reducing carbon emissions from animal-based proteins and feedlots. These alternative products could go a significant distance in feeding the world’s population.

Custom Rings

April 16, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,review — Terry Wohlers @ 15:47

I recently discovered The Future of Jewelry (TFOJ), a company that produces custom jewelry. It was founded by sisters Casey and Janine Melvin. Both left law school to start the company in 2017 and serve as co-CEOs. TFOJ’s initial focus has been on custom rings. I had the opportunity to test-drive the company’s customization platform recently and designed a ring with our company logo on it. The experience was good, and the design turned out nicely, as shown in the following images.

                           

The steps involve choosing the style of ring and selecting and designing parts of it. I chose the Oxford style from six options. I then picked silver for the material and entered my ring size of 19.5 mm. After uploading our company logo, I experienced some difficulty in getting it to produce correctly on the face of the ring. It was because our logo has a 3D effect and shading, so the problem was not with the TFOJ platform. I adjusted the logo to omit these effects and it created perfectly. The platform supports the importing of JPG, PNG, and BMP, as well as STL, OBJ, and GLTF, which was a nice surprise.

The TFOJ workflow involves a high-resolution 3D printer to produce patterns for the investment casting process. The company outsources precious metal casting work to a network of companies in the U.S. I have not yet received the custom ring because I ordered it just days ago. My experience with the platform was so good that I decided to create and order a second one with a different logo. I am looking forward to receiving both. Thanks to Casey and Janine for developing such an interesting and easy-to-use platform for producing custom jewelry.

Another Supply Chain Collapse

April 3, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,event,future,manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 13:56

By Noah Mostow and Terry Wohlers

The five-day block of the Suez Canal underscores the instability of our global supply chains. Nearly everything around us requires global connections. The canal is a critical route for products from Asia to Europe and the east coast of the U.S. With it closed, millions of consumer goods were blocked. The alternative is to transport them around the southern tip of Africa, which is a dramatically further. Fortunately, as you may know, the ship was freed and the passage cleared, but it could have been delayed much longer.

Like the pandemic, the blocked canal exposed a problem with our supply chains. Additive manufacturing (AM) is not a perfect solution for all types of parts, but it provides a quick and agile manufacturing process. Both have been discussed in length, so we want to share an idea of what the future might look like.

                                              

The next time a disaster disrupts a supply chain, we can be prepared, and physical stockpiles of replacement parts may not be the answer. Instead of parts sitting on shelves and racks, the inventory is digital, coupled with machine capacity and feedstock. The designs are fully tested for 3D printing, a proactive step for any manufacturing process. The next disaster may be worse, so the future should not rely solely on smooth supply chains. We can start to prepare for this reality today.

If passed by U.S. Congress, proposed bipartisan legislation would invest $1 billion to manage a partnership involving the federal government, private industry, and state and local governments focused on the manufacture of critical products. The bill would establish an Office of Supply Chain Preparedness within the Department of Commerce. It has the support of America Makes, the nation’s leading and collaborative partner in additive manufacturing and 3D printing technology research, discovery, creation, and innovation.

How Wohlers Report 2021 was Produced

March 21, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,education,future,manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 16:38

By Noah Mostow

Helping to develop Wohlers Report 2021 was an unbelievable experience. The report was published last week. I learned that it takes an army of bright and dedicated individuals. This year, 88 co-authors and contributors from 34 countries were a part of it. My primary role was to research and write new sections on a wide range of subjects related to additive manufacturing and 3D printing. Also, I edited content provided by the contributors, and collected and processed data from more than 130 companies.

                                             

Organizations from around the world generously responded to our requests for information. They supplied us with the some of the most detailed information available in the AM industry. Much of what was supplied is sensitive, making the job even more challenging. As a part of the team, I saw data as it arrived. This work eventually led to our conclusion that the AM industry grew by 7.5% in 2020. From the stories told by those who contributed to Wohlers Report 2021, the past 13 months have been challenging. Even so, many companies see a big potential for 2021 and 2022.

I hope you enjoy the new applications and other developments from across the industry in the new report. My personal favorite is 3D-printed food. Perhaps, I will write blog post on it at another time. The secret to this report, in my view, is the dedication, excitement, and attention to detail from Terry Wohlers. Over the past few months, he would arrive at work early—often by 4:00 am—to help produce this industry-leading report. Many refer to it as the “bible” of 3D printing. For more information about Wohlers Report 2021, click here.

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