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RAPID + TCT 2021

September 19, 2021

Last week, Wohlers Associates attended the first major in-person conference and exposition on additive manufacturing and 3D printing since November 2019. It could not have gone much better. RAPID + TCT 2021 was held September 13-15 at the McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. SME and Rapid News Publications, the organizers of the event, expected about 5,000 people to attend, but an actual number has not yet become available. The event included 263 exhibitors and 185 speakers, making it the largest event on additive manufacturing and 3D printing in North America.

People were genuinely happy to see one another after nearly two years, even though smiles were hidden by masks, which were mandatory. I could see it in their eyes. When we sat down for coffee, a snack, or a meal, masks could be removed. Time and again, I heard people say that seeing others in-person was a highlight of the event and I could not agree more.

Congrats to SME and Rapid News Publications for working through the daily uncertainty and holding the event. The past 18 months have not been kind to these and other organizations in the business of holding conferences, seminars, and other types of meetings. I hope the worst of the pandemic is behind us, even though we do not know what the future holds. Fortunately, last week was a step in the direction we were hoping for, thanks to the success of RAPID + TCT 2021.

Football

September 5, 2021

Filed under: entertainment,event,life — Terry Wohlers @ 11:18

Thankfully, American football is underway. With the pandemic, last season was somewhat of a dud. Autumn is one of my favorite seasons, partly because of the sport. My wife and I attended our first in-person football game Friday night in nearly two years. The overall experience was good, although the Colorado State University Rams played horribly and lost. I am afraid it could be another difficult season. What is unclear to many of us is why the university hired a coach that never won more than half of his games. Steve Addazio is now 58-59 as a head coach at the college level.

Having grown up in Nebraska, we also watch the Huskers, a team that has also struggled in recent years. Many of us believed coach Scott Frost, a four-year starting quarterback for the Huskers and Nebraska native (he grew up 37 miles from my hometown), would bring the program back to its former glory. In his fourth season, it is uncertain whether it will happen. As head coach of the University of Central Florida, Frost took an 0-12 team to 12-0 in two seasons. So far, his “magic” has not worked in Lincoln.

I am less interested in professional football, but the Denver Broncos may be the team to watch. It had a good preseason, so maybe this success will extend into the regular season, which begins September 12. Meanwhile, we will continue our support of the Rams and Huskers, hoping for a turn-around for both programs.

Limits to 3D-printed Gear

August 24, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 18:23

By Noah Mostow

I returned this week from a month of remote work while traveling through the east coast and mid-west. One of my favorite activities is kayaking on lakes and rivers. Recently, I came across Melker, a Swedish company that produces 3D-printed kayaks. The company uses a bio-based composite material and large-format material extrusion systems to create full-size kayaks. The boats are beautiful and can range from 480 cm (189 in) to 586 cm (231 in) in length. These boats are beautiful and sustainable, but it is daunting to travel a distance with them.

While traveling, my girlfriend and I had two inflatable kayaks from Advanced Elements with us. I have been using them for the past few years and they are work great. They track well (i.e., go straight) and are rugged. During our trip, we paddled the Cuyahoga River in Akron, Ohio and went over many rocks in shallow rapids. What I like most is that each fit into a 76 x 43 x 20 cm (30 x 17 x 8 in) duffle bag and can be inflated in less than five minutes. We never had to worry about them being stolen from the top of the car or breaking from hitting a rock. To underscore their transportability, we fit four people, four kayaks, and all our gear into a Volkswagen hatchback multiple times.

Over the past few years, the outdoor industry has begun to adopt additive manufacturing. I am excited about this because 3D printing can improve the gear’s performance, aesthetics, and sustainability. However, for now, I will stay with my inflatable kayak because nothing travels as easily, costs as little, and is as durable.

In-Person Events Resume

August 9, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,education,event — Terry Wohlers @ 09:35

By Noah Mostow

Last week, Wohlers Associates was represented at an in-person event, the first in more than 18 months. America Makes’ Technology Review and Exchange (TRX) was held at Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus, Ohio. Nearly 200 participants attended to network and attend presentations on a range of subjects, including in-situ print monitoring, hybrid AM, and materials research. Speakers were from organizations that use AM, government agencies, universities, and producers of AM software and systems. More than half of attendees had never attended a TRX event before, including me.

On the first day of the event, the Open-source Additive Scanning Implementation Strategy (OASIS) challenge winner was named. In partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory, teams worked to create and optimize scanning patterns for metal powder bed fusion. In the end, nine teams submitted code, but only a handful produced successful builds. The raster scanning pattern can improve or destroy the quality of parts being built. The team at OSU won the challenge.

The second day of the event began with a panel that included Shawn Springs, CEO of Windpact. More than 20 years ago, he was a cornerback at OSU, playing in the stadium near the conference venue. Springs discussed the use of 3D printing for impact protection solutions (i.e., helmets).

A mask mandate was implemented at OSU the day before the event began. Even so, it was great to attend our first in-person conference in 1.5 years. Networking, which can be a challenging for virtual events, was also fantastic. Terry Wohlers and I look forward to attending next month’s RAPID + TCT 2021 in Chicago.

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.

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