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Morris Technologies

July 23, 2012

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

Note: The following was co-authored by Tim Caffrey and Terry Wohlers

Morris Technologies, Inc. (MTI) and its sister company, Rapid Quality Manufacturing (RQM), are located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Together, the two organizations employ 135 people and house 20 direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) systems from EOS—the largest DMLS capacity in the world—as well as an electron beam melting (EBM) system from Arcam. MTI also has extensive CNC machining capabilities, including a new 5-axis CNC machining center. MTI and RQM are worldwide leaders in the development and production of metal parts using additive manufacturing.

MTI began to offer additive manufacturing services in 1994, and was the first company in the U.S. to install DMLS equipment. These moves helped to transform a business that had been in the Morris family for several generations. MTI invested heavily in DMLS when it was relatively new, which was bold, even risky, at the time. In hindsight, the choice has put MTI at the forefront and is now closely aligned with some of the largest and most prestigious aerospace and medical companies in the world. We believe the decisions made by Greg Morris, CEO/COO at MTI, have proven to be genius.

From the start, Morris established a large research and development department, which has helped MTI to be innovative with the DMLS process. The company has modified its DMLS systems to enhance the material properties and has developed process parameters for new metal materials, including aluminum 6061-T6 and stainless steel 17-4 PH. Another core capability at MTI is its ability to work closely with its customers—from design to manufacturing—and co-develop designs that work for the DMLS process. Building the parts in the DMLS system is an important part of the overall process, but only a part. MTI has developed processes for the removal of supports/anchors, heat treatment, and finishing and polishing parts. Recognizing the vital importance of post treatment, the company has invested in the equipment and know-how to apply the HIP (hot isostatic pressing) procedure, and is now one of the few in the country that offers it.

With 20 engineers on staff, MTI continues to focus on R&D, process parameters, and new products. Meanwhile, RQM remains solely focused on metal part production. Both companies have ISO 13485, ISO 9001, and AS9100 quality certifications.

Greg Morris continues to steadily guide his companies into a new era of AM metal parts by focusing on process qualification and repeatability, quality, and regulatory compliance. What’s more, his leadership and on-going willingness to share information are helping to move the entire AM industry forward. We recognize and appreciate the valuable contributions he and his companies are making to the fast-growing additive manufacturing industry.

Why Most Adults Will Never Use a 3D Printer

July 7, 2012

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,future — Terry Wohlers @ 07:46

Many have speculated on whether everyday consumers will purchase and use a 3D printer. With prices dipping to $350 for a kit and $550 for an assembled system, they are certainly affordable. Some believe that a 3D printer will someday be in every home and used to produce replacement parts as household products break or wear out.

As shown by Shapeways, Materialise, FutureFactories, Ponoko, and others, consumers are definitely interested in products made by additive manufacturing and 3D printing. Shapeways claims to be producing more than 90,000 parts (about 25,000 products) per month by AM, with a high percentage going to consumers. For years, Materialise’s .MGX division has offered striking lighting designs, sculptures, and other products, with consumers paying hundreds of euros for one of them.

Indeed, consumers have an appetite for products made by additive manufacturing. However, most consumers will never own or operate a machine to produce these products. Instead, they will go to Shapeways, Amazon, or to another service or storefront to purchase these products. Most will not know, or even care, how the products were made—no different from the way they now purchase products. Consumers only care about receiving good value.

Someday, a company will offer a very low-cost, easy-to-use, and safe 3D printer targeted at children. This market opportunity, I believe, is very big because children like to imagine, create, touch things, play, and entertain themselves. These kids will be producing vehicles, action figures, puzzles, and just about everything imaginable. They are our future designers, engineers, and manufacturing professionals.

Most parents and adults are not candidates for a 3D printer. They do not want to mess with the data, manufacturing process, clean-up, and finishing of parts and products. Even if they owned or had access to a machine, it would probably not be capable of producing parts in the right material with the mechanical properties, color, surface finish, and texture needed for the part(s) they are trying to create or replace. These types of parts will continue to be produced by industry professionals and that’s why most adults will never use a 3D printer.