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July 20, 2014

Stelarc is a performance artist and designer that has lived much of his life in a Melbourne, Australia suburb. He was born in Cyprus as Stelios Arcadiou and changed his name in 1972. His work focuses mostly on the belief that the human body is obsolete, but its capacity can be enhanced through technology.

I first met Stelarc in 2005 at the VRAP 3D printing event in Leiria, Portugal. Travel prevented me from attending his presentation, although he was kind enough to provide me with an eye-opening set of printed images and a DVD. Many of his technical developments and works of art are unusual—some of which you’d have to see to believe. Entering “Stelarc” into Google and clicking Images will give you an interesting sampling.

I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Stelarc again nine days ago in Brisbane, Australia. He gave an intriguing presentation at a one-day 3D printing event organized by Griffith University. People in the audience of 170 were visibly stunned by his work. An example was the 2007 video footage showing a team of surgeons constructing an ear on his left forearm.


The skin was suctioned over a scaffold, which was made of porous biomaterial. Tissue in-growth and vascularization then followed over a period of six months. This resulted in a relief of an ear. The helix needs to be surgically lifted to create an ear flap and a soft ear lobe will be grown using his stem-cells. A small microphone will then be inserted and the ear electronically augmented for Internet connectivity. Thus, the third ear will result in a mobile listening device for people in other places.

I was especially impressed by Stelarc’s knowledge and understanding of biomedicine, robotics, prosthetics, and 3D printing. The content that he presented and discussed and the questions he answered showed that he is not only an artist, but a designer and maker of complex machines and systems. In recent years, he has used 3D printing extensively to support much of his work.

Stelarc is a Distinguished Research Fellow and the Director of the Alternate Anatomies Lab, School of Design and Art, at Curtin University, which is located in Perth, Australia. He has many awards and honors to his credit, including an honorary doctorate from Monash University in Melbourne.


AM Demand Will Exceed Supply

July 3, 2014

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,future — Terry Wohlers @ 09:43

Note: The following was authored by Tim Caffrey, senior consultant at Wohlers Associates. It was originally published July 3, 2014, and updated and republished July 9, 2014.

Over the past decade, several major trends have emerged in the additive manufacturing (AM) industry. Two of them are 1) the rapid growth of metals, and 2) a marked increase in production applications. Yet, outside of dental copings and acetabular (hip cup) implants, these two key developments have not converged in a significant way. That changed in May 2013 when GE Aviation announced its plan to manufacture all fuel nozzles for its LEAP engine using metal AM. With 19 fuel nozzles per engine, production is scheduled to reach 40,000–45,000 units annually in six or seven years.

The announcement was one of the most significant milestones in the history of the AM industry. A major corporation publically declared its confidence in AM for a demanding production application in a hostile and critical operating environment. At the same time, this development created a new concern: Will supply keep up with demand? According to Greg Morris of GE Aviation, the fuel nozzle production would require about 60 systems working around the clock using today’s AM metal technology.

A July 1 story on the German news website Wirtschafts Woche reported that GE Aviation intends to order 100 metal systems from EOS. An official announcement is expected during the Farnborough International Airshow later this month. We have since learned that this story is inaccurate. According to GE Aviation, no order has been placed. A vendor has not been selected and the number of systems to be ordered has not been determined. While unit sales of metal AM systems increased 75.8% last year, according to our research for Wohlers Report 2014, production capacity at AM system manufacturers is still relatively low. An order of this magnitude would certainly jolt EOS’s production capability and tax its resources. It will also produce a ripple effect for other metal AM system manufacturers.

One can assume that the GE fuel nozzle is the first of many metal production parts launched, and more from the aerospace, medical, dental, jewelry, and (eventually) automotive sectors will follow. Can the AM industry meet this demand? We believe that the metal AM supply chain—consisting of system manufacturers, material suppliers, and certified service providers—will not be able to keep pace with demand.