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TIPE 3D Printing 2021

January 11, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,education,event,future — Terry Wohlers @ 19:03

The TIPE 3D Printing event is less than 2.5 weeks away. (TIPE stands for technology, industry, people, and economics.) The organizer of the January 27-28 virtual conference is Women in 3D Printing. It features an all-female line-up of more than 120 speakers and panelists globally, which I find interesting and is a first. Women in 3D Printing has developed into an organization of more than 75 chapters in 28 countries, representing one of the largest additive manufacturing communities anywhere.

                              

Sara Safari is keynote speaker of the event. She is an author, professor, engineer, and advocate for women empowerment. Sara is clearly a high achiever in more than one way. She has climbed the seven highest peaks on every continent, including Mount   Everest, which I find remarkable. Sara grew up in Iran with few personal freedoms or rights under the law, so I am sure her perspective on an array of subjects will grip one’s attention.

Women in 3D Printing and TIPE serve as inspiration for females of all ages, but especially for those who are young. Seeing what this organization is accomplishing, coupled with the TIPE event, will surely motivate people to learn more about 3D printing and the career opportunities this vibrant industry offers.

Register now for the event. I look forward to seeing you there!

Where is My 3D-Printed Gear?

December 13, 2020

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,CAD/CAM/CAE,future,manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 06:47

Note: Noah J. Mostow, research associate at Wohlers Associates, authored the following.

With snow falling outside, I am often looking at my snowboarding equipment. It is all traditionally manufactured, along with all my outdoor gear. Where are the 3D-printed products?

It is easy to find 3D printers close to the engineers working at manufacturing companies that produce outdoor gear. For decades, many have used additive manufacturing to support modeling, prototyping, design validation, and testing. However, it is difficult to find more than a handful of products from these companies being manufactured by 3D printing.

Most outdoor gear is produced by conventional manufacturing due to the economies of scale. When I worked at Burton, 3D-printed bindings, goggles, and helmets were tested and validated in real-world settings. However, once a design was finished, tooling was made and the parts were manufactured with traditional methods such as injection molding.

The following image shows a concept snowboard binding that was designed with the help of AI and 3D printed on an HP Jet Fusion machine. It provides an opportunity to apply methods of design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) to create intricate designs with less material. However, it may be some time before this binding is at your local ski shop due to the higher costs associated with 3D printing.

                                           

To make 3D-printed parts commercially viable, companies will need to make some fundamental changes. Methods of DfAM are key to improving designs that take advantage of 3D printing’s strengths. Topology optimization was likely used in the pictured binding, which is good. However, I believe few parts were consolidated digitally and printed as one. This can dramatically reduce cost.

The outdoor industry could gain from personalizing products to fit and perform better for a user. Customers will pay a premium for this. Most challenges related to using AM for final part production can and will be solved in time. However, not all parts and products are a good fit for AM. Even so, to survive and thrive, countless manufacturers worldwide will develop the expertise and capacity needed to produce new types of products that are commercially appealing and perform better due to the benefits of AM.

Print Often, Learn Fast

November 14, 2020

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,CAD/CAM/CAE — Terry Wohlers @ 11:52

Note: Noah J. Mostow, research associate at Wohlers Associates, authored the following.

Years ago, 3D printing was generally referred to as rapid prototyping. Then and now, engineers and designers often experience inherent gaps between a 3D computer model and a physical part. 3D printing can turn an idea into reality and quickly expose mistakes, saving time and money.

A physical model or prototype does not need to be a complete part or idea. Depending on the application, the critical feature of the part may be the location of a hole or spacing for the cables to prevent pinching. These are critical features that one can quickly test with a small 3D-printed part. If you break down these critical features into individual elements, you can prototype them quickly and learn immediately.

A 3D printer can be a great investment for a company, designer, or engineer. A 3D-printed part can take minutes or hours, depending on the size of the part and the machine used. When a part is in your hands, you can learn from it in seconds. Learning also occurs from simulations and CAD models, but a 3D-printed part brings a concept to reality. With a physical part, one can learn more about its actual size, weight, ergonomics, and how it fits to mating parts. Also, a part makes it possible to test the ease or difficulty in assembly and disassembly. Some of this can be done using CAD, but you can learn so much more when you have a part in your hands.

                                                   

I once designed sunglasses that fold to the size of my palm. The idea was to consolidate 17 parts into one by designing for additive manufacturing. I questioned tolerances, the hinge, and the entire concept. Before continuing to move ahead with the design, I segmented the hinge and printed it. The print took 26 minutes and cost $0.19 in material on a small filament-based, material extrusion machine. I very quickly learned that the proposed design did not work, which saved me hours because I was able to immediately adjust the design. By 3D printing a small segment of a new product, I was able to learn so much in less than 30 minutes and at little cost.

Newest Member of Wohlers Associates

November 1, 2020

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,CAD/CAM/CAE — Terry Wohlers @ 20:28

Note: Noah J. Mostow, research associate at Wohlers Associates, authored the following.

I produced my first 3D-printed part while working at Burton Snowboards in Burlington, Vermont. The part is shown in the following image. Its purpose was to test transforming rotation into linear motion. I found a concept online, made a quick model of it in SolidWorks, and sent it to my mentor at Burton for his review. That Friday, I stayed late to learn how to load the part into the machine. Also, I waited to see the first layers of nylon spread across the build platform of the powder bed fusion system. On Monday, I arrived early to learn how to break out parts from the build. My first 3D-printed part was hidden between components for prototype bindings and goggles.

                                                        

The concept was not going to work for our application, but that was okay. It showed me how much and quickly one can learn from a physical concept model or prototype part. Since that day nearly four years ago, I have used 3D printing to prototype many new concepts and manufacture parts.

After leaving Vermont, I moved out to Colorado and was employed by 3D Systems Healthcare in Littleton. I worked my way up from a data entry job to becoming a biomedical engineer, designing craniomaxillofacial reconstruction surgeries. You can read about these types of procedures on pages 33–37 of Wohlers Report 2020. After nearly two years at the company, I was driven to learn more about additive manufacturing and enrolled in a master’s program on Advanced Manufacturing at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, not far from where I was working. I have learned from some of the best in the industry and been exposed to a wide range of new ideas and technologies. I am excited to bring my experience from academia, biomedicine, and sporting goods to Wohlers Associates. Also, I look forward to learning so much more.

                                                     

Away from the computer, I am an avid outdoorsman who enjoys traveling and getting into the colorful Colorado mountains. This lifestyle can be traced back to hiking through the woods of Akron, Ohio where I grew up. I am especially passionate about snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking, camping, fly fishing, and cooking. Interestingly, 3D printing is enhancing these industries, which makes them even more attractive to me. In fact, I have designed and printed a few personal parts to test new ideas. However, just like my first 3D-printed part, the initial prototypes are usually not the ideal solution. With every print, I am learning and improving, and someday, perhaps I will see one of my ideas become commercially available.

Women in 3D Printing

October 18, 2020

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 06:29

Women in 3D Printing, a non-profit organization, was formed in 2014 by Nora Toure of Fast Radius. In just five years, she helped build it into a community of more than 10,000 women worldwide. From the beginning, it has been her ambition to share stories of women helping to shape the additive manufacturing industry. Based on my experience over the past 30+ years, women are dramatically underrepresented in product development and manufacturing worldwide. In fact, the ratio may be close to 10:1, although it has improved slightly in recent years. Women in 3D Printing seeks to close this gender-gap in additive manufacturing. I fully support this goal of a better balance of women and men.

I have known about Women in 3D Printing for years, but it was not until November 2019 that I attended an activity by the organization. It was a panel session as part of the 20th annual RAPDASA conference and exhibition in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (RAPDASA stands for the Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa.) The panel was led by Malika Khodja of Tiziri. She serves as the African chair of Women in 3D Printing and is also a contributor to Wohlers Report 2020. I was impressed by the enthusiasm and quality of information shared at this engaging session.

                                  

The organization is showcasing, celebrating, and profiling the work of women leaders worldwide. They include engineers, business professionals, teachers, researchers, artists, and designers. Women in 3D Printing is creating a notable list of global events, gatherings, panel sessions, and company tours. Much of the work is conducted by its local ambassadors and regional chairs, such as Malika. Its many chapters meet regularly and encourage an inclusive and diverse AM workforce. The organization has created a database of female speakers, platform for hiring, industry surveys, reports, and an annual TIPE global conference, which is January 27-28, 2021. (TIPE stands for Technology, Industry, People, and Economics.)

I applaud and endorse the work of Women in 3D Printing. Many closest to the organization are “Rock Stars in 3D Printing,” in my view. In a spirit of support, Wohlers Associates recently became a corporate member and TIPE sponsor. Women in 3D Printing has become one of the most influential and largest AM communities worldwide. I urge you to support the important work of this impressive and fast-growing organization.

Game Day Series

September 19, 2020

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,event,future,manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 15:35

America Makes’ Virtual Game Day Series with Wohlers Associates concluded last week. The four events spanned four months and covered a range of key topics related to additive manufacturing and 3D printing. In all, 728 people worldwide attended the events.

Last week’s focus on the future of AM was an excellent conclusion to the series. Top managers and executives from five major industrial sectors shared their views of the future. The immense knowledge and experience among the panelists, coupled with great chemistry among them, resulted in a wealth of inspiring comments. YouTube videos of the four 90-minute panel discussions are now available.

GAME DAY 1
America Makes COVID-19 Response

GAME DAY 2
How AM Addresses Supply Chain Gaps and Distributed Manufacturing

GAME DAY 3
The Economics, Opportunities, and Challenges of Designing for AM

GAME DAY 4
The Future of Additive Manufacturing

                     

Thanks to everyone who attended and supported the four events, including Link3D for hosting them on the Remo conferencing platform. I hope everyone learned as much as I did.

Legend Scott Crump

September 11, 2020

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 06:51

Scott is the inventor of the most popular method of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing in the world. It is called fused deposition modeling (FDM), and about nine out of 10 AM systems are based on it according to our research for Wohlers Report 2020. I first met Scott in 1990 in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The purpose of the meeting was to learn about FDM, a process that few knew about at the time.

After 34 years, Scott spent his first day—last Friday—not working full-time for the company, transitioning from chief innovation officer to technology advisor to the board. Scott and his wife, Lisa, co-founded Stratasys in 1989. He served as CEO of the company for 25 years.

                                                    

Having known Scott for 30+ years, I can say without reservation that he is one of the most approachable executives I know. His sense of humor and willingness to put himself out there is unusual in the world of business. He will do and say things that you may never see or hear from most executives, but that is what I like about Scott. I believe it is a big reason why he has been so successful and why so many people like and appreciate him.

Scott is not leaving the AM industry. He said we can expect to see him around, probably online and at in-person events when they resume. He will no doubt continue to make himself available for interviews by the media and press. To me, he is a model C-level executive that I hope others would follow. It is refreshing to hear about technology and strategy without a “sugar coating” and scripted text written by marketing groups or PR firms.

Scott has been an inspiration to many and instrumental in shaping the AM industry. Without his involvement, it would not be as vibrant in recent years. Thank you, Scott, and congratulations for what you have done.

AM Terminology

June 29, 2020

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 09:44

Standard terminology for additive manufacturing and 3D printing is critical when communicating. It puts everyone on the “same page” and more accurately conveys thoughts and ideas when conversing, presenting, and publishing. Ignoring terminology standards and using whichever terms you prefer can cause confusion or worse.

The first version of the ASTM F2792 Standard Terminology for Additive Manufacturing Technologies defined 26 terms and was published in 2009. At the time, I served as the chairman of the ASTM F42.91 Terminology Subcommittee, so the subject is near and dear to my heart. This work led to today’s ISO/ASTM 52900 Standard Terminology for Additive Manufacturing, which is recognized worldwide. It includes nearly five pages of terms, along with additional pages of diagrams and information.

I cringe when I hear non-standard terms when formal industry standard versions are available and were established after a tremendous amount of work by many organizations and bright people worldwide. An example is “selective laser metal (SLM),” a term that some will use instead of metal powder bed fusion (PBF), the correct phrase according to the ISO/ASTM 52900 standard. One problem with using SLM is that it is a part of a company name (SLM Solutions), which offers metal PBF systems. The incorrect use of SLM could lead to a serious blunder when negotiating a legal agreement, for example.

The following are seven key terms and definitions from the ISO/ASTM 52900 standard. They represent the major processes that most AM systems fall within.

  • Material extrusion—an additive manufacturing process in which material is selectively dispensed through a nozzle or orifice
  • Material jetting—an additive manufacturing process in which droplets of build material are selectively deposited
  • Binder jetting—an additive manufacturing process in which a liquid bonding agent is selectively deposited to join powder materials
  • Sheet lamination—an additive manufacturing process in which sheets of material are bonded to form a part
  • Vat photopolymerization—an additive manufacturing process in which liquid photopolymer in a vat is selectively cured by light-activated polymerization
  • Powder bed fusion—an additive manufacturing process in which thermal energy selectively fuses regions of a powder bed
  • Directed energy deposition—an additive manufacturing process in which focused thermal energy is used to fuse materials by melting as they are being deposited

If you are not using these and other industry standard terms, I strongly urge you to do so. It will help with your communication, demonstrate your recognition of international standards, and reduce the possibility of errors and other problems.

3D-Printed Bike Saddle

June 14, 2020

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,life,review — Terry Wohlers @ 07:20

On June 3, 2020, Specialized announced the commercial availability of the first 3D-printed cycling saddle, the S-Works Power Saddle with Mirror Technology. A major part of the saddle is made with technology from Silicon Valley-based Carbon. The lattice-structure design is said to improve rider comfort and performance by absorbing impact and improving stability.

I received the saddle on Friday and the new design exceeded my expectations. I had read about it and saw pictures previously, but holding and studying it provided a far better appreciation for what went into the product. After shooting images of the new saddle, I mounted it to one of my new bikes from Fezzari, a relatively small but excellent consumer-direct manufacturer in Utah. Bikes from Fezzari have received many favorable reviews from the likes of Bike Magazine, Bikerumor, and Mountain Bike Action. I absolutely love my Signal Peak mountain bike and Catania road bike, both from Fezzari. I highly recommend both.

My first ride using the new saddle was short, but I found it exceptionally comfortable. I was told the saddle is designed for road bikes, but since my Catania it currently about two hours away, I tried it with the Signal Peak. It may handle the rigors of rocky trails, but I do not know, so I am checking with both Specialized and Carbon. Meanwhile, I plan to use it on one or more long road bike rides later this week in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I will try to share more after then.

With the new 198-gram (7-oz) saddle, Carbon and Specialized reduced the overall development process from a typical 18-24 to 10 months, while creating and testing more than 70 designs. Carbon’s 3D-printing technology reduced the design process from six to two months. Design iterations occurred in as little as one day. These are among the benefits of using 3D printing to develop a new product.

The new saddle is Carbon’s third production application in sporting goods, after running shoes from adidas and custom football helmets from Riddell. The S-Works Power Saddle sells for $450 and the company is currently sold out of them. In recent months, I have found that bikes and bike accessories have been difficult to get. Biking is an activity that people believe is safe, healthy, and fun, especially during a pandemic. If you’re looking for a comfortable bike saddle that is believed to improve performance, take a close look at the S-Works Power Saddle. Based on what I have read, seen, and experienced, it is a special product.

Distributed Manufacturing

May 31, 2020

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,education,event,future,manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 08:08

Most mass manufacturing is done at centralized locations. Many produce millions of products annually. Envision a future where this capacity occurs in many more locations much closer to the customer. Deliveries occur faster and less expensively. Relatively small quantities of products are tailored to the needs of the geographic area. Inventories are smaller, with true just-in-time delivery closer to reality for a greater number of companies and products. Functionality, quality, and value improve.

This development is slowly and quietly underway. It is being made possible from the flexibility and responsiveness of companies running additive manufacturing systems and ancillary processes. The diffusion of this approach is still small compared to the opportunity. Even so, it is real and exciting to watch develop. Most large manufacturing sites are not breaking up into smaller ones. Instead, entirely new products and businesses, such as custom eyewear, footwear, jewelry, spare parts, and after-market products are developing. Production runs are a small fraction of what a large factory produces.

How AM Addresses Supply Chain Gaps and Distributed Manufacturing is the subject of the second in our Virtual Game Day Series brought to you by America Makes and Wohlers Associates. This 90-minute panel session is on June 18 and is free of charge. Four experts will answer questions and address important issues associated with supply chain challenges and how distributed manufacturing and other factors can help address them. I have the pleasure of moderating the session. Virtual networking opportunities will occur before and after the 12:00 Noon ET panel.

Plan to be a part of shaping the future of our supply chains and distribution manufacturing by attending this event. Your questions and participation are welcomed. I hope to see you there.

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