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ASTM International Has Acquired Wohlers Associates

November 15, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,future — Terry Wohlers @ 10:15

by Terry Wohlers

ASTM International, a global leader in the development of consensus standards, has acquired Wohlers Associates. I could not be happier about the acquisition! Our primary goal was to find a great home and future for our products and services. ASTM International has committed to growing and expanding them for many years to come. I know our current offerings, including the Wohlers Report, will now continue beyond my years.

Wohlers Associates is integrating with ASTM International’s fast-growing Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence (CoE), which is based in Washington, DC. The AM CoE is focused on transitioning research to applications through standardization. Also, it supports education and workforce development and provides advisory services. This work supports the growth, maturity, and economic success of the AM industry. With ASTM International’s focus and investment in AM, I am ecstatic about what is ahead.

Together, we can accept a wider range of projects with a larger team to support them. We are already working closely with the technical experts at the AM CoE. As the head of Additive Manufacturing Market Intelligence, I will help create new opportunities for advisory services, publications, education and training, and industry briefings. I will also be involved with the development of the Wohlers Report.

This month marks the 35th anniversary of Wohlers Associates. It has been a fantastic run, but I am not leaving the industry any time soon. I could not be more pleased to be a part of ASTM International and work with the fine people at the organization over the next several years. Stay tuned for more great things to come.

Travel and Events Ramp Up

November 1, 2021

The next two months are full of travel and in-person events. A year ago, COVID-19 cases were spiking, and industry events were postponed, cancelled, or made virtual. In contrast, November 2021 has three major in-person AM industry events. Not all, but many people are willing to travel and are excited about it. RAPID + TCT 2021 in September was a good example of what we may see at the upcoming events. Business is being conducted and the rapid exchange of information is underway. The past 18 months taught us how to work productively from home, yet it does not replace in-person meetings and discussing business over a meal or beverage.

ICAM 2021 and RAPDASA 2021 will be held this week on opposite sides of the world. The sixth ICAM event is organized by ASTM International’s Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence. The conference has an emphasis on transitioning research to applications. This is the 22nd year for the RAPDASA event, which is being held in Pretoria, South Africa. Ian Campbell, associate consultant at Wohlers Associates, is presenting the first keynote presentation.

In mid-November, the industry will converge in Frankfurt, Germany for Formnext 2021. At this time last year, it was held as a 100% virtual event. Excitement is growing as the industry convenes at this largest AM exposition of the year. Events will continue in December with the Defense Manufacturing Conference (DMC) in Aurora, Colorado.

The fifth episode of the Wohlers Audio Series was recently released. Terry Wohlers talks with Deon de Beer, chair of innovation and commercialization of AM at Central University of Technology in South Africa. Deon is one of only three honorary associate consultants at Wohlers Associates. The two of them discuss the current and future AM ecosystem in Africa. Deon is credited with putting South Africa on the additive manufacturing “map” worldwide. The work he and his teams have done in the country has led to world-class products and services. About everything he touches turns to gold. You can find the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and here.

An Era of Crowdsourced Funding

October 20, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 05:47

By Noah Mostow

Historically, companies were launched using personal savings or with support from family, friends, or angel investors. The funding system changed when Kickstarter was launched in 2009. It has since become one of the most popular crowdfunding platforms for entrepreneurs to raise capital and launch businesses.

With Kickstarter, people can give any amount of money toward a project they want to back. Only about 39% of projects reach their fundraising goals. Yet, in the past 10 years, Kickstarter claims that more than $5.9 billion has been raised for individual projects. In 2012, Formlabs launched a project to fund its Form 1 vat photopolymerization 3D printer. After just 30 days, 2,068 people backed the project with nearly $3 million in crowdsourced funding.

Today, launching a Kickstarter campaign seems almost ubiquitous for an entrepreneur, especially for 3D printing hobbyists and makers. At the time of this posting, a search on Kickstarter for 3D print produced 1,865 projects. Recently, Craig Brice, PhD, of the Colorado School of Mines launched a Kickstarter campaign for a metal 3D-printed wallet. (Craig served as my advisor when I completed a master’s degree in advanced manufacturing at the university.) The shell is made from aerospace-grade titanium and two sheets of carbon fiber. As expected, the wallet is extremely strong. The logo, color, and polish level can be personalized.

The crowdsourced funding model has its merits. Entrepreneurs can test their ideas with real customers. Support can later come from other investors, if needed, with data showing that the product has appeal. Crowdfunding is not necessarily how capital is raised when scaling a company. It remains mostly for startups.

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.

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.

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.

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