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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.

Response to Pandemic

May 16, 2020

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,event,future,life — Terry Wohlers @ 16:27

On Monday of this week, an important event occurred. It was the first in the recently announced Virtual Game Day Series with Wohlers Associates. Monday’s virtual event, titled America Makes COVID-19 Response, attracted about 250 people. The panelists included:

  • Matthew Di Prima, PhD, Materials Scientist, FDA
  • Meghan McCarthy, PhD, Program Lead, 3D Printing Biovisualization, NIH/NIAID/OD/OSMO/OCICB
  • Beth Ripley, MD, PhD, Chair, VHA 3D Printing Advisory Committee, Veterans Affairs Health Administration, Innovation Ecosystem
  • John Wilczynski, Executive Director, America Makes
  • Moderator: Terry Wohlers, Principal Consultant and President, Wohlers Associates, Inc.

Additive manufacturing (AM) is playing an important role in the pandemic, especially where supply chains are disrupted. Thousands of AM systems are operating across the U.S., so local responses to the need for personal protection equipment (PPE) are occurring where traditional manufacturing is more involved. “We’ve seen it play a significant role in face shields and it’s filling a gap in the conventional supply chain for them,” Wilczynski said. Not all of it is for healthcare providers. Some has gone to the broader community, such as those working at grocery stores, restaurants, municipalities, and in shipping. Riply said that tapping into this manufacturing capacity is big, especially at a time when traditional manufacturers are pressed to deliver products. Distributed manufacturing models could become increasingly interesting in the future as local and regional disasters occur, Di Prima explained.

As of Monday, more than 523 PPE designs were submitted to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) 3D Print Exchange, a repository of designs hosted by NIH. Eighteen designs have been reviewed for clinical use and 14 have been optimized for community use, McCarthy said. She went on to say the site has seen more than 200,000 page views and a lot of interaction among users. This capability is central to the response and has had an impact.

America Makes brought together the FDA, NIH, and VA and launched the initiative just eight weeks ago. It has come a long way in a short time. The group, made up of the four panelists, have talked every day since the beginning.

The initiative is helping manufacturers understand where they can help. The group is providing clarification around complex questions on how to make products that can be used safely. A lot is based on a risk-benefit analysis, especially where few alternatives are available, Riply explained. The biggest thing to come out of this response is a trusted resource, explained Wilczynski. Di Prima has found that hospitals are showing increased interest in 3D printing parts because of the pandemic.

Will this response to COVID-19 create a change in the adoption of AM in the medical industry? For years, the industry has adopted AM in a substantial way for surgical planning models, drill and cutting guides, orthopedic implants, hearing aids, and dental parts. The medical industry has already been a large adopter of AM, Di Prima clarified. Even so, the work and learning surrounding the response to the coronavirus will help both the AM and medical industries better and more quickly respond to supply chain gaps when widespread emergencies occur in the future, McCarthy stated.

Will we look at this time as a turning point in the AM industry? Wilczynski said, “Yes.” It will open the eyes to the capabilities of the technology, he said. This experience is teaching us how to mobilize quickly in response to emergencies, with people ready to do the work, McCarthy explained. This initiative could not have happened without these four organization coming together. One of the groups on its own could not have done it, she said.

Following the panel was an interesting opportunity for virtual networking, which worked exceptionally well. Up to six people could “sit down” to a theme-based table or join a virtual lounge to discuss specific topics related to the pandemic and AM. Among the labeled tables were face shields, face masks, swabs, ventilators, designers, manufacturers, health care community, medical devices, maker community, and member mobilization. The networking on these and other topics was about as close as you can get to actual in-person meetings. Link3D supported the event by sharing its experience with Remo, an online platform for conferencing, meetings, and other activities.

Investment

February 23, 2020

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,education,event,future,money — Terry Wohlers @ 10:03

In the recent past, we have tracked investments totaling nearly $1.5 billion in additive manufacturing (AM) products and services worldwide. These dollars are critical to the future of AM and its developing ecosystem. Without it, countess companies offering machines, materials, software, and services would not survive. Investment dollars do not ensure success, but it gives companies, especially startups, a fighting chance.

We believe it is important, even critical, for AM-related companies to have a strong understanding of the latest developments and trends in this industry. Likewise, it is vital for investors to have accurate information on AM at their fingertips. Without it, they cannot make the best possible decisions. That’s why we are conducting the Wohlers Associates Investor’s Dinner Sponsored by RAPID + TCT.

The April 20 event coincides with RAPID + TCT 2020, the largest and most successful gathering on AM in North America. The evening program is designed for institutional, private equity, venture capital, angel, and individual investors. If you or your company is investing in AM, consider this special opportunity. It promises to set you in the right direction. Space is limited, so register now.

World’s Largest Firework

February 9, 2020

Filed under: event,life — Terry Wohlers @ 07:49

Last night in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Tim Borden and three others broke the world’s record for the largest ever firework. A Guinness World Records official attended the event and said the 157-cm (62-inch) diameter shell was indeed the largest. The shell of nearly 1,270 kg (2,800 lbs) launched out of the mountain at 483 kph (300 mph). Mortar weighing seven tons and buried nearly 8 meters (26 feet) in the ground at Howelsen Hill near downtown Steamboat served as the propellent that hurled the shell out of the ground.

Seeing it live was spectacular! It lit the sky in a bright orange that I had never seen before. The event was part of Steamboat Springs 107th Winter Carnival. The firework came after a failed attempt in 2019 when it exploded prematurely in the ground. It resulted in a fountain of fireworks at the surface of the mountain that was seen for miles.

Attending the carnival was my first. The record-setting firework was the grand finale, but everything leading up to it was also impressive. People from age 5 to adults, lit up in colorful lights, performed skiing maneuvers and stunts on the mountain. It was really extraordinary to see.

The Edge of the Ledge

December 14, 2019

Filed under: entertainment,event,life,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 11:36

In February 1989, Diane and I were driving in the countryside near Queenstown, New Zealand when we saw some interesting activity on a bridge. It extended over a deep gorge down to a raging river. We pulled into a small dirt parking lot overlooking the scenic area and walked onto the bridge. A person was being geared up with straps and ropes for something we knew nothing about at the time. Those in charge said the person was about to jump off the bridge with an elastic rope connected to his legs. In astonishment, we saw him take the plunge.

Weeks after returning to the U.S., we read about bungy jumping on the South Island of New Zealand. This news was the introduction of commercial bungy jumping as we know it today. It originated at this place, named Kawarau Bridge, located 43 meters (141 feet) above the water. In recent years, I developed the urge to return. A big part of me wanted to make the jump, although another part was unsure about the idea.

Last Saturday, December 7, Diane and I drove to Kawarau Bridge, which now has a large parking lot, nicely constructed overlook to watch jumpers, and a substantial visitor’s center. Early that morning, the forecast showed possible sun at 2:00 pm, so I booked the time slot for the jump. It had been raining daily for more than a week—unusual for early summer in New Zealand—resulting in a rise of the river by nearly 10 meters (33 feet), according to the guy rigging me up. It turned out to be windy, raining, and cold, but the weather was the least of my worries. I made small talk with the staff and then realized I was not paying close attention to how things were being connected. I asked myself whether he fastened everything correctly, but I had no way of checking because the connections were covered by fabric and Velcro. This made me feel uneasy, but I could not turn back at that point.

Stepping up to the edge of the platform and taking a peek over it was terrifying. I tried not to look down when the attendant counted “5, 4, 3, 2, ….” and that’s when I made the last small step to the edge and pushed off. I bounced upward a good distance after the bungy fully extended, and I bobbed around for what was probably 30 seconds. The connections were sound. By then, my nerves were mostly calm, knowing the equipment was secure, and I would probably survive. About an hour later, the clouds had cleared and the sun was bright. Diane and I walked across the bridge to shoot pictures, soak up the rays, and relax after experiencing some adventure we discovered 30 years earlier.

Professional videography captured it all.

Formnext 2019

November 30, 2019

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,event — Terry Wohlers @ 18:00

Last week’s Formnext in Frankfurt, Germany was outstanding. Nearly 35,000 people attended, up more than 28% from last year. Four large exhibition halls were nearly filled with 852 exhibitors, an increase of 35% over 2018. These companies showed their latest products and services related to additive manufacturing and 3D printing. We had a team of five people there, yet it was difficult to see it all. Mesago, the organizers of Formnext, did a great job with every facet of this fast-growing international event.

On Wednesday, the inaugural Wohlers Associates Investor Dinner Sponsored by Formnext was held. The event sold-out quickly, so we secured a larger room at the Grandhotel, located within walking distance of Frankfurt Messe where Formnext was held. Nearly 50 people attended from 15 countries, spanning from Poland and Israel to Saudi Arabia and Australia. The feedback was favorable, so we are looking ahead at next year.

If you work in AM, Formnext is the place to be in November. Many interesting discussions and business deals are conducted there. Next year, it is 10-13 November, again in Frankfurt. I hope to see you there.

AM in India

September 15, 2019

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,event — Terry Wohlers @ 18:11

For years, additive manufacturing and 3D printing have been put to work in India for concept modeling, design validation, prototyping, and some tooling. Organizations in the U.S., Germany, and other countries are pushing hard to adopt AM for production applications, with India showing similar interest. AM is the subject of a session at the 11th NASSCOM Design & Engineering Summit on September 26-27, 2019 in Bangalore. I’m excited about participating in this important event.

In 2018, AM in India was dominated by growing interest in metal AM systems, according to Mukesh Agarwala, managing director of 3D Product Development (3DPD) of Bangalore, India’s largest AM service provider. Agarwala contributes a summary on AM in India for publication in the annual Wohlers Report. He said that Indian organizations in the oil/gas and IT sectors are currently evaluating ways in which AM might help their businesses.

AM machines, materials, and services in India in 2018 were an estimated $100+ million, according to Agarwala. While this is not insignificant, it represents only about 1% of the global AM total of $9.8 billion, according to Wohlers Report 2019. Even so, the opportunity in India is vast. As more educational, research, and corporate entities understand the many benefits and competitive advantages that AM offers, adoption will increase to become significant.

Dave Bourell Honored

August 26, 2019

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,event — Terry Wohlers @ 10:55

Note: Ray Huff, associate engineer at Wohlers Associates, authored the following.

Two weeks ago, Wohlers Associates attended the 30th annual Solid Freeform Fabrication (SFF) Symposium in Austin, Texas. The event brought together more than 700 attendees from 25 countries to present and discuss research on additive manufacturing (AM). Dave Bourell, PhD, of the University of Texas at Austin opened the event by recalling the nascent stages of AM 30 years ago and the many contributors to the technology since that time.

Terry Wohlers, introduced as the “Indiana Jones” of AM, continued this discussion in a keynote presentation by highlighting key developments since 1987. He then called Bourell back to the stage to name him an honorary associate consultant of Wohlers Associates. Bourell is only the third in the company’s 32-year history to be given this distinction. His contribution to the research community and AM as a whole is far-reaching and inspiring. Bourell continues to serve as the principal organizer of the SFF Symposium. He is also one of three associate authors of Wohlers Report 2019.

Bourell was given a special Wohlers Associates lapel pin, which is shown in the previous image. The pin was 3D-printed in titanium by the Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing at Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Martin and Short

July 15, 2019

Filed under: entertainment,event,review — Terry Wohlers @ 18:00

Steve Martin and Martin Short were in northern Colorado on Friday for a two-hour show filled with comedy and music. Martin and Short are among my favorite comedians. They have been in many movies and television programs such as the Three Amigos and Saturday Night Live. Martin also starred in Father of the Bride, The Jerk, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Parenthood, The Pink Panther, and many others.

The evening began with clips from classic movies and SNL skits to warm up the audience at Budweiser Event Center near Loveland. Martin and Short then appeared to a warm applause and launched into hilarious stories about friends, family, celebrities, and themselves. Throughout the evening, the two took many friendly jabs at one another. They had the audience laughing and in tears. I’m glad my wife and I, along with friends, attended the show.

In the coming weeks and months, Martin, 73, and Short, 69, will perform in other parts of the U.S., as well as in Canada and New Zealand. If you like good, live comedy from two of the very best, book an evening with them. You won’t regret it.

World Economic Forum

June 18, 2019

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,event,future — Terry Wohlers @ 10:49

I attended a first-ever 3D printing and additive manufacturing event organized and hosted by the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco. The June 3, 2019 workshop, titled 3D Printing and Trade Logistics: Impact on Global Value Chains, involved 18 invited company executives, government officials, and others from many countries.

The World Economic Forum is an independent and non-profit international organization that engages political, business, and other leaders to shape global, regional, and industrial agendas. It serves as a platform to bring together public and private sector stakeholders to tackle global issues. In this context, the workshop was organized in two phases. The first explored significant issues that may be raised by the proliferation of 3D printing, followed by ways in which they might be addressed with many working together.

Venkataraman “Sundar” Sundareswaran of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp. did a fine job at organizing the workshop. He is currently serving as a fellow at the World Economic Forum to bring 3D printing to the forefront. The group of 18 participants split into three workgroups on three separate occasions to identify and prioritize major issues, followed by the generation of ideas for addressing them.

“Workforce displacement and skill gaps” was identified as the top issue. University and industry training, coupled with retraining programs and government incentives, were named as likely solutions. “Governance of IP, legal issues, cyber, trade, and customs” was ranked as the second biggest issue. Among the possible solutions: national strategies, new laws, technology, and self-regulation. “Supply chain disruption” was determined as the third most important issue. The group cited new taxation models from government and standards development, principally by industry, as ways to address it.

The next challenge and opportunity for the World Economic Forum is to tackle these issues. A good foundation has been set. I’m looking forward to staying engaged and helping however we can to advance the development and adoption of 3D printing technology worldwide.

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