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Center of Excellence is Driving Innovation

January 23, 2022

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,future — Terry Wohlers @ 17:11

by Mohsen Seifi

The Additive Manufactuirng Centre of Excellence (AM CoE) is a unique program to accelerate standardization through focused research at ASTM International. It has gained significant interest from the AM community over the past three years. I often heard that a lack of standards delays broad adoption of AM. The development of consensus-based standards requires significant time. The primary reason is an absence of robust and reliable data to establish standards. Hence, we introduced the concept of Research-to-Standards, the first of its kind from any standard development organization. The goal is to reduce AM standards development time by providing the required data through research. The idea is now becoming a reality. With the first few rounds of research projects, we have demonstrated the impact of the program.

Knowledge is key. We realize the AM community needs to be empowered to understand the capabilities of AM and to generate interest to follow the technology as it expands. So, we took the mission of educating the workforce at all levels through webinars, formal training, conferences, and workshops. The scope of the AM CoE further expands to certification programs, and industry consortium. All of this is with a common goal of maximizing the potential of 3D printing as a next-generation method of manufacturing.

The future is exciting for the AM CoE. We are moving fast to catch up with the pace at which the AM technology is growing. We want to be a catalyst in driving the growth of AM by collaborating with the best minds in the industry. Several programs have been planned for 2022 to engage with the community and provide access to a wider network of experts. The AM CoE, has a vibrant, dynamic, and energized team of experts to explore all the possibilities to serve the industry and meet new challenges.

Skiing by Helicopter

January 9, 2022

Filed under: life,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 14:26

Heli-skiing is something I have always wanted to do and I got a chance last Wednesday near Whistler, British Columbia. Due to a lot of new snow and poor visibility, the service was suspended the previous four days. My wife and I rolled into Whistler the night before, so I woke up the next morning not knowing whether it would happen, although the forecast was favorable. I got up, had breakfast, geared up, and headed to the “powder hut” and heliport. All systems were “go,” so the excitement quickly mounted.

As with other extreme sports, heli-skiing comes with risk. Among the top are avalanches, tree wells, and crevasses. One of our two guides, named Rob, was experienced and mature and possibly only slightly younger than me. With these and many other activities, nothing replaces experience. He gave a lengthy, detailed, and hands-on briefing on safety and the use of the shovel, probe, and transceiver. (A transceiver is a combination of a transmitter and receiver in a single device). Each of the 11 of us carried all three items, and I was one of three carrying a radio. Rob was clear on what we should and should not do around the helicopter and other elements of heli-skiing. When we were near the five-ton aircraft, we were required to always move low and slow.

The skiing was amazing. Many of the turns were waist deep—something I had never experienced. The Whistler area had received 132 cm (52 inches) of snow in the days leading up to Wednesday morning, and I was told it was unusually dry and light, which made for ideal conditions. We were lucky.

The heli-rides, mountains peaks, and deep powder skiing were absolutely mind-blowing. It is one of those activities in which you ask yourself, “Am I really doing this?” It ranks up there with jumping off a bridge 43 meters (141 feet) above a raging river and encountering lions and great white sharks in Africa. Would I do it again? Yes!

Best Products of 2021

December 29, 2021

Filed under: life,review — Terry Wohlers @ 07:45

At this time of year, I look back and reflect on products I purchased and like a lot. The following are those that rank near the top.

32-inch computer monitor ($280): The product from LG provides 2560 x 1440 resolution and excellent quality, especially for the price. It attaches nicely to my Ergotron sit-stand workstation, which I have had for many years and highly recommend.

Webcam ($22): Much better ones are available, but not for this price. I carry it with me when I’m on the road because the video and audio are far superior to those built into my Dell laptop. It offers 1080P HD, a camera privacy cover, and a decent microphone.

Wireless headphones for TV listening ($200): The Flex 5000 digital system from Sennheiser works beautifully. We bought it because I turn in earlier than my wife and the TV sound system prevents from sleeping. Now, she can watch her favorite programs late at night and not make a sound.

Moderna vaccine (free): My wife and I received our first shot the day our age group became eligible in March 2021, followed by a second dose. Both of us received our booster last month. Thankfully, the vaccination significantly reduces our risk of getting COVID-19, seriously ill, or hospitalized.

Best wishes to you for a safe and fantastic 2022. Happy New Year!

Looking Back on 2021

December 12, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,event,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 14:10

by Noah Mostow

This past year has been interesting, exciting, and different than I had expected. At the beginning of the year, COVID-19 cases were spiking and now the omicron variant is spreading globally. I feel so fortunate we have been able to gather at industry events, including America Makes TRX, Formnext, ICAM, and RAPID + TCT, to name a few. Thank you to the organizers for creating the space for the AM industry to come together again. By mid-summer, things were improving, but it looks like COVID-19 could affect our lives for years to come.

The pandemic taught many of us how to work remotely. Even so, it cannot entirely replace in-person networking and collaboration. Even so, I believe the pandemic has made us more resilient while working globally nearly daily. The economy has mostly recovered, yet some supply chains continue to struggle.

We cannot look back at this year without noting the influx of acquisitions and initial public offerings. Desktop Metal acquired Envisiontec, Aerosint, and ExOne. 3D Systems acquired Oqton, a producer of a manufacturing execution system, while selling its surgical simulation and service provider businesses. At one point, we began to wonder if multiple AM-related companies would be acquired each month. Wohlers Associates was acquired by ASTM International in Q4 2021.

The year was also active for companies going public, with six having initial public offerings through mergers with special purpose acquisition companies. It is too early to know how this might impact the industry.

Make sure to listen to the latest episode from the Wohlers Audio Series. Melissa Orme, vice president of additive manufacturing at Boeing, provided thought-provoking ideas and insight. You can find it at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and our website.

Formnext 2021

November 28, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,education,event,manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 07:40

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from a special 21-page report on some of the most interesting developments and recent trends uncovered at Formnext 2021. It was written exclusively for the members of America Makes. Go to this page to learn more about membership. Twelve individuals from ASTM International’s Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence contributed to the report.

Thankfully, Formnext is back in-person. This year, 17,859 people from 76 countries attended the four-day exposition in Frankfurt, Germany. This represents a decline from 2019, but several of the 606 exhibitors said the quality of conversations was better, compared to two years ago. The exhibition was spread across three halls, covering 30,000 sq m (322,917 sq ft) of floor space.

One day prior to the exposition, an international gathering of industry experts convened for the Standards Forum at Formnext. It was organized by U.S. Commercial Service, ASTM International, and ISO in partnership with Mesago, the organizers of Formnext. The full-day event focused on the industrialization of AM through standardization.

Software companies presented new design platforms and manufacturing execution system (MES) solutions. Many software products have emerged, almost to a point where it is becoming crowded. Users often must work with and coordinate between multiple products to produce designs for AM.

From our perspective, the event was a major success. The AM industry is advancing with new and improving materials, processes, applications, workflows, and end-to-end solutions. Formnext 2021 Digital Days will be held virtually November 30 – December 1, 2021. Formnext 2022 is planned for November 15–18, 2022, in Frankfurt.

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.

End-to-End AM Workflow

October 4, 2021

Filed under: uncategorized — Terry Wohlers @ 07:54

By Noah Mostow

Additive manufacturing (AM) is not a one-step process. The manufacturing workflow for metal PBF parts can include 10-15 distinct steps and operations. Each one requires tracking and documenting to maintain a record of activity and efficient workflow. As production scales, something would inevitably get lost without a well-developed and proven system.

Companies in the AM industry are developing and adopting manufacturing execution system (MES) solutions for workflow management. MES platforms help plan and monitor every step in the process. These tools will help 3D printing develop into a reliable manufacturing process and expand into the mainstream. Like order tracking at Domino’s Pizza, companies can monitor the entire workflow of AM parts using MES.

Many small companies have little tracking beyond Excel. In a recent conversation with the CEO of a solutions provider, the executive said the cost for companies to adopt MES is not significant.

Over the past few months, the industry has seen excitement around MES solutions. Materialize acquired the option to buy Link3D, a cloud-based MES company, in July 2021. 3D Systems acquired Oqton in September 2021 for $180 million. At last month’s RAPID + TCT 2021, Markforged released its Eiger Fleet software, a platform for scaling AM operations. Wohlers Associates believes that most users will somehow be impacted by these and other MES offerings in the future, resulting in significant improvements in the AM workflow.

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.

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