Tag: 3D printing

Xerox moves into metal 3D printing

Source: RTM

US printing giant Xerox has moved into metal 3D printing with the acquisition of New York-based start-up Vader Systems – creator of the first liquid metal 3-D printer for manufacturing. The process uses aluminum, which opens up potential signage applications.

Led by father-son team Scott and Zach Vader, Vader Systems has designed and created what’s believed to be the first liquid metal 3-D printer for manufacturing. Vader’s technology is able to produce parts at rapid speeds, low costs and with minimal waste by using wire feedstock to print up to 1,000 metal droplets per second. The process uses a range of aluminum alloys.

Xerox has not disclosed details of the deal, which was announced last week at its 2019 Investor Day.

The company says it’s also looking at the high-speed plastics printing market, with both plastics and metals expected to move into commercial production this year.

“We are leveraging our experience and expertise in digital printing to polymer and metal 3D printing technologies and will introduce new equipment, materials, services and design tools to the market,” said Xerox in a statement.

“Manufacturing customers want to use 3-D printing, but the current offerings only serve the prototyping market well, not broad manufacturing. Xerox developed, acquired and partnered printing software and material technologies are expected to deliver the productivity, materials range and cost and design tools to enable part manufacturing.”

Xerox CEO John Visentin said last year: “We are developing a roadmap to participate in 3D printing. We currently manufacture 3D print heads that we OEM, where we have differentiated capabilities around print technologies, materials, toner and software that will enable 3D printing to move to the next level of adoption for the production of end-use industrial products.”

Here’s the million-dollar question: will 3D printing be the game changer journalists like me are so eager to dub it, or is it a niche technology that’s destined to become even less relevant as flexible automation solutions and collaborative manufacturing robots decline in price? Is there really a role for 3D printing outside of prototyping?

Smart people spend a lot of time thinking about these things, so I reached out to one of them.

John Hornick is the author of the new book, 3D Printing Will Rock the World. He has been a counselor and litigator in the Washington, D.C., office of the Finnegan IP law firm for over 30 years and has lectured on 3D printing all over the world.

ZDNet: There’s been a lot of promise around 3D printing, and certainly it’s making its way into lots of industries, but the revolution still hasn’t arrived. Why not? What are the hurdles?

JH: On the industrial side, the barriers are repeatability and quality, speed, and the need for advanced materials. But don’t believe the 3D printing industry isn’t growing. The CAGR of the industry has been 26.2% for 27 years and 31.5% for 2013-15. Gartner predicts full industry adoption of 3D printing by 2019.

ZDNet: Where is 3D printing making the biggest impact now?

JH: As I explain in my new book, 3D Printing Will Rock the World, available on Amazon in paper or Kindle), the poster children for 3D printing today are the aerospace and health-care industries. The companies using 3D printing for aerospace are among the largest and most influential in the world, and they are using 3D printing to streamline manufacturing and reduce costs. But people will probably notice the effects of 3D printing on health care sooner than they notice the effects in any other area. The adoption of 3D printing by these industries is giving the technology visibility and credibility, and helping to drive the industry forward.

Boeing is a big user of 3D printing. It has been 3D printing for many years and flies tens of thousands of 3D printed parts. Boeing calls 3D printing “the ultimate manufacturing method for us.”

NASA 3D printed a rocket injector that not only reduced 160 parts to 2, but can withstand temperatures in excess of 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit and more than twenty thousand pounds of thrust.

Airbus expects to be 3D printing thirty tons of metal airplane parts by 2018. One of its first 3D printed achievements was a wing bracket, traditionally manufactured with many steps. With 3D printing, it was made in one step. Airbus’s A350 XWB aircraft contains over a thousand 3D printed parts.

GE believes that 3D printing “is the future of manufacturing” and that by 2020 well over 100 000 end-use parts in GE engines will be produced with 3D printing. The first part will be a fuel nozzle. By 3D printing this nozzle, twenty parts are reduced to one, which weighs 25% less than the traditionally manufactured nozzle but is much more durable.

In health care, Walter Reed Army Medical Center has 3D printed titanium cranial implants and replaced a woman’s jaw with a 3D printed prosthetic. In 2013 doctors replaced 75% of a man’s skull. In the United Kingdom, doctors replaced half of the pelvis in a man with a rare type of cancer. Tens of thousands of replacement hip cups have been printed and implanted into patients.

Other 3D printing developments in health care include customized coverings for artificial limbs and cosmetic ears. About 95% of all hearing aid shells are 3D printed. The molds for about 17-million teeth aligners are 3D printed every year. 3D printed tracheas and tracheal splints are almost routinely saving newborns with serious breathing problems.

The human heart is the subject of considerable 3D printing efforts. Aorta cells have been 3D printed at Sabanci University in Turkey. The University of Louisville expects to 3D print a human heart by 2023. To save existing hearts, Washington University in St. Louis is developing an elastic, 3D printed membrane that wraps around the heart like a glove. Its embedded sensors detect impending problems, and embedded electrodes deliver a life-saving shock when serious arrhythmias are detected.

A great medical application for 3D printing is surgical models and guides. Models of patient organs are being 3D printed and studied by surgeons before the first incision. Surgeons at Miami Children’s Hospital 3D printed a replica of a four-year-old girl’s heart to plan her complicated surgery. Doctors at Boston’s Children’s Hospital practiced on a 3D printed model of a teenager’s brain before operating on the real thing. Texas Children’s Hospital 3D printed the hearts, lungs, stomachs, and kidneys of twins conjoined at the chest and abdomen so that surgeons could plan and practice their separation, which was a success. 3D printed models are also being used to train tomorrow’s brain surgeons.

ZDNet: How is the technology changing and improving? What’s on the horizon in the short-, mid-, and long-term?

JH: The machines are getting faster, combining different 3D printing processes, and combining 3D printing with traditional manufacturing processes. HP’s Multi Jet Fusion machines, which combine three or four types of 3D printing technology, as slated to go on sale later this year. Toshiba will begin selling its industrial metal 3D printer in 2017, which it says will be ten times faster than existing metal machines. Canon has announced a fast machine for production parts fast and Epson says “We want our machines to make anything” by 2018. Boeing and nScrypt have also announced machines that build parts in true 3D, rather than simply layering parts linearly in the z dimension.

ZDNet: Where (which industries) will 3D printing make the biggest impact in the years ahead?

JH: In the near term, aerospace, healthcare, and the military will see the biggest impact from 3D printing. The military’s use will cut across all types of technology. In 5 years, most industry will be affected, especially parts-based businesses. Over those 5 years, companies from outside the 3D printing industry will enter it, like HP, Toshiba, Canon, and Xerox. Over the next 10 years, industrial and consumer 3D printing technology will move closer together. 10 years from now, most homes will have a 3D printer. It may be a general purpose machine or it may be a purpose-built machine that has a particular, limited function.

ZDNet: What do people often get wrong about 3D printing, or what surprises people most?

JH: People are often surprised that 3D printing is as advanced as it is, and that the industry and adoption of the technology are growing so fast.

ZDNet: Will the tech ever scale to become relevant in manufacturing, as opposed to being a prototyping tool? How/why?

JH: Although 3D printing may eventually be capable of mass production, such a goal is not its strength. The technology is perfect for making customized parts, complex designs, one-off parts, and low to moderately sized production runs. 3D printing is already in widespread use for manufacturing production parts, especially in aerospace and health care, which are taking full advantage of the strengths of the technology. I gave some examples above.

By Greg Nichols for www.zdnet.com

The first 3D-printed drug to receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now being shipped to pharmacies.

Pennsylvania-based Aprecia Pharmaceuticals says its 3D-printed Spritam (levetiracetam) tablets are used to treat epilepsy. The company is also working on at least three other 3D-printed drugs that it expects to eventually bring to market.

Aprecia says it used some off-the-shelf 3D printer parts but mostly developed its own technology to create the drugs, layer by layer at its East Windsor, N.J. manufacturing facility. The new process, which it calls ZipDose, stitches together multiple layers of powdered medication using an aqueous fluid to produce a porous, water-soluble matrix that rapidly disintegrates with a sip of liquid.

There is no increased efficiency in producing the pill with 3D printing; the technology simply allows the company to better manipulate the drug’s composition compared with traditional press and die pill-making technology, according to Aprecia Pharmaceuticals spokesperson Jennifer Zieverink.

Levetiracetam, the generic name for Spritam, has been available for the treatment of seizures for 15 years. But the new brand Spritam is the first to use the proprietary 3D-printing process to create a more dissolvable pill.

“It’s an option for some folks…looking for something easier to swallow than an intact tablet,” Zieverink says.

More than 10 years ago, MIT developed the basic technology for 3D-printed pharmaceuticals. That technology was later licensed by Therics, according to Terry Wohlers, president of Wohlers Associates, an independent consulting firm.

Therics “3D-printed many pills on an experimental basis, but it never took off commercially,” Wohlers says in an email reply to Computerworld. In 2008, Therics was acquired by Integra LifeSciences Holdings Corp.

“The MIT patents have since expired, but it’s possible that Therics developed additional IP. In some ways, Therics was many years ahead of its time,” Wohlers says.

3D printing could also someday enable custom drugs, Wohlers says, describing a scenario where a doctor sends a prescription to a pharmacy that uses a printer to create a custom formulation based on the special needs of a patient.

“The potential is large, in my opinion, but it will take many years for it to gain strong commercial traction, especially due to the requirements of the FDA,” Wohlers says.

By Lucas Mearian for www.computerworld.com

Global spending on 3D printing hit nearly $11-billion in 2015, according to International Data Corporation (IDC). By 2019, that figure will surge to nearly $27-billion.

The IDC’s “Worldwide Semi-annual 3D printing Spending Guide” forecasts a 27% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2015 to 2019, when worldwide spending on 3D printing is expected to hit $26.7-billion. More affordable 3D printers and 3D printing materials are credited for the industry’s growth in the past three years.

Asia-Pacific, the US, and Western Europe are expected to increase their combined share of global spending on 3D printing from 59,2% in 2014 to 70% by 2019, according to IDC. China is projected to become the leading market for 3D printing hardware and services.

Through the first three quarters of 2015, worldwide shipments of 3D printers rose 35% year, according to data from IT market research company CONTEXT, cited by investment research firm Morningstar.

“Of the total 173 962 units shipped year-to-date, 95% of these were personal/desktop printers, mostly priced below $5 000,” according to the firm. This reflects a 38% year-over-year growth for this subcategory of the industry. The industrial/professional segment, however, declined 3%.

Taiwan-based XYZprinting was the leader in the desktop/personal printer space through the first three quarters of 2015, boasting a 17% global market share. 3D Systems (12%), Stratasys (9%), Ultimaker (9%), and M3D (9%) rounded out the top five.

By Jason Hahn for www.digitaltrends.com

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