I believe 3D Printing could be a great opportunity for the astute in the commercial printing industry. There are a ton of synergies and built in industry crossovers.
1. As commercial printers were already in light manufacturing. We all have employees most them with creative and mechanical skills.
2. Most of us have the warehouse space with light manufacturing equipment such as digital printers, wide format printers and offset presses. Adding a 3D Printer would not be a stretch.
3. We are used to the rigors of customized manufacturing, high quality standards and providing outstanding customer service.
4. 3D Printing has almost limitless opportunities. Find a unique niche your interested in and passionate about and reinvent your business.
5. You have a built in customer base to go out to and talk about 3D Printing. You will find simply by having conversations about 3D Printing and technology, you will drive more traditional print business to your front door. You will separate yourself from the competition.
The addition of 3D Printing will differentiate your business and could be the shot in the arm you have been looking for!
A California based company is taking 3D printing to a whole new level by offering to print tissue on demand for research and surgical applications. Organovo use muscle cells that are specially prepared and loaded into a 3D printer to print lines of cells onto a cell culture dish. The cells can then grow and connect with each other forming usable muscle tissue that cannot be told apart from anything taken out of a human body.
This new technology could prove to be critical in drug research by helping researchers identify drugs doomed to fail before they hit clinical trials. Testing on animal tissue can fail in other trials due to the differing nature of animal tissue and cultures because they are so different to their human counterparts. This has the potential to save major drug companies a significant amount in US dollars and as of today Organovo has managed to build several types of tissue.
Other approaches, which are in an experimental stage, such as using ink jet printers to transfer cells to a cell culture dish. Organovo differs in that it allows the deposited cells to communicate with one another in the same way they would in a human host. They are densely packed together and incubated; this allows them to support each other, trading chemical signals in the process. When printed they are kept closely packed in a thick liquid that allows growth, migration and opportunities to line themselves up in a proper fashion.
As of today only minute tissue samples have been created by Organovo. However the main priority is to create full replicates of organs that can be used for transplants and research. Rejection is a huge issue when it comes to transplants; this may become less of an issue as using this technology the tissue is grown from the patient’s own cells chance of rejection will be dramatically reduced.
Funding for the research into organ printing is being financed from its tissue printing service that is helping researchers detect whether a substance can damage a living or non-living organism much earlier than is usually possible as highlighted earlier. It has partnered with large companies, such as Pfizer, to aid them with their research.
It is obviously early days for this start up company, but with big names such as Pfizer funding their main research there is hope that this emerging and powerful use for 3D printing has a huge future ahead of it. But I feel we are a long way off printing out own replacement organs but it does have a certain Sci-Fi feel that we may be able to simply print off replacements for our decaying bodies!
A contest has opened for those skilled in the art of 3D modelling, instructables.com are offering the chance to win an Objet 30 3D Printer with 6 months worth of printing materials. The printer itself is worth $50,000, is able to work with 4 different colors, has a dpi of 600 x 600 x 900 and is able to print objects of 300mm x 200mm x 150mm in size.
They are also giving away 10 Up! 3D printers which is a personal portable 3D printer designed for portability and retails at $2690 as a first prize, along with this you’ll be given a 3D print of your choice up to the value of $1000. Also up for grabs is the chance for twenty runners-up to be given free 3D printing services.
To enter all you need to do is post an ‘Instructable’. What is an Instructable? It’s basically the name given to clear step by step guides on how to create an item, whether this is has any pratical use matters not. But they are all shared by the users of the web site and are called Instructables. Your Instructable is eligible if your item was created on a computer and can be brought to life in the real world.
So all you need to do is create a 3D object that can be printed on a 3D printer and give instructions on how to do this. This could be a previous work you have done and you are OK to share it with other users, or it could be a chance to be creative and design something from scratch.
Software and guides for those with little modeling experience can be found on 123D along with the opportunity to receive, from a choice of, a free: t-shirt, mug or USB pen drive if you share your creation on their gallery and links to it in their Instructable. People that do this are also eligible for the Judges Prize which is the same as the first prize offered by Instructables.com of a Up! 3D Printer and 3D print.
You can enter as many times as you wish but you can only win one of the prizes on offer and is open to anyone from the US, Canada, UK and Australia until midnight April 30th 2012. So get creative and win some fabulous prizes!
Minecraft is a vastly popular independently published game in which users are able to shape the world around them and create large scale objects limited only by their imagination. Unfortunately it seemed that your creations would only exist in its virtual playground, but now thanks to a program called Mineways, you will now be able to bring your creations into your world thanks to your 3D printer!
Available to download here the latest version runs on Windows or on Linux through Wine. It is an open source program based on the popular Minecraft mapping program Minutor. The program is able to export your minecraft creations in full colour allowing you then to print out in plastic for all to see or you can even allow your creations to be sold via shapeways. As of writing there are close to 6000 models designed through Minecraft available at the shop, with prices ranging from $1.50 for a model of the deadmau5 logo to over $6000 for a model of the Lost City of Horobus! For the entrepreneur in you it may be a way to monetise your Minecraft adventures.
Yours for only $6000
This video shows how easy it is to use the program:
The Minecraft World is infinite, and so should your imagination be. If you feel you have created something amazing on Minecraft and you reside in the US, Curse.com are having a competition. Submit your Mineway creation for a chance to win a printed Minecraft model up to the value of $630. Even if you have a 3D printer it’s an opportunity to get your model printed for free.
Although with its blocky creations Minecraft may not have the smoother aesthetics you would get through creating a model in a more advanced 3D modeling program, It does allow a wider audience to put their imaginations on screen and may be a stepping stone to using similar or more advanced 3D modeling programs.
3D printing has taken another step into the mainstream with controversial file sharing website Pirate Bay offering templates of 3D objects for download. Pirate Bay have classified these as ‘Physibles’ and offers the ability to download objects such as: a teddy bear, a cowboy hat and a pen stylus for touchscreen device such as a Nintendo DS or smartphone.
A spokesman for Pirate Bay has said:
One of the things that we really know is that we as a society will always share. Digital communication has made that a lot easier and will continue to do so. We believe that the next step in copying will be made from digital form into physical form. It will be physical objects. The benefit to society is huge. No more shipping huge amount of products around the world. No more shipping the broken products back. No more child labour.
So far looking at the objects available it is mainly models that can be downloaded with the stylus mentioned above being the only object with any real world use. But it has however pushed this futuristic view into a wider audience thanks to popular news outlets, such as The Guardian and the BBC, giving this once hobbyist activity some limelight and analysis.
It is early days and the collective imagination of the wider public may give way to some more interesting uses. Imagine downloading an MP3 as a vinyl record or obtaining a spare part for your washing machine from across the globe within minutes!
We can only hope that this emerging technology is not stifled by companies worried about, whilst at the moment far-fetched, potential piracy. However with printers costing around $1000 along with the costs for the raw materials, it may be a while before the dream of printing your own parts, models and even machines becomes a feasible and economically viable option.
One of the coolest 3D Printer manufacturers out there is Makerbot which was founded in January 2009 by Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer, and Zach Smith and one of their newest and coolest 3D Printers is the Makerbot Replicator. Check out these YouTube video of founder Bre Pettis showcasing the Makerbot Replicator:
From the Makerbot website:
The MakerBot Replicator™ is the ultimate personal 3D printer, with dual extrusion (2-color printing)–and a bigger printing footprint, giving you the superpower to print things BIG! Assembled in Brooklyn by skilled technicians, the MakerBot Replicator™ is ready within minutes to start printing right out of the box.
Personalized manufacturing using a MakerBot Replicator™ opens up a world of innovation, customization and creativity. Create your own 3D designs or download one of the thousands of models from Thingiverse.com, and turn your ideas into real, physical objects.
With the MakerBot Replicator™, you can invent the future and also be a hero around the house. Make shower curtain rings, bath plugs, door knobs, or create custom gifts for special occasions. Design it, MakerBot it and give it away. With a MakerBot Replicator™, you’ve got an inexhaustible supply of awesome.
The MakerBot Replicator™ – A Tool from Tomorrow, Today
The MakerBot Replicator™ is a new way of making the things you want and need. The MakerBot Replicator™ embodies the spirit of innovation, allowing you to make things right when you need them and right where you are. Instead of going shopping, MakerBot it!
Plus, if there’s an apocalypse this year, those with a MakerBot Replicator™ will be equipped to create anything needed for survival. Get a MakerBot Replicator™ to create the things you’ll need when the world ends and stores close down.
Fully Assembled, Factory Tested, Dedicated Support
Each MakerBot Replicator™ is assembled by hand in the MakerBot workshop in Brooklyn NY. If you have questions or need our assistance, the MakerBot Support Team is available to make sure you have a positive experience, right out of the box. When you get your MakerBot Replicator™, you’ll have your machine up and running in no time.
Make It Big
The MakerBot Replicator™ makes big things. With a build envelope that’s roughly the size of a loaf of bread, it gives you the power to go big. Make an entire chess set with the press of a button. Friends, co-workers, and family will see the things you make and say “Wow!”
Big Decision: Should you buy a single or dual extrusion MakerBot Replicator™?
The new MakerBot Stepstruder™ MK8 is the extruder part of the machine that turns raw feedstock into the objects of your desire. This engineering marvel sits at the the heart of every MakerBot. The MakerBot Stepstruder™ is built on years of successful engineering. You can order your MakerBot Replicator™ with single or dual MakerBot Stepstruders on it. By choosing the dual extrusion option, you’ll print with two different colors at the same time. MakerBot Dualstrusion™ unlocks the ability to make beautiful combinations of colors and opens the door to experimenting with multi-material objects. Choosing a single extruder makes the machine cheaper for those wanting to explore the power of the MakerBot Replicator™ on a budget.
Onboard Interface Controller
Each MakerBot Replicator™ now ships standard with an LCD panel and video-game-style control pad. The LCD screen provides build statistics and monitoring information, and full control of the machine without the use of a computer. Using the SD Card slot, you can load models and begin builds directly from the control pad. Pack up the Bot, and grab your SD Card and you’re ready to go to your friends birthday and make all the party favors. Print anywhere!
Open Source Hardware
MakerBot Industries believes in the power of sharing. We encourage MakerBot Operators to publish their designs to Thingiverse so that others may be inspired by their work and build on it. We lead by example by sharing the machine designs including the lasercut files and the software that runs our machines.
Single-extruder machines include one kilogram spool of natural ABS plastic, and dual-extruder machines include two kilogram spools, one natural and one black!
• The MakerBot Replicator™ is assembled and tested prior to shipment.
• Go big! With a print volume of more than 300 cubic inches, you’ll be making things the size of a loaf of bread.
• A new world of color. By choosing the dual extrusion option you can make multicolored objects.
• Low cost consumables. Print in either ABS (what Lego® is made of) or PLA (a bio-material made from corn).
• Build envelope: 225 x145 x150 millimeters or 8.9 x 5.7 x 5.9 inches
• Build Volume: almost 5 liters
• Layer thickness: Choose .2-.3mm with stock nozzle.
• Stock nozzle diameter: 0.4 mm
• Speed: 40 mm/s
• Flow rate: approximately 24 cc/hr
• Maximum recommended extruder temperature: 230 C
• Maximum temperature for heated build platform: 120 C
• Positioning precision: 2.5 micron on Z axis 11 micron on XY axes
• MakerBot MightyBoard single-piece motherboard
• 5 axis, 1/16 micro-stepping motor control
• 4×20 LCD character display and multi-directional control pad
• Piezoelectric buzzer
• Software-controllable RGB LED lighting
• Controlled through ReplicatorG™
• Compatibility: Linux, Windows, and OSX
• Print from SD card or over USB
• Input file type: STL, gcode
• Works with ABS, PLA, and other materials
• Filament diameter: 1.75 mm
• Linear ball bearings
• Precision ground 8 mm shafts
• Durable ABS injection-molded parts
• Snap-on, snap-off carriage assemblies
• Overall dimensions: 320 x 467 x 381 millimeters or 12.6 x 18.4 x 15 inches
• Shipping weight: 32lbs
I don’t know about you, but I want a Makerbot. It’s not cheap at over $1700 but this is a new technology and new technologies require some of us to jump in early so that they can become cheaper in the future. And from what I can see, it’s worth every penny!
I spend a lot of time pondering where 3D printing technologies are going to take us in the future. Some of my ideas are out there, and some are just plain common sense. All point to 3D printing being the next big, disrputive technology. But here is one that I hadn’t thought of. A company called Layerwise has created a new lower jawbone for an 83 year old British woman which was subsequently surgically implanted. Watch the YouTube Video:
LayerWise applied Additive Manufacturing (AM) to produce an award-winning Titanium total lower jaw implant reconstruction. To treat a senior patient’s progressive osteomyelitis of almost the entire bone, surgeons opted for such a complete implant the first time ever. LayerWise specialists printed the patient-specific implant design incorporating articulated joints and dedicated features. The complex reconstruction has been implanted successfully. It restored the patient’s facial esthetics and allowed her to regain her speech within hours.
Amazing! I hadn’t thought about the potential for 3D printing to be used within the human body for physiological needs but it makes so much sense. I can now see a day where you go in for your yearly physical and they take a full body image that is saved to a hard drive somewhere and should you ever need a specific part of your body constructed, and exact replica can be made via a 3D printer. And I see no reason why at some point we’d not be able to reconstruct actual organs as well. Need a new heart? Wait five minutes while the 3D printer prints one up.
A fantastic technology that will no doubt play a roll in 3D printing is Electron Beam Melting (EBM). This technology allows 3D Printers to create a three dimensional metal object out of powdered metal by means of a powerful electron beam. In other words, yes, you can create your titanium wrench now. Check out the videos at the right on arcam, it’s pretty amazing to watch. As they say:
In the EBM process fully dense metal parts are built up layer-by-layer of metal powder melted by a powerful electron beam. Each layer is melted to the exact geometry defined by the 3D CAD model. The Electron Beam Melting technology allows for high energy to be used providing high melting capacity and high productivity.
Parts are built in vacuum at elevated temperatures resulting in stress-relieved parts with material properties better than cast and comparable to wrought material.
For each layer of powder the electron beam first scans the powder bed to maintain a certain elevated temperature, specific for different alloys. Thereafter the electron beam melts the contours of the part and finally the bulk.
Anyone who doesn’t realize that 3D Printing will be the next disruptive technology and driver of jobs is behind the times.