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Posts Tagged ‘3D Printing’

January 22, 2014 by

Announced at the North American International Auto Show, vehicle manufacturer Ford is next among those who appreciate the time and money saving advantages of printing 3D molds to make parts. The company says that it can save up to two months manufacturing parts, which means more time can be spent on product testing and other ways of improving products and services.

 

While Ford is currently concentrating on printing molds to make parts, the future brings direct metal vehicle parts that are 3D printed without any molds. Other vehicle manufacturers are setting their sights on 3D printing as well, so Ford won’t be the only company to pursue this route.

 

Ford showed a pickup truck at the auto show, which used military-grade aluminum-alloy body panels that are 3D printed, effectively shedding 700 pounds from the standard total weight of the truck manufactured with their regular process. Imagine the improved gas mileage from the lesser weight.

 

While investors are going to reap the rewards of lower-cost and faster turn-around times, this gain should also be extended to consumers. 3D engineered parts mean better quality control and improved service. Perhaps the manufacturers will also extend the cost savings to consumers.

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January 16, 2014 by

If you have a spare $5000, 3DSystems is releasing a kitchen-ready food printer called the ChefJet, sometime later this year. It is geared more towards master chefs, bakers, and other high-end food preparers, but it will be available to anyone who can afford it.

 

It is very much worth mentioning that the $5000 counter-top ChefJet only prints in monochrome. If you want to get fancy and produce color, there is another model, the ChefJet Pro edition, costing almost $10,000 that will print in full color.

 

The ChefJet Pro will allow you to print the full CMYK color spectrum, with food-safe color dyes. With the purchase of either unit, you will receive what 3DSystems refers to as a Digital Cookbook, which is full of basic shapes that you can use as is, or tweak to your specifications.

 

While much larger than your average desktop printer, the ChefJet food printer is smaller than an oven; it’s made to fit on a counter-top. It would still be large and out-of-place in a regular home-sized kitchen though, unless you have somewhere dedicated to place it.

 

You could really mess with your taste buds with one of these food printers. For example, you could print a steak or hamburger out of chocolate; I wonder how strange it would be to eat!

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January 13, 2014 by

Many people are excited at the thought of 3D printing and all of the wonderful things it promises. So far, we have seen the printing of food, jewelry, guns, and artificial human organs. This is amazing and there are new breakthroughs every day.

 

There are also many people who are probably not as happy about the capabilities of 3D printing, especially those who manufacture products for resale and depend on the money they make from their businesses.

 

The worry evolves into something real when 3D printing becomes more widely available and affordable for the general population. Right now, the 3D printers and various “ink” products they use are expensive and not able to be included in most peoples’ budgets, however, like any other product, the price will drop considerably after a period of time.

 

When more people have their own 3D printer, or regular access to one, and the available types of “inks” expands, they will begin printing their own products rather than buying them.

 

Products such as clothing, shoes, eyeglasses, kitchen utensils, containers, etc., will be easy enough to make yourself, therefore eliminating the need for the amount of retail outlets we have today. This means that businesses will have to close and many people will be out of a job.

 

3D printing is still far enough away from the general population where you don’t have to worry much as a business owner, but it is definitely something to keep in mind when planning for the future.

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January 2, 2014 by

A while back, we talked about printing a working paper computer. Along the same lines, there is now word of printing usable batteries using special ink and a regular 3D printer.

 

Jennifer Lewis, head of the Lewis Lab at Harvard, has spent the last two decades developing special ink that can be used to print batteries and other electrical contacts with a 3D printer.

 

Gone will be the days when you have to either run out to the store or suffer without your favourite battery-powered gadget simply because your batteries either died completely or ran out.

 

We are far from using a printed battery and a regular purchased battery interchangeably, but the technology is well on its way. Lewis says that there are still many more experiments to be conducted and papers to be written on the subject.

 

One aspect to think about is that recycling the printed batteries may not be feasible; the metals and other components will all be mixed up together, making recycling nearly impossible. Lewis refers to this as a trade-off for the other qualities that printed batteries bring.

 

It is definitely an interesting idea, but not as impressive as it would have been a few years ago, considering that science is now using 3D printing to create human body parts!

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November 20, 2013 by

HP announced that the company would be entering the 3D printing market in mid-2014. Hewlett-Packard is a huge, reputable organization and the news must be making some of the smaller 3D printer companies a bit nervous.

 

I can’t think of many HP failures and their idea of a fast and affordable 3D printer will most likely catch on quickly; most people who would be using printers are familiar with the brand and would choose it over an unknown brand.

 

HP is also a gigantic company with enough resources to push their products through mass advertising campaigns, and to quickly manufacture the printers in bulk to reduce costs. Everyone likes a deal, everyone knows HP, and the lower cost alone is enough to attract buyers.

 

HP also has the ability to manufacture the 3D printers at a speed not easily matched by their smaller counterparts. With facilities all over the world, HP will have no problems keeping up with demand, and may even see business from others who do not want to wait for their chosen products to become available from smaller producers.

 

It remains to be seen whether HP can produce a superior 3D printer, but they are serious about trying. The HP labs are in the process of developing a variant to the models we see today.

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November 13, 2013 by

A Texas company, Solid Concepts, has created the first metal gun using a 3D printer and a public domain design of an M1911. They built it using over thirty 3D-printed parts and boasted an accurate shot from more than 30 yards away. According to their blog, the gun is also capable of shooting at least 50 rounds.

 

The company was quick to quell fears that almost anyone can now 3D print a gun, under the radar of law enforcement. They specified that an ordinary desktop 3D printer and your average person do not possess the capabilities to recreate the product.

 

They mentioned that the industrial printer used cost more than private college tuition, and it was run by expert engineers who study and know 3D printing better than anyone does. They are also a licensed firearm manufacturing facility and any customer wishing to have a part for their firearm printed must be qualified to do so.

 

The point they were trying to make, stated in their blog, is that 3D printing is ready for mainstream manufacturing. Instead of spending time debunking all of the individual myths surrounding 3D printing, they decided a better idea was to produce a viable object, which would accomplish that for them.

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November 12, 2013 by

Matthew Plummer-Fernandez has created and released a free software program designed to hide or damage the true code of 3D blueprints. Only someone with the app and key code can unscramble or reverse the damage on the file to retrieve the contents. He has named the 3D printing encryption app Disarming Corruptor and makes it easy for people to share files under the guise of legal or non-copyrighted items.

 

Law enforcement and patent trolls will both have a difficult time while searching for files that are breaking laws. They must first be able to recognize what the damaged file contains, which is impossible to know. They then need the specific 7-digit code to unlock and repair the file. According to Plummer-Fernandez, any incorrect key codes will only damage the file further.

 

The app is currently only available for Mac OSX, but the creator is busy building Disarming Corruptor exports for both Linux and Windows platforms.

 

This is an ingenious idea, which will no doubt be used by lawbreakers and people wishing to keep their ideas private alike. If you were to invent a 3D blueprint for an object that you wanted to patent, using Disarming Corruptor would keep the idea private and hidden from everyone except the people with whom you wish to share it.

 

There are some interesting photos located on Matthew Plummer-Fernandez’ site. A video also shows the process and the app allows the users to repair the file and start over if the object is not damaged and unrecognizable enough for their liking.

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October 14, 2013 by

We aren’t yet using 3D printing on a widespread consumer level, and its technology is still being researched and perfected, yet people are already discussing 4D printing. In fact, the United States Army Research Office is funding three 4D printing research projects with a combined amount of $855,000.

 

So what is 4D printing? 4D printing represents changes in the 3D printed objects themselves. It aims to produce items that can make changes within, and even assemble themselves, without the assistance of outside manual labor. Some examples are a flat piece of plastic that folds into a box, and a malleable chain that turns into a rigid format, both when immersed in water.

 

Future ideas include roads that can repair themselves after cracking or potholes occur, and clothing that can change sizes as your weight fluctuates. The possibilities would be endless.

 

3D printing has widely brought our attention to the amazing technologies available, and while there are many various advantageous uses of 3D printing, 4D printing would make the need to print a new object for every different use obsolete. If objects can change shape, they are instantly capable of taking the place of many objects.

 

While 4D printing is on the horizon, and it is an amazing thought, there is at least one type of object that can’t be used before it changes into a new use – food! People are successfully experimenting with 3D printed food at this point, and when you eat the object, there is nothing left to morph. Watch a video of a pizza made by a 3D printer.

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