21 August 2017 14:08
3D printing technology, software and processes are evolving at an incredible rate, as new solutions to longstanding challenges reveal themselves virtually every month. When one steps back, this is part of a much wider and more fundamental shift in the industrial world: the transition to Industry 4.0.   What is Industry 4.0? Put simply, Industry 4.0 is an approach to manufacturing that enhances quality and efficiency through strategic automation and seamless data exchange. The term was first used at the 2011 Hannover Fair, with the Working Group on Industry 4.0 launching in ...
18 August 2017 16:20
There’s been a lot of interest in the press about the concept of using 3D printing to craft living tissues, particularly transplantable organs. But how does this new technology, called 'bioprinting', actually work? In simple terms, bioprinting is the practice of using 3D printing technology to generate organic cell structures rather than plastic or metal parts. This makes it possible to print functional tissue, which can then be used in medical research, or for transplant purposes. In the long-term, as the technology evolves, it could indeed be used for printing ...
04 August 2017 16:22
Invented and patented by Chuck Hull -- founder of 3D Systems -- in 1984, stereolithography (SLA) is the original technology that serves as the foundation of modern 3D printing. It was SLA that originally helped establish 3D printing as a viable tool for manufacturers, and encouraged others to explore new methods of printing and new applications for the technology. It is a testament to Hull’s original vision that SLA is still employed today, across a wide variety of industries, by both seasoned professionals and aspiring hobbyists.   How does it work? Stereolithography builds ...
27 July 2017 15:15
Pioneered by Stratasys in 2007, polyjet 3D printing -- while less widely used than SLS or SLA -- is an effective tool for printed parts that require a high level of surface detail (0.1mm details are achievable) and a smooth, high-quality finish. Its applications include: Highly detailed display models that require multiple colours, such as medical models. Prototyping stages where a large number of iterations of a part are expected. Polyjet’s printing speed makes it ideal for this. Limited-run non-functional parts, such as decorations for luxury cars. Generating moulds and ...
10 May 2017 14:51
Fused deposition modelling remains one of the most popular techniques for 3D printing amongst hobbyists, AM bureaus and industrial manufacturing companies alike. In this tutorial, we’ll take a closer look at the mechanics of the process and share some practical tips for getting the most out of your chosen materials and 3D printers.   What is fused deposition modelling? Fused deposition modelling prints 3D objects by using a heated filament to manually build up layers of material. A thermoplastic material is heated to a semi-liquid state, after which an extrusion head builds the layers ...
05 May 2017 11:09
There’s never been a better time for companies to discover the potential benefits of incorporating additive manufacturing into their range of services, or for companies who are already using this technology to explore new approaches and applications for it. While many of the key benefits of additive manufacturing are well-documented, improvements in technology, materials and best practice have revealed a number of new benefits that may not be immediately obvious. Here are six examples: 1) Reduced storage costs for spare parts In any industry that requires spare parts to be available at ...
15 March 2017 18:02
“Compared with a traditionally cast part, a printed [part] has superior strength, ductility, and fracture resistance, with a lower variability in materials’ properties.” Elon Musk   While plastic-based materials have been utilised for the majority of additive manufacturing projects since the technology’s inception, recent developments in metal printing materials mean that producing functional metal parts is now not only feasible, but worthy of serious consideration for a range of industries. The possibility of using additive manufacturing techniques to deliver parts with the same mechanical qualities as their machined counterparts has helped open the ...