Prosthetics, Skin, Homes, Organs. The list goes on and on. In home construction, for example,3D printing is being used to make the world a better place is by reducing the cost of home construction enough to make new houses accessible to those whose income puts adequate shelter beyond their reach.
One company that has made this its mission is ICON. Its tagline is “We’re changing the way people live.” It set out to apply 3D printing to houses and envisions whole communities set up that way in a kind of 21st-century version of Levitton.
Last year ICON built the Chicon house, described as “the first permitted 3D-printed home built in the United States” in Austin, Texas in 2018. It took a few weeks to print “and sparked the imagination of customers, investors, press, and the SXSW conference community.”
Does this signify that the days of 3D Printing with plastics alone are over?
With the wide variety of advancements being made in the field of modern technology, just about all facets of life are affected. From casual entertainment to different applications in business and commerce, technological developments have allowed us to enjoy various different services with greater ease and convenience. Among the latest advancement are printers that are capable of reproducing three dimensional objects for use in numerous fields. This has allowed for many breakthroughs to occur in the fields of medicine and mass reproduction, especially considered the materials with which these printers function. Recent developments have allowed for titanium to be utilized as a construction material in the 3D printing process.
3D printing titanium is also known as direct metal laser sintering, and it is an additive metal fabrication process that was developed in Germany. This process builds on the basic principles of 3D printing through the application of metallic materials for direct utility in just about any field that would need the uses of such immediately developed technology. So far, the technology has been utilized to create articles of titanium jewelry, as well as mechanical parts for bicycles and other transportation equipment. Currently, the most commonly utilized alloys in the creation process include several different types of stainless steel, as well as cobalt chromium and titanium. However, because of the immediate application of the printing process, just about any type of alloy can be theoretically utilized once it has been developed and validated.
A team of scientists from Carnegie Mellon University have achieved a breakthrough in bioprinting, taking us a step closer to printing functional organs. The research consisted of using an advanced version of FluidForm’s Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels (FRESH) technology to rebuild components of the human heart.
Recently published in the journal Science, the Carnegie-led research project showcased the ability to 3D print collagen with “unprecedented complexity” to construct various parts of the human heart, including small blood vessels, valves and beating ventricles. The breakthrough was made possible using FRESH technology, a patented bioprinting process licensed to FluidForm.
FluidForm was first formed out of a research project at Carnegie Mellon’s Regenerative Biomaterials and Therapeutics Group to bring to market and commercialize the innovative FRESH bioprinting technique. The platform uses a needle-deposition system to print bioinks and other soft materials. The process is unique for using the “power of non-newtonian gels to allow movement through a material like it’s a liquid, while supporting deposited material like it’s a solid.”
More and more firms are getting into 3D Printing, and more and more start ups are failing due to general business knowledge. 3D Printing Trade Association members have started on online business course which discusses the business end of 3D Printing. The course outline is below, but click here for the 3D Printing Business Course
The course outline follows:
Introduction to 3D Printing
How does 3D Printing Work?
Who is (and who will be) using 3D Printing?
What are the main issues to consider in 3D Printing?
What are the trends in the 3D Printing Industry?
What are the Key Success Factors for, and top mistakes made by, 3D Printing firms?
Strategic Planning for 3D Printing companies
Marketing 101 for 3D Printing firms (blunders included)!
How to generate leads for your 3d printing project or service.>/li>
Sales and Sales Management for 3D Printing firms
How to build a budget for 3D Printing firms
Leadership and Management development for 3D Printing companies
International aspects and opportunities in 3D Printing
10 Ways a 3d Printing firm should work a trade show
What does government need to know about 3D Printing?
LimaCorporate, an Italian medical device company specializing in reconstructive orthopedic implants, is currently creating the first on-site 3D printing facility at a hospital. Recently, the company confirmed that the construction process was underway at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York. The two confirmed their partnership in January of this year, and now plan to have the new facility up and running in 2020. This LimaCorporate center is expected to serve hospitals in the region prior to expanding across America.
HSS has been using customized implants from LimaCorporate’s Italian center for three years. LimaCorporate has been using additive manufacturing techniques since 2007 to make high end 3D printed implants using Electron Beam Melting (EMB) on GE Additive’s Arcam systems. These implants leverage the Trabecular Titanium biomaterial, which is designed to enhance both vascularization and cell migration. This technology increases the movement of oxygen, ions, nutrients, and bone inducing factors, ultimately improving the formation of new bone and acceptance of the new implant. Their titanium hip cup made in this fashion has proven to stay effective 10 years after implantation.
“HSS and Lima had been working very successfully together on multiple projects under a Master Development Agreement since March 2016,” said Leonard Achan, Chief Innovation Officer at the Hospital for Special Surgery. “At the same time, Lima had placed a strategic emphasis on building its ProMade custom implant business, a market segment that can benefit greatly from use of additive manufacturing and that is fairly underserved in the orthopedic industry.”
Reports emerged back in April that the Redwood City, California-based company was seeking to raise up to $300 million, which we now know was in the ballpark. This round takes Carbon’s total raised to $680 million and follows its $200 million series D raise from 2017, when it claimed a $1.7 billion valuation. Pitchbook estimated earlier this year that Carbon could now be valued at up to $2.5 billion, and we’re told the company has in fact reached a valuation of $2.4 billion with this latest round.
Founded in 2013, Carbon is one of a number of startups developing 3D printing technologies to open up digital manufacturing to more creators and companies. It operates at the intersection of “hardware, software, and materials science,” as the company puts it, with specialized “digital light synthesis” technology that meshes light projection with programmable resins to transform the liquids into solid materials. Moreover, it can create complex, intricate constructions not possible with traditional mold injections, while ensuring the final product is both sturdy and lightweight.
As recently as three years ago, no metal 3D printing systems cost less than $500,000 to implement. Realistically, most metal printers — including purchase, installation, and support — cost north of a million dollars. A high high cost when you’re talking new (and often experimental) technology. Most used selective laser melting (or a close derivative), a process requiring a high-power laser and powder management system. These large, expensive, difficult to maintain machines would sit in a large company’s innovation lab, printing out either prototypes or exploratory designs.
In the last few years, two critical changes have ushered in a divergence in how metal printing is used. First, a number of companies have released more affordable metal printers, ($100k-$200k startup cost) reducing the financial barrier to entry and allowing more companies to invest in the process for a wider variety of applications. Second, companies like GE Additive (by purchasing two metal 3D printer companies) and HP (by developing their own Binder Jetting printer) have experimented and succeeded in implementing additive manufacturing at a larger scale, utilizing investments in the tens or even hundreds of millions to produce end-use parts at production volumes. Don’t forget the myriad of start ups as well as foreign firms. We now have two distinct goals: proliferating metal 3D printers and utilizing metal additive manufacturing for true production.
What is the cost difference between metal additive manufacturing and traditional manufacturing? The three main factors that determine cost is tooling, minimum order quantity, and lead times — all of which additive manufacturing shines.
It’s interesting. Most firms that have embraced 3D Printing did not have a 3D Printing strategy. We find that 3D Printing was often adopted in a piecemeal way. One department would get a 3D Printer. A new sales person would arrive, and a company buys a different 3D Printer. Over time, you get an enterprise with many types of printers.
This has it’s pros and cons. On the pro side, you aren’t locked into one manufacturer, and can see which machine works best for your firm. The cons however mean that firms have to learn many software programs to manage the machines. This “soft cost” isn’t soft at all…the staffing can cost more than the cost of the machines themselves! Many firms feel that a generic OS would help them the most.