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3D Printing Trade Association Overview Of 3D Printing Software

3d printing trade association

by Alex Huckstepp

Effectively implementing 3D printing in a production environment requires software tools for design, simulation, pre-processing, distribution, manufacturing, inspection, and quality. Printer manufacturers (OEMs) provide software with their printers, but it often does not include all the functionality necessary for industrial scale additive manufacturing (AM). This post covers the different categories of 3D printing software, how they fit together in an AM workflow, and the leading companies providing commercially available solutions.

The 3D printing software workflow starts with design and ends with final quality approval. In between are many (not always consecutive) steps including simulation, processing, printing, inspection, and data analysis. The diagram directly above highlights the major categories of software tools used along the 3D printing working flow. We will examine them one at a time.
Design (CAD)

Computer-aided design (CAD) software is used by engineers and designers to digitally define a part’s 3-dimensional geometry. In most cases, the CAD software used to design parts for 3D printing is the same used for conventional manufacturing. Companies which produce CAD software include Dassault Systemes, Siemens, PTC, and Autodesk. For certain applications, AM specific design software is used to generate surfaces and structures which are optimized for 3D printing. Examples of such geometries include complex lattices, hollow features, and digital textures. Some of the companies which produce AM focused CAD tools are Materialise, nTopology, and Zverse.

There is a special class of design software referred to as “generative design” or “topology optimization” (GD/TO) which optimizes part geometry to achieve a desired performance given a defined loading scenario, boundary conditions, and design constraints. This software relies upon iterative computer simulations to refine the part geometry, combining CAD design rules with simulations from computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools. Leading providers of GD/TO software include Altair, Autodesk, and Paramatters.

Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) is the use of software to control manufacturing equipment such as machine tools. CAM software takes CAD and CAE data as inputs and creates machine instructions (g-code) which program manufacturing equipment to perform an exact process. When “setting up a build” in CAM software, there are five key steps involved:

Determine Part Orientation:
The best way to orient a part within the build depends on a variety of factors such as accuracy and surface finish requirements, process physics, support structures, and optimal nesting (see below). CAM can suggest optimal orientations but usually requires user input.

Support Generation
There are many different approaches to supporting a part. The optimal support structure depends on its geometry, the process, material, and other variables. This step is largely automated in most CAM software.

For near-net-shape processes and applications, additional material (“stock”) is often defined in CAM to be added to surfaces with high surface finish and accuracy requirements. The stock material is removed through post-processes like machining.

Some 3D printing processes can accommodate printing many parts at once, distributed across the print plate and even stacked in the z-axis. CAM software helps to nest parts in order to maximize the number of parts per build without sacrificing the quality which is impacted by the build layout.

Slicing and Toolpath Generation:
Once all the above steps are complete and any custom print parameters selected, CAM software generates g-code which is sent to the printer to perform the printing process.

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Posted in Business, Education, Uncategorized

3D Printed House Soon Available – And It Floats!

3d house

A home with a view soon available in the Czech Republic. This will be the first 3D-printed home in the Czech Republic, and will float on a pontoon, and it can also stand on dry land. It’s innovative in more ways than one; It only takes 48 hours to build and costs 50% of the conventional building styles. So, quicker and less expensive!

Read the full story here

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Posted in Education, Engineering, Manufacturing

3D Printing Trade Association – 3D Printing Helps With Covid -19

In the past decade, 3D printing has occupied some interesting niches. It’s an invaluable prototyping tool for countless industries and has found regular use in architecture, biotech, prosthetics, and plenty of other disciplines. The rise in consumer-grade printers has also given rise to a vibrant maker community. But for the most part, the technology has remained a niche tool instead of a household name.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals around the world faced frightening shortages of medical equipment — essentials like face masks and shields, testing swabs, ventilators, and more. While traditional supply chains scrambled to react, 3D printing outfits large and small have begun chipping away at the short-term demand. Most 3D printers can’t churn out inventory as quickly as other manufacturing methods like injection molding, but they can produce a wide variety of designs without the need for new molds or retooling. By sharing equipment designs and pooling resources, members of the 3D printing community have banded together to become something of a manufacturing hive mind during this pandemic.

Can 3D Printing save even more lives? Think of it…a shop floor without people!

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Posted in Makers, Manufacturing

3D Printing Trade Association Trends – Do We Need More Talent In 3D Printing?

For 3D Printing to grow as an industry, it needs more talent. Join Aaron Lichtig, the Xometry guy and former Jeopardy champion, in this episode of OK Xoomer — Zoom chats with creative engineers & more — as he talks with Tuan TranPham, CRO of AREVO, on how the future of additive manufacturing is composites, why you should be excited about 3D printing, and that your passion is what you make of it.

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Posted in Announcements, Industry Stats

3D Printing Trade Association – 3D Printing Resources For Covid-19

The FDA continues to take creative and flexible approaches to address access to critical medical products in response to COVID-19. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for certain medical devices, including personal protective equipment (PPE), may outpace the supply available to health care organizations because of the high demand and overall interruptions to the global supply chain. We recognize that the public may seek to use 3D printing to assist in meeting demand for certain products during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of our effort to protect the public to the extent possible, we are including answers to frequently asked questions for entities who 3D print devices, accessories, components, and/or parts during the COVID-19 emergency.

Q. What are the FDA’s general recommendations for 3D printing medical devices?

A. The FDA has previously issued guidance on the Technical Considerations for Additive Manufactured Medical Devices. This guidance outlines the FDA’s recommendations for 3D-printed devices from the device stage to process validation and acceptance activities of finished devices.

Q. Can 3D printing be used to make gowns, masks, respirators, and other types of personal protective equipment (PPE)?

A. PPE includes protective clothing, gowns, gloves, face shields, goggles, face masks, and respirators or other equipment designed to protect the wearer from injury or the spread of infection or illness. While it is possible to use 3D printing to make certain PPE, there are technical challenges that have to be overcome to be effective enough. For example, 3D-printed PPE may provide a physical barrier, but 3D-printed PPE are unlikely to provide the same fluid barrier and air filtration protection as FDA-cleared surgical masks and N95 respirators. The CDC has recommendations for how to optimize the supply of face masks.

Q. Can I use PPE made by 3D printing?

A. 3D-printed PPE can be used to provide a physical barrier to the environment. However, 3D-printed PPE are unlikely to provide the same fluid barrier and air filtration protection as FDA-cleared surgical masks and N95 respirators. The CDC has recommendations for how to optimize the supply of face masks.

Q. Will 3D-printed masks provide the same fluid barrier protection and air filtration as FDA-cleared surgical masks and N95 respirators?

A. 3D-printed masks may look like conventional PPE. However, they may not provide the same level of barrier protection, fluid resistance, filtration, and infection control. The CDC has recommendations for how to optimize the supply of face masks.

Q. What should health care providers do if using a 3D-printed mask?

A. Health care providers should:

Check the 3D-printed mask’s seal for leaks.
Confirm that they can breathe through any makeshift filter materials.
Exercise caution in surgical environments where the need for liquid barrier protection and flammability is a concern.
Recognize that the mask may not provide air filtration enough to prevent transmission of infectious agents.
Safely dispose of infectious materials and disinfect any part they intend to reuse.
Q. Can accessories, components, or parts for medical devices be 3D printed?

A. Entities should use original parts or those with the same specifications, dimensions, and performance, if available. While it is possible to use 3D printing to print certain accessories, components, and parts, some complex products (e.g., working pumps, electronics) are not easily 3D printed. It may help to use plans from original parts when available and verify that any 3D-printed products fit and work properly before they are used in a clinical setting. Entities engaged in 3D printing are encouraged to work with relevant medical device manufacturers.

Q. Can entire medical devices be 3D printed?

A. While the FDA understands that 3D printing may occur to provide wider availability of devices during the COVID-19 public health emergency, some devices are more amenable to 3D printing than others. The FDA is willing to discuss these and other issues with manufacturers and facilities. Entities should email for more information.

Q. How is the FDA working to mitigate PPE and component, part, and accessory shortages?

A. We recognize that when conventional products are unavailable, some entities are considering printing or purchasing 3D-printed devices. The FDA is working closely with government, industry, and health care facility stakeholders on this and on the broader public health emergency. The FDA recently authorized an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for ventilators, ventilator tubing connectors, and ventilator accessories, which could include items such as 3D-printed tubing connectors for multiplexing ventilator use. The FDA also is collaborating with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Innovation Ecosystem, America Makes Public-Private Partnership, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) 3D Print Exchange, a resource from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH.

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Posted in Bioprinting

3D Printing Trade Association – Let’s Laugh A Little Bit To Get Our Minds Off Covid 19

Enjoy this 3D Printing Comic Book – And join the Association of 3D Printing

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Posted in Business, Education, fun

3D Printing Could Help Now, Except for the IP Issues

3D Printing Questions

Cathy Barrera, a CoinDesk columnist, is a founding economist at Prysm Group, an economic advisory group, and was chief economist at ZipRecruiter. She has a PhD in business economics from Harvard.

From Italian startups to local school districts, many groups have adopted 3D printing technologies to fill the urgent global need for ventilator components and personal protective equipment (PPE). In times of crisis, the gap between supply and demand grows and becomes more apparent. 3D printing is a perfect solution to address these issues.

Currently, these critical shortfalls are being addressed in an ad hoc manner. This is inefficient and wrong. Instead, the U.S. needs robust 3D printing production capabilities nationwide so we can seamlessly increase the availability of needed supplies. Although it is clearly impossible for this to occur during this current pandemic, such capabilities should be developed before the next crisis hits. While prior efforts – including an initiative by President Obama – have stalled, we now have the tools and resources needed to accomplish this task. The remaining challenge to achieving this goal is economic rather than technical in nature. Crucially, blockchain will play a key role in overcoming that challenge…


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Posted in Business

3D Printing Trade Association – Thoughts On The Corona Virus

“We should’ve done more 3D printing” is the voice of many a CEO, or at least thoughts. Imagine not having a disputed supply chain, less bodies to worry about, less chance of sickness, and a 24/7 workforce that doesn’t have to miss work!

That’s the ultimate problem 3D Printing is designed to solve. And if you haven’t got printers or didn’t make the move, that’s OK too. Service Bureaus allow you to “rent” time on someone else’s machine! So if you aren’t happy trying to procure your own, there are others out there, for example Xometry.

I know it sounds like “too little, too late.” But 3D Printing as part of your supply chain now needs to be part of an overall strategy!

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Posted in Announcements, Rapid Prototyping

3D Printing Trade Show – Rapid Coming to California April 20

At RAPID + TCT 2020, you’ll see the latest applications, materials, hardware, and software from over 400 exhibitors. Explore the newest technologies in 3D printing, 3D scanning, additive manufacturing, CAD/CAE, metrology & inspection, and more. Find solutions to your toughest design and manufacturing challenges, straight from the most respected experts in the industry. Network with over 5,000 attendees and make valuable connections that will help you reach your business goals.

Don’t get left behind – this is your opportunity to stay up-to-date with advancements in the constantly evolving world of additive manufacturing. Register today and join us for North America’s largest and most important additive manufacturing event of the year: April 20-23, 2020 in Anaheim, CA!

Read more about it here:

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Posted in Announcements

3D Printing Trade Association – Bioprinting Being Used For Tumor Research

A joint team of researchers from Rensselaer, Northwestern University and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has developed a methodology that could improve the treatment of aggressive glioblastoma brain tumors. The process, which combines medical imaging and bioprinting technologies, can help scientists to better understand the complex structure of the tumor type.

Glioblastomas are quickly growing malignant tumors in the brain that are made up of many different cell types, which makes them challenging to treat. Today, glioblastoma treatment typically involves a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Even then, treatment only results in an average survival of 11-15 months.

The new process pioneered by the research group allows for a greater understanding of what happens in the body when glioblastoma cells are present thanks to the use of a 3D bioprinted tumor cell mode

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Posted in Bioprinting