Boeing HorizonX invests in low cost metal 3D printing with Digital Alloys $12.9 investment round

Digital Alloys, a Boston based developer of metal 3D printers, has received a $12.9 million investment during a series B financing round led by G20 Ventures.

3D Printing Industry readers will be familiar with Digital Alloys who, as we previously reported, has being developing a new approach to metal additive manufacturing since 2014. The latest round of investment comes after a $5 million round in 2017.

G20 Ventures was joined by Boeing HorizonX Ventures, Lincoln Electric, and Khosla Ventures in the series B financing.

Digital Alloys’ new metal additive manufacturing technology will be called Joule Printing. Today the company also announced two US patents for this wire feedstock 3D printing process – “Systems for Printing Three-Dimensional Objects” and “Magnet fabrication by additive manufacturing”.

What is this new metal additive manufacturing technique called Joule Printing?

3D Printing Industry discussed Joule Printing with Digital Alloys CEO Duncan McCallum. McCallum explained that Joule Printing was, “created to free manufacturers from the shackles of slow, complicated and expensive metal 3D printing.”

One of the recent patents describes how a “wire is heated upon contact with the fabrication platform or a previous layer of the structure being fabricated via a pulse of electric current.” This enables the formation of “ a molten droplet (or “particle”) at the point of contact.

The metal additive manufacturing system is expected to find early application in “the production of conformally cooled tools for the automotive and consumer products industries, and the delivery of high-quality titanium parts for the aerospace industry,” according to Digital Alloys.

Investors comment on potential of Joule Printing

Bill Wiberg, co-founder and Partner of Boston-based G20 Ventures, said, “When you look at the process required to produce practical hard metal parts using the much-hyped early generation of metal printing, what you find is a Rube Goldberg machine of complexity, touchy materials, and complex finishing steps. This great team has invented and now commercialized an entirely new approach that’s both faster and cheaper to the point that – once you see it – you have to wonder why anyone would do it any other way.”

Brian Schettler, managing director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures said, “Our investment in Digital Alloys will further Boeing’s ability to produce a higher volume of metal structural aerospace parts faster than ever before.”

“Through emerging additive manufacturing technologies, we aim to accelerate the design and manufacture of 3D printed parts to transform production systems and products.”

Tom Matthews, senior vice president, technology and research and development at Lincoln Electric, said, “Our investment in Digital Alloys and Joule Printing™ technology extends Lincoln Electric’s presence in metal-based additive manufacturing and helps advance development of value-added solutions in areas such as tooling and low-volume cast parts.”

“Support from Boeing and Lincoln Electric will expand our expertise, technology and services,” said Duncan McCallum, CEO of Digital Alloys. “We are committed to providing the products and services manufacturers need to take advantage of metal 3D printing in production. We will save customers time, money, and hassle by enabling great engineers to solve manufacturing problems in new ways. The next industrial revolution is here”.

More information about Digital Alloys is available here.

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Featured image shows a render of the Digital Alloys metal 3D printer. Image via Digital Alloys.

3D printing cuts replacement time and cost at Daimler buses

From full-size buildings to fashion items, 3D printing is breaking down the barriers usually associated with manufacturing fiddly low-volume products. Now, Daimler has turned to the process for replacement parts in buses. The move allows complex interior components to be economically made in small batches, with shorter turnaround times than possible using conventional production methods.

This isn’t the first time Daimler has turned to 3D printing for replacement parts – last year, the company announced it would be using Selective Laser Sintering to produce 30 plastic truck components. Before that, the process was also used to develop more than 100,000 prototype components.

When a bus operator needs a specific replacement part, they simply need to order the part based on its specific order code. Daimler is able to print the parts at will, and says making small batches of specific parts (between 1 and 50 pieces) is much cheaper than before. The turnaround is also much faster than using conventional production methods – design, costing and production can take just a few days.

It isn’t just simple, single-piece components that Daimler is printing. The example provided is the banknote storage container integrated into the driver’s compartment in some buses. Rather than having to make the lid, housing, assembly clips, hinges, handle and dividers separately and then assembling, 3D printing allows the parts to be manufactured in a single step. They also don’t use any excess material, and specific materials don’t need to be stored on site.

“The 3D printing process allows us to install local printers at the production plants operated by Daimler Buses worldwide,” says Hartmut Schick, Head of Daimler Buses. “It also enables us to respond in a flexible manner at local level to customers’ special wishes and replacement part needs. In this way, the availability of parts can be speeded up considerably while avoiding long transport distances as well as high transport costs and customs charges.”

More than 750 components have been printed for customer buses so far, and more than 150 replacement parts are being scrutinized for their potential as 3D printed replacements.

Source: Daimler

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Doctors Could 3D-Print Their Own Tools For A Fraction Of The Cost

The cost of the instruments needed to run a hospital or a lab is often exorbitant — but what if doctors and scientists could simply print their own tools from an open library of designs? That’s what a paper published today suggests.

What if a scientist could simply go to an open-source library of tools, select the one he or she needed, and print it out within a few hours? It’s not all that far off, as the Michigan Tech researchers behind a paper called Open-Source Syringe Pump Library, published today in PLOS One, explain.

To prove it, they carried out a test case. The team created a whole library of open-source syringe pumps — the devices used to give patients a dose of a medication or fluid — that can be downloaded, customised, and printed by anyone, for just the cost of the materials. They also hooked the 3D-printed pump (created on a RepRap) up to a Raspberry Pi so they could control it remotely. Here’s how one author on the study, Joshua Pearce, described it in Michigan Tech News:

That way, you can link the syringe pump to the network, sit on a beach in Hawaii and control your lab. Plenty of people can have access, and you can run multiple experiments at the same time. Our entire single-pump system costs only $US50 and can replace pumps that run between $US250 and $US2,500.

Remote-control labs are great, but what’s really important about the idea is how little it costs. 3D printing has already driven down costs within medicine, say the authors of the paper, from reducing the price of “neural circuit reconstruction” to applications within nanotechnology. But that’s just the beginning.

“Even greater cost reductions for science, however, can be found with the application of open-source hardware,” the authors argue. “The development of open-source hardware has the potential to radically reduce the cost of performing experimental science and put high-quality scientific tools in the hands of everyone from the most prestigious labs to rural clinics in the developing world.”

We’ve seen how engineers and doctors have used rapid prototyping to create smarter, faster tools for patients in rural or poverty-stricken parts of the world. But what if doctors and scientists could benefit from all that combined knowledge simply by accessing it from an online database? [ Michigan Tech News; PLOS One]

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