Three companies display advances in 3D printing technology

The 3D printing industry still represents a tiny fraction of manufacturing overall, but it appears to be growing, and it is showing signs of becoming at least a healthy niche.

Although it remains to be seen if 3D printing will live up to the hype, it’s undeniable that the technology is advancing rapidly. There are a host of new advances in 3D printing technology, including machines, materials and processes, and it seems possible to 3D print just about anything in any size, from houses to microchips.

The advances in 3D printing were on display at the Rapid + TCT 3D printing industry conference, held April 23-26 in Fort Worth, Texas. Here are three 3D printers of note.

3D printing electronic PCBs

Nano Dimension DragonFly 2020 is a commercial 3D printer for professional electronics. The printer uses two materials — a conductive nano-particle silver ink and a dielectric ink — that it ink jets simultaneously to build printed circuit boards (PCBs) layer by tiny layer, according to Galit Beck, Nano Dimension marketing and public relations manager.

Galit Beck of Nano Dimension displays a wafer-thin PCB printed by the Nano Dimension DragonFly. Galit Beck of Nano Dimension displays a wafer-thin PCB printed by the Nano Dimension DragonFly.

There are a number of advantages to 3D printing PCBs; for example, it gives electronics manufacturers a cheaper and quicker way to produce boards, which means they can test designs and dramatically reduce the development cycle. It also enables companies to keep intellectual property in-house, as they may no longer need to send PCB designs out to contract manufacturers.

Dror Danai of XJet Dror Danai of XJet

The DragonFly can print in sizes ranging from 7 inches by 7 inches down to as small as 2 millimeters by 2 millimeters. It also enables PCBs to be printed in various shapes that are not possible with traditional methods.

The DragonFly is best suited to large organizations with electronics engineering teams that need to develop and test PCBs, according to Beck.

Ink jetting for better quality

[The XJet Carmel] jets the material where it’s needed; there’s no bed of powder, you don’t need to deal with must, you don’t need to deal with safety issues, and we can also take the particles to a much smaller size. Dror Danaichief business officer, XJet

The XJet Carmel 1400, which prints metal and ceramic materials, is another one of the advances in 3D printing demonstrated at the conference. The XJet Carmel uses a liquid-based ceramic or metal material and inkjet technology to 3D print parts or objects without using powders, which is the common material for ceramic or metal objects.

Using ceramic materials reduces the amount and time of post-processing, and it creates parts with high levels of detail, finish and design accuracy, according to Dror Danai, XJet chief business officer.

Post-processing can account for as much as 70% of 3D printing costs, Danai explained, and the XJet nano-particle jetting process reduces this cost dramatically. Further, a standard direct metal laser sintering process for 3D printing metal parts can need up to 13 stages of post-processing, while nano-particle jetting uses just five stages.

The XJet Carmel uses a liquid-based metal or ceramic material to 3D print high-quality objects. The XJet Carmel uses a liquid-based metal or ceramic material to 3D print high-quality objects.

“[The XJet Carmel] jets the material where it’s needed; there’s no bed of powder, you don’t need to deal with must, you don’t need to deal with safety issues, and we can also take the particles to a much smaller size,” Danai said.

Industrial-grade 3D printing

The HP Jet Fusion 3D 4210 is an industrial-grade 3D printer technology designed to deliver production-grade parts faster and more cost-effectively than other 3D printers, according to the company.

The HP Jet Fusion 3D 4210 prints parts from powder in a build bed in two passes. One pass applies a layer of material on the print bed, while a continuous pass in the opposite direction prints fusing and detailing agents across the material. This pass combines printing and fusing energy that builds the part layer by layer at a rapid pace.

The HP Jet Fusion 3D 4210 is an industrial-grade machine intended to make 3D printing cost-effective. The HP Jet Fusion 3D 4210 is an industrial-grade machine intended to make 3D printing cost-effective.

The effect is similar to looking at two scanners moving simultaneously across each other, potentially making several parts at the same time. Because of this approach, the HP Jet Fusion 3D 4210 can print many parts in the same time that it takes point processing 3D printers that use other 3D printing methodologies — such as fused deposition modeling or selective laser sintering — to make one of the same part.

Jabil Circuit Inc., one of the world’s largest contract manufacturers, recently installed 12 HP Jet Fusion 4210 printers in its global network of 3D printing centers. There are three reasons why Jabil went with the HP Jet Fusion printers, according to John Dulchinos, Jabil vice president of digital manufacturing.

“First, they produce real characteristic parts with real properties on them, and a lot of printers don’t do that,” Dulchinos said. “Second, HP produces at a speed that makes us more cost-effective in the parts we’re making. And third, it’s HP, so if we set up in Singapore, HP’s got operations there to support us and help us scale. They match Jabil’s scale. The smaller 3D printing companies don’t have the infrastructure to support a company like ours.”

Political Talk on Display at Maker Faire

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Political Talk on Display at Maker Faire

By James Lomuscio

From leather crafts to electric vehicles, from 3D printing to a hamster train and from robots to soft weaponry Medieval battles, creative minds were on full display at today’s seventh annual Maker Faire with venues throughout town. Image
Not all candidates showed up. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Carolanne Curry via Facebook

Founded by Westporter Mark Mathias, this year’s event under crisp blue skies broke out from its usual place at the Westport Library and Jesup Green to include the entire Baldwin parking lot, Veterans Green, the Westport Historical Society and even Town Hall.

The League of Women Voters of Westport (LWVW)-sponsored event at Town Hall was perhaps the most challenging and urgent in terms of innovation and creativity -– how to fix the State of Connecticut.

On the auditorium’s stage, each one of dozen gubernatorial candidates, Democrats, Republicans, independents, unaffiliated and a Libertarian, offered his or her solutions for a state nearly all said was in crisis mode. 

The malaise each promised to fix included: out-of-control; taxes; failing transportation infrastructure; irresponsible state spending; having the nation’s third highest electricity costs after Alaska and Hawaii; and a worrisome exodus of businesses and residents hurting real estate values.

“I think this bridges both,” First Selectman Jim Marpe said about having gubernatorial hopefuls included in the Maker Faire, which ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the LWVW event from 12:30 to 2 p.m.

“This is a weekend in Westport that celebrates innovation, and the League of Women Voters has been innovative in bringing together virtually all of the gubernatorial candidates, which gives Westport an opportunity to hear their platforms and points of view regardless of their political affiliation.”

LVWW President Sheila Ward had 21 candidates lined up and in the program, but only 12 showed. Among the no shows was Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim, a Democrat, whose name was the most recognizable of the candidates.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican, and Westporter Steve Obsitnik, were not on the list of those scheduled to appear.

Among those on stage were: Democrat Sean Connolly, former commissioner of the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs; Mark Stewart Greenstein, a Democrat who called himself “a voice for independent voters;” Oz Griebel, an unaffiliated candidate, who said he needs 2,500 more signatures to get on the ballot, and Rod Hanscomb, a Libertarian who wants to get rid of the state income tax to woo businesses to the state.

The lineup also included: Jonathan Harris, a Democrat, who told the audience, “the sky is not falling” in Connecticut; Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, who boasted balancing eight budgets in his town; Westporter Marisa Manley, a lawyer who owns a commercial real estate company; Scott Merrell, a Republican who said the AFL-CIO controls all the unions in the state, which are corrupt; David Walker, a Republican who served as a CEO for five companies and vowed to “fight corruption in this state;” Lee Whitnum, a former Army field artillery officer who said she is bent on “cleaning up the judiciary in this state;” Jacey Whyatt, a Democrat who said she was the state’s first transgender woman running for governor; and Republican Eric Mastroianni, who showed up nearly an hour late and touted his military background.

Ward asked each one a different question that included: how to address income inequality in the state; whether the state should adopt a Net Zero by 2050 policy as Westport has; how to bring energy costs down; how, in keeping with the Maker Faire theme, to bring more innovation to the state; how to fix pension liabilities; how to bring about state education reform; their thoughts on national state reciprocity on concealed carry guns; and school safety.

In response to a question on Net Zero, Greenstein said he was a free market fan.

“I’m very skeptical of what government does,” he said. “Economics and free markets do a better job of getting us clean air.”

Regarding ways to bring more innovation to the state, Hanscomb pointed to the state of Washington, an innovation hub.

“Zero income tax,” he said. “We need to lower the income tax and let businesses run themselves.”

In response to a question on ways to improve the state’s transportation infrastructure, Harris said the answer was better public-private partnerships and reducing permitting times.

Wyatt said improved school safety could be achieved via inconspicuous barriers and bullet-proof glass that did not make students feel they were in an armed camp.

When the question of the state going Net Zero came around to Manley during the second round, she said it was not a priority.

“Net Zero is not something the state should focus on,” she said. “What’s going to bring people back to Connecticut is knowing that they can afford to live here.”


Posted 04/21/18 at 04:40 PM  Permalink

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