The First New 3D Printer Technology in Years

Evolve Additive’s “Selective Thermoplastic Electrophotographic Process,” or STEP for short came out of stealth mode last week. The samples produced by its alpha printer that I handled had very impressive detail.

With STEP another 2D printing technology migrates to 3D printing — electrophotographic printing, better known as EP or laser printing. EP technology is found inside many office printers.

The ISO/ASTM standards organization currently defines seven 3D print technologies:3D Printing Defined - small

Now let me state that, yes, there are 3D printer vendors who say their product is a new technology. While their offerings may be variations and advances on the seven ISO/ASTM technologies, their 3D printers fit the core definitions.

Evolve’s printing process begins by imaging a receptive drum which causes 22 micron plastic toner to adhere to it. The toner is transferred to an intermediary drum. The toner comprising the first layer of the 3D build is then transferred to a carrier sheet. The toner for subsequent layers is deposited on top of the previous layers. Each layer passes through a heating unit before the subsequent toner layer is laid down.

The first Evolve 3D printer will use a reciprocating carrier to move the pieces that are being printed under the imaging engines. One engine will be for the plastic (ABS or TPU at first) and one for the water-soluble support material. Eventually the Evolve will leverage all five of the engines inherent in the system in order to 3D print CMYK and clear plastics.

The second generation Evolve printer will have a continuous feed system that could move the parts to subsequent operations — or to an intermediary station where electronics or other components could be picked and placed on the partial build — after which the items return to the 3D printer for the additional layers needed to complete the build.

Evolve’s 3D printer is in alpha stage this year and expects to have beta devices in the market during 2019. The device could be priced in the $750,000 range.

STEP TechnologySTEP Technology

source: Evolve Additive

The printer will print at the rate of 4.5 seconds per layer. Evolve estimates the fully-loaded cost of producing these plastic parts will be less than comparable injection molded parts when used to 3D print 5,000 to 15,000 pieces.

The samples that I saw were smooth except for a slight striation on vertical surfaces. The pieces held very small features extremely well. The parts were tests devised by a consumer products manufacturer, which I was told reported that it had never seen such high quality and precision from its injection molded parts.

Evolve prefers to use the term “toner” to describe its material, saying that “powder” implies laser or electron beam Powder Bed Fusion technology, which STEP is not. The toner used for supports is created with mechanical grinding and the imaging toner is chemically grown (the latter being a more precise process than the former).

Evolve grew out of Stratasys, which began working on the technology in 2009. Evolve’s principals convinced SSYS to spin off the company, which SSYS has shares of. While the formal separation took place last August, the final details were completed within the past three weeks. Evolve has engaged BNPP to support its efforts to line up additional investors.

Don’t expect to see Evolve Additive’s first commercially available 3D printers until late 2019. Rather, consider this new 3D printer technology as evidence of the continued R&D that will benefit the entire 3D printing community.

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Category: 3d-printing  additive-manufacturing  trends-predictions  

Tags: 3-d-print  3d-printer  additive-manufacturing  bnpp  electrophotographic-printing  evolve-additive  isoastm  powder-bed-fusion  selective-thermoplastic-electrophotographic-process  step  stratasys  

Lehvoss Group joins Livrea Yacht to complete world first 3D printed sailboat

UK based chemical and mineral materials specialist Lehvoss Group and its parent company Lehmann&Voss&Co KG are working with Livrea Yacht, the collective behind the world’s first 3D printed sailboat.

Together with strategic partners Autodesk and KUKA, the Lehvoss Group will be supporting the workmanship of innovative boat makers Francesco Belvisi and Daniele Cevola, who aim to enter the 2019 Mini-Transat yacht race, which will start in France and end in Brazil.

Stronger, lighter, more durable sailboats

Belvisi and Cevola have been working on the 3D printing technology used in the Livrea Yacht project through their startup company OCORE.

OCORE technology is based on fused filament fabrication (FFF), and follows an algorithm developed on the principles of fractals for added strength. 3D printing is performed using a KUKA robotic arm.

OCORE's large-scale KUKA-powered 3D printer. Photo via Livrea YachtOCORE’s large-scale KUKA-powered 3D printer. Photo via Livrea Yacht

In the terms of this latest  partnership, the Lehvoss Group will be supplying the Livrea Yacht team with its Luvucom 3D materials made specially for the project.

Carbon-fiber reinforced high-performance polymers, in this case PEEK, are the chosen feedstock. Thiago Medeiros Araujo, Luvucom 3F Market Development Manager at Lehvoss Group added, “[the materials] are modified to yield an improved layer strength with no warping of the printed parts. This results in parts that are stronger, lighter and more durable.”

A sample 3D printed component for Livrea Yacht. Image via Autodesk.A sample 3D printed component for Livrea Yacht. Image via Autodesk.

The future of boat building

While the team asserts that many parts of the sailboat will be 3D printed, it is unclear the exact scale of components that will be possible by the project before the race in 2019.

At Thermwood Corporation in Indiana, Techmer PM Marine Concepts successfully 3D printed a mold for the hull of a fiberglass motorboat.

A submarine hull, which has become the largest 3D printed asset in the U.S. Navy, was made by Oak Ridge National Laboratory simply as a demonstrator of what could one day be possible with the technology.

A winning combination

Belvisi, who is Chief Technology Officer of OCORE, says that “The yacht will be highly competitive thanks to the light and strong 3D-printed parts. 3D printing dramatically reduces the build time for the yacht and also makes it more economical.”

In addition, “We are looking forward not only to building the first 3D printed boat but also to winning the competition in 2019.”

Beyond the 2019 Mini-Transat race, the Lehvoss Group is hoping to help apply the technology to other industry sectors. 3F Market Development Manager Araujo adds, “We are happy to be a partner in this challenging and very exciting project. The Livrea yacht will show what today’s dedicated processing and 3D printing polymers can already achieve.”

Francesco Belvisi (left) and Daniele Cevola (right) founders of OCORE and a surfboard 3D printed using their proprietary technology. Photo via OCOREFrancesco Belvisi (left) and Daniele Cevola (right) founders of OCORE and a surfboard 3D printed using their proprietary technology. Photo via OCORE

To stay up to date with Livrea Yacht’s progress and more innovative applications, subscribe to the 3D Printing Industry newsletter, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

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Help adjudicate winner of the 2018 3D Printing Industry Awards here. Protolabs is sponsoring the 2018 3D Printing Industry Awards design competition. Submit your entries now for the chance to win a 3D printer.

Featured image shows the latest version of Giorgio Garbujo’s 3D Printing Industry Awards 2018 design entry.

Featured image shows a concept design of the 3D printed Livrea Yacht. Image via Lehvoss Group

Finland's First 3D Printed Aircraft Engine Part Takes to the Skies in Maiden Flight

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T25 Sensor Housing – first 3D printed component in GE90 jet engine.

One field that 3D printing technology has definitely made a major impact on over the last several years is aerospace – so much so, in fact, that the FAA is currently working to develop a plan on how to deal with the increased rate at which the industry is adopting 3D printing.

The technology is very useful in manufacturing aircraft, as it can reduce the weight of components, as well as producing parts with reduced complexity that offer consistent quality and repeatable characteristics. These features can lower energy expenditures and cost, while also increasing aircraft performance, in the aerospace and defense industry, and a wide variety of aircraft, from drones to jets and rockets, now use 3D printed parts.

Many of these aircraft feature 3D printed engine parts, which can help reduce the total number of pieces that make up the component…which, again, helps with weight reduction. By using 3D printing technology to make the parts for an aircraft engine, companies can also see other benefits as well, including an increase in power and a decrease in fuel burn.

Patria, headquartered in Finland, provides security, defense, and aviation life cycle support services, as well as technology solutions. The company, which is jointly owned by the Norwegian Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace AS and the Finnish state, operates all over the world, with offices and projects in the US, the UAE, Sweden, South Africa, Poland, Norway, Estonia, and Croatia. It is Finland’s primary source for the maintenance, repair, and over-haul (MRO) of military aircraft engines.

[Image: Patria]

The company’s Aviation and Aerostructures business units have over 90 years of experience in the industry, offering assembly, flight training, maintenance and modifications of aircraft and helicopters, and parts manufacturing. In addition, the units offer life-cycle support services for aircraft and helicopters, which covers engine, equipment, and fuselage repair, along with training and maintenance.

Patria has long been involved in using modern manufacturing methods to fabricate and repair different parts and components for aircraft, and has spent more than two years working on the manufacturing process for a new 3D printed part. That hard work has finally paid off, as the country’s first 3D printed aircraft engine part, installed in the F/A-18 Hornet strike-fighter, recently went on its successful maiden flight.

“For this part, the development work has been done over the last two years, with the aim of exploring the manufacturing process for 3D-printable parts, from drawing board to practical application,” said Ville Ahonen, the Vice President of Patria’s Aviation business unit. “Using 3D printing to make parts enables a faster process from customer need to finished product, as well as the creation of newer, better structures. We will continue research on additive manufacturing methods, with the aim of making the new technology more efficient.”

F/A-18 Hornet [Image: US Navy]

The 3D printed aircraft engine part was fabricated using the Inconel 625 superalloy, which is nickel-based and has been used before to manufacture turbine blades. The company was granted approval from the Military Design Organization Approval (MDOA) and the Finnish Military Aviation Authority (FMAA), in accordance with European Military Aviation Requirements (EMARs), to 3D print the part, which was designed in accordance with the MDOA approval.

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[Source: Patria]

Successful Surgery Leads to First 3D Printed Shoulder Replacement in Croatia

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A 60-year-old man in Croatia had been suffering from an infection in his shoulder, resulting in him losing a great deal of bone mass and most of the function in the joint. His level of function, in fact, was down to about 30% – but after a successful surgery, he’s expected to regain 80% of his shoulder’s original function. In addition to regaining the use of his shoulder, the man also made history, becoming the first person in Croatia to receive a 3D printed shoulder joint.

The surgical team that implanted the 3D printed shoulder was led by Nikola Matejčić, MD at the Clinic for Orthopaedics in Lovran.

“The latest technological advancements in design of osseointegrating implant segments were used,” Dr. Matejčić explained. “The implant was created using a technology of additive manufacturing, namely the Trabecular Titanium 3D printing technology which represents a revolution in production of medical implants.”

Trabecular Titanium is a proprietary 3D printing biomaterial developed by Italian company Lima Corporate. Its structure mimics that of trabecular bone, and its porosity enhances cell migration and vascularization, facilitating the transport of oxygen, nutrients, ions and bone inducing factors, encouraging the formation of new bone. 3D printed using Electron Beam Melting (EBM) technology, Trabecular Titanium components can be fabricated in any geometry, meaning that it’s easy to create patient-specific implants.

The surgery took about three hours and the patient is now recovering nicely and is expected to be discharged by the end of the week. The operation was a collaborative effort, said Dr. Matejčić, with the Faculty of Medicine in Rijeka, the Clinical Hospital Centre in Rijeka and its Department of Radiology, and the Centre for Biomedical Modeling and Innovations in Medicine all working together.

While this surgery was the first in the country involving the implantation of a 3D printed shoulder joint, it wasn’t the first to utilize 3D printing for this clinic. At the beginning of this year, the clinic implanted a 3D printed pelvic joint, and is impressed with the ability of the technology to repair highly damaged joints and restore normal function.

“The 3D printing technology really marks a new age in orthopaedics and medicine in general,” said Branko Šestan, MD, Director of the Clinic for Orthopaedics. “Up until a few years ago, this would have been considered science fiction, as we’ve never thought an entire joint could be reconstructed this way.”

It’s true that until recently, few people would believe that a major joint could be replaced by a 3D printed one, much less that the 3D printed replacement would allow function comparable to that of a normal healthy joint. Now, however, these stories are everywhere. A woman in France had her shoulder restored through 3D printing not long ago, and similar implants have been made in the Netherlands, in China and elsewhere. As 3D printing continues to approach the point at which it’s considered mainstream in the medical field, it’s stories like these that encourage the general public to have faith that this technology really is the future of medicine, so they can be aware of options that can help them.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below. 

[Source: Total Croatia News / Images: Novilist]

Nano Dimension Continues to Show Off DragonFly 2020 Pro 3D Printer and Opens First Customer …

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One of the most talked-about 3D printers to be introduced over the past few years has been the DragonFly 2020, the electronic circuit board 3D printer. A thorough beta program allowed creator Nano Dimension to perfect the machine, and feedback from customers was highly positive as the beta program closed. Working with feedback from its many beta customers, Nano Dimension recently followed up with the DragonFly 2020 Pro, an industrial replacement of the original desktop machine that was designed in response to users’ real-world usage and requirements and is now commercially available.

Now that the DragonFly 2020 Pro is on the market, what’s next for Nano Dimension? Quite a bit, it seems. The company has announced its intentions to pursue ceramics 3D printing as well as bioprinting, and now Nano Dimension has officially opened a new Customer Experience Center, or CEC, at its headquarters in Ness Ziona, Israel. The DragonFly 2020 Pro will be featured at the CEC, with on-site 3D printing demonstrations and samples available for viewing.

The CEC will be operated by Nano Dimension technicians and engineers specializing in additive manufacturing and engineering. Companies that visit will receive personalized advice on how best to implement 3D printed electronics for certain applications.

“Companies that are engaged in computing and actuating hardware products are under pressure to speed up their concepts into market-ready products quickly, while meeting the need for small, faster and more functional electronics,” said Amit Dror, CEO of Nano Dimension. “We are making agile hardware development immediately accessible through our Customer Experience Center, which will serve as a one-stop shop for advanced additive manufacturing technology. For the first time, customers can leverage Nano Dimension’s expertise and experience the benefits of electrified additive manufacturing applications on site.”

The CEC in Ness Ziona is the first of several CECs that Nano Dimension has planned for across the world. The CEC offers the opportunity for visitors to not only see the DragonFly 2020 Pro in action and meet with Nano Dimension’s leadership team, but also to meet and work with company specialists who can “provide tailored advice to the specific needs of your company about the best way to implement 3D-printed electronics for specific applications and industry 4.0 preparedness.”

The DragonFly 2020 Pro 3D printer will be traveling, making its way to trade shows and allowing people to check out its capabilities. The original DragonFly 2020 has been a presence at many trade shows and industry events, but this is the first time many people will be seeing the Pro in person. Next week, the 3D printer will be on display at productronica, a trade show for electronics development and production, which is taking place in Munich from November 14th to the 17th.

Nano Dimension will be in Hall B2, Booth 201 at productronica, and visitors can stop by to see fully functional circuits 3D printed on the DragonFly 2020 Pro. The company will also be displaying its high performance inkjet materials for 3D printed electronics, including conductive and dielectric materials. Visitors to the booth can also check out Nano Dimension’s Switch software, which was developed for the DragonFly 2020 and offers users a great deal of design flexibility.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below. 

[Images: Nano Dimension]