Wohlers Talk

Another Supply Chain Collapse

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By Noah Mostow and Terry Wohlers. The five-day block of the Suez Canal underscores the instability of our global supply chains. Nearly everything around us requires global connections. The canal is a critical route for products from Asia to Europe and the east coast of the U.S.

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How Wohlers Report 2021 was Produced

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By Noah Mostow. Helping to develop Wohlers Report 2021 was an unbelievable experience. The report was published last week. I learned that it takes an army of bright and dedicated individuals. This year, 88 co-authors and contributors from 34 countries were a part of it.

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Women in 3D Printing

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Women in 3D Printing , a non-profit organization, was formed in 2014 by Nora Toure of Fast Radius. In just five years, she helped build it into a community of more than 10,000 women worldwide.

3D-Printed Housing

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The idea of using 3D printing for construction applications has merit in special circumstances. If the value it adds exceeds the costs of using the technology, it may make sense.

Rapid Prototyping and On Demand Manufacturing

Our blog is focus on rapid prototyping and low volume manufacturing information for global product designer, engineers, purchase officer and entrepreneur.

Using AM for Design and Production

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By Noah Mostow. The additive manufacturing industry has progressed well beyond prototyping only. Companies using it for both product development and series production are finding interesting benefits.

Legend Scott Crump

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Scott is the inventor of the most popular method of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing in the world. It is called fused deposition modeling (FDM), and about nine out of 10 AM systems are based on it according to our research for Wohlers Report 2020.

Print Often, Learn Fast

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Note: Noah J. Mostow, research associate at Wohlers Associates, authored the following. Years ago, 3D printing was generally referred to as rapid prototyping. Then and now, engineers and designers often experience inherent gaps between a 3D computer model and a physical part.

Formnext 2019

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Last week’s Formnext in Frankfurt, Germany was outstanding. Nearly 35,000 people attended, up more than 28% from last year. Four large exhibition halls were nearly filled with 852 exhibitors, an increase of 35% over 2018.

Where is My 3D-Printed Gear?

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Note: Noah J. Mostow, research associate at Wohlers Associates, authored the following. With snow falling outside, I am often looking at my snowboarding equipment. It is all traditionally manufactured, along with all my outdoor gear. Where are the 3D-printed products?

Newest Member of Wohlers Associates

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Note: Noah J. Mostow, research associate at Wohlers Associates, authored the following. I produced my first 3D-printed part while working at Burton Snowboards in Burlington, Vermont. The part is shown in the following image. Its purpose was to test transforming rotation into linear motion.

Your CSWA Exam Prep Guide

This CSWA exam prep guide includes 30+ insider tips that will help you prepare, practice for, and pass the Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate exam.

Autodesk

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In 1983, I called Autodesk and the vice president of marketing and sales answered the phone. I was employed by Colorado State University at the time. I requested free use of AutoCAD version 1.3 in a 500-level CAD course I was planning to conduct later that year.

Game Day Series

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America Makes’ Virtual Game Day Series with Wohlers Associates concluded last week. The four events spanned four months and covered a range of key topics related to additive manufacturing and 3D printing. In all, 728 people worldwide attended the events.

Remarkable Struggles

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Our nation’s healthcare providers are doing extraordinary work. They are risking their lives to help many of us. We cannot provide too much support to them. I’m hopeful that they receive the personal protection equipment (PPE) they deserve.

AM Terminology

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Standard terminology for additive manufacturing and 3D printing is critical when communicating. It puts everyone on the “same page” and more accurately conveys thoughts and ideas when conversing, presenting, and publishing.

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3D-Printed Bike Saddle

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On June 3, 2020, Specialized announced the commercial availability of the first 3D-printed cycling saddle, the S-Works Power Saddle with Mirror Technology. A major part of the saddle is crafted with technology from Silicon Valley-based Carbon.

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3D Medical Applications

Held in Baltimore, Maryland, this event will bring together thought leaders, experts, engineers, doctors, researchers, and regulators in the many medical methods for 3D technology.The 3D Medical Applications conference is the most comprehensive, game-changing, meeting of minds for the future of 3D in healthcare.

Distributed Manufacturing

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Most mass manufacturing is done at centralized locations. Many produce millions of products annually. Envision a future where this capacity occurs in many more locations much closer to the customer. Deliveries occur faster and less expensively.

Response to Pandemic

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On Monday of this week, an important event occurred. It was the first in the recently announced Virtual Game Day Series with Wohlers Associates. Monday’s virtual event, titled America Makes COVID-19 Response, attracted about 250 people.

Recycling with AM

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Note: Ray Huff, associate engineer at Wohlers Associates, authored the following. No one is surprised to hear that people produce copious amounts of waste every day. According to a 2017 study , if was found that over 300 million tons of plastic waste is produced annually.

Selecting Parts for AM

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Note: Ray Huff, associate engineer at Wohlers Associates, authored the following. Adopting additive manufacturing (AM) for serial production is one of the biggest and most interesting recent trends in industry. Many companies want to know the secret of how to choose parts that are a good fit. Selecting the right parts is very specific to the process, material, product, and market, yet some overarching guidelines help in the process.

U.S. Comeback in AM

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Is the U.S. making a comeback in additive manufacturing? Some might question whether the U.S. had fallen back in its position. In the 2000s, the U.S. definitely lost ground in a number of areas to the likes of China and Germany. One area is in the production of industrial AM systems, which are those that sell for more than $5,000.

Extraordinary Times

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Countless organizations have shut down indefinitely. The economy is tanking with the stock market declining to unthinkable levels. United Airlines has cut 95% of its international flights, with most business travel halted. Meeting with others, even close friend and relatives, is discouraged.

Beatlemania Bass Guitar

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Associate consultant Olaf Diegel has designed and manufactured an impressive range of guitars. The main body of each is the most interesting part because it is designed for 3D printing. The character and complexity of these guitars make them, in my opinion, remarkable.

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3D-Printed Figurines

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3D scanning and printing tools make it possible to produce color figurines of action figures, pets, our kids, and a lot more. Prior to our daughter’s wedding last July, we decided to produce a custom cake topper of her and her fiancé. Our company has worked with 3D scanning in the past, but we had not dealt with this level of detail in some time. The following images show the 3D prints from the scan data.

Investment

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We have tracked investment totaling nearly $1.5 billion in additive manufacturing (AM) products and services worldwide. These dollars are critical to the future of AM and its developing ecosystem. Without it, countess producers of machines, materials, and software, as well as service providers, would not survive. Investment dollars do not ensure success, but it gives companies a fighting chance.

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Additive Manufacturing in 2019

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The additive manufacturing and 3D printing industry has been anything but dull, with stirring news nearly every week. Last week, for example, footwear product company Dr. Scholl’s announced a partnership with Wiivv to produce custom insoles by AM. I own a pair of the Wiivv-branded custom insoles (see the left image in the following) and wrote about them here. The next 12 months will offer a wide range of interesting—even exciting—developments in AM.

Wohlers Report 2018

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Wohlers Associates, Inc. announced today the release of Wohlers Report 2018 , the industry-leading global report on the state of the additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing industry, terms used interchangeably. Wohlers Associates has published its series of annual reports on AM for 23 consecutive years. According to the new report, an estimated 1,768 metal AM systems were sold in 2017, compared to 983 systems in 2016, an increase of nearly 80%.

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AM Adoption in Aerospace

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At an impressive pace, companies in the aerospace industry are building in-house capacity and expanding the number of certified suppliers in additive manufacturing. The Federal Aviation Administration and others have indicated to me that a half dozen or more metal AM parts have been certified for flight. In the 2014 to 2016 time frame, I saw more than 30 new designs for metal AM at Airbus and its subsidiary Premium AEROTEC. It is believed that hundreds of different polymer AM parts (i.e.,

3D-Printed Food

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The idea of 3D-printed food came in or around 2011 when Hod Lipson and his team at Cornell University produced some crude but intriguing examples. The team showed that it was possible to use a syringe-based material extrusion-based 3D printer to deposit cheese, peanut butter, chocolate, and other types of foods. The objects clearly demonstrated the concept. In 2014, 3D Systems introduced its ChefJet 3D printer for making candy and other food items.

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Bangalore

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I visited Bangalore for the first time last week and the experience could not have been better. The people were extremely friendly. In fact, several approached and talked to me as if we had met before, although we hadn’t. I was lucky enough to spend time at very interesting and successful companies, including 3D Product Development , Intech DMLS , and Supercraft3D. All three are vibrant and focused on additive manufacturing products and services and are in the forefront of AM in India.

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Design Rules for AM

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Little by little, companies are learning that it can be very different to design for additive manufacturing (DfAM). To make AM economical for production quantities, DfAM is usually necessary. As costs of the machines, materials, and post-processing are driven downward over time, this may change in some instances. For the foreseeable future, DfAM is not only useful, it’s a requirement.

AM in Formula One

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Note: Research associate Ray Huff authored the following. Two weeks ago, I attended the Circuit of the Americas Formula One race near Austin, Texas. I was a guest of Additive Industries, along with the Sauber Alfa Romeo team, for practice day at the track. The day was rainy, but spirits were high, and we enjoyed the spectacle of heavily-engineered race cars burning down the track at speeds of more than 322 km (200 miles) per hour.

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BrewSpoon

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When traveling, I like to wake up to a cup of rich coffee. Most hotel rooms in the U.S. include a coffee maker with decent coffee. When traveling outside the U.S., coffee makers in hotel rooms are not common, although many include a hot water kettle. For years, I have traveled abroad with a Bodum travel press, which produces a good cup of coffee. The first one I had was made of plastic and eventually cracked when pouring boiling water into it.

Revving the Engine with AM

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Note: Ray Huff, associate engineer at Wohlers Associates, authored the following. The automotive industry has been a major player in the use of AM over the past 30 years, beginning with rapid product development and prototyping. In the past few years, we have begun to glimpse the possibilities of AM as a tool for end-use production parts in automotive. Among the parts we have seen are custom trim pieces, HVAC components, parking brake brackets, and lightweight convertible top mounts.

AM Investors

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Investors of additive manufacturing (AM) come in many forms. Among them are institutional, private equity, venture capital, angel, and individuals. Increasingly, investors are in pursuit of AM-related companies with a promising future. The challenge is to know, with reasonable certainty, what that future looks like and how AM developments will unfold in the coming years. To date, few events on AM have been designed specifically for the investment community.

Jobs from 3D Printing

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Government officials have been asking how 3D printing will create jobs in their part of the world. The subject came up again last week in Melbourne, Australia when meeting with people at the state government of Victoria. We explained that some companies and businesses would not exist if it wasn’t for 3D printing. An example is Align Technology, makers of the Invisalign plastic aligners that replace metal brackets and wire to straighten teeth.

3D-Printed Buildings

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Earlier this year, 3DPrint.com reported on Shanghai-based WinSun and its 3D printing of buildings. Stories of the Chinese printing entire homes and other structures have been reported in the past, although most have been met with uncertainty. This one, however, includes many detailed images, suggesting that what was described in writing might be real. The video clip and pictures that accompany the story are compelling.

Not for Everyone

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Contrary to what some would like you to believe, owning and operating a 3D printer is not for most consumers. It may be easy to buy one, but it’s definitely not easy to create the 3D model data needed to produce a unique design. Also, getting a satisfactory result from a 3D printer is not fast or straightforward. I’ve owned a pair of downhill (alpine) ski poles that I cannot easily replace. They have molded grips that the ski industry stopped producing more than 10 years ago.

AM in India

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For years, additive manufacturing and 3D printing have been put to work in India for concept modeling, design validation, prototyping, and some tooling. Organizations in the U.S., Germany, and other countries are pushing hard to adopt AM for production applications, with India showing similar interest. AM is the subject of a session at the 11th NASSCOM Design & Engineering Summit on September 26-27, 2019 in Bangalore. I’m excited about participating in this important event.

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Elastic and Rigid Behavior in Single-Material Parts

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Note: Ray Huff, associate engineer at Wohlers Associates, authored the following. The elastic behavior of polymers, coupled with the design freedom of AM, allows designers to produce some very interesting products. A single-material part can have rigid and springy features, all driven by design. A good example is a small catapult on display in our office. The coil around the main shaft provides the spring force for operating the catapult, although both parts are made of PA12.

Major Brands Adopt 3D Printing

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Commercial 3D printing has been around since 1988, but change over the past two years is unlike anything we’ve seen in the industry’s first 25 years. Major corporations are making commitments to 3D printing. The earliest adopters of the technology were the likes of Chrysler, GM, Pratt & Whitney, and Texas Instruments, but the recent wave of big companies and brands fall into another category. Among the new companies are Autodesk, Adobe, and Microsoft.