3D Printing Industry Accomplishments in 2011

As today is the last work day of 2011, we thought that it would be fun to take a moment and reflect on the accomplishments that 3D printing has made this year. We came across this article by Make Parts Fast and wanted to share the 2011 highlights that we found intriguing.

Noteworthy news events affecting the 3D printing industry:

1. Food
The printing of food was a popular story this year. CNN Money started the ball rolling by reporting that a group of Cornell University scientists and students built a 3D printer and used material made out of food as a test item.

2. New materials
The key obstacle to wider use of 3D printing technology continues to be materials—both in terms of costs (engineers and customers want them lower) and in variety (more materials that can be used in end-use applications).

Stratasys introduced a new material that can be used to fabricate assembly aids for electronic products. Stratasys also introduced easier support material removal for polycarbonate. High temperature materials, which are suitable for military and aerospace applications emerged this year. Objet also introduced its high-impact, high temperature ABS-like Digital Material (RGD5160-DM) material for simulating engineering plastics, clear transparent material (Objet VeroClear) and rigid white (Objet VeroWhitePlus) material for all-round application use.

And in the world of unusual materials, there are plenty with more on the way. This year we saw clay, wood, ceramic, potatoes, baker’s icing and dough used in 3D printers to make various objects. One of the more interesting odd materials was cement.

3. 3D printers print parts in space
Yep, 3D printers went into space and worked just fine. The BfB™ 3000 3D printer from 3D Systems completed two zero gravity test flights in partnership with MADE IN SPACE, a start-up dedicated to providing solutions for manufacturing in outer space.

4. 3D printing in Medical                                                                                                      The medical industry has become a big user of 3D printing, and not just for hearing aids or dental appliances. Researchers have printed bone or bone like materials. EOS has been printing metal parts that can be used in surgery to attach to bone for certain surgical procedures far a couple of years. And researchers have been working on printing organs (so far, none of them working or FDA approved).

5. CAD programs for novices                                                                                          Another interesting development was the emergence of easy to use CAD programs for those with little engineering CAD experience. Among them are 3DTin, TinkerCAD, Sketch Up, 3D Via, and Autodesk, which entered into this part of the market with its Autodesk 123D. These programs tap a market of artists and others who may not want to learn CAD but who do want to design. Expect this trend to continue. In fact, some industry experts anticipate that the function of CAD design will shift from making designs to creating easier to use CAD software.

Click here to view the full article.

The 3D Innovations family would like to wish you a Happy Aloha Friday and Happy New Year!

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