Category Archive for "3D Printing/Rapid Prototyping"

Three Areas Where 3D Printing Shines

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is one of the most buzzed about technologies of the past five years. The hype around the technology has certainly diminished since its fever pitch in 2014, in which Forbes published, “3-D Printing Is About To Change The World Forever”—and now the genuine potential of the technology is emerging. Certain industries have taken to the technology quicker than others and have been able to successfully implement it into their supply chain. Below we discuss three areas in which 3D printing technology really shines.

Customer Customization

3D printingIt’s no secret that customers are evolving and their preferences are changing. Where once customers were happy with the “Big Box” store approach, this mentality is starting to shift and customers are looking for more customizable products that meet their specific needs and preferences.

Customization is one of the major benefits of 3D printing. Companies are able to print one-of-a-kind products. One industry that has had great success implementing 3D printing for customization purposes is the designing of prosthetics. Companies and patients have found that they are able to create custom prosthetics at a fraction of the cost with the use of 3D modeling and 3D printing technology.

Designing New Structures

Like anything, traditional manufacturing has its limitations. Until recently certain designs could not be manufactured simply because they were deemed “not possible” or the expense was too exorbitant to be justifiable. However, 3D printing allows for greater design flexibility.

Biomimicry has grown in popularity among product designers and architects, however, these designs are usually manufacturing headaches. “The purpose of biomimicry is to learn from the way nature has optimized structures, designs and objects for maximum performance so that we can use them to create better solutions.” The curvature and delicate nature of the designs are very organic, which poses a challenge when it comes time for production. 3D printing has enabled designers to step out of the traditional way of designing and focus more on what makes the most sense for the product.

Specialty Manufacturing

High variability, low demand products cannot be effectively served by traditional manufacturing methods. If you are a collector of any type of vintage item, then you understand the issues that arise if something breaks or you need to restore a piece. “3-D printing readily solves the challenge of manufacturing rare replacement parts, while also overcoming the obstacle of distribution: a plant exists wherever a printer does.”

Certain components cannot simply be bought, and this is where 3D printing comes into play. With a 3D digital design and a 3D printer, a piece that once was impossible to find can now be produced and put into use in record time.

3D printing technology has found its place in the business landscape. With the continued developments of the technology, it is poised to continue to grow and become even more valuable to businesses.

 

References:

Lessons Engineers and Architects Should Learn from Nature and Topology Optimization

Four Areas Where 3-D Printing Could Flourish

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3D Academy: Incorporating 3D Printing into the Classroom

Our second ‘3D Printing and CAD Design using LEGO’ Camp of the summer is a little over a month away and in honor of it, we wanted to share ways in which 3D printing technology can be incorporated in the classroom. By now, people understand the practical uses of the technology in a business setting and the benefits of designing and prototyping with 3D printing, but what might be a bit more abstract is how this technology can transform a variety of subjects in the classroom for both students and teachers.

Many K-12 schools and higher education institutions are adding 3D printers to their classrooms and incorporating the technology into lesson plans. 3D printing allows students and teachers to explore, invent and innovate together while promoting a growth mindset. In every step of the 3D printing process students must push the boundaries of traditional thinking and create something entirely new. Critical analysis, critical thinking, design, sketching, prototyping with physical objects, creating a prototype in a CAD software and creating the correct file formats to transfer the finished file into the 3D printing slicer software are the skills students develop and hone when learning to use 3D printing technology.

As noted by the University of Pittsburgh, “3D printing empowers more authentic exploration of objects that may not be readily available. For example, students can print and handle objects such as fossils, prototypes of extinct animals, prosthetics, hardware, buildings and architecture, drones and much more. Students can improve physical objects by 3D scanning the item, uploading the file in a CAD program and tweaking certain aspects to re-invent an object. Flexible filament or filament infused with conductive metals, magnetic metals, or wood allows for more specific applications for certain projects. The possibilities are endless.”

Below are ideas on how to start incorporating 3D printing into the classroom by subject.
  • Engineering and Design: students can print out prototypes of their own creations.
  • Chemistry: students can print out molecules to study.
  • Biology: students can study cross sections of organs and print out entire structures to learn about the intricate details of each organ.
  • History: students can print out historical artifacts for closer examination. This can also be done with the use of a 3D scanner to create an exact replica.
  • Graphic Design: students can create 3D versions of their work.
  • Geography: students could print out maps showing the topography, population or demographics of an area.
  • Architecture: students can print 3D models of their own design.
  • Cooking: students could design intricate molds for ice and gelatin. Or go one step further with 3D printed chocolate creations.
3D printing technology in the classroom

(Image: Creatz 3D)

These are just a few ways in which 3D printing can bring hands-on learning to traditional subjects. If you are interested in learning more about 3D printing in the classroom and how to get started, we are happy to help. Our 3D Academy can get you up to speed on 3D printing technology and help devise a lesson plan to integrate the technology.

If you have further question or would like to learn more about 3D printing in the classroom, please send us an email, info@3d-innovations.com or give us a call at 1.808.722.8667.

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Three Technologies Transforming the Hardware Startup Landscape

Over the last five years hardware startups have found it easier to find their footing, reach customers and develop a product without “breaking the bank”. The transforming business landscape for hardware startups can be attributed to advances in technology. Where it once took thousands of dollars for a digital design and prototyping alone, today it can be completed at a fraction of the cost. Below are three technologies that have increased in usability and popularity, and in doing so, transformed the way startups are built.

Digital Designs

3D digital designs are allowing startups the freedom of testing and design validation before building a prototype. While designing a product is a trial-and-error process, digital designs allow you to quickly navigate this stage and settle on a final design that meets both your customers’ needs and manufacturing requirements.

Digital designs speed up the product design process, and ensure a smooth transition into the manufacturing phase. With DFM (design for manufacturability) in mind you can design a product that will increase your manufacturing efficiency while saving you both time and money.

Additive Manufacturing

3D printingNo list related to technology would be complete without the mention of 3D printing. This technology is the “golden boy” of engineering and product design at the moment—and rightfully so. This single technology has shifted supply chains, disrupted the traditional manufacturing process and has allowed startups the freedom of iteration at a reasonable cost.

What exactly is 3D printing? It is defined as, “the action or process of making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model, typically by laying down many thin layers of a material in succession.” As the material selection continues to expand, so does the application use for additive manufacturing. 3D printing at one time was used specifically for prototyping, and while this is still where it is the most popular, it is moving into the manufacturing domain with short-run production.

Crowdfunding

Starting a business once required bootstrapping or venture capital investment; however, crowdfunding has changed all of this. A well designed product, coupled with a carefully curated crowdfunding campaign, can garnish unprecedented funding to launch your business. Kickstarter and Indiegogo have helped launch some of the most innovative startups.

Crowdfunding might not be the right fit for every startup or every product, but if your idea is a nice fit for this type of funding support, you could be looking at significant help in manufacturing and commercializing your product idea.

The cost prohibitive nature of starting a business has been on the decline and now more than ever, people with an innovative idea can make their product dream a reality.

“When you find an idea that you just can’t stop thinking about, that’s probably a good one to pursue.” — Josh James, Omniture CEO and co-founder

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Top Four Product Development & 3D Printing Articles

We have gathered the top four, most shared, product development and 3D printing articles from our blog and put them here, in one place, for easy access and reference. These articles touch on everything from finding the right product development partner to a glimpse into the future of additive manufacturing. Enjoy!

3D Printing Continues to Transform Manufacturing in 2017

Additive Manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, is ripe for innovation in 2017. 3D printing technology has been evolving at a rapid rate since it caught the attention of makers and the public alike in 2009. Though the technology dates back to 1986, it wasn’t readily accessible to the public until 2009, when the first commercial 3D printer kit was offered for sale. Since 2009, additive manufacturing technology has transformed in itself, while simultaneously transforming the business and manufacturing landscapes as well. Below are three ways that additive manufacturing will continue to alter the manufacturing industry in the coming year.

Manufacturing Technology: 3D Printing vs CNC

The rapid growth in 3D printing technology and its popularity has manufacturers worried that at-home 3D printers may one day soon replace traditional manufacturing. From our experience though, a maker or entrepreneur is going to benefit the most from a convergence of these two manufacturing methods.

 

Both technologies have their place in the manufacturing landscape. Where one technology falters, the other excels. When designing your product, keep in mind that using both technologies during product development might be just what you need.

Three Common Product Development Myths

Product development is a fluid process that is not truly complete until there is a manufactured product in your hands. However, the process of taking a great idea and translating that idea into a physical product is not as predictable as you might think. Here we highlight three common product development myths…

Five Questions to Ask a Potential Product Development Partner

Product development is a collaborative endeavor, and you want to have a team that is able to clearly communicate, develop and deliver your product on time and on budget.

 

Here we discuss five key questions that you need to ask while searching for the right product development company.

Do you have product development questions? We would love to help, send them our way at info@3d-innovations.com

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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3D Academy: Design & Engineering Enrichment Camps

Last week, 3D Academy had the privilege of participating in two student STEM enrichment camps. Below are short overviews of the camps and links to photos on our Facebook page from each event.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

              –Nelson Mandela

Excite Camp

Hosted by the Maui Economic Development Board & Women in Technology, the goal of Excite Camp is to excite, educate as well as expose middle school students to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers. Excite Camp focuses on giving under-represented demographics priorities for their camps, such as: Native Hawaiians, girls and other minorities. This year we focused on design, 3D modeling and 3D printing with camp participants.

View Photos from Excite Camp

3D Academy STEM Education Enrichment Camp3D Printing and CAD Design using LEGO

We partnered with Play-Well TEKnologies for this hands-on design-focused engineering camp. Students were introduced to CAD design, Spatial Environments and 3D printing in order to create their own custom and one-of-a-kind LEGO component.

View Photos from 3D Printing and CAD Design using LEGO Camp

About 3D Academy

3D Academy, a Division of 3D Innovations, specializes in developing and integrating industry technologies with STEM Education. 3D Academy promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education programs that integrate 3D Technology into K–12, as well as university classrooms. Using hands-on and project-based learning strategies, we have been effective in providing students with opportunities to excel in the areas of STEM and to integrate industry applications into their learning experiences. Learn more about 3D Academy on our website.

If you have an upcoming camp and would like to inquire about the educational resources and hands-on activities we provide, please send an e-mail to info@3d-innovations.com

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Additive Manufacturing is Bending the Rules

Additive manufacturing (commonly referred to as 3D printing) technology is altering the business landscape and changing the way products are made. Before additive manufacturing was available to the masses, designing, prototyping and manufacturing a product took time and was considerably expensive—the cost prohibitive nature of the product development process left many startups in the dust. However, this technology has reduced both product development timelines and expenses, which means that kicking a hardware startup into high gear is not as challenging as it once was. Below are three ways 3D printing technology is bending traditional business rules—and helping startups succeed.

Product Design

Ideas and products that were once seemingly impossible to produce, due to design constraints, are now finding life with 3D printing. New designs are taking on geometric shapes that have never been produced before and the possibilities are endless. Product designers now have the ability to design a product in the most efficient way possible, instead of focusing solely on meeting manufacturing constraints.  Limitless design is now at your fingertips.

The Hardware Startup Scene

While additive manufacturing is changing many facets of business, prototyping is still where the technology is used most frequently. Entrepreneurs with a great product idea are now able to prototype their design in mere hours and at a low-cost. With the ability to build and validate an idea within such a short time period, the world of hardware startups is shifting. Hardware startups are gaining momentum and major investors are starting to take notice.

Innovation

Additive manufacturing is pushing the boundaries of innovative product design, but the technology in itself is undergoing major innovations. Where plastics once dominated the 3D printing scene – ceramics, metals, bio materials and even food are now viable options. New desktop 3D printers with customized capabilities are being designed at a rapid rate, and many can even be found on crowdfunding sites. The at-home consumer 3D printing market has not lived up to the hype that surrounded it a few years back, but industrial scale additive manufacturing technology is taking off.

Entrepreneurs and hardware startups are finding that designing a product has never been as easy as it is today—thanks in part to 3D printing. With 3D printing poised to disrupt manufacturing in a big way, we can only imagine how it will continue to revolutionize the entire business landscape in the coming years.

Ready to prototype your product idea? Contact us at info@3d-innovations.com to get started.

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3D Innovations in the News — Printing Innovation on Demand

3D InnovationsRecently our very own Collin Kobayashi, 3D Innovations President and Chief 3D Officer, was interviewed by Pacific Business News regarding the additive manufacturing industry along with the challenges of starting your own business. Below are a couple excerpts from the interview:

Regarding the 3D printing industry growth:

“The market with 3D printing now is so wide and deep. It can be applied to almost any type of industry… People want to be able to build parts on demand and not have to wait on parts from the Mainland or China. We have to ship everything here in Hawaii, so there’s big value in 3D printing.”

Discussing our top service:

The 3D printing is sort of a secondary process. Most times the customer wants to get a new product to market, get it developed. The 3D printing comes after that. Sometimes a customer will have their own 3D file, made on their own or downloaded from the internet. Other times we assist in the design process. The first step is the design and prototype and then you get into the production and manufacturing environment.

Read more of this interview on the Pacific Business News website, “Printing Innovation on Demand”.

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Manufacturing Technology: 3D Printing vs CNC

3D printing has undoubtedly become a tool-of-choice for makers and educators alike. The rapid growth in 3D printing technology and its popularity has manufacturers worried that at-home 3D printers may one day soon replace traditional manufacturing. From our experience though, a maker or entrepreneur is going to benefit the most from a convergence of these two manufacturing methods.

Below we will discuss the benefits and pitfalls of both 3D printing and CNC milling.

Methodology

CNC milling machines “take a block of solid material (e.g. aluminum or wood) and use sharp rotating tools or cutters to remove all parts that are not needed. Milling is a subtractive method. CNC mills are computer-controlled. The computer feeds the machine-specific code that controls the cutting tools (just like the G-code used by 3D printers). The models for CNC mills are created using 3D modeling software, so-called CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) software applications.” (All3DP.com)

3D Printing starts from scratch and builds a three-dimensional product layer by layer. This technology is referred to as additive manufacturing. Just like with CNC milling machines, a computer feeds the machine specific code that controls the design process.

Material Selection

CNC mills can work on a “huge variety of materials: metal alloys (e.g. aluminum, steel alloys, brass, copper), softwoods and hardwoods, thermoplastics, acrylic, modeling foams, machining wax (for creating a positive model for casting). You may need different cutting tools for different materials, but the tool-to-machine interfaces are usually standardized—so the tools can easily be exchanged.” (All3DP.com)

At-home desktop 3D printers are usually restricted to a few materials, typically thermoplastics or resins. Thermoplastics can be mixed with other materials such as ceramics, wood, metal, but the workpieces produced on a 3D printer will not be as robust as workpieces cut from a block of metal or wood. Commercial or specialty 3D printers can print with more exotic materials (i.e. bioprinting and food).

Range of Applications

With the range of applications for these two technologies, there is a lot of overlap. (Here we will focus on the applications either technology supports, while the other does not.)

CNC milling is the better solution when you need to manufacture extremely robust, precise and/or heat-resistant products. 3D printing is the better solution when you need quick prototypes to test designs, small batch runs or are interested in exotic application fields—bioprinting, architectural purposes and printing food.

Material Waste

By design, there is less waste with 3D printing. The technology only requires the material needed for building the product. With CNC milling, you need a block of material that is the size of the product it will produce—a great deal of material is then removed, and often times the excess material cannot be recycled.

Both technologies have their place in the manufacturing landscape. Where one technology falters, the other excels. When designing your product, keep in mind that using both technologies during product development might be just what you need.

Have questions about the manufacturing process? Send us your questions, info@3d-innovations.com,we are happy to help.

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Designing & Prototyping with 3D Printing

3D Printing Services | Rapid Prototyping Services | 3D-innovationsIt’s no secret that additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing) is shifting the manufacturing landscape and transforming supply chains. 3D printing is redefining how companies design, develop and manufacture products. Product designers are experiencing what it means to design without traditional limitations of design for assembly, allowing them to radically reinvent products based on performance rather than manufacturability. Below are four reasons as to why you should be integrating 3D printing into your product development lifecycle if you aren’t already.

Timelines & Budgets.

These are the biggest challenges to any product development team. Producing prototypes and delivering accurate designs to clients has never been easier than it is today with 3D printing. With a 3D printer, CAD models can become real life touchable designs in a matter of hours.

Multiple Design Iterations & Prototyping.

In product development it often takes many iterations of a product before a design is settled on. People have different ideas on how the product should look and function. While a 3D CAD model makes it easier to share design thoughts, nothing compares to holding a physical product in your hand to help communicate an idea.

Once a design has been finalized, a functional prototype is needed to help with other aspects of the business (securing funding, marketing, presentations etc.). In today’s competitive startup market, a functional prototype is no longer optional, and investors (whether VCs or through crowdfunding) want to see how your product actually works and that you have come up with something that is indeed manufacturable.

Manufacturing Flexibility.

3D printing helps reduces the capital involved in achieving economies of scale, thus lowering any barriers to entry for production. This is a major benefit for hardware startups that previously had to find funding before even approaching the idea of manufacturing their product. With 3D printing, startups can now manufacture small batches at an affordable rate and customize products based on customer demands.

Market Testing.

Gauging customer support early in the product development lifecycle is vital for success. You want to get a functional prototype in the hands of your test market as soon as possible so that you can incorporate their feedback into the design. They will be able to share insight regarding product material, product fit, weight, visual appearance and usability. Having access to a 3D printer will let you update designs quickly and communicate design changes.

While 3D printing is making quite an impact on businesses today, it is hard to remember at times that the technology is still evolving and maturing. With the evolution of 3D printing technology, we can only imagine how it will look in five or ten years.

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3D Printing Continues to Transform Manufacturing in 2017

Additive Manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, is ripe for innovation in 2017. 3D printing technology has been evolving at a rapid rate since it caught the attention of makers and the public alike in 2009. Though the technology dates back to 1986, it wasn’t readily accessible to the public until 2009, when the first commercial 3D printer kit was offered for sale. Since 2009, additive manufacturing technology has transformed in itself, while simultaneously transforming the business and manufacturing landscapes as well. Below are three ways that additive manufacturing will continue to alter the manufacturing industry in the coming year.

Transform the Manufacturing Industry Landscape

Over the past ten years, 3D printing has transformed from a primarily prototyping technology to one suitable for making quick-to-market products, specialized designs, and low-volume production runs. It is natural to assume the technology will continue to advance and become more sophisticated.

“Two-thirds of manufacturers use 3D printing in some way, and 25% plan to adopt it in the future.” (CES 2017)

While companies are not giving up their existing manufacturing methods, they are beginning to integrate 3D printing into these more traditional practices. Manufacturers see 3D printing as a way to cut down on the time and costs of injection molding processes, thus making product development cheaper and more efficient. For product development and on the manufacturing floor, CAD software allows for quick design updates and 3D printing is able to quickly adapt to these changes. Additive manufacturing will continue to be a supplement to existing manufacturing techniques.

Smart Automation Will Take Shape

As the technology advances, automated 3D printing systems will become more advanced. The current pre-programmed automation efforts are error prone and lack the ability to self-correct. New, intelligent, automation is right around the corner. This new automation will be able to self-correct and adapt to changing design modifications. “The process will monitor itself as it is being printed and either correct the process or reject the part when problems occur. The nature of 3D printing and the continuous, high-inspection requirements make ‘smart automation’ a better fit in the long-term for the manufacturing processes than older programmable robotic approaches.”

Reduce Time-to-Market Even Further

In Gartner’s 2016 annual predictions about the future of 3D printing, the report indicates that 3D printing will continue to reduce new product development timelines—as much as 25% by 2020. Companies across a wide range of industries have been using additive manufacturing to speed up prototyping processes. Using 3D printing, companies are better equipped to turn out prototypes, test them, present them to clients, adjust and tweak them, and repeat. As Gartner states, “The number of iterations enabled by rapid and iterative prototyping results in short new-product development time, lower development costs and fewer finished goods defects.”

3D printing is having quite an impact on the industrial sector and demonstrating huge potential for the future of consumers. What shape that potential will take is still unfolding before us.

Garnter’s full report can be found here.

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