3D Printing Make Anything From Candy Bars To Hand Guns
3D printing or Additive manufacturing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. 3D Printing Make Anything From Candy Bars To Hand Guns
3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes.
3D printing is also considered distinct from traditional machining techniques, which mostly rely on the removal of material by methods such as cutting or drilling (subtractive processes).
A 3D printer is a limited type of industrial robot that is capable of carrying out an additive process under computer control.
While 3D printing technology has been around since the 1980s, it was not until the early 2010s that the printers became widely available commercially. The first working 3D printer was created in 1984 by Chuck Hull of 3D Systems Corp.
Since the start of the 21st century there has been a large growth in the sales of these machines, and their price has dropped substantially. According to Wohlers Associates, a consultancy, the market for 3D printers and services was worth $2.2 billion worldwide in 2012, up 29% from 2011.
The 3D printing technology is used for both prototyping and distributed manufacturing with applications in architecture, construction (AEC), industrial design, automotive, aerospace, military, engineering, civil engineering, dental and medical industries, biotech (human tissue replacement), fashion, footwear, jewelry, eyewear, education, geographic information systems, food, and many other fields.
One study has found that open source 3D printing could become a mass market item because domestic 3D printers can offset their capital costs by enabling consumers to avoid costs associated with purchasing common household objects.
A Belgium 3D printing firm, Materialise, which recently helped doctors conduct a full face transplant is considering an initial public offering, and could join a number of rivals that have successfully tapped the public market.
A spokeswoman for Materialise said: “Materialise constantly explores, with an open mind, various opportunities that may fuel its growth. A public transaction involving equity is one possibility, but there are many other alternative means to finance our growth. Today none of these many options has been ruled out.”
People familiar with the firm said it is leaning towards an IPO, either on NYSE Euronext or Nasdaq, and said it could raise between $70 million and $100 million.
If it does decide to list, Materialise will join a growing number of 3D printers on the public markets. Earlier this month, Germany-based Voxeljet listed on the New York Stock Exchange for $13 dollars per share, raising $100 million. The stock bounced nearly 90% in the first hour-and-a-half of trading.
Voxeljet follows the IPO of The ExOne Co, which listed in February on Nasdaq. The stock floated at $18 a share raising $110 million, and bounced to a high of $79 in August, before falling back down to $55.
Reflecting booming interest in the sector, in July Stoxx a Zurich-based provider of indices, introduced the Stoxx Global 3D Printing Pure Play Index, which tracks pure-play companies that are highly involved in the 3D printing sect sector’s growth . The index has risen 16% over the past month.
Despite a long history – nearly all hip joints are made via 3D printing techniques – 3D printers are growing in popularity in the public imagination, in part due to the pick-up from the consumer sector.
Startup Sols Systems Using Smartphones and 3-D Printers to Remake Orthotics
From chocolate to human livers to electric motorcycles, it seems every industry is developing a use case for 3-D printing.
As an early employee at 3-D printing marketplace company Shapeways Inc., design guru Kegan Schouwenburg had the technology on her mind constantly–especially when she was on her feet.
One day, as she was walking the 25,000-square-foot factory floor (rather uncomfortably) in her black leather platform boots, she became convinced printing custom orthotics would be a perfect fit.
“There’s a stigma about orthotics now. It’s sweaty and it goes in your shoe,” said Ms. Schouwenburg of the industry that Global Industry Analysts pegs at $4.7 billion in 2015. “They are either seen as expensive and hard to get ahold of or basically a disposable product that you cut to fit your foot and then put in your shoe.”
So last May, after talking it over with early Shapeways investor Zack Schildhorn of Lux Capital, she founded Sols Systems Inc. to reinvent the category.
The New York-based company has created a smartphone app that allows people to take videos of their feet. Sols then runs algorithms against those videos, pulling out data points and creating a model of each person’s foot.
After applying Sols’ core technology, Sols prints custom orthotics on 3-D printers.
“What she’s doing is cutting edge,” said Mr. Schildhorn, who led a $1.75 million investment in Sols in December and holds a board seat. “It was only recently that you could produce something that size, profitably at scale.”
Mr. Schildhorn said the material–an anti-microbial nylon that’s lightweight and springy–is also a new advance that simply wasn’t available until a couple of years ago.
The fact that Sols uses cameras on smartphones and that no hardware is required to sell into the medical field was also a major selling point.
Other investors backing the startup include Rothenberg Ventures, RRE Ventures, Start Garden, Terawatt Ventures and strategic partner Advanced Laser Materials Inc.
The startup, which is now just eight people, has wrapped its first trials with 15 podiatrists in the New York area and is preparing to expand to other major metropolitan areas this year.
Ms. Schouwenburg said she will double the team in 2014, introduce a product line for women’s heels and eventually market to consumers by partnering with e-commerce sites like Zappos.com.
She said her dream is to make orthotics “sexy” by creating inserts that are so beautiful that they become something people want to show off rather than hide. She said people can choose whatever color they like, including a polished leather component, and even have their name inscribed.
Although the startup is first focusing on feet, the grand vision is to create a line of wrist and knee braces, helmets and other custom items.
“We are starting with shoes,” said Ms. Schouwenburg. “It’s like Intel. We want to be inside and power footwear.”
What’ll The Next Few Years Hold For 3D Printing?
I’m seeing a lot of things happening in ceramic and SLA tech. I’m excited about the SLA patents and the SLS patents expiring.
FDM won’t be the only thing people are using. 3D printing is wide open right now, man. Almost every application is possible.
The next big step is seeing if it really grasps or takes a foothold in social life. When you talk to people about 3D printing now, they’re like, “Oh yeah, you can make a gun with that!” But that doesn’t really touch on their lives and they haven’t found a way that they might actually use 3D printing themselves.
I’m not sure — it seems to be a foregone conclusion that it will be adapted and used. But then I look at all the rights-holders, and the different kinds of claims on the use of the technology, and then I’m not sure that it will be adopted en masse. Right now you can make all sorts of figurines, knick-knacks and bobbles.
The real test will be whether the material base will shift enough so people can make the things that they want and would be useful in their lives. Getting to that stage of development is more science fiction right now.
We need to get closer to that before it can really take a foothold in public consciousness.
First Mutual Fund For 3D Printing Heralds Industry’s Mainstreaming
If the other indications weren’t enough, the first mutual fund targeted at 3D printing and technology shows that the industry has now entered the mainstream.
In fact, 3D Printing and Technology Fund head Alan Meckler told VentureBeat that 3D printing is Internet-like. “It’s entirely similar to where the commercial Internet was in ’94, ’95, ’96,” he said, where a “paradigm shift is causing creative destruction” across a variety of other industries.
It is, he said, nothing less than the “third industrial revolution,” following the birth of the textile industry in 18th century Britain and then assembly line factories, typified by Henry Ford’s in early 20th century U.S.
‘More Than Just Eyeballs’
Meckler, whose history includes Virtual Reality World and Internet World magazines and conferences, Internet.com, SearchEngineWatch, Earthweb and Jupitermedia, is currently CEO of media jobs hub Mediabistro.
He said that, like the Web, 3D printing is “changing the economies of scale, giving people the chance to compete” in a variety of industries.
With 3D printing offering a desktop factory and the Web providing e-commerce, Meckler said, “there will be hundreds of thousands of new businesses created from 3D printing in the next few years.”
But there are, of course, differences between this new industry and the great Bit Revolution. Meckler pointed out that we’re not likely to see as many public offerings as the Internet has spawned, and the 3D printing business model “is more than just eyeballs.”
Not that VentureBeat wants to pooh-pooh eyeballs, but we’re talking about an industry that creates design models, working prototypes, sculpture, machine parts, physical tools, dishware, printed vehicles and, on the horizon, organic tissue.
‘The Greatest Thing’
Organovo, one of the companies in the new fund, is expected to release its first product this year – 3D-printed liver assays, which are collections of liver cells that can used to test drugs.
While Meckler said he had “to be careful because of strict rules,” he was able to mention that other stocks in the fund’s portfolio include Autodesk, Stratasys, which now owns MakerBot, and 3D Systems, which is working with Hershey to make printable food and candies.
Separately from the fund, Meckler’s new passion is also evidenced by his Inside 3D Printing trade shows, which are rapidly expanding. When asked if he felt that 3D printing had entered the mainstream in just the last few months – given announcements by Dell, Adobe, Staples and others – Meckler said that “it’s night and day” between now and, say, 120 days ago.
Part of that stark difference is that people are less frequently confusing 3D printing with 3D graphics. Meckler said that, when he was preparing to launch the fund, he mentioned 3D printing to a financial acquaintance who kept bringing up the great 3D effects in the movies Gravity and Avatar and, consequently, thoroughly misunderstanding the opportunity.
Some time later, Meckler recalled, the acquaintance called to say “that he had made one of the greatest financial mistakes of his life, which he realized when his 4th grade son came home and said he had seen ‘the greatest thing’ – a 3D printer.”
Coming Soon To 3D Printing: Chocolate Bars
Hershey Co. and 3D Systems Corp. reached a multiyear joint development agreement to explore and develop ways to use 3-D printing technology to produce edible foods, including confectionary treats.
“We believe that innovation is key to delivering relevant, compelling consumer experiences with our iconic brands,” said William Papa, Hershey’s vice president and chief research and development officer.
“Whether it’s creating a whole new form of candy or developing a new way to produce it, we embrace new technologies such as 3-D printing as a way to keep moving our timeless confectionery treats into the future.”
Financial terms of the deal weren’t provided.
In a widely seen report, research firm Gartner Inc. last year said the number of consumer 3-D printers globally was set to double and that combined end-user spending on the devices was expected to rise 49% during 2013.
The figures cited by Gartner, however, still drew from a relatively small base.
“Mainstreaming 3-D printing is fundamental to our success,” said Chuck Hull, 3D Systems’ chief technology officer.
Hershey, the maker of Kisses and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, has been broadening its product lines through acquisitions, including the purchase of Brookside-branded candy, dark chocolate with fruit-juice centers.
Last year Hershey unveiled plans to start selling a line of caramels–its first new brand in 30 years–in the U.S. early next year, after launching the product this year in China.
“Whether it is creating a whole new form of candy or developing a new way to produce it, we embrace new technologies such as 3-D printing as a way to keep moving our timeless confectionery treats into the future,” said William Papa, Hershey’s vice president and chief research and development officer, in a prepared statement.
Financial terms of the multiyear deal weren’t provided.
A spokesman from 3D Systems said, “It’s a first of its kind deal and an only of its kind deal.”
3D Systems unveiled two 3-D printers of edible sugar and chocolate recently at the International Consumer Electronics Show.
The ChefJet, which can print single colors, and the full-color ChefJet Pro are expected to be available in the second half. The ChefJet is expected to price below $5,000, while the ChefJet Pro is expected below $10,000.
The spokesman said the ChefJet and ChefJet Pro, which are based on its ColorJet technology, are for professional use in high-end bakeries, cake shops and for special events. The company has a “Digital Cookbook” to help customers design and make products with various flavors and recipes.
“We fully intend for this to come to the consumer as well,” he said.
The company is currently working on the development of flavors—including chocolate. The 3-D printer can print complex geometries and a wide range of sizes up to 8 inches by 10 inches by 14 inches and prints at an inch an hour.
In a widely seen report, research firm Gartner Inc. last year said the number of consumer 3-D printers globally was set to double and that combined end-user spending on the devices was expected to rise 49% during 2013. However, the figures Gartner cited drew from a relatively small base.
The vast majority of 3-D printing sector revenue currently is generated by industrial sales, not consumers.
In a research note last month, Pacific Crest Securities analysts said the sector is poised for rapid growth through 2020, thanks to printer sales, material sales and printing services.
They expect most of the growth to come from rapid adoption from corporations for engineering and prototyping. But it isn’t until 2017 to 2022 when they project “rapid consumerization” as the ecosystem improves and costs come down.
“I don’t think printing candy bars in the traditional mass market sense will be feasible for a long time,” Weston Twigg of Pacific Crest said Thursday.
“3D Systems is working on a continuous throughput printer though, so someday it could be possible to have small 3-D printing manufacturing lines for reasonably large production runs,” Mr. Twigg said.
“More likely in the mid term, we might see some type of system that can be put in retail locations where consumers could go in and customize some type of candy and print it out. You could imagine custom Valentine’s Day candies or that sort of thing.”
Hershey, the maker of Kisses and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, has been broadening its product lines through acquisitions, including the purchase of Brookside-branded candy, dark chocolate with fruit-juice centers. Last year Hershey unveiled plans to start selling a line of caramels—its first new brand in 30 years—in the U.S. early next year, after launching the product this year in China.
3D Printed Guns
When Cody Wilson published the blueprint for the first fully 3D-printable gun on the web last spring, the controversy around that digital weapon led to its being downloaded 100,000 times in two days. Now Simon and Schuster is hoping the same sort of buzz can sell books.
Wilson, who leads the 3D-printed gun group Defense Distributed, signed a quarter-million dollar deal with Simon and Schuster’s Gallery imprint in December to write a non-fiction book chronicling his quest to create the first fully 3D-printable lethal weapon.
Though Wilson says the book won’t be a “philosophical treatise,” he tells me he’ll use the opportunity to fully explain his ideological motivations for creating a deadly firearm anyone can download and print in the privacy of their garage.
The book’s working title is Negative Liberty, Wilson says, based on a principle of freedom from external restraints in libertarian political theory.
“The whole point to me is to add to the hacker mythology and to have a very, very accurate and contentious portrayal of what we think about the current political situation, our attitude and political orientation, a lasting remark,” he says.
“It won’t be a manifesto. But culturally I hope to leave a couple of zingers…a touchstone for the young, disaffected radical towards his own political and social development, that kind of thing.”
Wilson says his proposal received highly mixed reactions from publishers, some of whom saw his attempts to create new ways to circumvent gun control laws as immoral.
“It was pretty hot and cold,” he says. “Some think I’m awful, that what I did was terrible, and others think this is an incredible story that needs to be told.”
Wilson first announced his intention to create a fully 3D-printable gun in August of 2012, describing it as a demonstration of government’s inability to regulate guns and other types of commerce in an era of distributed manufacturing and ubiquitous communication.
But Wilson, who was until recently a law student at the University of Texas, expects that he may soon be embroiled in a legal battle with the government over his firearm 3D-printing project.
“At least now if I’m in prison I’ll have something to do,” Wilson says, mostly joking. But he adds, more seriously, that he may need the book’s advance to fund a court battle he anticipates over his publication of the Liberator file. “In the worst case, I can at least bankroll my own legal defense.”