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Bre Pettis MakerBot
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China 3D printing
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Department for Business, Innovation and Skills via Flickr
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Massive Dynamics Stock Rally
Massive Dynamics' stocks rallied from $0.0493 to $1.01 in a single day in September 2012 — just as Kylemore Corp got involved.
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Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com, via Wikimedia Commons
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3D Printing the Future Science Museum
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Hybrid Machine Tools
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Inition's work with the Fitzwilliam
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Delcam jewellery renders
What a year it's been, not only for the 3D printing industry but from a personal standpoint - this time last year I was writing about the euro versus the greenback and the Chinese purchasing managers' indices.
After shaking hands with Duncan Wood and Jim Woodcock when we met for the first time in January of this year, my views on emerging technology, engineering, manufacturing and design were destined for an entirely new perspective as I plunged headfirst into the realm of additive manufacturing and 3D printing.
Working at TCT Magazine gives me the great privilege of seeing every side of the 3D printing industry and for that reason (and because it's de rigueur at this time of year), I have compiled my top ten stories of 2013 from TCT Magazine to mark what has been an enlightening, grey matter-stimulating and sometimes manic first year at this fantastic publication.
1. Stratasys acquires MakerBot
It was arguably the biggest industry story of the year and rumours somebody was out to buy one of the best-known desktop 3D printing brands in the world were flooding the web weeks before the news finally broke - the TCT + Personalize team even placed bets on the potential buyer.
Then one hot early summer's day it emerged that Stratasys was the mystery buyer and it was media frenzy time. We followed the story from the very beginning of the whispered rumours, right to the finalisation of the acquisition - it was an exciting time to be a journalist specialising in the 3D printing industry and was the single most disruptive story to hit the web all year. There are a few more days of the year to go yet, I grant you but if a bigger story emerges I will eat my hat.
2. Chasing China
While working as a financial journalist I became slightly obsessed with the East Asia markets and China in particular. I couldn't possibly guess why, but I brought my Sinophile tendencies with me to TCT Magazine, which is handy because we published some cracking stories about 3D printing in China.
China is the world's second-largest economy but is set to overtake the US within Barack Obama's second term as President or during the tenure of the next Leader of the Free World. Because of its economic clout, its protectionism and the fact it does not recognise intellectual property unless the IP assets in question were registered in China, the country could be wielding serious 3D printing power. As such, TCT has been keeping a close eye on reports such as this one published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, and this one stating that the country could become the world's number one additive manufacturing economy by 2016.
TCT + Personalize is sure to be part of the action when China flexes its 3D printing muscles thanks to our partnership with VNU Exhibitions Asia leading to the debut TCT + Personalize Asia, which will launch in Shanghai in November 2014.
3. Government invests in 3D printing
Barack Obama's State of the Union Address back in February briefly mentions 3D printing as a growth area that could rekindle the US's manufacturing industry. I have never seen one quote milked to such an extent, but it seems the President's fervour for the technology may have rubbed off on our own Government. In June, Vince Cable, Business Secretary, announced that £14.7 million was being made available to British businesses developing 3D printing projects, made up of £8.4 million from the Technology Strategy Board and Research Councils and £6.3 million in private investment.
This story was shortly followed by the news the Chancellor had earmarked £290 million for the development of leading-edge research facilities, which is also promising for the UK additive manufacturing industry.
4. 3D Systems' NYSE performance
You'll be hearing more about this in one the New Year's blog I will be writing soon about our 'big three' and how they are doing on the stock exchange compared to at the end of 2012 - or February if you're ExOne - but there is something exciting about tracking the performance of 3D Systems. Maybe it's because of all those acquisitions leading to tangible changes on the markets, or maybe it's because CEO Avi Reichental is a media pro and knows what makes a great quote when you see it in print on MarketWatch.
Stories I enjoy writing are the ones where stock prices rocket past their 52-week highs and when big data pops out when the quarterly financials are published, like 3D Systems' 50 per cent revenue increase reported in its Q3 results. Call it Freudian, but the finance editor in me gets very excited about big numbers.
5. Massive Dynamics
Nothing made me feel like TCT Magazine was the best possible place to work more than when fellow Digital Media & Community Editor Daniel O'Connor and I sunk our teeth into Massive Dynamics, publishing a damning report on the shady business in spring of this year, followed by a veritable character assassination on then-President Oscar Hines and a follow-up concerning new boss JJ Howard.
The Massive Dynamics project sprung from a strange press release published by a company that, upon closer inspection didn’t even have an office, let alone a product. A week or so of digging, calling the individuals who appeared on the company's financial reports and the former owners, not to mention numerous attempts to reach Howard or Hines, yielded suspicious financial data and connections with other suspicious companies. After publishing dozens of press releases within a short space of time, Massive Dynamics' activity suddenly stopped. Was it something we said?
6. Making titanium a low-cost material
Reading a piece in another magazine piqued my interest this month when it emerged car components were being 3D printed in titanium. It wasn't the 3D printing aspect that caught my eye, but the notion that a method of making titanium powder could make titanium - not usually known for being great value - a comparatively cheap material.
I spoke to Prof Iain Todd, Director of Sheffield University's Mercury Centre about the work he and Metalysis had been doing to transform Rutile into titanium powder by passing electricity through it while in a high-temperature chemical bath. They say copying is the sincerest form of flattery and our interview with Prof Todd was cited by other tech news sites because unlike our peers at the other magazine, we had homed in on the really interesting part of the story.
7. 3D Printing the Future
I'm often sent out of the office for a day out here and there … maybe it's because the rest of the Rapid News editorial team can't stand me. One of my favourite days out this year was to the Science Museum in London for the 3D Printing the Future exhibition. This journalist does not normally arrive at events late, but I miscalculated how long it would take to get to South Kensington and in my rush, arrived at the exhibition (which was also very warm) looking and feeling like I had just finished a spinning class. Never mind. In any case, the exhibition was a roaring success, showcasing some of the fun and colour of 3D printing and how it can be applied to everyday life. I'm sure there will be many more interactive exhibitions just like this due to sweep the UK's galleries and museums in 2014.
8. Hybrid Machine Tools: The Next "Game Changer"
TCT was invited to the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Ansty Park, Coventry, to witness the arrival of the Hybrid HSTM 1000, a new hybrid machine that combines laser cladding, milling and probing in one unit with the potential to save companies time and money.
It is a real privilege to be invited to see technology such as this in action for the first time and even more of a privilege to be the very first to publish a story about it. Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies, Delcam and Hamuel Reichenbacher collaborated with experts at the MTC to develop the Hybrid HSTM 1000, which I am sure we will be hearing more of in the coming months.
9. 3D printing with jesmonite: Inition and the Fitzwilliam
Back in May, Daniel O'Connor and I spent two days in London teasing out the best news to emerge from London's ever-growing 3D printing scene.
Not only did Inition see us at our best due to them having the first interview of the trip, but the Shoreditch-based company had some of the most interesting projects to share, not least their use of jesmonite in creating replicas of artefacts in Cambridge's Fitzwilliam museum. TCT is really interested in museums and conservation as a 3D technology application, so it was interesting to learn how pieces were 3D scanned and then 3D printed by Inition's experts allowing them to be handled, their details to be examined and their likenesses to be sold in the museum gift shops without the delicate original being so much as breathed on.
10. 3D printing in jewellery receives £471k investment
I was sent out on another day on my feet in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter in October where I was given a fantastic tour by Frank Cooper of the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre (JIIC) of Cookson Precious Metals, Delcam, the JIIC and the Birmingham School of Jewellery amongst others. Shortly after completing my write-ups of the day, news broke that Cookson Precious Metals, Lionel T Dean/Future Factories, the JIIC and Finishing Techniques had collaborated on a £471,000 research and development project headed up by Delcam. The PRECIOUS project aims to develop 3D printing for the precious metal jewellery industry in the UK as a viable alternative to traditional manufacturing methods.
Having seen the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter for myself and understanding how not only CAD is being used, but how 3D printing is being utilised to create finished items, this story was a really interesting one and a collaboration of this size is definitely worth shouting about.
So there you have it…
My top 10 stories of the year. Keep your news coming in to email@example.com and maybe your story will feature on my list for 2014. Happy Christmas and New Year everybody!