Along with ‘innovation’, generative design, robots making cocktails, Stormtroopers and DJs at 10am, 3D printing stole a huge chunk of the limelight (or lime green strobe lights to be exact) at Autodesk University 2015 in Las Vegas. From the unique projects on stage at the Innovation Forums to Autodesk’s strides in generative design providing the perfect pathway to additive manufacturing, examples of the technology were both inspiring and extensive. Here’s my roundup of some of the best bits …
Airbus goes Bionic
Airbus bionic partition 3D printed in titanium and Scalmalloy.
Assembled for the first time at Autodesk University, the Airbus, Autodesk and The Living collaborative project, dubbed the ‘Bionic Partition’, is the perfect example of how “technology is making the quantum leap from passive to generative”, as Jeff Kowalski, Autodesk CTO describes it.
Made possible via a combination of generative design, additive manufacturing and advanced materials, the part is made up of over 40 titanium components and 122 parts printed in Scalmalloy, an aluminium-magnesium-scandium alloy created by APWorks. The final part is 45% lighter than any current traditionally manufactured partition on the Airbus A320 and could be introduced to the market as early as 2018.
Hack the Ember
Coloured resins for the Ember 3D printer.
Since its launch in 2014, the Spark platform has gone on to amass an impressive community of partners, deliver an open source 3D printer and launch a development fund as a spring board for 3D printing innovation.
At AU 2015, the Ember’s colour capabilities were on display with a variety of new resins in Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black with White and Investment Casting resins to follow soon. Keeping it completely open, users will be able to play around with resins to create their own colour mixes.
Designed purely as a tool to demonstrate the capabilities of the Spark platform, the Ember is completely open to customisation, be it through third party resins, software, hardware mods – users are invited to hack the machine to their hearts content.
“For a long time 3D printing has been closed but we’re starting to break the barriers,” Kimberley Losey commented. “We totally embrace it and want to see what people are doing with it.”
What is HP up to?
Multi Jet Fusion sample prints at AU 2015.
In case you haven’t already heard, HP plans to take a pretty huge bite out of the 3D printing cherry in 2016 with a completely new technology, Multi Jet Fusion, set to conquer the market in Spring and mark a “breakthrough” for the industry.
We’ve seen a number of parts at various exhibitions this year and AU 2015 was no different with a selection of MJF prints striking in colour, detail and strength. Few updates have been announced about the machine since its initial launch but HP has been busy in other areas, leveraging the benefits of the open source collaborative ethos and joining in the likes of the 3MF Consortium and Spark platform.
“When we looked at this we said ‘if we’re really going to go into this we need to have one technology that has the potential to cover many applications, grow the market and doesn’t have to trade up between speed, quality and price’," Luis Baldez, R&D Software Program Manager at HP, explained. "That took some years for us to investigate. In the end we came up with Multi Jet Fusion and we entered the market when we knew we had a disruptive technology”.
The machine is set to debut with single colour capabilities and a road map of new products is penned to follow every few months, building a portfolio similar to the one the company has already amassed in the 2D space. Pricing and sizes are yet to be disclosed.
We first came across the ProtoCycler when it launched on Indiegogo earlier this year as a solution to combat the waste created through plastic 3D printing. Smashing its crowdfunding campaign in January at 146% funding, it was great to hear Dennon Oosterman, founder of ReDeTec speak about his love of making and how the machine will give us the ability to take old things and remake them.
Dennon commented, “In 3D printing everyone is searching for that ‘killer application’ – there are tonnes of applications. It can do everything it is the end use case.”
The ProtoCycler is a desktop machine capable of producing up to 10 feet of filament a minute. Waste material, prototypes and support material is deposited into a grinder and using MixFlow technology, is extruded into usable filament.
Walking Away from Waste
You only have to look as far as household names like Reebok and Adidas to see that 3D technologies are big news for the footwear industry but startups like Footprint are also getting in on the action using a combination of 3D scanning and 3D printing to create a “customised and personal footwear experience”.
Whether it’s sizing or optimisation capabilities, there are several reasons why 3D holds plenty of opportunity for the footwear market including waste. According to Tim Ganter, Footprint, waste is one of the biggest problems facing the footwear industry with over 300 million pairs thrown away annually and excessive waste from the manufacturing process.
Footprint is a unique process developed with podiatrists which uses individual foot data and gait pattern to generate footwear tailored to individual specifications.
Initially prototyped using FDM, the final products are set to be produced using SLS in DuraForm FLEX nylon powder. As with most current examples of 3D printed footwear, the designs aren’t the most conventional but the principle behind the technology show how 3D technologies will force us to change our perceptions of the norm for products of the future.
Made with Mushrooms
Mush-Lume lamp made with mushrooms and 3D printed moulds.
There was a lot of talk of sustainability at the event and one particular designer, Danielle Trofe, took to the stage during the Innovation Forum to show how nature will be at the forefront of a materials revolution.
Demonstrating a collection of minimalist, eco-friendly lampshades made from mushrooms, Danielle asked, “What if instead of manufacturing products, we grew them?”
Partnering with biomaterials company, Ecovative, the collection was produced using 3D printed moulds, which were then coated with a mixture of fungal mycelium and waste materials from local farms. The Mush-Lume range is both a beautiful and functional example of how designers can take a sustainable and socially responsible approach to their work.
Look out for even more content and interviews from AU 2015 in the TCT Magazine North America Edition - subscribe for free.