3D printing for dummies How do 3D printers work?

MakerBot Replicator 2X 3D desktop printer on display at the International Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas A Cubex Trio 3D printer on display in New York Mariya Kawae opens a mould for a piece of chocolate made in the shape of her face by a 3D printer Manuel Leute uses the 3D printer MarkerBot Replicator … Continue reading “3D printing for dummies How do 3D printers work?”

MakerBot Replicator 2X 3D desktop printer on display at the International Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas

A Cubex Trio 3D printer on display in New York

Mariya Kawae opens a mould for a piece of chocolate made in the shape of her face by a 3D printer

Manuel Leute uses the 3D printer MarkerBot Replicator 2 at the CeBit computer fair in Hanover

3D printing for dummies: How do 3D printers work?

MakerBot Replicator 2X 3D desktop printer on display at the International Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas

Youve heard the hype about 3D printing but how does it actually work? Andrew Walker explains its like baking a sliced loaf of bread backwards

It seems like everyone from the White House to is talking about 3D printing these days, but what exactly is it? Heres a quick guide to what all the hype is about

3D printers are a new generation of machines that can make everyday things. Theyre remarkable because they can produce different kinds of objects, in different materials, all from the same machine.

A 3D printer can make pretty much anything from ceramic cups to plastic toys, metal machine parts, stoneware vases, fancy chocolate cakes or even (one day soon) human body parts.

They replace traditional factory production lines with a single machine, just like home inkjet printers replaced bottles of ink, a printing press, hot metal type and a drying rack.

If you look closely (with a microscope) at a page of text from your home printer, youll see the letters dont just stain the paper, theyre actually sitting slightly on top of the surface of the page.

In theory, if you printed over that same page a few thousand times, eventually the ink would build up enough layers on top of each other to create a solid 3D model of each letter. That idea of building a physical form out of tiny layers is how the first 3D printers worked.

You start by designing a 3D object on an ordinary home PC, connect it to a 3D printer, press print and then sit back and watch. The process is a bit like making a loaf of sliced bread, but in reverse. Imagine baking each individual slice of bread and then gluing them together into a whole loaf (as opposed to making a whole loaf and then slicing it, like a baker does). Thats basically what a 3D printer does.

The 3D printing process turns a whole object into thousands of tiny little slices, then makes it from the bottom-up, slice by slice. Those tiny layers stick together to form a solid object. Each layer can be very complex, meaning 3D printers can create moving parts like hinges and wheels as part of the same object. You could print a whole bike – handlebars, saddle, frame, wheels, brakes, pedals and chain – ready assembled, without using any tools. Its just a question of leaving gaps in the right places.

Have you ever broken something, only to find its no longer sold and you cant replace it? 3D printing means you can simply print a new one. That world, where you can make almost anything at home, is very different from the one we live in today. Its a world that doesnt need lorries to deliver goods or warehouses to store them in, where nothing is ever out of stock and where there is less waste, packaging and pollution.

Its also a world where everyday items are made to measure, to your requirements. That means furniture made to fit your home, shoes made to fit your feet, door handles made to fit your hand, meals printed to your tastes at the touch of a button. Even medicines, bones, organs and skin made to treat your injuries.

You can get some of those things now if youre wealthy, but 3D printing brings affordable, bespoke manufacturing to the masses. If that sounds like pure fantasy, try googling personalised 3D printed products and see for yourself. After all, the notion of doing your supermarket shopping on an iPad was like something out of Star Trek 20 years ago.

Although buying a 3D printer is much cheaper than setting up a factory, the cost per item you produce is higher, so the economics of 3D printing dont stack-up against traditional mass production yet. It also cant match the smooth finish of industrial machines, nor offer the variety of materials or range of sizes available through industrial processes. But, like so many household technologies, the prices will come down and 3D printer capabilities will improve over time.

Yes, if youre a product designer or engineer, but for most people, no.

Like all new technologies, the industry hype is a few years ahead of the consumer reality. Its an emerging technology which means, like home computers or mobile phones, most people will remain sceptical about needing one until everyone has got one and then well all wonder how we ever managed without them.

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Where does 3D printing lie within Industry 40?

As 3D printing continues to make inroads from product design right through to the manufacturing floor, Dr Phil Reeves offers an insight into where the technology is making the biggest impact in the next industrial revolution.

3D printing or additive manufacturing has evolved to a manufacturing process that continues to allow a plethora of companies in an increasing array of sectors to enjoy new manufacturing efficiencies; including on-demand production benefits and significant time-to-market reductions.

As recent analyst reports suggest, additive manufacturing is now established as a highly-regarded technology, with McKinsey & Company stating that the industry could be worth around US$100-$200bn.

There are two ways we can initiate this US$200bn market space. The first is something we are already doing we find products and business models that exploit the benefits of 3D printing.

Strakka Racing, is a good example. This British motor-racing team uses Stratasys FDM 3D printing solutions throughout the design and manufacturing process from prototyping to production tools, as well as for final 3D printed race-ready parts on its race car.

The inverse of that is to make the technology fit-for-purpose for the future to suit the manufacturers needs. This is where I believe we are currently taking rapid prototyping and turning it into additive manufacturing. Thats the difference; making technologies that are fit-for-purpose for production.

So why the interest in 3D printing now, when it was actually invented 30 years ago? The answer is socio-economics, some of which cross over with 3D printing. These include an aging and growing population, wealth disparity, and issues around old and new diseases. Society is changing and these factors are driving consumers to think differently about things that were giving them.

The environment is also changing the way that consumers and manufacturers think, which in turn, drives the demand to consider technologies such as 3D printing for resource efficiency. Working in tandem with this are global economics; despite the enormous opportunities to sell products, companies cant realistically work in all these different markets from one centralised factory. Known asglobal mega-trends, they are forcing companies to think differently, to reconsider and reinvent the factory.

We are at the brink of Industry 4.0, which is truly the next industrial revolution and one in which additive manufacturing will play a crucial role.

We live in a world where we can connect things together, and Industry 4.0 harnesses this. As an example, I can connect my son and his iPod through the products he purchases through the Internet to companies that havent to date produced the goods that he wants.

As the designer, he pushes the PLM system to make the product and, via a credit card, he initiates a transaction that drives the factory (which is integrated with the logistics) to ensure he receives the product.

The Manufacturer Smart Factory Expo is the UKs only dedicated exhibition in response to Industry 4.0

Showcasing the best solution providers and technology offerings, this unique event is for manufacturing business leaders keen to adopt the relevant tools and knowledge to drive business growth.

new, more cost-effective solutions to existing processes

how other manufacturers are dealing with the fourth industrial revolution

with new suppliers, customers and business partners

live demonstrations of the latest products & how they integrate with each other

new ideas and insights to grow your business

This is Industry 4.0; it isnt a factory that is mechanised, its the entire supply chain and its ran by the Internet of Things (IoT). 3D printing plugs in effortlessly in the middle of this concept because its infinitely flexible its a technology with the capabilities to produce products whose shapes are still unknown to us.

Right now, theres a different economy emerging between consumers and manufacturers. Some consumers buy absolutely everything and some companies make everything to stock and sell. Conversely, there are thoseconsumerswho want to make everything.

We are currently at the point in the middle; companies that only make things demanded by consumers and consumers who want to personalise the things that manufacturers make. This is the space for change the industrial revolution and its an exciting time as digitisation continues to help bring this to reality in an array of different supply chains.

Companies need to evaluate their need to use additive manufacturing and there are several reasons to use the technology, including economic low-volume production; militating tooling; complexity; cost-effective personalisation; environmental sustainability, and supply chain optimisation. Most business models that currently employ additive manufacturing exhibit at least one or more of these business drivers.

Additive manufacturing continues to disrupt traditional supply chains and established business models. It provides new responses to socio-economic changes and it will play an important role in the future of Industry 4.0, as it enables tangible manufacturing to be coupled to the digital world. Were living in a more connected world and one where additive manufacturing solely requires digital data to drive it.

To maximise the benefits of 3D printing, companies need to understand where to apply the technology along both the supply and value chain. Having an additive manufacturing strategy is no longer just nice to have, its a necessity.

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Does 3D printing have the right stuff?

ESA&gtOur Activities&gtSpace Engineering & Technology&gtClean Space

3D-printed parts promise a revolution in the space industry, rapidly creating almost any object needed. But do the results really have the right stuff for flying in space? ESA is now checking if their surface finish comes up to scratch.

3D printing involves building an item by laying down successive layers of material, rather than cutting away from a solid block.

ESAs Clean Space initiative continues to look at ways of reducing the environmental impacts of space technologies and 3D printing slashes waste.

Extremely complex parts can be printed and made as light as possible, but theres a catch: 3D printing tends to end up with rougher surfaces than their traditional counterparts.

While this is not a major issue for terrestrial applications, there could be important consequences for their use in space. As Nobel-winning physicist Wolfgang Pauli once observed: God made solids but the devil made surfaces.

Traditionally, materials used in space have to be as smoothly finished as possible, with no loose particles or pores that might develop cracks. They have to be clean, to surgical standards. Delicate satellite electronics or optics have in the past been fatally damaged by particle contamination or outgassing.

A new ESA project will investigate the surface features of 3D-printed parts to scrutinise the suitability of standard surface treatments for typical satellite materials such as aluminium, titanium and stainless steel.

Different manufacturing techniques, including laser and electron beam melting, will be assessed, along with surface treatments such as sandblasting, etching, nickel coating and painting.

The mechanical properties of the processed parts will be assessed for resistance to stress corrosion and the tendency to fracture.

The usefulness of non-destructive investigations such as ultrasound and X-ray examinations will be evaluated as methods for ensuring the soundness of the parts.

These samples will also be tested against the high humidity found at ESAs equatorial launch site in South America, as well as against the temperature extremes found in space.

Companies can tender for the project throughESAs tendering system.

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Does 3D printing add up?

Additive manufacturing has long assisted prototyping, but OEMs are now exploring its uses in production

A hot topic for a number of years, it now appears that additive manufacturing (3D printing) technologies are starting to be used more widely by a number of automotive OEMs. But while additive manufacturing has been an integral part of prototype development for a long time, what about the much-mooted transition of this advanced manufacturing technique into mainstream production?

There are, of course, many hurdles to overcome before the world sees a 3D-printed part on a high-volume production car, not least process speed. However, the fact that several OEMs are introducing such parts into low-volume, special or race models, shows there is growing confidence in additive manufacturing as more than just a useful development tool. Virtually unlimited design freedom and zero tooling costs are two of the major advantages of the process, and these are clearly proving too attractive to ignore, for both plastic and metal parts.

BMW, for example, is already using SLS (selective laser sintering) to produce aluminium water pump wheels for powertrains, and is now considering the adoption of CLIP (continuous liquid interface production) technology, whereby parts are grown rather than created layer-by-layer. Additive manufacturing is also reshaping the landscape at Lamborghini and Ford, particularly for track cars. FDM (fused deposition modelling) is the technology of choice at Lamborghini, where the plastic parts produced include profiles and air conducts. At Ford, the latest success story is an intake manifold.

Some OEMs are even exploring additive manufacturing for entire builds. Local Motors, for example, has recently produced the worlds first 3D-printed electric car, while Audi says that all of the metallic parts deployed in a recently produced scale model of a Silver Arrow Auto Union Typ C were made using additive manufacturing. The company is one of many with the ultimate goal of applying metal 3D printers in series production.

This review looks at the current projects of various OEMs in their quest for greater integration of additive manufacturing processes, including the potential for mainstream production.

BMW is making powertrains with 3D-printed water pump wheels

The German OEM says it has now manufactured its 500thpowertrain fitted with a 3D-printed water pump wheel for its DTM racecars and Z4 GT3 customer cars. The one-piece precision component, which is subject to high stresses, is made from an aluminium alloy using SLM (selective laser melting) technology.According to BMW, 3D printing as a production method has turned out to be ideal for these small-batch products. Firstly, it allows for the inclusion of design refinements in the six-bladed centrifugal pump wheel, which would otherwise require much greater effort with alternative production methods. Using SLM, however, it is possible to achieve the ideal aerodynamics required of the component for the DTM race series. A further benefit is that no complex tools or moulds are needed for production.

Udo Haenle, head of Production Strategy, Technical Integration and Pilot Plant at BMW, says: Components made with additive manufacturing give us a lot of freedom in the production process. We see major potential for its future application in series production as well as for new customer offers, such as personalised vehicle parts or spare parts supply.

At the BMW Group Technology Office in Mountain View, USA, we are now even conducting a first test run with new CLIP continuous liquid interface production technology, he adds.

CLIP is a breakthrough technology that grows parts instead of printing them layer by layer. It works by projecting light through an oxygen-permeable window into a reservoir of UV-curable resin. The build platform lifts continuously as the object is grown, which is said to make it considerably faster than alternative additive manufacturing methods.

Lamborghini is using 3D printing for air-aspiration engine conduits

At its headquarters in SantAgata Bolognese, Italy, Lamborghini makes use of Stratasys FDM (fused deposition modelling) 3D-printing technology throughout the entire lifecycle of its parts, from rapid prototyping applications to the direct digital manufacturing of end-use components. Indeed, Lamborghinis deployment of the technology to print vehicle-ready parts is exemplified within the Blancpain Super Trofeo, a major international racing series organised by the company.We use Stratasys technology to produce FDM-printed end-use parts because, quite simply, it meets all the requirements demanded of it, explains Fabio Serrazanetti of Lamborghinis car-body technical department. The capability to very quickly output highly durable components within a seemingly unlimited design scope offers an unprecedented advantage. We use our Fortus 3D production systems to typically but not exclusively produce high-performance aesthetic parts, including profiles and air conducts.

Stratasys has also helped to accelerate Lamborghinis rapid prototyping applications by reducing costs and enhancing workflow efficiencies. The most recent machine to arrive is a Stratasys Fortus 400mc with a large build envelope. Here, an array of different exterior parts are produced from section bumpers, grills, aesthetic frames and various engine-bay components to a number of interior parts such as door panels, seat covers and steering wheels, along with conveyors and air heaters.

The 3.5-litre EcoBoost engine used in the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Daytona Prototype car features 3D printed parts such as the intake manifold (see top image). 3D printers have totally changed the development process for our Daytona prototype race cars, says Victor Martinez, EcoBoost race engine engineer. The process has advanced at such lightning speed in recent years that in a matter of hours we can create real, usable parts.

Ford first started to explore 3D printing decades ago, purchasing the third 3D printer ever made, in 1988. Initially, the company used 3D-printed parts for prototype buttons, switches and knobs. As the technology has improved, the quality of 3D-printed parts has become remarkably precise, and the parts themselves have become increasingly usable. In fact, so smooth and precise has the finishing process become that 3D-printed parts are now fitted to prototype vehicles built for durability testing, and on the Ford racecar which won the 53rdrunning of the gruelling 24 Hours of Daytona last January.

Of course, in the competitive world of endurance racing, the push for increased reliability and horsepower never stops and, in Fords rapid prototype lab, it doesnt have to: We have the ability to design an entirely new part and, one week later, have that part in hand, says Martinez. This lets the engineers who develop our cars both for road and track spend more time testing, tuning and refining.

Local Motors says it has created the worlds first 3D-printed electric car. The LM3D Swim, which will be available to order next spring, will cost $53,000. Thanks to the flexibility of 3D printing, unique body shapes can be accommodated, and so orders of the car could conceivably include individually tailored designs. Manufacturing and delivery of the vehicles is expected in early 2017.

Local Motors has applied 3D printing to an entire vehicle, the LM3D Swim, which will enter the market in 2016

We are using the power of DDM [direct digital manufacturing] to create new vehicles at a pace unparalleled in the auto industry, and were thrilled to begin taking orders on 3D-printed cars this year, says CEO Jay Rogers.Local Motors plans to release several new models in the LM3D series throughout 2016 while pursuing federal crash testing and highway certifications. The company also hopes to work with partners including IBM and Siemens on the development of a range of connectivity and monitoring technologies that will help to make driving safer and more efficient. All cars in the LM3D series will be built at a new Local Motors micro-factory in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Audi Toolmaking has produced a model of the historical grand prix sports car Auto Union Typ C from the year 1936, and the company is now examining further possible applications of metal 3D printers for the production of complex components. At the same time, Audi is creating important synergies with toolmaking in other parts of the Volkswagen Group.

We are pushing forward with new manufacturing technologies at Audi Toolmaking and at the Volkswagen Group, confirms Hubert Waltl, Audis board of management member for production and head of toolmaking at the Volkswagen Group. Together with partners we are constantly exploring the boundaries of new processes. One of our goals is to apply metal 3D printers in series production.

Audi 3D-printed metal parts to recreate a Silver Arrow

Audi Toolmaking has used 3D printing to produce all the metallic parts of the Silver Arrow model Auto Union Typ C on a scale of 1:2. For this purpose, selective laser sintering (SLS) of metallic powder with a grain size of 15 to 40 thousandths of a millimetre was deployed.Audi Toolmaking is currently using 3D printing to produce components out of aluminium and steel. At present, this process can be used to make shapes and objects with a length of 240mm and a height of up to 200mm. The company says that printed components achieve a higher density than ones made by die casting or hot forming.

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Explainer What Is 4D Printing?

Additive manufacturing or3D printing is 30 years old this year. Today, its found not just in industry but in households, as the price of 3D printers has fallen below US$1,000. Knowing you can print almost anything, not just marks on paper, opens up unlimited opportunities for us to manufacture toys, household appliances and tools in our living rooms.

But theres more that can be done with 3D printed materials to make them more flexible and more useful: structures that can transform in a pre-programmed way in response to a stimulus. Recently given the popular science name of 4D printing, perhaps a better way to think about it is that the object transforms over time.

These sorts of structural deformations are not new researchers have already demonstrated memory and smart material properties. One of the most popular technologies is known asshape memory alloy, where a change of temperature triggers a shape change. Other successful approaches useelectroactive polymers, pressurised fluids or gasses, chemical stimulus and even in response to light.

Ina paperpublished in Nature Scientific Reports, we looked at the design of complex self-deformations in objects that have been printed from multiple materials as a means to customise the object into specific forms.

Unlike many others who have demonstrated how tobend simple paper-like shapes, we constructed a two-dimensional grid structure that deforms itself by stretching or shrinking across a complex three-dimensional surface.

Imagine dropping a flat stretchable cloth onto a randomly shaped object, where the cloth moulds over the shape beneath it. In geometrical terms, as the curvature of the cloth changes to fit the object, the distances and areas alter. We took this into account by providing a solution that copes with bending and also expansion in size, and came up with several designs that demonstrated that this is possible.

Head of the MITsSelf-Assembly Laboratory, Skylar Tibbits,started this line of researcha few years ago with expanding materials and simple deformations. The collaboration of researchers from MITsCamera Culture groupand Self-Assembly Laboratory and the companiesStratasysandAutodesk Inctook this further.

Our approach was to print 3D structures using materials with different properties: one that remained rigid and another that expanded up to 200% of its original volume. The expanding materials were placed strategically on the main structure to produce joints that stretched and folded like a bendy straw when activated by water, forming a broad range of shapes. For example, a 3D-printed shape that resembled the initials MIT was shown to evolve into another formation that looks like the initials SAL.

We imagine theres a wide range of applications such as home appliances and products that can adapt to heat or moisture to improve comfort or add functionality. Childcare products that can react to humidity or temperature, for example, or clothes and footwear that optimise their form and function by reacting to changes in the environment.

There are also uses for pre-programmed self-deforming materials in healthcare researchers are printingbiocompatible componentsthat can be implanted in the human body. There are many more uses these could be put to if they can be manufactured to change shape and function without external intervention from a surgeon. Individually designedcardiac tubesare one good example.

This was a proof of concept for self-transforming materials, with an easy production process and an available suite of tools to customise and analyse the process. But even so, this is just scratching the surface in the future we aim to produce larger structures which can handle more complex transformations, as well as smaller, miniaturised models which can be used in the body. While we found the deformations could be applied and reversed repeatedly, the material degraded after a while, so we need to improve its long-term durability.

With 4D printing theres a lot to play with. Now, that 3D printing captured our imagination, just think what adding time to the equation could do.

This article was originally published onThe Conversation. Read theoriginal article.

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3D Printing Speed

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To start 3D printing or Laser Cutting, youll need to create an account here. Once done, youll be able to upload your files and get live quotes of yours parts

3D printing speed is contingent upon the height of the material manufactured (or the height of the layers constructed) in a given period. It also depends on many factors like the printing technology, the material and the printing resolution. Increasing the printing speed is one of the main challenges in 3D printer manufacturing.

Additive manufacturing includes a variety of technologies and methods that dont have the same printing speed. Factors influencing speed include:

But one of the most important factors is the parts orientation and the amount of material to print in 3D. In fact,the model can be oriented in a way to minimise the parts height and reduce the printing time. And a large 3D model will take longer to print than a lightweight wire structure.

The table below compares 3D printing speeds by 3D printing technology (data provided by 3D printer manufacturers).

Ourguide to professional 3D printersidentifies their main technical characteristics, like the layer thickness and the materials available, which will give you and idea of printing speeds.

Carbon 3D received huge media coverageby producing astereolithographymachine with printing speeds up to 25 to 100 times greater using their patented technology. Below they present a comparison of the time required to manufacture a complex part.

The 3D printing speed is important, but not the only factor considered when calculating the printing time required for your 3D model on Sculpteo. Verifying and preparing your 3D file before printing, the cool down time, the finishing processes (polishing, dyeing, painting, etc.) are all taken into account.

To learn more about your parts delivery time, please refer to thistimeframe explanation pageorupload your 3Dfile.

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3D-Printed Drugs What

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a new drug for treating epileptic seizures, marking the first time an FDA-approved product has been manufactured using a three-dimensional printing process.getmedia/8e47b184-df7b-4a13-9312-bfb1af5e91e3/3D-Printed-Drugs-What-Does-the-Future-Hold_thumb.jpg.aspx?width=60&height=60&ext=.jpg

3D-printed porous pills that disintegrate in the mouth with just a sip of liquid. Image: ZipDose

In August 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Aprecia Pharmaceuticals Companys SPRITAM levetiracetam for oral use in treating epileptic seizures. Whats more, SPRITAM is manufactured using a3D printingprocess to produce a porous formulation that rapidly disintegrates with a sip of liquid. This is the first time a drug product manufactured by 3D printing technology has been approved by the FDA.

Aprecia achieved this using a proprietary technology platform that combines formulation science with the unique manufacturing capabilities of 3D printing. This allows the manufacture of medicines that rapidly disintegrate with a sip of liquid even at high dose loadsgood news for millions of people who have difficulty swallowing pills. Aprecia holds an exclusive license for pharmaceutical applications using this 3D printing technology, which could ultimately reduce the overall cost of drug manufacturing by eliminating steps, improving throughput, and reducing the manufacturing footprint.

Thomas G. West, chemical engineer, project director, and manager of intellectual property for Aprecia Pharmaceuticals Company, discusses their ZipDose technology in more detail and how it may impact drug manufacturing in the future.

West: 3D printing enables the creation of new physical structures that can exhibit new or different functionality. For SPRITAM, we used 3D printing to create unitary porous structures that readily disperse in the mouth in response to a sip of liquid, regardless of size of the units. The result is a premeasured solid dosage form of a high-dose medicine that does not need to be swallowed intact.

How ZipDose technology works. Image: ZipDose

We believe this type ofdosageform may be most helpful to specific patient segments that often have swallowing difficulties, including children, the elderly, and those dealing with the complications of stroke, Alzheimers disease, head and neck tumors, and certain other neurological disorders.

Formulation and material science are integral components of adapting material sets to the 3D-printing process. When combined with appropriately selected excipients, the active ingredient levetiracetam exhibits desirable particle properties amenable to the powder spreading and liquid printing steps of our manufacturing process. Its high solubility in water set the tone for formulation strategy in attaining the right balance of handling and dispersion properties for the finished drug product. Solubility in water is not a requirement of the process, but does impact decisions on excipient selection.

Although these properties were helpful in our lead product candidate, they areue not uniq or exclusive to levetiracetam. We believe there is a wide range of activepharmaceuticalingredients that can be formulated for use in this process.

Many people are familiar with some type of fast melt tablet made by other techniques. Often these are small in size and dosage (for example, under 50 mg) and larger units may disperse in the mouth more slowly than the smaller ones. In our experience, few products are offered above 100 mg in strength. ZipDose dosage forms do not have a tradeoff between size and speed, accommodating very large doses of medicine (up to 1,000 mg) and still dispersing in the mouth within seconds when taken with just a sip of liquid.

This breakthrough will enable some of the largest tablets and capsules to be offered in a fast-melt format for the very first time, providing a new dosing option for patients who may struggle with swallowing large tablets or capsules intact.

Many engineers may be more familiar with other types of3D printing, such as fused deposition modeling or stereolithography, and the progression from use in appearance or concept models to use in functional mechanical parts.

From this perspective, several aspects of our work may be interesting. The process we use has two material inputs: powder and liquid. Sometimes referred to as binder jetting onto powder, it comprises an alternating sequence of spreading thin layers of powder and selectively depositing droplets of liquid to bind the powder together, building the part vertically and forming each new layer upon the preceding layers. It can use a variety of materials in addition to polymers, including small molecule organic compounds, and thermal exposure of these materials is limited.

The materials we use are customary in pharmaceutical formulations, but their deployment in the process is deliberate and unique. Rather than making highly dense parts, for ZipDose units we very selectively bind the powder together while maintaining a high degree of porosity. In the end, the density of the finished part roughly resembles that of the starting powder in bulk, but at a local level the powder particles have become a physically interconnected network that can be packaged, shipped, and administered to a patient.

One of the biggest surprises was the amount of drug that could be incorporated in this type of dosage form. Our early work looked at smaller strengths in the 10 mg to 300 mg range and moved up from there over time. Using a drug in the cardiometabolic space as a model compound, we first demonstrated dose loading up to 1,000 mg in the ZipDose format. These learnings were then applied to the development program for SPRITAM, which actually has a top strength of 1,000 mg.

Our commercial approach is based on large centralized manufacturing under the existing regulatory paradigm. To support these goals, it was necessary to design and build our own large-format 3D printing machines, which are proprietary to Aprecia Pharmaceuticals. These machines are designed for increased throughput while complying with applicable current good manufacturing practices that are required of pharmaceutical products.

Over the next few years, we expect to develop and commercialize additional product candidates on the ZipDose platform for the central nervous system therapeutic area for the U.S. market. Over time we may also pursue opportunities in other markets and other therapeutic areas, either alone or in partnership with other companies, which may include developing line extensions on the brand products of partners.

Beyond the Zipdose platform, we believe there are other platform opportunities for using our form of 3D printing to develop and commercialize dosage forms exhibiting controlled release or multiphasic release, or containing fixed-dose combinations of multiple active ingredients.

Mark Crawford is an independent writer.

Learn more about 3D printing challenges and trends atAM3D Conference & Expo.

This breakthrough will enable some of the largest tablets and capsules to be offered in a fast-melt format, providing a new dosing option for patients who struggle with swallowing large tablets or capsules.

Thomas G. West, Pharmaceuticals Company

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Printing Chocolate in 3D Does the Medium Have a Message?

It was only a matter of time before 3D printing technologies would be applied to chocolate. With its inimitable taste and ample shelf life, chocolate is the worlds most popular medium of edible representation. Ever since a series of 19th century inventions allowed us to start eating the stuff in solid form, confectioners have tinkered with a smorgasbord of chocolate novelty products designed to please the eye as much as the palate.

Additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, lets the art of confectionary soar to new heights. From reproducing the shape of a childs favourite toy to a persons face, one English company website boasts — the possibilities are endless. Today there is only one printer available to the public for purchase: theChoc-Creator, which retails at about $4,500 . But this wont be for long. Earlier this year, four Canadian engineering students at the University of Waterloo attracted a lot of fanfare by building a chocolate laser printer as a school project. In the past month, several entrepreneurs have started Kickstarter campaigns and patent applications to set up scanning and printing workshops of their own. Its getting easier and easier to imagine a day when every chocolatier will own some type of 3D printer.

Why have so many chocoholics caught the 3D bug? In chemical terms, rich velvety chocolate is well-suited to FDM (fused deposition modeling) types of printers, where tempered liquid chocolate passes from a tank through a nozzle and constructs, layer by layer, a 3D edible design. Chocolates low melting point is also well suited to flashier SLS (selective laser sintering) technologies, in which a laser fuses small particles of chocolate powder and cocoa butter into a tasty solid mass.

But chocolate is more than just handy medium. Being a perennially popular sweet treat, chocolate is an attractive tool to make a new and potentially unsettling technology more accessible to an audience skeptical about the moral and social implications of 3D printing. The prospect of printing guns sparked a nation-wide ethics debate; chocolate printing, by contrast, is a low risk endeavor. We wouldnt want people to design airplanes online, Richard Everson, a professor of Machine Learning at the University of Exeter matter-of-factly explained, but if [chocolate-printing] goes horribly wrong, then all you have is a mess of chocolate, not a fatal crash.

We still dont know how 3D printing will affect our beloved sweet treat. Indeed, the history of chocolate manufacturing has shown that the meaning of cacao in our culture has always had much to do with the physical form in which it is consumed. For most of its history, chocolate was consumed as a drink rather than food. The pre-Columbian Aztecs dyed their unsweetened chocolate beverage red in religious rituals in order to make it look like blood. These nefarious associations were hard to shake. As chocolate migrated to the Old World over the 16th and 17th centuries, it became the signature beverage of decadent aristocratic libertines (likely compounded by the fact that it was usually consumed at breakfast). Drinking chocolate on both sides of the Atlantic was the exclusive privilege of elites.

It wasnt until the mid 19th century that this luxurious liquid could be turned into a solid dark chocolate bar. Milk chocolate didnt appear for another 30 years after that. But the technological innovations that popularized eating chocolate (as chocolate bars were then called) also spawned markets for elaborate molds and colorful packaging, giving rise to new domestic ceremonies and rituals of consumption. No longer did chocolate symbolize the blood red life force, as it did for the Aztecs. Instead, it punctuated meals, holidays, and romantic courtship. It started to appear in gift boxes. Nor did it hurt that the great minds behind the chocolate industry — people like Joseph Storrs Fry and John Cadbury — were socially conscious English Quakers preaching the gospel of sobriety and honest work. Solid chocolate thus enjoyed the best of both worlds. Its manufacture evoked that unshakeable Victorian faith in industry and progress, but without the social emptiness of industrial life. Even today we imagine the chocolate factory through the eyes of the enraptured Charlie Bucket, not through those of an underpaid and exploited laborer.

3D chocolate printing is still in its infancy, but already it is sparking debates about the relationship between food and technology. Can printed food coexist with the ever-greater presence of local and organic movements? Will we one day be able to print individual molecules in delicious combinations? Does printed food have the ability to feed the world? We will have to wait and see, but for now, one thing is clear: printing in 3D undoubtedly will alter the meaning of chocolate in our daily lives.

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Food historian, University of California, Berkeley

Printing Chocolate in 3D: Does the Medium Have a Message?

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What Does 3D Printing Mean For ERP?

As I talk with customers at our IFS industry councils and at other professional events, I find many manufacturers and industrial organizations are already using 3D printing. As a rule, they are usingthis technology in the research and development setting and for prototypes. 3D printers have traditionally rendered items in plastic, but now, a model is available for less than $1,500 that can render items of metal.

Parts like this may soon be commonly produced using 3D printing.

Among the industries that IFS serves, this presents immediate opportunities for make-to-order manufacturing and spares and repairs. The implications for spares and repairs inventory are obvious rather than keeping safety stock on hand, parts could be printed as needed from a stock of materials. In the oil and gas industry, where space for parts inventory is limited, this is very attractive.

So how do you accommodate 3D printing from a business management standpoint within an enterprise resource planning (ERP) application? Here are a few insights.

Part serialization will become more important than ever because 3D printing will bring new risks for intellectual property. Today, it is true that any competitor or other organization can reverse engineer one of your products. But with 3D printing, that product or part can be replicated much more rapidly since there is no need to develop tools, dies, fixtures, jigs, etc. There are a few implications to consider here. It will be difficult to determine whether you are purchasing genuine replacement parts for industrial equipment. And equipment manufacturers may have a harder time determining equipment they have sold to customers uses genuine parts and is therefore under warranty or not. So the type of serialization functionality normally associated with highly-regulated industries like aerospace and defense and medical devices may be attractive to industry at large.

Parts like this may soon be commonly produced using 3D printing.

All manufacturers using 3D printing will need process manufacturing software in their ERP application. 3D printing constitutes process manufacturing. You are taking specific alloys or materials and combining them through a process that may involve heat or other chemical reactions in order to create something new. So even if you think of yourself as a discrete manufacturer, you will become a process manufacturer as well if you engage in 3D printing.

It will be more important than ever to maintain records of the chemical components and constituents that each SKU or part is made of. And while inventory for spare parts may be reduced, an enterprise application will need sufficient forecasting functionality to determine the amount of raw materials will be consumed over a given period, and how much usage the 3D printer will receive.

The 3D printer will need to be set up as a workstation in ERP, with elements of enterprise asset management (EAM) present to ensure consistent maintenance has been performed on it. You will also need to be able to facilitate regular quality checks of parts produced so you can determine that they conform to specifications and functional requirements.

Just like any new technology that gains traction in business, 3D printers will impact more parts of the business. The above are just a few thoughts on some of the changes 3D printing could bring. What are your thoughts?

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What Does 3D Printing Have To Do with Contact Lenses?

I am dumbfounded by the amazing capabilities of 3D printing machines. Theyve been used to make everything from prosthetic limbs to household items and even food! Though it sounds like its straight out of a science fiction cartoon, 3D printers have the capacity to change the world of manufacturing and change our lives.

According , one recent development in the world of 3D printing is the 100-year-old chemical manufacturing company Wacker discovering how to utilize silicone 3D printing materials. This silicone material has the potential to manufacture anything from medical implements, automotive parts and even contact lenses!

Unlike metal and plastic, silicone isnt as easy to use in a 3D printer because it doesnt melt and change shape when heated. Silicone doesnt conform to the traditional process of 3D printing, making prototyping and product development extremely expensive.

In order to make silicone a viable 3D printing material, WACKER partnered with a German product development company to create something like an inkjet printer that operates on a specially designed operating program. The program instructs the printing machine to release tiny drops of silicone onto a glass printing bed a layer at a time. Each layer is hardened by a quick flash of UV light, less than a second. The process is repeated over and over until the object is complete. The final objects have virtually smooth surfaces and just like traditionally manufactured silicone parts, are completely bio-compatible, heat resistant and transparent.

WACKER is excited about the potential applications of this silicone printing process. Not only will WACKER explore printing custom contact lenses, they have also explained that rubber masks, eyeglass nose pads, hearing aids, and even silicone baking tools could be created through this new 3D printing process. One day you might even be able to create a specialized silicone insert for your athletic shoes, printed specifically for your foot size and instep. For now, you can always buy your contacts fromAmericas Best!

bySunny PublishedOctober 17, 2011 Last modifiedAugust 18, 2015

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