Tag Archives: research

3D Printing Materials Will Grow to $615M Thanks to Proprietary Pricing

Industry Report Forecasts Anti-Competitive Proprietary Pricing of 3D Printing Materials

Do you think you pay a lot for your inkjet cartridge refills? Well, 3D printing materials are following suit in premium pricing.

Research firm IDTechEx has published its forecast for the 3D printing materials market to reach $615 million by 2025.

In its new report entitled “3D Printing Materials 2014-2025: Status, Opportunities, Market Forecasts“, the firm provides analysis on pricing, competition, and scope of 3D printable materials.  The report provides detailed market forecasts by value and mass, broken down by material types (inkjet material, metal powder, powder thermoplastic, solid thermoplastic and photopolymers).

Objet Multi-Materials 3D Printed Car

Much of the growth in the materials market is projected to come from premium pricing. “Should a fully competitive market environment emerge then we forecast that the market value in 2025 will only be $244 million,” the firm stated.

Premium pricing is being maintained by some 3D printer manufacturers by the practice of locking end-users into their own materials supplies through key coding and RFID tagging under the guise of “quality control”. This anti-competitive behavior is preventing the development of an efficient, competitive market for 3D printing materials and is presenting very high barriers to entry for new suppliers, and perhaps hindering the development of new materials for 3D printing.

Related: Video interview with 3D Systems CEO discussing the future of 3D printing materials

Achieving the desired mechanical, thermal and chemical resistance properties of a 3D printed object is a complex interplay between process parameters and feedstock material properties for any 3D printing technology. End-users want to 3D print with the materials they are used to and want the final properties to match those possible with traditional manufacturing methods such as injection moulding. However this is no easy task.

The report details forecasts from 2013 to 2025 in the context of realistic adjustments to both prices and the breakdown of the installed base by technology type.

For more details see “3D Printing Materials 2014-2025: Status, Opportunities, Market Forecasts” (www.IDTechEx.com/3Dmats).

IDTechEx will be hosting 3D Printing LIVE, a business-focused conference and masterclass on the topic, in November.


MIT’s OpenFab Could Revolutionize 3D Printing Design Process

MIT OpenFab 3D Printing

MIT Researches Use CGI Techniques to Simplify 3D Printing

A group of researchers at MIT are taking a page from the movie business to revolutionize 3D printing. They have developed an architecture pipeline, called OpenFab, that aims to dramatically reduce the learning curve and barriers involved in designing for 3D printing.

“Our goal is to make 3D printing much easier and less computationally complex,” said Associate Professor Wojciech Matusik, co-author of the papers and a leader of the Computer Graphics Group at CSAIL, in an interview with MITnews. “Ours is the first work that unifies design, development and implementation into one seamless process, making it possible to easily translate an object from a set of specifications into a fully operational 3D print.”

With the state of 3D printing today, it’s relatively easy to press print when you have a finished 3D model, but it’s quite a challenge to create a design from scratch that can be 3D printed. OpenFab hopes to change that.

Here is the abstract from the paper published by MIT researchers. Full details available at the OpenFab website.

3D printing hardware is rapidly scaling up to output continuous mixtures of multiple materials at increasing resolution over ever larger print volumes. This poses an enormous computational challenge: large high-resolution prints comprise trillions of voxels and petabytes of data and simply modeling and describing the input with spatially varying material mixtures at this scale is challenging. Existing 3D printing software is insufficient; in particular, most software is designed to support only a few million primitives, with discrete material choices per object.

We present OpenFab, a programmable pipeline for synthesis of multi-material 3D printed objects that is inspired by RenderMan and modern GPU pipelines. The pipeline supports procedural evaluation of geometric detail and material composition, using shader-like fablets, allowing models to be specified easily and efficiently. We describe a streaming architecture for OpenFab; only a small fraction of the final volume is stored in memory and output is fed to the printer with little startup delay. We demonstrate it on a variety of multi-material objects.

Study Shows 3D Printing Emits Ultrafine Particles; What This Actually Means

3D Printer Ultrafine Particle Emissions

Should You Use Your 3D Printer Indoors? Study Asks, We Explain

A recent study published in the journal Atmospheric Environment shows evidence that desktop 3D printers emit ultrafine particles (UFP) to a degree that should cause concern, if you operate your 3D printer in a telephone booth.

The report focuses on emissions by FDM (fused deposition modeling) printers that use ABS or PLA material, a configuration used by MakerBot and other popular desktop 3D printer companies.

Ultrafine particles are small particles, technically on the nanoscale, that can be inhaled and cause health effects ranging from innocuous to major, including lung disease.

The report claims that observed emissions of UFPs from desktop 3D printers were significant and therefore caution should be used when operating in a unventilated area.

Estimates of emission rates of total UFPs were large, ranging from ∼2.0 × 1010 # min−1 for a 3D printer utilizing a polylactic acid (PLA) feedstock to ∼1.9 × 1011 # min−1 for the same type of 3D printer utilizing a higher temperature acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) thermoplastic feedstock. Because most of these devices are currently sold as standalone devices without any exhaust ventilation or filtration accessories, results herein suggest caution should be used when operating in inadequately ventilated or unfiltered indoor environments.

At first glance, this sounds like a big problem for 3D printing, an industry in rapid growth and adoption. But the reality is that the level of emission observed is similar to that of laser printers, candles, and cooking on a stove at home – all activities consumers are not going to give up any time soon.

The same 3D printer utilizing a higher temperature ABS feedstock had an emission rate estimate (1.8–2.0 × 1011 # min−1) similar to that reported during grilling food on gas or electric stoves at low power (1.2–2.9 × 1011 # min−1), but approximately an order of magnitude lower than gas or electric stoves operating at high power (1.2–3.4 × 1012 # min−1). Regardless, the desktop 3D printers measured herein can all be classified as “high emitters” with UFP emission rates greater than 1010 particles per min, according to criteria set forth in He et al. (2007).

In summary, don’t use your 3D printer in a dark corner of your basement without opening the window.

Embedded is the full report.

CC image by pennstatenews


3D Printed Pets: Researchers Scan and 3D Print Animal Skeletons

3D Printed Pets Comparison

3D Printed Pets

3D printing is now being used for nearly everything, but what about 3D printed pets?

Researchers at Notre Dame have combined their study of Biological Sciences with 3D printing. The team created a method for CT scanning anesthetized animals, such as rats and rabbits, converting the scans into contiguous 3D models, and then 3D printing the animal skeletons on a range of 3D printers.

Here is the abstract for their publication on this research.

Three-dimensional printing allows for the production of highly detailed objects through a process known as additive manufacturing. Traditional, mold-injection methods to create models or parts have several limitations, the most important of which is a difficulty in making highly complex products in a timely, cost-effective manner. However, gradual improvements in three-dimensional printing technology have resulted in both high-end and economy instruments that are now available for the facile production of customized models. These printers have the ability to extrude high-resolution objects with enough detail to accurately represent in vivo images generated from a preclinical X-ray CT scanner. With proper data collection, surface rendering, and stereolithographic editing, it is now possible and inexpensive to rapidly produce detailed skeletal and soft tissue structures from X-ray CT data. Even in the early stages of development, the anatomical models produced by three-dimensional printing appeal to both educators and researchers who can utilize the technology to improve visualization proficiency. The real benefits of this method result from the tangible experience a researcher can have with data that cannot be adequately conveyed through a computer screen. The translation of pre-clinical 3D data to a physical object that is an exact copy of the test subject is a powerful tool for visualization and communication, especially for relating imaging research to students, or those in other fields. Here, we provide a detailed method for printing plastic models of bone and organ structures derived from X-ray CT scans utilizing an Albira X-ray CT system in conjunction with PMOD, ImageJ, Meshlab, Netfabb, and ReplicatorG software packages.

3D Printer Comparison

The research team used three different methods for 3D printing the skeletons: consumer 3D printer MakerBot, 3D printing service Shapeways, and industrial 3D printer ProJet HD 3000.

3D Printed Pets Comparison

Below is a detailed comparison:

Method of Printing Advantages Disadvantages Cost per Model
MakerBot Extremely fast, variety of color options, able to print in two colors, extremely inexpensive Lowest level of detail. Removal of support materials is slow (on the order of a couple hours). $3.50
Shapeways Varity of color options, variety of materials for printing, high level of detail, relatively inexpensive Two-week time to process and receive an order $41.61
ProJet HD 3000 Relatively quick turnaround, highest level of detail, high throughput, easy to remove support materials (wax). Most expensive up front cost ($80,000 equipment), only one color option during practical use. $30.00

A video is available that walks through their method of scanning and a comparison of the results. You can watch the video at the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE). Chapters include:

0:05 Title
1:41 Image Acquisition and Data Processing
4:21 Makerbot Printing
6:33 Shapeways Printing
7:32 ProJet HD 3000 Printing
8:45 Results: 3D Printed Models
10:39 Conclusion

Top 3D Printing News Last Week: Cube, iPhone, Mars, Prosthetic Face

3D Printing News

3D Printing News

A roundup of the top 3D printing news from April 1 to April 7: