Ability1 desktop metal 3D printer hits Kickstarter starting at $2.9K

Mar 29, 2017 | By Tess

Just under a year ago we covered a story about how a startup called Ability3D was working on developing a potentially revolutionary desktop metal 3D printer which would only cost about $3,000 (a mere fraction of what industrial metal 3D printers cost). While for many the prospect seemed to good to be true, we are happy to say that the Florida-based startup has delivered in the form of a crowdfunding campaign.

Ability3D has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for its innovative Ability1 metal 3D printer. The 3D printer, which allows for the creation of strong, solid metal parts in your home or office, is available to backers for as low as $2,899 (up to $3,299). Considering that metal 3D printing systems usually cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, it is certainly worth taking a look at how Ability3D has managed to scale the technology down so much, while still maintaining its basic principles of additively manufacturing metal.

As the startup explains, its Ability1 3D printer does not require expensive laser sintering equipment or even metal powders to operate, as it uses a combination of two much simpler processes: MIG welding and CNC milling. In effect, the metal 3D printer is a hybrid welding and milling machine (which are additive and subtractive processes, respectively), as it works by first depositing a layer of metal using the MIG welder, and then trimming any rough edges off using the CNC mill. Once one layer is done, the process repeats over and over until the object is complete.

Once the metal part is complete, users can simply use a chisel and hammer to remove it from the metal build plate. (The build plate is made from a “dissimilar metal platen,” which stops it from fully adhering to the print, making the part removal relatively easy.) Additionally, because MIG welding is such a common technique, users have the opportunity to use a wide range of welding wire types, including aluminum, stainless steel, and steel, as (locally sourced) 3D printing material.

One of the main questions that arises when talking about metal 3D printing in the home or office is, of course, safety. Fortunately, Ability1’s developers have ensured that they have taken the necessary precautions to make their machine safe. Safety features include: an all metal construction, a sealed enclosure (to contain fumes), a negative-pressure blower that carries fumes from the printer to the outside via a hose, an interlock system for the doors and handles, a motorized shutter that reinforces the viewing window while welding, and an electrically isolated welding current. The Ability1 is also expected to receive UL and CE certification if the Kickstarter campaign is successful.

Ability3D team at CES 2017, where it won the Digital Trends 2017 Cool Tech Award

In terms of its 3D printing specifications, the Ability1 boasts a built volume of 8” x 8” x 8” (200 mm x 200 mm x 200 mm), a positioning accuracy of  +/- 0.001 inches (+/- 25 microns), a minimum layer thickness of 5 microns, and a max layer thickness of 1000 microns. Its overall footprint is is 18” x 24” x 23” and it weighs about 70 lbs. Its CNC component has a 300 watt spindle with a maximum rpm of 10,000.

Ability3D says that its desktop metal 3D printer will be equipped with a built-in computer, so users will simply have to connect their own monitor, mouse, and keyboard to connect to and control the system. Users will also need to supply their own cylinder of welding gas.

Parts 3D printed on the Ability1

As the technology stands, there are a few limitations, primarily in terms of designs and their complexity. Because the process is so new, the Ability1’s developers have had to hand-write the printer’s G-code, which has led to functional, but very simple designs. As Ability3D explains, the hand-written G-code “has limited the complexity of parts we can print so far, and it has limited the quality of those parts (unfilled regions, voids, misplaced welds, etc).”

If funding from the Kickstarter campaign comes through, Ability3D is confident it can develop a smart, sophisticated software that will allow for users to 3D print more complex and structurally sound parts. The Kickstarter campaign, which is seeking to raise $640,000, has raised nearly $70,000 since its launch one day ago. As mentioned, interested backers can get the Ability1 metal 3D printer for as low as $2,899 (shipping not included). Delivery is estimated for October 2017.


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Checking Out MakerBot’s New “MinFill” Option

MakerBot announced a very intriguing feature to their slicing program, “MinFill”.

The new option is a clever type of internal fill algorithm that should have been invented by someone eons ago. Maybe it was, but if so, it hasn’t appeared in popular slicing programs that I am aware of.

The need for internal fill is two-fold.

First, the amount of internal fill must match the functional usage pattern of the printed part. For example, a lever in a machine that takes some mechanical stress would likely require more internal fill than an idle figurine sitting on a desktop. The added infill would provide additional strength in some situations.

The second reason for using internal fill at all is to ensure the print completes successfully. There are many geometries in which there is a kind of “roof” that would otherwise collapse unless there is something underneath it when it is built. It’s like support material, except on the inside.

The problem has always been when you need such internal support the only option is to use infill. And in many cases the infill, when turned on, adds far more material than you’d ever need to fulfill the internal support need.

If only someone would develop an intelligent slicer that would determine such situations and act appropriately.

Well, it seems that MakerBot has done so with their new MinFill option.

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3D printed Italian Volt Lacama motorcycle goes from 0 to 62 mph in 4.2 seconds

Mar 29, 2017 | By Benedict

Milan-based motorcycle company Italian Volt has developed a customizable electric motorcycle with 3D printed bodywork, frame, and swing arm. The Lacama goes from zero to 62 mph in 4.2 seconds, uses Brembo brakes and Ohlins suspension, and can be charged in just 40 minutes.

In many car and motorbike communities, there is undoubtedly a stigma attached to electric vehicles. Too slow, too weak, and simply not the real deal is a verdict handed out by many petrol heads who, it seems, will need a lot of convincing to abandon gas for green. But with the US ready to embrace the dark ages by scrapping its climate change responsibilities and attempting to resuscitate its flagging coal industry, the need to embrace electric vehicles could be greater now than ever before. The question is: can electric vehicles actually perform on the road?

While electric vehicles generally can’t compete with their petrol-powered cousins in terms of speed or power, they can excel in other areas. Take the new “Lacama” electric motorcycle from Milan startup Italian Volt, for example. This new bike, which is built with 3D printed bodywork and high-end parts, performs reasonably well by your standard metrics: 94 (70 kW) horsepower, 208 Nm of torque to the rear wheel, zero to 62 mph in just 4.2 seconds, and a top speed of 112 mph. But it’s in other areas where the bike really starts to impress.

Undoubtedly inspired by the pioneering work of electric car manufacturer Tesla, Italian Volt has made efficient charging of its new electric motorcycle a top priority. A TFT touchscreen display allows riders to easily monitor battery status (as well as keep tabs on location, performance profiles etc.), while a special “fast charging” process can recharge the bike to 80 percent in just 40 minutes. (On a standard mains outlet, a full charge will take around three hours.)

Things get even more exciting when you take a look at how the Lacama is made. Why? Because you, the customer, get a huge amount of input in the whole process. Since many of the motorcycle’s aluminum parts are made with a 3D printer, riders can ask Italian Volt to tailor the vehicle to their own specifications. The 12 parts that make up the bike’s body can all be customized in terms of shape and color, giving riders huge scope to make the Lacama their own.

Of course, the danger of the Lacama being both electric and 3D printed is that some may see the bike as a novelty product. While it’s hard to offer any definitive evidence for a vehicle’s “authenticity,” the non-printed equipment going into the vehicle is of a reputable nature. The distinctive motorcycle has been fitted with Brembo brakes and Ohlins suspension, giving it a certain degree of brand association that will help to placate skeptics.

Italian Volt, established just last year and based in Milan, is aiming to become the “next big thing in the motorcycle market.” Nicola Colombo, one of its three founders, holds a Guinness World Record after riding 7691.94 miles from Shanghai to Milan on an electric motorcycle.

Italian Volt Lacama specifications:

    • 0% to 80 % full charge in 40 minutes


    • Torque: 208 Nm


    • Acceleration: 0-100 km/h 4.6 sec


    • Range: 200 km approx


    • Max Speed 112 mph / 180 km/h


    • Gross weight 245 kg


    • Battery capacity up to 15 kWh

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BMW combines 3D printing & virtual reality to streamline vehicle design

Mar 29, 2017 | By Tess

German auto manufacturer BMW, no stranger to 3D printing technologies, has announced its intention to combine additive manufacturing and virtual reality to help streamline and reduce the costs of its design processes.

3D printing and virtual reality have been developing side by side for several years, with both technologies becoming more and more advanced and increasingly accessible. It is hardly a surprise then that their trajectories have become intertwined in numerous ways. Earlier today we wrote about one instance of this intersection, as tech company HTC released its new MakeVR tool, which allows HTC Vive users to craft and 3D model in a virtual environment.

Now, it seems BMW is seeking to explore the benefits of combining both technologies for its own design-related purposes. In designing and developing a new vehicle, BMW would traditionally have to manufacture one or several prototypes for each part—a time-consuming and costly process. With the advancement of 3D printing, however, this task was made significantly easier, as the company was able to additively manufacture one-off prototypes in a more time and cost efficient manner.

By adding virtual reality into the mix, the car manufacturer is hoping to streamline its design and prototyping process even more. That is, in combining VR tech with 3D printing, BMW is confident that it can simplify and speed up its auto design stage by cutting back on the number of parts that even need to be additively manufactured.

How is this going to work? Well, BMW is reportedly working on a VR program (in collaboration with Unreal Engine) that is capable of recreating a variety of different surface finishes and features that are integrated into BMW’s vehicles. Using the VR technology, the company plans to project the virtual images onto 3D printed parts to see how they will look when they are finished and built into the car. This will allow BMW’s designers to see any early flaws with a particular design, and allow them to create and adapt a new virtual design.

Additionally, BMW also intends to use virtual reality and 3D printing in tandem in order to increase the efficiency of inter-departmental communications. By using the two technologies together, BMW says it will be easier to convey design ideas and directions to different teams, and will provide a more user-friendly experience for its employees.

For over 25 years, BMW has been a strong proponent of additive manufacturing technologies, not only using it for its own manufacturing needs, but also investing in up-and-coming 3D printing companies, and collaborating with various organizations, including Team USA. As always, we are eager to see its continued use and advancement of the technology.

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Nikita Replyanskis musical 3D printed prosthetic arms turn heads at Moscow fashion week

Mar 29, 2017 | By Benedict

Earlier this month, Moscow’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week showcased some spectacular 3D printed prosthetic arms made by designer Nikita Replyanski and Russian prosthesis manufacturer Motorica. The 3D printed prostheses, inspired by robots and butterflies, were made using Autodesk Fusion 360.

Fashion weeks, whether they’re being held in the “Big Four” fashion capitals of the world or elsewhere, tend to favor style over substance. It’s called a fashion week, after all, not a function week. But that doesn’t mean that the industry events don’t occasionally showcase items that are as sensible as they are stylish. Just have a look at what was on show at Moscow’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week earlier this month.

While not usually an event of major global interest like Paris Fashion Week, the Russian fashion show brought together a host of top designers looking to show off their fall/winter 2017-2018 collections. Amongst those designers was Nikita Replyanski, a Russian designer and concept artist who left the computer games industry three years ago to focus on designing physical, non-virtual items. But rather than show off dresses, shoes, hats, Replyanski was presenting something totally different: 3D printed prosthetic arms.

Built in collaboration with Russian prosthesis manufacturer Motorica, these 3D printed prosthetic arms are at once inspired by technology and nature: one is all flashing lights and crisp-white futurism; another looks like it belongs in a ballet. But the incredible prostheses are more than just individual items for a one-off event; they are part of a growing trend for ultra-customizable 3D printed prostheses that are designed to suit the specific wearer in every way. At $1,700+, these aren’t the most affordable printed prostheses out there, but they are certainly some of the most spectacular.

Replyanski and Motorica presented two of their 3D printed prostheses at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. The first, worn by model Konstantin, is a functional, cyborg-inspired prosthesis ($2,500) that incorporates LED lights and—incredibly—a MIDI synthesizer! The arm is therefore a practical assistive device, a bold fashion statement, and a musical instrument in one. Another 3D printed arm was worn by Aymana, whose butterfly-inspired prosthesis ($1,700) features detachable wings and a matching headpiece.

“I want people with differences to have the opportunity to show their individuality,” Replyanskiy said of his spectacular creations. “I think their differences may be not a disadvantage, but an additional opportunity for that. The prosthesis can be a stylish accessory, like for Aymana, or a unique gadget like for Konstantin, and be as much a part of an individual style as fashionable shoes or a hat.”

Before making the 3D printed prostheses, Replyanskiy first consulted with the people who would be wearing the devices, getting a feel for their fashion preferences and physical measurements. Then, as soon as designer and wearer had agreed on a concept, Replyanski created a 3D model in Autodesk Fusion 360, an application he has been using for around three years.

“In short, the main feature of Fusion 360 for me is the key link between the three types of modeling: solid, surface, and polygonal,” Replyanskiy explained. “In other words, it allows you to easily make really complex objects, preserving the accuracy and functionality of 3D models ready for real production.”

Since Autodesk gives Fusion 360 away for free to startups like Motorica, making the designs was relatively simple. When the 3D models were complete, they were 3D printed by local printing service Can-Touch, with some particular parts, such as the fingertips, made using silicone molds. Once everything was assembled, the pieces were ready to be worn.

“I used my experience of polygonal modeling to create functional models, not limiting myself to simple forms,” Replyanskiy added. “Thus, in a short time (3 weeks, including printing, assembly, installation of electronics, and manual work on the accessory part), I was able to create a full-fledged unique mechanical prosthesis of two types of hands in a team with an engineer.”

3D printed fashion looks like it will continue to grow at pace, but the addition of stylish 3D printed prostheses could open up a whole new range of creative possibilities.

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How to Get Your Perfect Brass 3D Print

Are you thinking about 3D printing in brass? Would you like to know more about the material and all the available finishes? Are you interested in finding out how your 3D design is turned into a perfect brass 3D print? Would you like to discover some design tips and tricks for your next brass 3D print? Then read on, because you will find the answers to all your questions in this blog post!

The Material: 3D Printed Brass

3D prints made in brass consist of an alloy of copper and zinc. Brass can be used in a wide range of applications. It is a fantastic material for detailed miniatures, sculptures and jewelry and it is especially interesting if you are looking for a more economical alternative to precious metals. While brass has exactly the same level of detail as our silver and gold items, it comes at a cheaper price. And thanks to all of our finishing options, you can give it an incredibly stunning look. So in summary, Brass looks amazing, has the same level of detail as other precious metals, and comes at a low price.


3D-REX by Octavio Asensio

The 6 Finishes of 3D Printed Brass

Brass has by nature a yellow/reddish color, but you have the option to make your 3D print look even more stunning by choosing between five finishes, listed below.

Natural PU Coated

The first option you can choose is just to have your 3D print coated with clear PU to protect it against scratches and oxidation.


Greedy Fish by Michael Mueller, 3D printed in Natural PU Coated Brass

Yellow Gold-Plated Polished and Red Gold-Plated Polished

Furthermore, we offer a Yellow Gold-Plated or a Red-Gold Plated Polished finish. Both are achieved through an electroplating process. Depending on which finish you choose, your model will be finished with an 18kt gold layer in yellow or in red. The PU coating provides extra protection.


Favonius Bangle by Percival Luto, 3D printed in Yellow Gold-Plated Polished Brass


Arrow Heart Pendant by Jweel, 3D Printed in Red Gold-Plated Polished Brass

Black Color-Plated Polished

The fourth option we offer is the Black Color-Plated Polished finish, which is achieved through an electroplating process, but this time in combination with a colored PU coating. Your model will first be finished with a very thin layer of palladium and silver. We then add black coloring by applying a liquid, colored PU coating, which is cured in the oven in the final step.


Decision Spintop by Michael Mueller, 3D Printed in Black Color-Plated Polished Brass

Chrome-Plated Polished

The Chrome-Plated Polished finish is achieved by electroplating a thin layer of chromium. Your model will first be given a very thin layer of copper, and then a layer of nickel which acts as a base for us to attach the chromium to. We then apply the chromium layer in the final step.

The chrome-plated layer offers a polished, appealing aesthetic, provides some corrosion resistance and increases the surface hardness of your model. It is an affordable imitator of the chrome finish and its esthetics. This decorative chrome plating is traditionally used on car parts and tools. Because the base layer of chrome-plated parts contains nickel, we do not recommend using this finish for jewelry. Some release of nickel might be possible during skin contact.


Piguin by Bert de Niel, 3D Printed in Chrome Plated Polished Brass

Rhodium-Plated Polished

The most recently launched brass finish is the Rhodium-Plated Polished finish and is perfect for jewelry items. This time, your model is electroplated with a thin layer of rhodium. The rhodium layer protects your design against scratches or tarnishment and has a cold white color tone. This new finish will give your brass object a shiny, white, and precious-looking surface, which makes it a great and affordable alternative to high gloss silver items.

Bloom by Blueberries

Bloom by Blueberries, 3D Printed in Rhodium-Plated Polished Brass

Be aware that these finishes require additional processing steps, which is why some additional days need to be added to the standard production time. For more information on the number of days per finish, visit brass’ colors and finishes page on our website.

The Technology: 3D Printing and Casting Brass

Your model is 3D printed in brass using the technology of lost wax printing and casting. But how does this work? To enhance the quality of the item, your model is not 3D printed directly. In the first step, your 3D model is printed using a resin similar to wax, on a stereolithography 3D printer. Once the 3D print is ready and the support structures are removed, it is cleaned and prepared for casting.

3d printing a wax model

In a next step, the 3D print is used to create a mold. This is done by placing the 3D print in a flask and covering it in fine plaster. Then, we remove the wax, by placing the mold in an oven for several hours. The cavities created by the removal of the wax can now be filled with liquid brass. After the brass is completely poured in, the model needs to cool and solidify. Finally, the mold can be broken and your brass model is taken out. At the end of this process, finishing is done manually to provide you with the perfect brass model.

3d printing with casting a wax model

The Design: How to Get the Perfect Brass 3D Print

In order to get the perfect brass 3D print, you should take some tips into account. The most important ones are depicted below, but for more detailed information, please visit the brass design guides on our website.

  • For most models in brass, make sure to use a minimum wall thickness of at least 0.6mm. However, for the gold and color-plated finishes, 0.8mm is necessary and for a wire structure design, such as a ring, at least 1mm would be necessary. Be aware that if you use a wall thickness that is too thin, it can cause your model to break
  • Small details, such as decorative parts or engraved text, should have a diameter of at least 0.35mm, a height of 0.4mm and should be attached to a solid surface
  • Be aware that the maximum size of your 3D print in brass is limited to 88 x 88 x 125 mm
  • Make sure that if your design contains gaps, the distance between two parts is at least 0.3mm. Otherwise, it might cause defects in your print. For example, if the distance is too small, parts can become fused during the casting of your model
  • If you decide to print a hollow model, we advise you to incorporate at least 3 release holes or slots with a minimum diameter of 1.5mm, to remove the unprinted wax resin
  • Remember that nested objects or interlinking parts cannot be printed in brass

If you want to learn more about 3D printing in brass, visit our dedicated material page on our website. If you have already created a 3D file and are ready to turn it into reality, make sure to upload it via our 3D printing service. Choose the material of your choice (brass or another of our 19 materials), pick a finish, and you will be able to see the price in seconds.

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3D printing helps blind Brazilian couple to feel their unborn child

One of the many things we love about 3D printing technologies is its undeniable capacity to bring happiness and joy to people in unusual ways. From bespoke, heartfelt objects, to affordable assistive devices, 3D printing has helped to improve many people’s lives, even if it’s in a small way.

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Resin 3D printers you can back on Kickstarter right now: D2K Plus, Mono1, Moai

Mar 29, 2017 | By Benedict

Stereolithography (SLA) and digital light processing (DLP) resin 3D printers are no longer just for the super rich. Here are three resin 3D printers you can secure on Kickstarter right now, all of which cost less than $2,000.

Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is still seen as the go-to 3D printing technique for the general user. It’s cheap, its 3D printing filament is easy to find, and there’s a gigantic online community of FDM users willing to help you out with any problems you run into. But there’s a new kid on the block. Once seen as a 3D printing process for businesses and industrial users only, resin 3D printing—where liquid resin is hardened into 3D shapes with a powerful light source—is becoming more common, more accessible, and—crucially—more affordable.

The emergence of resin 3D printing as a consumer-level phenomenon is partly thanks to the work of companies like Formlabs and XYZprinting, companies who have put out high-quality resin 3D printers in recent years to rival the machines of established brands like 3D Systems. While these newer printers will set you back more than, say, a RepRap, they are still affordable for individuals who are serious about 3D printing. Luckily for us, the next generation of resin 3D printer could be even more attainable.

For startups and independent businesses, crowdfunding is still the number one means of getting a new 3D printer into the hands of customers. Formlabs did it, raising almost $3 million in backing for the Form 1, and now other resin 3D printing companies are looking to generate their own buzz through such platforms. It is possible that none will match Formlabs’ achievements, but crowdfunding remains a relatively safe distribution method for companies, as well as a good way for customers to get a great deal on a brand new 3D printer.

2017 is sure to see a number of resin 3D printers available on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but here are three SLA/DLP 3D printers, all available for less than $2,000, that you can pledge to buy right now:

Resin 3D Printer #1: D2K Plus

Company: SH IP

Minimum Price: $1,625

Goal: $9,000

Pledged: $11,390

Days to go: 9

What is it?

A UV-LED DLP 3D printer with a 198 x 120 x 150 mm build volume, 2K resolution, and layer thicknesses of 20-100 microns. The 3D printer is larger than the D2K Illuminate from last year, and uses a UV405nm LED bulb to cure the 3D printing resin.

Should I back it?

The Hong Kong-based company behind the D2K Plus cites a successful Kickstarter campaign in late 2016 as reason to have faith in the new 3D printer and campaign. A somewhat anonymous creator and a link to a seemingly defunct website inspire less confidence, however.

Find the Kickstarter here.

Resin 3D Printer #2: Mono1

Company: MonoPrinter

Minimum Price: $749 (no projector)

Goal: $30,000

Pledged: $3,443

Days to go: 25

What is it?

A budget resin 3D printer that is compatible with existing projectors like the Optoma HD37 and E416. The printer claims to offer an in-plane resolution of 24, 33, and 46 microns, a build volume of 96 x 56 x 130 mm, and layer thicknesses as low as 5 microns.

Should I back it?

If you already have your own projector, the Mono1 could be an affordable way to turn it into a resin 3D printer. Will it work? Well, it’s Boston-based startup MonoPrinter’s first machine, but with a range of pledge options, and not a huge price tag, it could be worth a shot. At this stage, it’s hard to predict whether the project will reach it’s target.

Find the Kickstarter here.

Resin 3D Printer #3: Moai

Company: Peopoly

Minimum Price: $900

Goal: $30,000

Pledged: $65,571

Days to go: 25

What is it?

An SLA 3D printer with a 70-micron laser spot, G-code printing, and high resin compatibility. Unusually for an SLA 3D printer, the Moai isn’t colored orange, but in every other respect the 3D printer looks the business. Resin is cured with a 150 mW Moai laser, which Peopoly says can achieve incredible sharpness. See our full article on the Moai 3D printer.

Should I back it?

Crowdfunding is crowdfunding—some projects come out on top, some crash and burn. At the end of the day, however, $900 for a laser-equipped resin 3D printer looks like excellent value for money.  Peopoly is a startup founded by Mark Peng, and this project has a community-focused feel to it.

Find the Kickstarter here.

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What 3D Metal Printing Magic is Velo3D Developing?

You’d think that the best 3D metal printing technique is a settled issue, but it is not by any means “over”.

3D metal printing has been going on for quite some time, but it’s only recently that it has sprung to prominence as a result of several key industries discovering how it can be used to create unique parts that cannot be made in other ways. These innovative parts can provide the manufacturer with additional function for their products, as well as reducing time and cost to produce them.

This approach is so compelling that GE decided to scoop up a few 3D metal printer manufacturers themselves in order to secure the technology for themselves. This interest has in turn driven huge interest in 3D metal printing, leading to several new parties entering the market.

But the technologies such events have used are in fact older 3D metal printing technologies that have been around for a while. The most frequently seen technique, in which energy is applied selectively to a flat bed of fine metal powder, is what is most often used.

But is that the “right” way to do 3D metal printing?

Several new companies think the answer is something different. Xjet is one company that’s developing a unique nano-particle powered approach, but they are still in the testing stages.

Another one is Desktop Metal, who have hinted they have something very powerful, but haven’t yet revealed precisely what they’re up to. Hopefully this year they will release something, as the curiosity level is driving me crazy.

But there are others working on the 3D metal printing problem.

I’ve encountered several parties developing a variety of techniques, but none seem to be as secretive as Velo3D, a company based in silicon valley, California.

There seems to be almost zero information on what this company is up to. However, there are some clues:

According to LinkedIn, the company now has at least 51 staff (as of this writing). That’s quite a few for a small startup. If they indeed have this many staff, one can surmise they have a complex product and are readying production capabilities.

They are currently hiring for the following roles:

  • Senior System Software Engineer
  • Sr. Computation Mechanics Engineer
  • Sr Simulation Engineer
  • Process Engineering Manager
  • Process Engineer
  • Senior Technologist
  • Sr Reliability Engineer
  • Sr. Test Automation Engineer
  • 3D Geometry Software Engineer
  • Patent Attorney

That last one is interesting, as they must have enough patent work to justify at least one FULL TIME position to deal with it.  They also already have a “Chief Patent Counsel” on staff.

The company has no announced products or even technologies, and thus has no income stream, aside from that obtained from investors. In the case of Velo3D, the company raised USD$22.5M in a 2015 Round 1 investment. That’s more than sufficient to get something like this going.

What can we expect? It’s not clear when they will announce something, and I don’t seem them appearing as exhibitors in any upcoming major 3D printing trade show, so stay tuned.

My bet is that in late 2017 or early 2018 they may finally reveal their plans. I don’t think they can wait too much longer than that as their client base will be slowly committing to other technologies in the meantime.

Via Velo3D

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colorFabb’s Strategy: 3D Materials or 3D Printers?

I read an interesting announcement from Aleph Objects and colorFabb that begs a question about the latter’s strategy.

Aleph Objects is, of course, the producers of the very popular line of LulzBot desktop 3D printers. These are very well regarded machines that have proceeded well through a number of increasingly powerful iterations, leading up to today’s flagship model, the TAX 6.

colorFabb is a manufacturer of high-quality 3D printer filament in a wide variety of materials. The company has historically been one of the leaders in exploring new types of materials. They often experiment with something new, tune it up and transform it into a popular product.

colorFabb is actually associated with Helian Polymers, a Netherlands-based company focused on producing a variety of polymers, including bioplastics. The two companies actually share an address in the Netherlands near the German border. As you might imagine, this combination of 3D print and plastics expertise is a large part of their success.

But something happened last summer: colorFabb began selling 3D printers themselves. They struck a deal with Stacker, a USA-based startup offering an interesting multi-headed machine.

At the time I thought it was unusual for a plastics manufacturer to branch out into equipment. However, it does make sense: desktop 3D printers don’t work without filament, and 3D printer filament companies don’t work unless there are 3D printers for their products.

As a major supplier of 3D printer filament, colorFabb does receive a lot of traffic from interested 3D printer operators. And those are people who may want to buy new equipment as well as filament.

In fact, one of colorFabb’s claims to fame is printing reliability: lousy filament almost always results in poor or even failed prints, and colorFabb’s products have a reputation of being very reliable.

Thus their clients likely include many who seek reliability.

What if colorFabb were to offer equipment that would carry their reputation for reliability? How could colorFabb NOT recommend a good, reliable machine? It seems that this is a powerful position to be in, if one were to consider selling 3D printers as well as filament.

Now back to the announcement. Aleph Objects announced that colorFabb is to be their European distributor. This increases the printers sold by colorFabb to four: two Stackers and now the LulzBot Mini and TAZ 6.

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