3D printing company Materialise reports total revenue increases of over 12 percent in 2016

Feb 27, 2017 | By Tess

Materialise, one of the global leaders in 3D printing software and services, has released its fourth quarter 2016 and full year financial results. Overall, the numbers indicate positive growth for the Belgium-based 3D printing giant.

Notable figures from Materialise’s fourth quarter financial results include an increase of 12.3% for total revenue (up to 31,477 kEUR) compared to the fourth quarter of 2015, with growth in all three of its divisions: Materialise Manufacturing, Materialise Software, and Materialise Medical. The company’s EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) increased by 12.3% from 2,979 kEUR to 4,455 kEUR.

Materialise Manufacturing saw the most significant gains, with a reported revenue increase of 19.4% (up to 13,326 kEUR). The Materialise Manufacturing segment offers 3D printing and engineering services to a wide range of customers, from the industrial to the commercial sectors. Notably, end part manufacturing sales increased by by 26.4% over the past year. According to the Belgian company, both i.materialise and RapidFit’s results are included in these figures.

The company’s other two segments, Materialise Software and Materialise Medical, saw respective increases of 10.6% (to 8,078 kEUR) and 5.1% (to 10,061 kEUR) from the fourth quarter 2015. Materialise has also reported that sales of its medical software grew 29.8% and direct sales of its complex surgery solutions increased by a whopping 82.9%.

The company also cites an aggregate increase of 3.6% for its research and development, sales and marketing, and general and administrative expenses (up to 18,483 kEUR from 17,849 kEUR in the fourth quarter 2015). While R&D expenses decreased slightly, S&M and G&A expenses increased. Materialise explains these increases as reflecting “the managerial structure and support” it has implemented in its R&D and S&M divisions to support and promote their growth since the company’s IPO. “A number of employees with mixed roles within these groups have evolved into more managerial/administrative roles, and their cost as well as certain other expenses are now categorized into G&A,” says the company.

Other figures from the fourth quarter 2016 results include a decrease in net other operating income (from 2,205 kEUR to 1,779 kEUR), an increase in operating profit (from 932 kEUR to 1,914 kEUR), and a decrease in net shareholders’ equity (from 82,955 kEUR at December 31, 2015 to 79,033 kEUR at December 31, 2015.

Now for Materialise’s full year results. According to a press release, Materalise saw a total revenue increase of 12.2%, from 102,035 kEUR to 114,477 kEUR. The adjusted EBITBA for the 2016 year, which ended on December 31, 2016, increased by 156.5% to 9,458 kEUR. The EBITDA margin, for its part, increased to 8.3% in 2016 from 3.6% in 2015, a growth attributed to a “12.2% revenue growth, a 14.7% improvement in gross profit and an increase of only 5.4% in operational costs…”

“In a challenging environment, Materialise had a good quarter, contributing to a strong year,” commented Executive Chairman Peter Leys. “Strategically, we also made substantial progress during 2016, entering into several partnerships that position us to benefit from the expected growth of additive manufacturing of end parts in general and, more specifically, from the potential growth of specific vertical markets. Operationally, all three of our segments enhanced the focus and effectiveness of their internal operations, contributing to our successful year.”

The three segments, from a full year perspective, increased as well. Materialise Software saw an increase of 16.8% in 2016 to 30,122 kEUR, Materialise Medical saw one of 8.8% to 37,910 kEUR, and Materialise Manufacturing reported an increase of 12.1% in 2016 to 46,406 kEUR.

Leys concluded, saying: “The additive manufacturing market continues to evolve, particularly in the direction of end part production, and we intend to continue positioning Materialise to benefit from this promising growth market in the coming years. Our strategic priorities for 2017 are to sustain our leadership position in software through continued innovation and strategic partnerships; to drive the next stage of growth in our medical division through our focus on the hospital market; to continue increasing our manufacturing of end parts; and to enable the development of additive manufacturing in specific vertical markets.”

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Sound-shaping 3D printed metamaterials could be used to fight cancer and improve personal audio

Feb 27, 2017 | By Benedict

Researchers from the University of Sussex in the UK have used special 3D printed bricks to build sound-shaping metamaterials that can direct sound waves. The materials could be used to create audio hotspots or to destroy tumors using high-intensity ultrasound.

Medical imaging and personal audio could be about to get a major overhaul thanks to a system of tiny 3D printed bricks—something that looks more like a LEGO kit than a serious research project. Researchers from the University of Sussex have created a series of metamaterials, each consisting of various combination of 3D printed bricks, that can focus and redirect sound waves.

“We want to create acoustic devices that manipulate sound with the same ease and flexibility with which LCDs and projectors do to light,” said Professor Sriram Subramanian, Head of the Interact Lab at the University of Sussex and one of the researchers working on the study.

The research carried out by the University of Sussex team has been published in Nature Communications, where the researchers explain how their cheap and simple 3D printing method could be used to create devices such as audio spotlights and ultrasonic haptics.

At the center of the research is a system of 3D printed bricks, each of which is able to “coil up” space. These space-coiling 3D printed cubes are able to slow down sound, allowing incoming sound waves to be transformed into any required sound field.

According to the researchers, the sound-shaping metamaterials made from 3D printed bricks could be used in many applications. Large versions could be used to build an audio hotspot, with sound directed to a particular location. Smaller versions, on the other hand, could be fitted to the body of a patient and used to focus high-intensity ultrasound to destroy deep-lying tumors in the body.

“Our metamaterial bricks can be 3D printed and then assembled together to form any sound field you can imagine,” said Dr Gianluca Memoli, also from the Interact Lab at the University of Sussex, and lead author of the study. “We also showed how this can be achieved with only a small number of different bricks. You can think of a box of our metamaterial bricks as a do-it-yourself acoustics kit.”

The researchers say that the 3D printed metamaterials could be improved further, by making layers of the materials dynamically reconfigurable. This would allow the researchers to create affordable imaging systems for medical diagnostics or crack detection.

“Our research opens the door to new acoustic devices combining diffraction, scattering and refraction, and enables the future development of fully digital spatial sound modulators, which can be controlled in real time with minimal resources,” Subramanian added.

Authors of the study were Memoli, Mihai Caleap, Michihiro Asakawa, Deepak R. Sahoo, Bruce W. Drinkwater, and Subramanian.

Back in November, researchers at Duke University published the results of a very similar study, in which 3D printed “Lego bricks” were used to create sound holograms. The Sussex study was submitted to Nature Communications exactly one week before the Duke study was published in Scientific Reports.

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Join Our Next 3D Printing Meetup for Students on Friday 24th in Leuven!

Do you want to learn how to use 3D printing? Are you a student with a passion for 3D modeling, design, and innovation? Do you dream about turning your ideas into reality? Then this 3D printing event is for you!

3D printing brings virtual designs to life. Worldwide, students are 3D printing miniature concept cars, architectural and functional models, prototypes, and all sorts of other things with us. We want to help you, as a student, realize even more of these projects and give you the chance to discover the limitless possibilities of 3D printing. Therefore, we are organizing a meetup that is designed to inform you about the ins and outs of 3D printing, the materials & technologies, and the benefits we, as i.materialise, can offer you.

Who is it for?

This event is ideal for students and academic staff with some prior knowledge or strong interest in the fields of 3D printing and 3D modeling. Our typical audience consists of students who would like to discuss their (future) 3D printing projects with us.

We also welcome journalists and will provide you with access to excellent photos, quotes, and connections. Come join us on a dazzling, high-energy tour through the largest 3D printing facility in Europe!

What’s in it for you?

You will gain an in-depth perspective of a professional 3D printing company. You will learn all about our service, material range, technologies and our student discount. Furthermore, you will get the chance to exchange ideas with fellow students and get professional advice on your projects from the i.materialise team.

This event is perfect for you if you are thinking about turning your ideas into 3D printed reality and if you are interested to learn more about the latest business & design possibilities that come with 3D printing.

3D printing at Materialise

3D Printing at Materialise. Photo by Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT)

Agenda for the event:

  • 2.00 pm: Registration and welcome drink
  • 2.30 pm: Presentation about 3D Printing Materials, Technologies & Solutions
  • 3.30 pm: Company tour
  • 4.15 pm: Networking drink and time to talk about your projects

Practical details:

Come join us for our next meeting at our headquarters in Leuven on March 24th. Please complete our application form and we will respond to your request as soon as possible:


Address: Materialise HQ, Technologielaan 15, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
Date/Time: Friday, March 24th, 2017. 14.00-17.00 (Belgium time, GMT+1)
Price: This is a free event

Spots are limited. Early registration will increase your chance of securing a seat. Please note that all presentations will be given in English.


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3D Printed Casting Tradeoffs

To remove the object, the ceramic mold must be broken apart, as there would be no other way to release the “overhangy” object. After some post casting heat treatment and polishing up, the aluminum parts are ready to go.

But here is the tradeoff I mentioned: the ceramic mold in this case must be destroyed each time parts are cast. If you require a large number of the parts, then you’re going to have to 3D print a positive cast, surround with ceramic and burn out each for each and every unit.

The ceramic part isn’t that expensive, but the 3D printing can be expensive, particularly for larger objects. This is effectively adding cost to the price per unit produced.

The alternative is to utilize a reusable mold – but as I said earlier, that would require redesign of the object to account for the reusability. It would certainly lower the cost of each unit produced, at least as far as the casting process is concerned.

But it might ADD cost for assembly, spare parts inventory, reliability (more pieces increases the odds of something bad happening) and more. It’s also possible the weight of the object might be too heavy for the application if split into multiple parts.

So what is the right answer? I think it depends on the specifics of the situation, and would require a decent analysis of all factors including both production of the part(s) and the use, management and maintenance of them after production.

Each approach has advantages and disadvantages; 3D printing is not necessarily the right answer in all cases.

But in this case, it apparently was.

Via VoxelJet

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French doctors successfully implant custom airway stent made with 3D printing

Feb 27, 2017 | By Tess

A team of doctors from the CHU hospital in Toulouse, France have successfully implanted a 3D printed custom tracheobronchial prosthesis into a patient, marking a world first for the medical community. The implant was designed and additively manufactured in partnership with Anatomik Modeling, a Toulouse-based startup that specializes in custom-made 3D implants.

In the increasingly overlapping worlds of 3D printing and healthcare, we have had the pleasure to write about many world firsts, from the first 3D printed sternum made from titanium and polymer, which we wrote about earlier today, to the 3D printed vertebrae implant that helped an Indian woman walk again, to name but a couple. Now, marking another first for medical 3D printing, CHU doctors have announced the successful implantation of a 3D printed tracheobronchial prosthesis.

The patient who received the custom 3D implant, unnamed but apparently 60 years old, first received a lung transplant at the Toulouse University Hospital two years ago. After the operation, however, the patient complained of respiratory discomfort and difficulty breathing. Upon inspection, doctors discovered the patient’s bronchus was narrowed and contracting (a condition called stenosis), and intervention was necessary.

Intervention came in the form of a custom-made silicone tracheobronchial prosthesis made with the help of 3D printing. To make the implant, Anatomik Modeling worked with CHU to model the implant based on a scan of the patient’s bronchus. From there, a mold of the 3D implant was 3D printed, which allowed for the silicone elastomer prosthesis to be cast.

CHU doctors successfully implanted the custom-made tracheobronchial prosthesis into the patient about three months ago. Not only has the patient been recovering well since the procedure, but the technology has been used to help three more patients, and will soon help two more who are currently waiting to undergo surgery.

3D printing technologies allowed the French doctors to treat the patient with a tailor-made bronchial implant, which helped to avoid potential complications often caused by ill-fitting implants and stents. While the innovative 3D implants are still in their experimental stage, Anatomik Modeling and the CHU doctors say they could be ready for commercialization by 2018.

One current challenge with the 3D printed custom stents is their cost, as the custom fitted implants are more expensive than their standardized counterparts. Despite that, clinical trials for the 3D tracheobronchial prostheses are underway.

Research surrounding the customized 3D airway stent was recently published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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FABtotum launches FABUI COLIBRI 3D printing OS for Personal Fabricator 3D printer

Feb 27, 2017 | By Benedict

Milan-based 3D printing company FABtotum has launched FABUI COLIBRI, an operating system for FABtotum 3D printers. The OS will be in beta for around 40 days, after which it will automatically update with improvements and fixes.

When one thinks of the defining characteristics of the hummingbird, the distinct humming that gives the bird its name is surely up there. Fortunately, Italian 3D printing company FABtotum hasn’t named its brand new operating system “COLIBRI” (Italian for hummingbird) because it hums. Instead, it likens its new OS to the hummingbird because it is light, fast, and stable—qualities that can each be found in the tiny avian creature.

FABtotum is the Milan-based company behind the FABtotum Personal Fabricator, an all-in-one fabrication platform for 3D printing, milling, and 3D scanning. Brought to life by an incredibly successful Indiegogo campaign back in 2013, the Personal Fabricator has become a popular consumer-level machine, retailing for €1,289. Since the release of the hybrid 3D printer, FABtotum users have operated their machine through FABUI, a web interface with a dedicated IP address. That, however, is about to change.

Over the last few years, FABtotum and its community of 3D printer users have been busy developing FABUI COLIBRI, a new OS designed from scratch that promises resilience against power failures, fast booting, a full backend redesign, an online plugin repository, built-in gCode help, and much more. As of February 23, the new OS is live in Beta testing, with a working version to be released in around 40 days.

So just what does COLIBRI have in common with the hummingbird, again? According to FABtotum, the new operating system is light, in the sense of taking up little storage, just 150 MB; it is fast, booting up in 60 seconds the first time and around 15 seconds on subsequent occasions; it is also stable, with a precisely engineered recovery method that protects against loss of files.

COLIBRI also comes with a bunch of useful new features, including new algorithms for print management, a pause function, virtual visualization, improved 3D scanning, and the ability to both update and downgrade both software and firmware should they need to. A revamped skin retains many of the features of the old interface, but with a sharper focus on the most commonly accessed areas.

Since the FABtotum 3D printer is largely open source, the Italian 3D printing company has provided COLIBRI with a dedicated area for custom heads and plugins. This should give developers the chance to build their own FABtotum software additions, while a new Head Development Kit offers support on the hardware side.

“The FABUI COLIBRI, also known as FABUI 1.0, is ready to be downloaded and tried,” FABtotum says. “After a first round of [feedback], it will then pop up as [an] update for everyone. As said, it is a major change but will still work on every existing unit.”

FABUI COLIBRI is designed to work with FABtotum 3D printers only.

Posted in 3D Software


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CSIRO and Anatomics 3D print titanium and polymer sternum implant in medical world first

Feb 27, 2017 | By Tess

Australian organization CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, recently partnered with Anatomics, a Melbourne-based medical implant company, and a team of UK doctors to implant a 3D printed titanium and polymer sternum into a 61-year-old British patient. The operation marked the first time that a 3D printed sternum made from titanium and a synthetic polymer had been implanted into a human.

The patient, 61-year-old Edward Evans, suffered from a rare infection that necessitated the removal of his sternum, or breastbone. Since receiving his new 3D printed titanium-polymer implant, Evans is reportedly recovering very well.

In making the sternum implant, CSIRO partnered with medical implant company Anatomics. The latter was responsible for designing the titanium and polymer implant, while CSIRO took charge of its manufacturing, 3D printing the implant at its Lab 22 facility in Melbourne.

“I’m proud of our cutting-edge work with Anatomics that has enabled patients around the world to regain the ability to walk, to sit up and lead normal lives,” said Dr. Keith McLean, Director of CSIRO Manufacturing. “Here in Melbourne, we have quietly been developing what we believe is one of the world’s most advanced capability in reconstructive prosthetics, and this recent success in the UK demonstrates that.”

This is not the first time CSIRO and Anatomics have partnered, as both parties worked together in 2015 to manufacture a 3D printed titanium sternum and rib implant for a Spanish cancer patient, and had previously teamed up to create a 3D printed titanium heel bone for an Australian cancer patient in 2014. This is, however, the first time they have additively manufactured an implant made from advanced composite materials.

According to Anatomics Executive Chairman Paul D’Urso, the 3D printed titanium and polymer sternum implant recreates both the “hard and soft tissues” that are present in the human body. The patient’s positive recovery after the implantation shows the potential of such composite implants. Evans’ surgery took place in Spain, where he was discharged after only 12 days. His story was covered in an episode of Trust Me, I’m a Doctor on BBC TV.

CSIRO, which in 2015 launched a $6 million metal 3D printing center, has been tied to many interesting and innovative 3D printing projects within Australia. For instance, Oventus Medical, the company behind the O2Vent sleep apnoea device, operates an additive manufacturing facility out of a CSIRO site; CSIRO and RMIT have been developing cheap 3D printed electronics; and the organization has published a comprehensive “Advanced Manufacturing Roadmap” for Australian businesses.

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Design of the Week: Yet ANOTHER Machine Vise

This week’s selection is the 3D printable vise system by Pinshape contributor Christoph Laimer, a.k.a. “TheGoofy”.

Zurich-based Laimer has produced an amazing 3D model that not only works functionally, but is entirely snap-fit together and requires zero additional components.

Laimer explains:

This is a quite robust 3d-printable machine vise. It’s 100% 3d-printed – no screw or other piece of hardware is needed to hold the individual pieces together. Pieces clip and snap together. It’s a demonstration that it is very important to consider forces and material properties already when designing a mechanical object.

You can see a full color 3D representation of the vise design in this Autodesk Fusion 360 online view.

Laimer advises printing the 9 components with 35% infill only, but with three perimeter shells, with a layer size between 0.1 and 0.15mm. He also recommends using no support material.

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This years Oscar statuettes 3D printed in upstate New York

Feb 26, 2017 | By Julia

“And the Oscar goes to…” are the words everyone’s waiting to hear this Sunday when the 89th Academy Awards show is broadcast around the world.

This Oscar season is already ramping up to be a memorable one. The past twelve months have seen a new generation of filmmakers like Barry Jenkins and Denis Villeneuve break out in Hollywood, alongside established actors like Denzel Washington trying their hand at the director’s role.

But amidst all the buzz of critics’ lists, red carpet parties, and last minute theatre-going, another story has surfaced – not about who the Oscar will be going to, but rather, where it came from.

This year the iconic Oscar statuettes were 3D printed by Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry in upper New York state.

a finished statuette next to a wax version

“The trick was not to make it too shockingly different,” said Daniel Plonski, an artist at the foundry.

When Polich Tallix was tasked with producing 60 gold statues last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wanted awards that were closer to the original Oscar statuette from 1929.

Plonski set to work by 3D scanning both an early statue and a recent statue, then borrowing desired qualities from both in a new design. The digital scans were then 3D printed, molded, and cast in wax.

A team of expert employees then coated each wax statuette in a ceramic shell, which was then cured and fired at 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit. Firing causes the wax to melt away, leaving an empty Oscar-shaped form, ready to be hand cast in liquid bronze at over 1,800 degrees. After cooling and sanding, the figure was finally electroplated with a permanent layer of reflective 24-karat gold.

The result is a subtle, yet painstakingly handcrafted restoration. While the measurements remain about the same – the statue stands 13.5 inches tall and weighs 8.5 pounds –  the facial features are more defined, including a stronger hint of ears and a hair part. The statuette’s sword also rests in sharper relief between Oscar’s legs.

“There’s pride,” said Adam Demchak, executive vice president of Polich Tallix. “There’s excitement.”

Part of that excitement is due to the fact that, like millions of viewers around the world, even Demchak doesn’t know who the winners are. Polich Tallix consequently was tasked with engraving 223 bronze nameplates – one for each nominee. Winners will bring their Oscar to the Governor’s Ball, where Polich Tallix’s engraving station will personalize each statuette with a screwdriver and two screws.

“When they come up, we’ll be ready to go,” he said. “We put the nameplates on, make sure they look good, give the statue a little wipe down and hand it back to them.”

But until Sunday, the Polich Tallix team too remains in the dark, save for the gold glow of 60 shining Oscar statuettes.

The 89th Academy Awards of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be held February 26th at 5:30 pm PST at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.

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Kamp Studio 3D printed espresso set combines elegance and sustainability

Feb 26, 2017 | By Julia

The renowned design brand Kamp Studio has just released a new collection of sleek homeware and wearables. While New Zealand-based designer Daniel Kamp has always been drawn to experimental ways of creating, his new Kemp Collection is particularly notable for combining 3D printing with traditional handcrafting.

“KAMP.studio exists to change the way that we create things. We provide artful and sustainable alternatives to mass produced everyday objects,” the Kamp website states. “We believe that beauty and uniqueness matter.”

That sentiment carries beautifully through the new Kemp Collection. Highly sculptural jewellery, fountain pens, and tea sets are some of the most eye-catching items in the collection, but the piece generating the most buzz is a gorgeous espresso set: the Press Pour Over Brewer. Produced using 3D printed molds and hand casting, the set includes a porcelain jug and optional lid, as well as a gold titanium coffee filter from Osaka Coffee.

Inspired by the way different components interact during the ritual of making coffee, the Press Brewer fits together neatly and smartly, calling to mind a stackable russian doll, but with a decidedly more minimal flavour. The set is available in stone grey or gloss white glaze porcelain, and is priced at $450 New Zealand Dollars, or $510 with the lid. The Kamp site assures users that each item is custom made to order, allowing imperfections from the hand casting and glazing process to make each set unique.

The Osaka coffee filter is equally elegant. Available in gold titanium, the Japanese-design Osaka Gold Cone Dripper will impress even the most selective coffee-lover. The double-walled mesh promises a fuller tasting coffee than paper filters, plus the obvious benefits of fewer trips to the store, and less waste per cup brewed.

If you’re looking to really splash out, the entire Press Brewer set pairs beautifully with the Kemp Collection’s Press Espresso Set, made up of an espresso cup and saucer and the Poise Tea Spoon. Like the Press Brewer, each of these pieces is 3D printed and then hand-cast in porcelain, save for the teaspoon which is finished in raw bronze or brass.

Like all of Kamp’s sculptural collections, the new Kemp Collection continues to follow the studio’s ethos of “explorative, ethical, elegant.” Broken down, those terms translate to an environmentally conscious yet refined aesthetic practice, and an ongoing investigation into new ideas, concepts and processes.

Everything is designed at Daniel Kamp’s studio in Auckland, New Zealand, then manufactured in New York City.

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