3D printing drastically reduces development costs of blood recycling machine

The final Hemosep, developed using 3D-printed prototype parts

Prototyping costs have been cut by 96 percent via 3D printing

During surgery, patients’ blood is often “spilt.” Such blood can be returned to the body, so long as it has been properly processed to ensure that it is not tainted. The Brightwave Hemosep autotransfusion machine can do this – and its prototyping costs have been cut by 96 percent via 3D printing.

Gizmag featured the Hemosep when it was launched in 2012. The device works by collecting the blood spilt during surgery and concentrating it using a mechanical agitator. Once the blood has been prepared, the patient receives it by way of an intravenous transfusion.

There are a number of benefits to recycling a patient’s own blood during surgery. As well as reducing the need for donor blood, which can often be in short supply, it minimizes the risk of complications due to potential adverse reactions to donor blood, such as contamination or immunosuppression. It also requires simpler, cheaper equipment and is much safer for children, who face greater risks than adults during such procedures.

In a blog post, 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys recently explained how Brightwake has been able to dramatically reduce the costs involved in producing prototypes for the ongoing development of the Hemosep. Each machine includes many parts and, by using a 3D printer to prototype parts rather than designing them and waiting “weeks” for them to arrive, the company has reduced its prototyping costs by 96 percent and vastly reduced the time taken for the process.

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World’s First Carbon Fiber 3D Printer Announced, The Mark One


There could be hundreds or thousands of applications for this new technology, especially within the prosthetic industry, as carbon fiber is the perfect material for prosthesis.

This is the week of the SolidWorks World 2014 in San Diego, Ca, and so far there have been quite a few pretty groundbreaking announcements from the convention.

Last night we got the announcement from Stratasys, pertaining to  their multi-material, multi-color printers, and this afternoon we got to take a look at a printer which is the first ever carbon fiber extruding 3D printer on the market.

It’s called the “Mark One,” and is manufactured by MarkForged. Gregory Mark, the President of MarkFoged, also co-owns Aeromation, which is another tech company responsible for manufacturing computer controlled race car wings. The wings are typically made out of carbon fiber because of its lack of weight, and durability. Mark found that it is quite a daunting task to manufacture parts out of carbon fiber because of the time and expense in laying the fiber down, piece by piece, in the production process. That’s what sparked the initial drive for him to pursue a 3D printer which could simply print the material.

The Mark One printer can print in four different materials, one at a time, which includes carbon fiber, fiberglass, PLA, and nylon.

We took the idea of 3D printing, that process of laying things down strand by strand, and we used it as a manufacturing process to make composite parts,” he told PopMech. “We say it’s like regular 3D printers do the form. We do form and function, said Mark.

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Stratasys unveils multi-material color 3D printer



The Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer could have implications for design, engineering and manufacturing.

Stratasys, a 3D printer marker focused on manufacturing, on Monday launched a color system that can use multiple materials.

The name of the printer—Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer—doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but could have implications for design, engineering and manufacturing.

While 3D printing is capturing the imagination of consumers to some degree, the real action in the sector revolves around manufacturing and the supply chain.

According to Stratasys, the Objet 500 Connex3 can combine base materials as well as mix and max rigid, flexible and transparent ingredients in one run. Those capabilities mean that manufacturers won’t have to assemble parts or paint goods.

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3D printing scales up


Digital manufacturing: There is a lot of hype around 3D printing. But it is fast becoming integrated with mainstream manufacturing

PEEK through the inspection windows of the nearly 100 three-dimensional (3D) printers quietly making things at RedEye, a company based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and you can catch a glimpse of how factories will work in the future. It is not simply that the machines, some as big as delivery vans, run day and night attended by just a handful of technicians. Instead it is what they are making that shows how this revolutionary production process is entering the manufacturing mainstream.

3D printers make things by building them up, a layer at a time, from a particular material, rather than removing it by cutting, drilling or machining—which is why the process is also called additive manufacturing. There are many ways in which this can be done (see article), and with only a tweak of software each item can be different, without the need for costly retooling of machines. This has made 3D printing a popular way to make one-off items, especially prototype parts, mock-ups, gadgets and craft items.

And that is about all that 3D printers are good for, reckon the doubters. Chief among them is Terry Gou, the boss of Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronic goods, which makes many of Apple’s products in China. He thinks 3D printing is just “a gimmick” without any commercial value in the manufacture of real finished goods, and he has vowed to start spelling his name backwards if proved wrong.

Mr Gou (or should that be Uog?) is right about one thing: additive manufacturing is not about to replace mass manufacturing. Even though the technology is improving, the finish and durability of some printed items can still fall short of what producers require. And nor can 3D printers crank out zillions of identical parts at low cost, as mass-production lines can. Nevertheless, 3D printers have their virtues, which is why they are starting to be used by some of the world’s biggest manufacturers, such as Airbus, Boeing, GE, Ford and Siemens.

The market for 3D printers and services is small, but growing fast. Last year it was worth $2.2 billion worldwide, up 29% from 2011, according to Wohlers Associates, a consultancy. As producers become more familiar with the technology, they are moving from prototypes to final products. Last year Wohlers reckons more than 25% of the 3D-printing market involved making production-ready items.

Some of those parts are taking shape in RedEye’s printers. In many cases they are low-volume items, such as components used to build specialist pharmaceutical or paper-making equipment. Other components, such as 3D-printed tools and jigs, will actually enhance mass-production: BMW’s assembly-line workers design and print custom tools to make it easier to hold and position parts. 3D-printed plastic moulds and dies are also being printed to help set up and trial new production lines. Some of these printed parts are even used as temporary stand-ins for broken steel tools, which can take weeks to replace.

Hard-to-find spare parts are also being 3D printed, in one case helping a large American airline to get some of its aircraft back into the air. The carrier was frequently having to ground its ageing McDonnell Douglas MD-80 jets because of leaking toilets. Production of these aircraft ceased long ago, and the airline was struggling to find spare parts. Its new plumbing is now being 3D printed in an aerospace-grade plastic (which does not ignite or produce noxious fumes if burned).

As 3D printers get better and printed materials improve, the quality and finish of prototypes is becoming harder to distinguish from things made in traditional factories, says Tim Thellin, RedEye’s manager. Despite the hype around desktop 3D printers aimed at hobbyists and consumers, it is the big, industrial-grade printers that are working the hardest as demand grows for printing large items, which are tricky to make with conventional methods such as plastic injection-moulding, says Mr Thellin. One example is body panels for specialist cars. These can have complex shapes, consolidating individual components that previously had to be assembled.

The inspection windows of some of RedEye’s 3D printers are covered, because these machines are making defence-related items, or their work is commercially sensitive. One that is on view is a machine printing parts for the 3D printers produced by RedEye’s parent company, Stratasys. It and another firm, called 3D Systems, are the market leaders in 3D printers.

3D Systems, based in South Carolina, also has plenty of examples of ways in which 3D printers are being used to produce finished products. An early adopter of the technology has been the health-care industry—a field in which mass customisation is useful, because every patient is different. Millions of hearing-aid shells have been 3D-printed from scans of patients’ ear canals, says Cathy Lewis, 3D Systems’ marketing chief. Initially the shells were cast from 3D-printed moulds, but with the development of printable biocompatible plastics that do not irritate the skin, they are now printed directly.

In another example, 3D Systems has worked with Align Technology of San Jose, California. Instead of using metal braces for straightening teeth, Align produces sets of transparent plastic “aligners”. A scan of the patient’s mouth is used to devise a treatment plan, which in turn generates a digital file which is used to 3D-print a set of 20 or so moulds. Each mould is slightly different, and from them a series of clear plastic braces is cast. When worn over several months, each brace steadily moves the patient’s teeth into the desired position. Last year Align 3D printed 17m of them.

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Crowdsourced Marketplace Lets 3D-printers Bid on Buyer’s Designs


Making this new and exciting innovation increasingly accessible to the masses

CowFab is a new online bidding platform that allows users without their own printers to post their designs on the site and have 3D printing companies (or individuals) bid on the jobs. Users can upload their design, select a printer, and browse rates enabling competition to drive down prices and make 3D-printed objects affordable.

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