CNN Suggests 3DPrinting is Going Mainstream >

In this video, CNN highlights another way 3DPrinting is expanding its presence in our everyday lives.  It’s a nice video, but it doesn’t do justice to this technology. 
For example: General Electric (NYSE: GE) currently produces jet engine turbine blades with 3DPrinting and saves an estimated $25,000 per engine.  If GE builds its estimated 5850 jet engines in 2012, it will save over $146 million on this one part for this one product alone.
SelectTech Geospatial developed and built a fully functional drone aircraft with 3DPrinting in two weeks (instead of six) at a cost of $5,000 (instead of $30,000).Popular Mechanics designated 3DPrinting as a Top Ten Tech Breakthrough for 2012.

Headbobble.com will custom build a bobblehead doll in your likeness with color 3DPrinting!

“3DPrinting is hyped, but mainstream and growing. “

But where to turn to invest in this new phenomena? 

Formlabs and Makerbot, the companies featured in the video, are not publicly traded… companies that are include 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) and Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS).

They build the printers, develop the materials and write the software for both commercial and personal use.  Both are considered leaders in the 3DPrinting industry.  Both are similar in size (DDD is $2 billion market cap, SSYS is $1.3 billion) and valuation (the PE for DDD is 62, SSYS is 70).  Both are coming off recent declines in their stock prices of about 20%.  No question both companies bear the burden of high expectations for steadily improving earnings and game changing technology.  I think they both are up to the challenge.

DDD reports steadily increasing earnings from operations with a 50% quarterly revenue growth yoy.  DDD recently acquired Bespoke Innovations, a company that 3D manufactures custom prosthetic limbs for amputees.  The Dutch firm TIM was acquired this past month.  TIM is a full service, on demand 3D manufacturer of custom parts in Europe.  Just announced is the acquisition of Rapidform of South Korea, a 3D scanning, reverse engineering and inspection firm.  Rapidform is expected to add six to nine cents a share to DDD’s earnings, a 10% boost.  Additionally, DDD has joined with the Smithsonian Institute to make 3D printed replicas of the Institute’s collection of artifacts.

SSYS isn’t sitting down on the job, either.  Their big move is merging with Objet Printing, an Israeli company that has supplied 3DPrinters to Israel Aerospace Industries.  This merger combines SSYS’s manufacturing capabilities with Objet’s rapid prototyping expertise into one firm – a potent combination.  This should add to SSYS’s record earnings reported last August.  NASA is using SSYS 3DPrinters to design complex parts for its next Mars rover.  Piper Aircraft has recently turned to the Fortus 3D Printer to help it build its new Altaire single engine jet.  Turns out, Piper can design specialized tools and parts in two thirds less time than traditional methods.  And we all know, time is money.

Another 3DPrinting player is Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK), a firm that develops the software to design a product and relies on partner companies to actually print the thing out.  ADSK is a leader in 3D design and engineering in a wide variety of industries.  The Autodesk 123D 3D printing software is free and generally elicits favorable reviews.  For example, an Apple iPhone or iPad user can take pictures of some thing, upload the images to the ADSK cloud, and voila, a 3D model is made.  The software allows the user to touch up the model before actually printing it.  The company, as an investment though, isn’t performing like DDD or SSYS.

As the above graph from Yahoo! Finance illustrates, ADSK has increased in share price in the past year, but has been outgunned by both DDD and SSYS.  ADSK has acquired other firms to boost its presence in cloud computing and CAD.  However, its 2Q earnings announcement in August disappointed and company guidance didn’t generate much excitement. ADSK reports that 72% of its net revenue comes from foreign countries.  Perhaps the economic slowdown in Europe and Asia contributes to less than great expectations.

3DPrinting is a viable, growing technology.  In August, 2011, Forbes quoted The Wohler’s Report that projected 3DPrinting growing from a $1.3 billion industry in 2010 to a $5.2 billion industry in 2020.  Commercial applications prove 3D designed and printed parts can be made faster and cheaper than traditional manufacturing methods.  I believe DDD and SSYS represent the best opportunities.  There will be bumps on the way for these two companies.  Given their current presence, patented technology and aggressive acquisitions, I believe investors would do well to invest in this part of the future.

Tickers: DDDADSKGESSYS http://ow.ly/eri4G 

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3DPrinting an EU Industrial Revival? >

  • EU paper promotes new tech to boost GDP from 16% to 20% of EU GDP by 2020
  • Manufacturing job losses 3 million since crisis
  • Advanced manufacturing markets to double by 2015

The decline in the European Union’s manufacturing is the center of the sights for The European Commission’s leaked paper seek by Reuters  asking countries to invest heavily in new technologies such as 3DPrinting.

The European Union’s main regulators are aiming to ensure that new technologies are exploited to cheapen manufacturing costs and increase production to combat the trends for diminishing output of the key manufacturing industries in Europe.

The paper, which outlines the bloc’s future industrial policy, said the commission wants to raise manufacturing from 16 percent to 20 percent of EU GDP by 2020 using new techniques such as 3DPrinting – the technology that enthusiasts calculate will revolutionise manufacturing, including electronics such as mobile phones, and save millions in costs.

The Commission also wants countries to invest heavily in advanced technologies such as industrial biotechnology – which uses living cells to make materials such as chemicals, detergents and paper.

The market for such technologies is tipped to grow by 50 percent from 646 billion euros to more than 1 trillion euros by 2015, the paper said.

Industrial production has declined 10 percent since the crisis and more than 3 million industrial jobs have been lost.

The car industry is among the hardest hit, with large over capacity in mid-market car makers in France, Spain and Italy: Total European car sales fell 6.6 percent in the period from January to August this year.

The paper indicates that the European Union has not exploited past emerging industries such as rechargeable lithium batteries. It says European firms hold more than 30 percent of the relevant patents “without any production of such batteries taking place in the EU”.

To reverse such trends the Commission proposes non-binding targets for manufacturing and investment, both public and private.

The European commissioner in charge of industrial policy Antonio Tajani (see profile link below) will launch the new proposals on Wednesday.

The policy will also promote green vehicles, smart grids, sustainable construction materials, and so-called key enabling technologies which include nanotechnology and photonics.’

_____________________________________________________________________

FOCUS: PERSON

Antonio TAJANI – European commissioner in charge of industrial policy

 

Born on 4 August 1953, Roma, Italy

  

Curriculum vitae (The MEP is solely responsible for the information published)

 

  • Graduate in law (La Sapienza University of Rome). Editor of ‘Il Settimanale’ (1982); presenter of Radio 1 news programme (1982); head of the Rome editorial office of the newspaper ‘Il Giornale’ (1983).
  • Spokesman for the Prime Minister (1994). Vice-chairman of the European People’s Party. Member of Rome City Council (since June 2001).
  • Member of the European Parliament (since 1994). Head of the Forza Italia delegation in the European Parliament.

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/2187/ANTONIO_TAJANI.html

 

More: 

http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/futurium/future/personalized-manufacturing-3d-printing-and-more
http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/10/08/eu-industrialpolicy-idINL6E8L8NYP20121008
http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/breaking-news/world/eu-sees-industrial-revival-through-3d-printing-and-biotech-20121009

U.S. Air Force: AD2035 > > >

(Credit: USAF)ARTICLE SPECIALIST KNOWLEDGE LEVEL > >2> > >

Exhilarating and fast-paced, this following video on ever accelerating change by the U.S. Air Force, named ‘Welcome to 2035…the Age of Surprise,’ references 3DPrinting among many other amazing developing and future technological shifts in materials, manufacturing,  cyberspace and aerospace. The Air University‘s U.S. Air Force Center for Strategy and Technology based the on Blue Horizons, a multiple year future study being conducted for the Air Force Chief of Staff: “We can predict broad outlines, but we don’t know the ramifications,” the video suggests “the collective intelligence of humanity drives innovation in every direction while enabling new threats from super-empowered individuals with new domains, interconnecting faster than ever before. Unlimited combinations create unforeseen consequences…”

Blue Horizons: air, space, and cyberspace in 20 years

Air Force 2025, the previous major internal study of the future, was produced at Air University in 1996. Over 260 officers worked through the research that led to a large report outlining alternative futures and technologies required for those complex worlds. The Blue Horizons study is designed to answer questions similar to those addressed in the Air Force 2025 study. These include:

 

  • What are the emerging technologies that will shape the US Air Force and the conflict arena in which it must operate in 20 years in the future?
  • What could air, space and cyberspace power look like 20 years in the future?
  • Who will have access to emerging technologies that can make a difference?
  • How soon will these important technological achievements become fielded systems?


The students researched future systems and technological concepts working closely with subject matter experts from the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Defense Research Projects Agency, major universities and businesses, and other government laboratories and agencies. In addition to producing the reports posted here, the result was a cadre of officers conversant enough in critical areas of emerging technologies to ask critical questions and make assessments of systems in directed energy, biotechnology, nanotechnology and cyber technologies and what they mean for the future of the U.S. Air Force. Blue Horizons 2007 was only the beginning of a series of annual long range vision studies which are known collectively as “Blue Horizons.”  These annual studies serve as an input for the development of Title X wargames
, Strategic Planning Guidance, Quadrennial Defense Review scenarios and the development of service requirements. Here’s that amazing video:

Adapted from: http://www.kurzweilai.net/welcome-to-2035-the-age-of-surprise  (September 10, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica, editor of KurzweilAI.)

3DP Saves HP? > > >

Visita el Presidente Felipe Calderón las insta...




















ARTICLE KNOWLEDGE LEVEL  > > >3> >

Hewlett-Packard can become great again – a brand that stands for engineering excellence

But currently a  bumbling, stumbling company trading on its name, growing in size but losing its reason for being.

CEO Meg Whitman keeps promising to turn things around, but her moves make no sense to me. The move that makes the least sense was the decision taken this summerto end its relationship with 3DPrinting leader Stratasys(SSYS), whose printers it had been selling as the “DesignJet” line since 2010.

This is a business at the very top of its hype cycle, projected to be a $3.1 billion industry in 2016 by Wohlers Associates.


Not much when your sales are running at $130 billion/year, but growing fast and ready to transform the world.

At his blog, Terry Wohlers says 3DPrinting” has reached a tipping point, where it moves from being a niche market to a mass market. That’s when HP walks away?

At Shaping the Future, Christopher Barnatt notes there are many types of 3DPrinters. The Stratasys units HP sold use “fused deposition modeling” or FDM – injection molding plastic goes in as a thread and is deposited into the input design. 

Prices for most units run from $10,000-$20,000 to as low as $399 for the “junior” version of the Printrbot kit.

In the business world most 3DPrinters today are used for prototyping, but they can be used for final production in some highly-customised areas such as dental implants and motorcycle parts. I personally think this is going to expand into multiple industries rapidly, a “mass customisation” revolution.

I’m not the only person who thinks so. Bob Lewis of Infoworld calls 3DPrinting a “litmus test” of IT leadership. The business is rapidly consolidating around two main players, Stratasys and 3D Systems (DDD), either of which HP could still acquire, SeekingAlpha notes, although perhaps  not for much longer…?

Stock quotes in this article: HPQASSYSDDDADSKFDX


Adapted from: http://www.thestreet.com/story/11719888/1/how-3d-printing-could-save-hp.html?kval=dontmiss

New 3DP Institute & Obama Innovation Policy > > >

Recently the Obama administration announced a new pilot program to create an institute for public-private collaboration and innovation in additive manufacturing in Youngstown, Ohio.The new National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute will serve as a platform for collaboration for more than 40 U.S. manufacturing and technology companies, nine research universities, five community colleges, and 11 nonprofit organizations across the Ohio-Pennsylvania-West Virginia “Tech Belt.”

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3DPrinting, is a new manufacturing technology of increasing relevance across many industries and across the globe.

3DPrinters work in a similar way to standard inkjet printers, except that they can use materials like plastics, carbon fiber, or titanium to print 3-dimensional objects instead of 2-dimensional documents.

With prices for the technology decreasing rapidly and quality on the rise, additive manufacturing presents great opportunity  for innovation in industries as diverse as aerospace, consumer goods, and medicine.

Besides showcasing a commitment to an increasingly central and cutting-edge manufacturing technology, the announcement highlights the Obama administration’s tenacity in using existing executive authority to create jobs and spur innovation despite the procrastination of a do-nothing Congress.

It’s the latest in a series of the key initiatives illustrating the administration’s successful and sophisticated approach to spurring a jobs and innovation renaissance in American manufacturing industries.

In a global economy where competitiveness and job creation are increasingly driven by science, technology, innovation, and information, collaboration is key. The traditional “linear approach” to national innovation—where scientific research on the one hand and industrial production on the other are conducted and managed separately—is increasingly insufficient to cope with the increasingly interconnected nature of science, technology, and industrial production. And as these lines continue to blur, smart public investments like the new additive manufacturing institute must be similarly flexible in order to engage with an increasingly diverse network of innovation stakeholders.

“We’re not interested in building your grandfather’s research institute,” said Rebecca Blank, acting secretary of commerce, one of five federal agencies involved in launching the institute, in remarks delivered on August 16.

The approaches that worked for us in the 20th century aren’t good enough anymore. Instead, we need to build a 21st century model that reflects a strategic, global approach to competitiveness and innovation. This model has to be based on close partnerships between the academic and business world, with support from government as well. This type of collaboration is absolutely essential to ensure that Made in America remains a strong slogan well into the future.

Connecting the dots: manufacturing, innovation, and jobs

Manufacturing accounts for about 12 percent of the U.S. economy, but is responsible for 70 percent of research and development, and employs a disproportionate number of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals.

There is broad promise for manufacturing in America, due in part to government actions to save the automobile manufacturing industry and also in part to the inventiveness of American companies and workers. The U.S. economy has added more than 530,000 manufacturing jobs since February 2010. We haven’t seen growth that strong for this long since 1989. In addition to jobs growth, wages too have increased.

But this is only the beginning of a recovery from a decade-long manufacturing slump that has cost the U.S. economy 28 percent of its high-tech manufacturing jobs since 2002, according to a study released by the National Science Board.

To keep the innovation-led manufacturing recovery roaring, we must continue to smooth the path for cutting-edge production-process technologies like additive manufacturing from lab research into widespread use. And to do this, we must do everything we can to build networks of innovation that connect research to practice.

As Gregory Tassey, an economist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, writes:

The issue of co‐location of R&D and manufacturing is especially important because it means the value-added from both R&D and manufacturing will accrue to the innovating economy, at least when the technology is in its formative stages.

In other words, innovators innovate better when they interact more closely with the producers of the technology, and manufacturers manufacture better when they interact with the research into innovative methods of production. In fact, beyond researchers and manufacturers, there are at least five kinds of public- and private-sector participants involved technology innovation, each of whose success is mutually bolstered by the activities of the others, they include:

  • Researchers
  • Manufacturers
  • Financers
  • Users, or consumers
  • Policymakers and regulators

No one of these innovation participants can innovate without the others. Economically meaningful technology innovation can no more be accomplished by researchers working alone in labs than by investors working alone at their computers on Wall Street. These five types of stakeholders are mutually interdependent members of innovation “networks.”

“Everyone has a role to play in making these regionally-focused institutes succeed,” said Acting Secretary Blank:

  • “Governments at the local, state and federal levels can provide funds to get the institutes started. And existing resources, such as Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership which has technical experts in every state working with small companies, can provide critical on-the-ground support.
  • Local universities and community colleges can make commitments to train students and workers—equipping them with the specific skill sets they need.
  • Local innovation incubators and venture capital providers can help bring in entrepreneurs, mentors, and startup know-how.
  • And both small and large manufacturers can contribute not only funds but also equipment, materials, and labor to get the institutes off the ground—as dozens of them have in the project we are announcing today.”

Investments in the shared infrastructure—both physical and institutional—that brings key players in a region together to collaborate and innovate are critical to maintaining our competitive position in the global knowledge economy.

What the institute does

The $70 million public-private pilot institute announced last week is the first of what the Obama administration hopes will become a network of up to 15 centers for manufacturing innovation. Based on a recommendation from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the White House budget request to Congress for fiscal year 2012 contained a plan to invest $1 billion in mandatory spending to fund the creation of these manufacturing innovation nodes.

The centers in this National Network for Manufacturing Innovation would serve three purposes, according to White House documents:

  • To bridge the valley of death, by connecting the people and processes of basic research with those of product development
  • To increase collaboration and participation of all innovation stakeholders, particularly small manufacturers, by providing shared access to “cutting-edge capabilities and equipment”
  • To provide a platform for workforce technical skills development in fast-growing and rapidly changing sectors such as additive manufacturing

Though Congress opted not to fund the president’s request for the full network of 15 institutes, five federal agencies—the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Commerce, the National Science Foundation, and NASA—used existing authorities already granted by Congress to commit $45 million ($30 million now and $15 million in the future) to pilot the program, and prove the worth of this approach to Congress. This investment also leverages $40 million in private investment to create a hub of innovation where all of those five kinds of innovation participants—including academia, industry, nonprofits, and the government—can collaborate to innovate around additive manufacturing.

“Innovation” policy, not industrial policy

To be sure, critics will say that American manufacturers would be better off without this level of government intervention; that the initiative smacks of classic “top-down” industrial policy doomed to fail; or that government should not be in the business of “picking winners.”

But those critics are not looking very carefully at what sets this initiative—and indeed all of the Obama administration’s innovation policy initiatives—apart from the market-distorting industrial policy of past decades.

First, this effort is “bottom-up” and network driven, not top-down and bureaucracy driven. There are no government regulations, mandates, or economywide market distorting incentives involved. Instead, the five-agency program uses a competitive grant process to screen applications from self-forming consortia of public and private players all participating voluntarily and out of self-interest. Remember, the $30 million grant was made with a matching investment from the winning consortium of $40 million. The winning consortium was a network of over 70 organizations representing researchers, large and small manufacturers, educational institutions, and nonprofits who understand the value of strategic collaboration.

Next, the process was competitive and merit based. The winning consortium was chosen based on the assets it could bring to the table. This is no bridge to nowhere or industrial boondoggle; the additive manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown will leverage and build upon the existing resources of partners in the eastern Ohio /western Pennsylvania / West Virginia region—including human capital, corporate and academic R&D capabilities, equipment, and existing industrial infrastructure. The winning consortium will also utilize capabilities and expertise from the Defense Department’s National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining.

Innovative cross-agency collaboration; targeted, strategic investments delivered via competitive grant programs; and leveraging the Defense Department’s extensive technological assets and investments for broader economic good are hallmarks of the Obama innovation approach.

Competitive grants in particular, which have been shown to be effective at driving demand and encouraging regional collaboration, have become a signature tool of Obama administration’s innovation and economic development policies.

Key examples—the Energy Regional Innovation Clusters program, the Economic Development Administration’s i6 program, and the multiagency Jobs and Innovation Accelerator—illustrate Obama administration’s sophisticated, 21st century approach to innovation policy began as early as 2009.

It is tempting to characterize these kinds of forward thinking innovation investments as “picking winners and losers.” But a better metaphor would be to say that these kinds of investments are like forming the league, setting the rules, and painting the lines on the field. Only then can the teams come together to compete and raise the level of the game. Similarly, this new additive manufacturing institute is a platform where over 40 small and large companies initially (and potentially more in the future), many of whom may be customers, clients, or competitors of one another, can share resources and guide and learn from cutting edge research.

What’s more, additive manufacturing by its nature is not a specific product in and of itself, but rather a platform technology that cuts across many industries.

Variants of the technology are already being used in production in many industries, from fighter jet parts, to medical devices, to electronics, and maybe one day even synthetic human organs. Were Congress to fund the entire $1 billion National Network for Manufacturing Innovation request, we would see similar investments made in 14 other similar cross-cutting platform technologies, reducing the appearance of favoritism even further.

Critics of industrial policy are right to decry irresponsible government favoritism toward specific companies. But this pilot institute, at least from the information we currently have available in this early stage, looks like a great example of how 21st century innovation policy can be done well: by making small, strategic investments in shared capabilities; encouraging collaboration among many different companies and categories of innovation participants; and cultivating the further development of nascent regional innovation networks.

This kind of innovative thinking about the convergence of science, technology, and industry works.

Large and small manufacturers and the associations that represent them are asking for it; and the numbers, with over 500,000 new manufacturing jobs added since 2010, also suggest that these kinds of investments can make a difference.

The new National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute will doubtlessly add momentum to the Rust Belt’s reincarnation as a 21st century Tech Belt. And with continued support from the White House and Congress, this approach to innovation policy can help drive the development of advanced technologies, create and retain more good-paying middle class jobs, and help renew the American Dream in struggling regions across the country.

Image credits: TOP – White House Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, BOTTOM – American Progress. 

http://scienceprogress.org/2012/08/a-21st-century-approach-to-manufacturing-innovation/

Here’s what $70 million will bring to Youngstown

 

By Jamison Cocklin

jcocklin@vindy.com

  Additive Manufacturing
An Avon Lake, Oh. company is using additive manufacturing.

An Avon Lake, Oh. company is using additive manufacturing.

YOUNGSTOWN

When doctors at a prominent Ohio hospital were planning the best way to operate on a patient with a gaping 3-inch hole in his skull, they turned to a plastics manufacturer near Cleveland for a solution.

The company, called rp + m in Avon Lake, was quick to help.

It specializes in additive manufacturing.

Engineers were able to take a CT scan provided by doctors and replicate the exact dimensions of the skull using three-dimensional imaging software. A blueprint was created.

Using additive manufacturing, a prototype was developed in just days. A refrigerator-sized machine interpreted the file and designed a unique program to manufacture the skull from scratch — all in one machine.

Afterwards, surgeons used the manufactured skull to map where exactly screws would be placed on a cranial mesh protecting the brain. It enabled them to practice their operation and provided a reference model during surgery.

What could have taken months to build was finished in less than a week.

This could be the future of manufacturing: additive manufacturing.

Last month, Youngstown, along with the rest of Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, were anointed pioneers of the technology for use in mainstream manufacturing. It came via the government’s announcement of a $70 million National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

NAMII will bring together 65 colleges, universities, private companies and nonprofit organizations to vastly improve additive manufacturing, which essentially uses plastics, resins and metals to “print” a product by adding layers, unlike traditional manufacturing which subtracts or cuts out raw material to create parts.

Research and development aimed at further commercializing the technology will be conducted at the advanced manufacturing hub, opening on Thursday, at the Youngstown Business Incubator’s annex on West Boardman Street.

What the consortium will achieve cannot be answered easily.

But in more than a dozen interviews conducted by The Vindicator over the last month, a clearer picture has emerged on what will happen at the advanced manufacturing hub, how the nascent technology works and what it means for both Youngstown and American manufacturing.

A SHIFTING INDUSTRY

For decades, restrictive trade barriers, high tariffs, cheap labor and pinched consumers seeking low-price goods have created a legion of adversity for American manufacturing to contend with.

The consortium signals a coming shift in the industry. Fading are the days when the American worker relied on his hands and mind to operate a lathe or a stamping press. The world itself is becoming increasingly driven by technology advances. The manufacturing industry is no different.

Manufacturing always has relied prodigiously on energy, raw material and labor to mass produce products.

To build a simple hand tool, a mold is required, metal parts need casting, and the product requires extensive machining to finish.

Foreign competitors have paired cheap labor and high-tech to persistently one-up American manufacturers for years. Other parts of the world already are ahead of the additive manufacturing curve.

“The last few decades of job losses have shown us what happens when we do not remain on the cutting edge of investment in equipment and our workers,” said Barbara Ewing, chief operating officer at the YBI. “When an industry is evolving, you can either lead the charge, or you can get run over by the early adopters.”

‘THE GOAL’

Today, additive manufacturing is evolving.

The machines require far fewer workers, they use far less material, and it takes less time to manufacture parts. If the technology is further developed, mass production and labor would no longer be the linchpin of successful manufacturing — the technology has the ability to give American manufacturing greater dominance.

“The government has identified that this technology needs to become resident and institutionalized in the United States because of the effect, because of the capital sea change it’s going to have on manufacturing in the future,” said Mike Garvey, president of M7 Technologies, a Youngstown manufacturer and NAMII partner.

Currently, additive manufacturing is used in academics and niche industries. Its capabilities are limited to small-scale production, with an ability to produce around 2,000 units. General limitations in size of product, strength of material and how fast machines can deposit or print material restrain the technology from operating on a grander scale.

“The goal is to take the technology from where it is today to a level where it can be more easily incorporated and it is more widely used and economically advantageous,” said Martin Abraham, dean of the STEM college at Youngstown State University, referring to the consortium’s mission.

“We want to ground the technology and make it more ubiquitous.”

Jim Cossler, chief executive at the YBI, says the technology needs to be user-friendly, intuitive and affordable enough so that the average worker can use it and the average manufacturer can purchase it. Today’s machines can cost more than $800,000, and different machines are required depending on what’s being built.

THE PROCESS

At rp + m, also a NAMII partner, Research and Development Specialist Clark Patterson demonstrated how additive manufacturing works.

A company in Ohio had requested an order for 200 retaining clips. The clips are used to prevent wires from tangling in moving machine parts. Without the clips, the company’s production ceased because its machine was inoperable.

To fill the order with traditional methods would take about eight weeks because specialized tooling would be necessary for the task.

Instead, engineers at rp + m used computers to design a 3D blueprint. The blueprint was then converted to a file the additive machines interpreted and used to develop a process for building the clips.

Afterward, nozzles inside the machine slowly dispensed plastic filament, which looks similar to wire on a Weed Whacker, to meticulously build the clips layer-by-layer. The parts were finished in one day.

“Where China can’t compete with domestic suppliers — especially the ones in your own backyard like some of the NAMII partners — is speed to market,” said Jim Bednar, sales manager at rp + m.

“When our customers get their hands on something that just came off our press, it’s critical to their development and their improving.”

There are several kinds of additive manufacturing processes, each using different methods and materials. Some use tightly focused lasers to sweep and melt powder into products; others use liquid that solidifies under a laser.

The applications are endless, with great potential for customizing parts such as hip replacements and aircraft components no longer in production because the tooling has long been taken off production lines.

FUNDING THE REGION’S ROLE

For these reasons, the U.S. Department of Defense has expressed the greatest interest in developing the technology.

According to White House officials, the $30 million in federal funding will be disbursed over the next three years, with 60 percent of that amount to be provided by the end of 2012. The 60 percent will come entirely from the DOD’s budget. The remaining award will be funded by the fiscal year 2012 budget authority of agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy and NASA, with the rest doled out in March 2013 and March 2014.

An additional $40 million will be matched by consortium partners. After three years, the consortium is expected to be mainly self- sustaining.

“We have to develop value for our members so that what we create will be appealing enough for them to continue contributing funds in the long-run,” said Ralph Resnick, president of the Latrobe-based National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, which will lead consortium members.

“In this way, the consortium will act as a matchmaker or facilitator to bring various companies together on projects that solve manufacturing challenges,” Resnick added. “We’ll provide the necessary collaboration and solutions, for which we can charge a fee.”

For Youngstown and the so-called TechBelt region of Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, the consortium’s benefit will be in workforce training, retaining high-tech jobs, hands-on education at regional universities and a trickle effect that could find prominent companies such as Boeing or Lockheed Martin coming to the area if the consortium’s research catches on.

But for now, other questions will take time to answer.

“This is really the birth of an entirely new form of production,” Ewing said. “It will be used to make things that we’re familiar with more efficiently, but it will also be used to make things that we can’t currently imagine.”

 

Reuters: ‘3DPrinters bring hi-tech manufacturing to the home’ > >

‘Not so long ago, harried moms and dads would brave the holiday season crowds at the mall to buy those Lego accessories or that Star Wars battle cruiser.

Now, with increasingly cheap and easy-to-use three-dimensional printers, they can turn out such gifts in the comfort of the family living room or garage.

3DPrinters — which use a process called additive manufacturing to make objects from a digital model by laying down layers of material — aren’t new. They’ve been used to make manufacturing and engineering prototypes for more than 25 years.

But printer makers are now turning their attention to the consumer market, and have been rewarded with soaring sales and stock prices — as well as the prospect of lucrative buyouts.

Some printers capable of churning out simple items such as keychains, wine bottle holders and missing board game pieces are already selling for as little as $350. That’s cheaper than a high-end version of Microsoft’s (MSFT.O) Xbox 360 with Kinect.

“The consumer segment in the next few years will potentially devour everything else that we do,” said Abe Reichental, chief executive of 3D Systems Corp (DDD.N), the biggest listed U.S. 3D printer maker.

Shares of Rock Hill, South Carolina-based 3D Systems, now trading around $38, have more than doubled since it launched its first printer for home use, the Cube 3D, in January.

Demand is three times more than expected, Reichental said, although he declined to give exact numbers.

Shares of Stratasys Inc (SSYS.O), the other major listed 3DPrinter maker, have more than doubled since the start of the year, to around $65 as investors sense the next big thing.

Privately held MakerBot, which released its first plug-and-play 3DPrinter, the Replicator, for $1,749 at the start of the year, faces a problem of too much demand, CEO Bre Pettis said.

“We expected our orders to double from our previous machine, Thing-A-Matic, and instead orders quadrupled,” Pettis said.

Brooklyn, New York-based MakerBot, founded in 2009, has shipped 13,000 printers so far.

About 80,000 3D printers of all sizes have been sold in the United States since 2007, research firm Wohlers Associates Inc says.

“If someone develops a very inexpensive and safe 3DPrinter for children, then I could envision maybe more than half of homes having 3DPrinters in them, as a toy,” said Wohlers President Terry Wohlers.

BUYOUT POTENTIAL

Part of the reason for the elevated share prices is speculation that traditional printer makers such as Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N) and Lexmark International Inc (LXK.N) may see 3D as the way forward and seek to buy out a listed 3DPrinter maker, said Paul Meeks of Saturna Capital.

“Somebody may come in over the top to boost the prospects of their own printing groups,” said Meeks, whose firm holds a small stake in 3D Systems.

Michael Puryear, managing director at Howard Capital Management, said fundamentals are very strong.

“And in this economic environment, a small company that’s growing top and bottom line somewhere between 50 and 60 percent should be rewarded a premium,” said Puryear, whose firm holds stakes of about 1.5 percent in both 3D Systems and Stratasys.

But how much investor enthusiasm is too much? The rapid growth in the share prices worries some analysts.

With a market value of about $2.1 billion (1.3 billion pounds), 3D Systems stock trades at 30.2 times its 12-month forward earnings while Stratasys, with a market value of $1.4 billion trades at 42.6 times.

“I worry as it (3D Systems) continues to rise, that at some point, the valuation gets ahead of the hype,” Meeks said.

Grandeur Peak Global Advisors LLC, which sold its stake in 3D Systems in June, said the company’s acquisition spree could be dangerous. 3D Systems has made six acquisitions this year, and eight in the last 12 months.

The company’s revenue rose 52 percent to $83.6 million in the second quarter but organic revenue growth — stripping out the acquisitions — was just 20 percent.

“My honest belief is that they’re going to have a misstep,” Grandeur’s Spencer Stewart said.

3D Systems reported a net profit of $8.3 million for the quarter ended June 30, a fall of 38 percent from the same period year earlier. But the company’s market value jumped to $2.6 billion from $1.68 billion over the same period.

Net profit at Stratasys, which is based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, fell 24 percent to $3 million for the quarter ended June 30, but its market value grew 51 percent to $1.08 billion.

Others see market growth bringing the valuations into line.

End-markets are opening up so growth will continue in the near future, said Dougherty & Co analyst Andrea James.

There are those who think 3DPrinters may even be able to someday produce food — or, more worryingly, guns.

BIG PLASTIC HEART

Worries about stock valuations are of little concern to consumers like Tom Nardone of Birmingham, Michigan who bought a MakerBot Replicator for $2,000.

Nardone, who runs a marketing company, believes these printers hold great potential for making homemade toys, or as toys themselves.

“Some company will launch this device and it’ll be $199 and your kids will be begging you to buy them.”

3D Systems operates an online design platform, Cubify.com (cubify.com), that works like Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) iTunes and Google Inc’s (GOOG.O) Android app store.

The owner of a printer can download patterns for jewellery, toys, lamp shades and more — many of them created by independent developers.

Taking a cut of those sales generate recurring revenue for 3D Systems, as does the sale of consumables and a service where users can order a printed product and get it delivered.

Others have gone a more open route. MakerBot offers open source design and software downloads for free on its Thingiverse online platform (www.thingiverse.com) as it focuses on sales of printers and printing materials.

Copyright holders will cringe, but people are already using printers to make Star Wars battle cruisers…’.

By Sruthi Ramakrishnan and Neha Alawadhi, Reuters, Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:38pm BST, Editing by Rodney Joyce and Ted Kerr: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/09/13/uk-3dprinters-market-idUKBRE88C13N20120913?feedType=RSS&feedName=GCA-GoogleNewsUK

3DPrinting & Copyright: Future War? >

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The next great technological disruption is fermenting away, out of sight, in garage workshops, college labs, and basements. Hobbists with machines that turn binarys into molecules are pioneering a new way of making, everything. One that could well rewrite the rules of making and manufacturing, in much the same way as the PC revolutionised the world of computing… and the world.

The machines, called 3DPrinters, have existed in industry for years. But at a cost of $100,000, few individuals could ever afford one.  But, as with all technology, their price has fallen – industrial 3DPrinters can now purchased for $15,000. Home versions for little more than $1,000, or half that in kit form…

“In many ways, today’s 3DPrinting community resembles the personal computing community of the early 1990s,”
– Michael Weinberg, a staff lawyer at Public Knowledge

As an expert on intellectual property, Mr Weinberg has produced a white paper that documents the likely course of 3DPrinting’s development – and how the technology could be affected by patent and copyright law.

He is far from certain about its potential. His main fear is that the fledgling technology could have its wings clipped by traditional manufacturers, who will doubtless view it as a threat to their livelihoods, and do all in their powers to nobble it. Because of a 3DPrinter’s ability to make perfect replicas, they will probably try to brand it’s produce piracy to protect their brand.

But while the pirates’ labour rates and material costs may be far lower, the tools they use to make fakes are essentially the same as those used by the original manufacturers. Equipment costs alone have thus limited counterfeiting industry growth… but given a cheap 3DPrinter coupled to a laser scanner, and pirated goods may indeed proliferate.

Intellectual property is unconcerned with the 3DPrinter itself, but before it can manufacture, it needs a file of the object to be produced, along with specialised software to tell the printer how to lay down the successive layers of material, designed on a computer using CAD software, or downloaded from open-source archives.

But many may be copied from an existing product, using a scanner that records the 3D measurements from various angles and turns that data into a CAD file. This is where claims of infringement start, unless the object is in the public domain, copyright law could well apply. This has caught out a number of unwitting users of 3DPrinters who have made reproductions of existing products.

Earlier this year, for instance, one hobbyist worked out how to print the popular “Penrose Triangle”, an optical illusion that cannot exist in normal three-dimensional Euclidean space, and released a video challenging others to say how it was done.

Another 3D modeler not only figured it out but uploaded the CAD file of his own solution to Thingiverse. Whereupon the initial designer threatened Thingiverse with legal action under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998.

The issue was only resolved when it was pointed out that someone else actually invented the Penrose Triangle (a Swedish artist in the 1930s), and the optical illusion itself could be considered a useful object—and therefore did not qualify for copyright protection which covers only non-functioning intangibles such as pictures, philharmony and prose.

The designer subsequently dropped the copy-write case and dedicated the rights to the community. There are now five versions of the Penrose Triangle on Thingiverse.

Manufacturers are likely to behave much like the record industry did when its own business model – based on selling expensive albums that few music fans actually wanted, instead of the cheap single tracks they saught – came under attack from file-swapping technology and MP3 software: embrace copyright, rather than patent, law, because many of their patents will have expired.

Patents apply for only 20 years while copyright continues for 70 years after the creator’s death.

So expect manufacturers to lobby for their own form of DMCA, with copyright protection expanded to cover functional objects that contain elements of design. “This would create a type of quasi-patent system, without the requirement for novelty or the strictly limited period of protection,” says Mr Weinberg.

The biggest lesson the record industry learned from its copyright battles with file-swappers was that going after individual infringers was prohibitively expensive and time consuming. Instead, the record companies lobbied to get copyright liability extended to cover not only individuals who infringe, but also those who ‘facilitate infringement…’  Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and the file-swapping websites themselves.

The record industry was very successful. Today, websites and ISPs have to block or remove infringing material whenever they receive a DMCA takedown notice.

Google reckons that more than a third of the DMCA notices it has received over the years have turned out to be bogus copyright claims.

Over a half were from companies trying to restrict competing businesses rather than law-breakers.

Under the banner of piracy, established manufacturers could likewise seek to get the doctrine of “contributory infringement” included in some expanded object-copyright law, as a way of decimating the home manufacturing movement early in it’s development.

Being free to sue websites that host 3D design files as “havens of piracy” would save them the time and money of having to prosecute thousands of individuals with a 3DPrinter churning out copies at home.

“You’ll have people going to Washington and saying we need new rights,” Weinberg frets. Laws that keep 3D printers from outputting anything but objects “authorised” by megacorporations – DRM for the physical world. To stave this off, Weinberg is trying to educate legislators now.

Lets hope he is successful. After all, 3D printers aren’t just about copying. They’re a powerful new tool for experimenting with the design of the physical world, for thinking, for generating new culture, for stretching our imaginations.

Today’s 3DPrinting community needs to keep a keen eye on such policy debates as they grow.

“There will be a time when impacted legacy industries demand some sort of DMCA for 3DPrinting,” says Mr Weinberg.

Adapted from: http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2012/09/3d-printinghttp://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-05/31/3d-printing-copyright