Highlights from December 9, 2023: Latest Updates on 3D Printing, Equity Crowdfunding, Archaeology & More!

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In the latest 3D Printing News Briefs, we have some exciting business stories, starting with DyeMansion hitting a significant milestone, swiftly followed by the launch of an equity crowdfunding campaign by Batch.Works. Simultaneously, at the formnext 2023 exhibition, Wibu-Systems debuted its CodeMeter IP protection and licensing system. nTop and Autodesk Fusion also unveiled their new implicit modeling integration. Wrapping things up, we have some intriguing research on direct ink writing influenced by Jackson Pollock, and news about Scottish archaeologists employing 3D printing, 3D scanning, and other contemporary technologies to recreate artifacts for better educational and public outreach.

DyeMansion Hits Major Sales Milestone

Noted industrial post-processing company DyeMansion recently hit a significant landmark: the sale of its 1,000th machine. Since introducing its first machine in 2016, DyeMansion, headquartered in Germany and operating with 34 global sales partners, has made remarkable strides. The team has grown to include 95 committed members, offering integrated end-to-end post-processing workflows like surfacing, advanced depowdering, and coloring solutions. Moreover, it has reported a remarkable Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 38% over the previous five years. The 1,000th machine sold, an advanced vapor smoothing Powerfuse S system, was bought by ophthalmic industry giant ZEISS Vision Care via German sales partner Solidpro — a part of the Bechtle Group. ZEISS Vision Care serves over 60 global markets with their instruments, lenses, and more, aiding retailers, optometrists, and opticians.

“We opted for the Powerfuse S from DyeMansion because this system is impeccably designed for polishing our 3D printed plastic elements,” stated Andreas Dangelmaier, Head of Engineering Design at ZEISS Vision Care. “Our cleanroom environment needs high standard surface quality. At the Aalen location, we develop and produce additive tools and other parts for creating precision eyeglass lenses. For these tasks, Industry 4.0 skills, precision, and the DyeMansion system’s connectivity are undeniably vital. We also appreciate the sustainability factor due to the non-toxic and biodegradable polishing medium.”

Batch.Works Begins Equity Crowdfunding Initiative on Seedrs

Batch.Works, an agile manufacturing company, has been working to revamp manufacturing through its circular capabilities over the past six years. The firm has partnered with more than 50 clients in the fields of med-tech, retail, furniture, and consumer electronics to 3D print upwards of 150,000 parts from bio-sourced or recycled materials. The startup has accepted investments from the foremost clean-tech fund, Sustainable Ventures, and received £1.8M in government grant projects. The company is now prepared to scale. Batch.Works has kick-started an equity crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs to expedite its R&D of AI-powered smart factory systems and prepare to launch its service of Circular Manufacturing as a Service (CMaaS). This Seedrs campaign, which marks the company’s first round of public financing, offers 7.89% equity at a pre-money valuation of £3.5m for Batch.Works. The campaign achieved its £300,000 target within 24 hours.

This campaign is the first and last chance to invest in our company at its current valuation. Previous investments have been private, but we expect that many of you would like to join us as we develop our agile manufacturing systems designed to transform the way things are made and enable the circular economy. We hope this public campaign will make more people aware of our purpose, building a wider community around our business,” said Julien Vaissieres, the CEO and Founder of Batch.Works.

Our smart technology and sustainable production methods are helping companies move faster, find success and reduce waste. We reduce the capital investment needed for traditional methods and reduce risk by providing flexible, on-demand manufacturing capabilities and extending product life cycles.

Wibu-Systems Showcases CodeMeter Technology at formnext

Germany-based Wibu-Systems, a leader in cybersecurity and software license lifecycle management, attended the recent formnext 2023, and joined the VDMA association’s joint exhibit to showcase its CodeMeter technology, which unlocks business potential, licensing, and intellectual property (IP) protection in AM. To ensure a successful AM business, its systems must be secured on several fronts, especially with the constant risk of IP theft and piracy. CodeMeter has a proven ability to safeguard digital assets and strengthen enterprise results without increasing complexity or holding back commercial potential. The IP protection and licensing system was built around versatile license management and unbeaten encryption technology, and enables new license-driven business models.

Wibu-Systems’ CodeMeter is able to create virtual marketplaces, and its licenses are trustworthy enough to enable flexible, yet reliable distributed manufacturing. As an example, the company integrated CodeMeter in a novel online store service for Daimler and Setra brand bus parts and components. These means that operators of these buses are able to purchase 3D printable parts on the secure digital marketplace and have them printed on a certified Farsoon system—streamlining the entire process, so buses can get back to service quickly. CodeMeter uses one license to secure the preprint process, and another to authorize, trace, and invoice the purchased number of parts, which enables full security. Plus, its smart license management capabilities and easy integration with back office systems make the whole process very smooth.

Autodesk Fusion & nTop Join Forces for Direct Implicit Model Import

Highlighting solutions at formnext, Autodesk Fusion and nTop have collaborated to facilitate direct implicit model import. This solution was previewed at the Frankfurt trade show prior to its official release (expected in early 2024). Implicit modelling serves as an supplemental tool for CAD software, allowing for data-driven design, the creation of repetitive structures, and more. nTop’s software is leading in this sector, providing users with the tools needed to automate processes and create complex, high performance parts. Autodesk Fusion takes advantage of this technology in its Product Design Extension, permitting users to alter solid or mesh bodies to create complex volumetric lattices. The unity of these platforms allows shared users to work easily with both software systems, with designers who use Fusion for AM model creation able to utilise nTop’s implicit modelling capabilities via a fresh add-in.

This add-in brings multiple benefits, such as enhancing models for lightweighting and optimising thermal management, and the smooth transition of nTop designs into Autodesk’s thorough CAD/CAM tools. The novel implicit import feature eliminates the need for large mesh files, so nTop users can export their implicit designs and import them directly into Fusion in mere seconds. Users can also utilise Fusion’s build preparation capabilities – like part orientation, packing, slicing, and support generation – to enhance AM process efficiency. The integration’s implicit import functionality also presents nTop users with a pathway to Fusion’s process simulation toolkit, enabling access to software’s metal powder bed fusion process simulation skills. Fusion’s CAM features also enable the production of nTop-designed parts with CNC machining. In a nutshell, this implicit modelling add-in simplifies the management of design data throughout the entire process.

Direct Ink Writing with the Fluid Rope Trick

A 3D printed cursive “Cambridge” made using reinforcement learning.

Scientists from Harvard University and MIT were inspired by abstract expressionist artist Jackson Pollock, who used a dripping technique that’s fascinated physicists for years. It’s like when honey coils in on itself when drizzled over a piece of toast—if a nozzle is too far from the printing substrate, this same phenomenon can happen. Instead of trying to control and suppress the underlying physics of coiling instabilities, the team used machine learning to teach 3D printers how to “write” with coiling fluid ropes. They used direct ink writing, and the team exploited coiling instabilities, using a class of machine learning algorithms called reinforcement learning. The researchers ran numerical simulations with several lab experiments, and dispersed a simple viscous fluid through a nozzle at a fixed flow rate, which deposited the fluid along a predefined path. They eventually graduated to drizzling chocolate syrup onto a texture wafer to spell out “Cambridge,” which demonstrates the viability of their approach.

“Here we use Deep Reinforcement Learning to derive control strategies for the motion of the extruding nozzle and thus the fluid patterns that are deposited on the surface. The method proceeds by having a learner (nozzle) repeatedly interact with the environment (a viscous filament simulator), and improves its strategy using the results of this experience. We demonstrate the outcome of the learned control instructions using experiments to manipulate a falling viscous jet and create cursive writing patterns and Pollockian paintings on substrates,” the researchers wrote in the abstract of their study.

Archaeologists Using 3D Printing & Scanning to Enhance Teaching

A copy of a Pictish carved stone created using photogrammetry and a 3D printer. Credit: University of Aberdeen

Archaeologists at the University of Aberdeen are improving teaching and public engagement of their discipline through the use of 3D printing, scanning, photogrammetry, and smartphone technology. According to Dr. James O’Driscoll, they’re using “Ra-Pict prototyping” to recreate all kinds of artifacts, from swords and bone combs to spearheads and symbol stones, so that people can physically touch the objects and engage with them, unlike the typical atmosphere in museums. They’re also able to make digital 3D models and physical copies of artifacts they find before they undergo potentially damaging testing, like radiocarbon dating. The archaeologists are also using some of the latest smartphone software for their work.

“Some of the newer iPhones have what’s called a LiDAR scanner in the back of them, and we can use that to shoot laser beams at whatever objects we want to scan and it’ll make a really detailed 3D model almost instantaneously,” Dr. O’Driscoll said.

“So, we’ve been using this technology at a variety of our excavations and also to make copies of carved stones and other artifacts that are now in museums. It gives us really detailed 3D models and a record of what we’ve excavated so it is really helping to speed up excavations and increase the accuracy of the data that we’re able to collect on site.”

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