Highlighting the Top 10 3D Printing Articles of 2023

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Despite the upheavals and advancements in the additive manufacturing (AM) sector over the last year, numerous readers have been particularly fascinated by developments in the desktop domain. The 10 top-performing blog posts on our site for 2023 include a few stories that divert from the main theme. However, items about Bambu Lab and its contenders have attracted the highest traffic this year on 3DPrint.com.

10. F1 Racing and 3D Printing

Benjamin Perez, a writer for 3DPrint.com, produced an insightful infographic detailing the escalating incorporation of 3D printing in Formula 1 (F1) racing. Alongside the visual representation, an article spotlighted several ingenious initiatives in which AM transformed motorsports significantly. F1 squads, such as McLaren, have adopted fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers to produce components, for instance, rear-wing flaps, accelerating vehicle evolution and adjusting to precise track requisites. Ferrari, meanwhile, has experimented with metal 3D printing for engine pistons using steel alloys and lattice designs aimed at reducing weight and enhancing reliability. These instances emphasize the expanding role of 3D printing in F1, promoting innovation and proficiency in a sport that prizes speed, weight minimization, and swift development.

9. 3D Printing in Stop-motion Animation

3DPrint.com’s recent author Jay Rincher penned a remarkable piece spotlighting Yuksel Temiz, a prodigious microelectronic engineer, and his trendsetting incorporation of 3D printing in building stop-motion animations. Utilizing his Creality Ender 3D printer, Temiz crafts numerous figures in varied poses and phases, amalgamating hundreds of photos and specially-crafted props to fabricate short, intriguing animations. His procedure manifests careful craftmanship, epitomized by his running cat animation constructed with a custom zoetrope using a filament spool, seven cat prints, and approximately a hundred pictures. Another noteworthy work includes a disintegrated Benchy, realized with a magnet-held, specifically-sectioned model version and more than 180 photos. An in-house camera rig constructed with Raspberry Pi and LEGO parts helped in taking impeccable snaps of his prints.

8. VulcanForms

In a piece about VulcanForms, renowned for its inventive methodology to laser powder bed fusion (LPBF), we elaborated on the firm’s challenges despite its impressive inception and lofty valuation. Regardless of substantial capital injection in production premises and equipment, the firm faced technical glitches with machine uptime and the feasibility of mass production. These technical barriers were further intensified by managerial hurdles, with critiques focusing on the CEO’s managerial approach and decision-making. In October, the startup seemed to take a significant step towards improving its operations by onboarding experienced executive Mona Sabet as the Chief Corporate Development and Administration Officer.

7. A Composite Reckoning of Titanic Proportions

In June 2023, the OceanGate Titan submarine encountered a catastrophic implosion, leading to the presumed passing of five passengers, and brought a spotlight to safety concerns in the conception and operation of deep-sea exploration technologies. A piece discussing the tragedy by Executive Editor Joris Peels from 3DPrint.com, mused on the impact of the calamity on the 3D printing industry, specifically the safety and usage of materials like composites under high-pressure conditions. Joris stressed the calamity underscored the value of a safety-driven culture, drawing into question the existing ‘move fast and break’ mindset, most importantly when human lives are at serious risk.

3D Printed Firearms

USA Map

Infogram

Vanesa Listek wrote excellent materials on the trend in law enforcement towards 3D printed firearms. The most read of these was her piece on the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to maintain the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)’s authority over untraceable “ghost guns,” including those made by 3D printers. This decision was notable as it came at a time of rising worries and arrests associated with these guns being used in criminal activities. This ruling from the Supreme Court is critical in maintaining oversight over these weapons while the ATF wades its way through the complexities of 3D printing technology in firearms manufacturing and control.

Military Incorporation

Matt Kremenetsky, a Macro Analyst at 3DPrint.com, gave a comprehensive rundown of the worldwide push to adopt Additive Manufacturing (AM), focusing specifically on initiatives from governments. Spearheading this move is the U.S. military, which plans to spend a whopping $300 million directly on AM in 2023. This was detailed in Additive Manufacturing Research’s inaugural report on the defense 3D printing market, “Additive Manufacturing for Military and Defense.” Matt’s most well-received article discussed how the U.S. military is creating a significant technological shift with advanced manufacturing methods like 3D printing and robotics. This movement is leading R&D away from typical academic and non-profit scenarios and towards practical, frontline applications, enabling part production and new products to be created on the spot. The article highlighted SPEE3D’s cold spray additive manufacturing in extreme climates and nScrypt’s creation of replacement PCBs and medical braces in harsh conditions. The piece also mentioned a new tool being developed by the U.S. Navy using metal 3D printing, a sign of the increasing incorporation of advanced manufacturing into military operations.

Mergerocalypse Saga

Our readers may not always be hooked by corporate drama, but our updates on the Stratasys saga frequently topped the charts this year. The interest peaked when 3D Systems proposed to acquire Stratasys, a story that demanded several updates. Stratasys’s board, guided by J.P. Morgan, found this bid inferior compared to a planned merger with Desktop Metal. However, this was only the kick-off of a lengthy series that ultimately culminated in no merger at all.

3. The emergence of Impossible Objects’ CBAM 25

In 2021, Impossible Objects, a company based in Chicago, unveiled the CBAM 25, a new composite 3D printer that operates 15 times faster than its competitors. The firm’s distinctive composite-based additive manufacturing technology is used in the CBAM 25, which involves applying binder ink and thermoplastic powder to reinforcement material and fusing them in a furnace. This process creates resilient and long-lasting parts by combining carbon fiber sheets with PEEK, a highly durable polymer. Steve Hoover, the CEO, highlighted this device’s role in transitioning 3D printing from a prototyping phase to regular manufacturing. The CBAM 25 is set to go public in early 2024, and is expected to earn attention from sectors like aerospace, defense, and transportation because of its rapid production of robust parts, paving the way for a major shift in the carbon fiber 3D printing industry and beyond.

2. The era of Bambu Killing 3D Printers

The Magneto X 3D printer from Peopoly.

In a series of articles, Joris outlined how Bambu’s low-cost, ultra-fast fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printers are impacting the desktop AM space. In one story in particular, Joris compared the pre-Bambu market, characterized by a mix of low-cost, mid-market, and premium printers from various brands using common software and components, with the post-Bambu landscape. Bambu Lab’s innovations have reshaped industry dynamics, driving competitors to develop more integrated and sophisticated printers that emphasize software synergy, optimized hardware, and comprehensive user experiences.

For this reason, two of the other most popular articles from 2023 are about potential Bambu-killing 3D printers, including the Magneto X and Prusa MK4. Priced at $1,999, the Magneto X from Peopoly features the innovative MagXY motion control system with magnetic linear motors for improved accuracy and speed. The Magneto X challenges Bambu Lab’s dominance by prioritizing hardware advancements over software, catering to diverse users from home enthusiasts to professionals and open-source advocates.

Meanwhile, the Prusa MK4 from Prusa Research, a significant upgrade to the popular MK3 3D printer, features advanced technologies like a 32-bit architecture, improved printing speeds, and enhanced part appearance thanks to a Klipper-inspired overhaul. It includes user-friendly features such as quick-swap nozzles, better stepper motors to eliminate moiré patterns, and a load cell sensor for precise calibration. The MK4’s success also depends on its ability to outperform emerging 3D printers like Bambu Labs’ models, which offer unique architectures and smart features.

Audience interest in Bambu killers even extended into Joris’s Unpeeled series of live video news updates. Among those that made it into the most popular stories of 2023 was Creality’s launch of the K1, a CoreXY 3D printer with impressive features like a 600 mm/second print speed, AI-powered error detection, and advanced cooling, priced at $699, with a larger Max version at $999, positioned to compete with Bambu Labs’ printers.

1. Everything Sarah Saunders Does

3DPrint.com Senior Writer & Editor Sarah Saunders contributes endlessly to the entire site, often in ways that are not entirely visible to the readers at large. This was noted throughout the year’s traffic reports, where all of the sponsored Zones on 3DPrint.com were among the most visited pages we host. Thanks to Sarah’s tireless promotion of these Zones on social media, readers were regularly introduced to the offerings of such companies as EOS, 3D Systems, HP, Velo3D, BASF, and Desktop Metal. However, even outside of these pages, all of the articles in this list have received Sarah’s touch through copyediting, general fixing, and sharing through social media. Therefore, in addition to such great stories as her interview with GE’s Brian Birkmeyer about GE Additive’s binder jetting technology, she’s also responsible for all of the articles on this list. That also doesn’t include her regular 3D Printing News Briefs and Event roundups.

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