January 6, 2024, 3D Printing News: Highlights on Digital Spares, Interbody Implants, Shoes, and More

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In the first 3D Printing News Briefs of the new year, we are kick-starting with metal 3D printing. Subsequently, we will look into software and digital spares. Medical news is up next with the commercialization of 3D printed interbody implants. We wrap up with news about 3D printed shoes.

FOOKE Becomes MELD’s Authorized Integrator

Image of Johannes Fooke (left), Nanci Hardwick, and Hendrik Fooke (Photo Courtesy: FOOKE)

MELD Manufacturing Corporation just revealed their partnership with the German mechanical engineering firm, FOOKE GmbH, renowned for supplying high-precision 5-axis milling machines and FSW systems. With this synergy, FOOKE has been appointed as an authorized integrator of MELD’s metal 3D printing technology.

MELD’s proprietary method, a boon to the environment, forsakes meltdown hence lessening the chance of thermal strain and promising improved material features. The technology is adaptable with various readily obtainable metals such as titanium, stainless steel, and aluminum. FOOKE plans to release diverse machines, outfitted with MELD’s technology, as an all-inclusive OEM system. This would pave the way for clients from the aerospace, automotive, railway, and shipbuilding sectors to consider adopting metal AM for large-sized parts.

This partnership aligns perfectly with our commitment to providing quality solutions to our customers. MELD’s technology will enable us to offer both additive and subtractive capability on our machines, opening doors to previously unattainable possibilities for large scale parts manufactured on site,” said Hendrik Fooke, Head of Sales & Business Development at FOOKE.

Varishapes Implementing AMFG’s MES Software & Instant Quoting

AMFG, which provides MES software for manufacturing, announced a partnership with Portuguese company Varishapes. Specializing in on-demand industrial 3D printing and CNC services tailored to specific client requirements, Varishapes implemented AMFG’s MES software and Instant Quote tool to more quickly respond to the CNC and additive manufacturing needs of its customers. Varishapes needed a faster way to complete orders and provide quotes, and now operates using a streamlined workflow so clients can easily upload 3D models in a variety of file formats onto AMFG’s automatic quoting platform. The Instant Quote tool uses advanced algorithms that align with Varishapes’ existing quoting logic, and after integrating its email system with the tool, the company now enjoys an improved quoting capacity, while still offering high-quality customer interactions.

“AMFG stood out as the all-in-one solution we needed for a streamlined and customer-friendly process. AMFG encompasses all the essential features for a front-facing app integration on our website. Its comprehensive capabilities not only enhance the user experience but also provide a seamless avenue for payments and order placement,” said João Tomás Afonso, the Founder of Varishapes.

“Our business has experienced a significant improvement in handling direct orders from clients. The streamlined process has not only enhanced efficiency but also allowed us to more effectively promote our services. Now, we can seamlessly manage client orders and efficiently market our offerings.”

Addparts Creates Online Portal for Digital Spare Parts

Addparts, located at the Advanced Manufacturing Park Technology Centre in Rotherham, UK, is an exclusive service by Addition Design. This service utilizes 3D scanning, industrial 3D printing, and digital data management to provide digital spares as needed for automated production parts. Recently, they launched a new online portal for digital spare parts, which is organized and searchable by machine/plant list. The portal system provides a virtual stockroom of components, in addition to in-production technology, assisting manufacturing customers in various sectors maintain their back-end processes efficiently by minimizing downtime. Every component stored by suppliers in the portal is displayed by part number/unique reference. Addparts attests that the portal has undoubtedly enhanced its communication with clients. The firm is planning for an expansion that will include downloadable regulatory statements for materials, live chats with engineers, increased focus on tracking design changes, and more.

“Our Addparts service is centered around three core modules: scanning, portal, and printing. However, it is the portal that ties it all together. As we were evolving Addparts, it became evident that substantial two-way communication was required between us and the engineers. This communication was facilitated using screen grabs, emails, and Whats App messages.” – Tom Fripp, Director of Addition Design.

“Once you click on the part, you will be able to view the 3D data we have, basic dimensions, production cost, materials, and any specifics for that part along with geometric validation. You can also check previous orders for that part and download their certificates of conformity, as well as order more replacements. Additionally, the portal enables you to upload information such as photos and descriptions for parts that are not on the portal, thereby initiating the procedure of getting that part on the system.”

Spinal Elements Commercially Launches Ventana Portfolio

California-based Spinal Elements recently announced the full commercial release of its Ventana 3D Printed Interbody Portfolio, which includes the Ventana C Anterior Cervical Interbody System, Ventana P/T Posterior Lumbar Interbody System, and Ventana L Lateral Lumbar Interbody System. Featuring a unique implant architecture that uses a specialized 3D printing process to maximize bone graft volume and containment, the Ventana portfolio is the latest in Spinal Elements’ MIS Ultra platform of products and procedural solutions. 3D printing also reduces the amount of titanium used to improve radiographic visualization, which makes things clearer during imaging. Spinal Elements received guidance from multiple spine surgery thought leaders while developing its Ventana 3D printed interbody portfolio, which is available in varying degrees of lordosis (exaggerated inward curve of the spine that typically affects the lower back) for restoration of sagittal balance.

“The Spinal Elements team is dedicated to bringing innovative products to market that when combined with our Orbit discectomy instrument set and our fixations systems, like Karma, Overwatch, and Sapphire X, they successfully work together to achieve spinal fusion. Ventana represents another major milestone in our mission to redefine spinal healthcare,” said Ron Lloyd, CEO of Spinal Elements.

ARRIS & Brooks Running Technology Collaboration Highlighted

At The Running Event (TRE) 2023 in Austin, Texas, advanced manufacturer ARRIS highlighted its technology collaboration with Brooks Running—the first footwear brand to go to market with running shoes featuring a continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composite plate created with its Additive Molding technology. This patented manufacturing method combines the best of additive technologies, high-volume production molding methods, and fiber-reinforced composites to make stronger, lighter, and more sustainable mass-market products. These two partners both want to reach new heights in comfort, fit, speed, and aesthetics for next-gen running shoes, and created the prototype together, combining Brooks’ experience in biomechanics and performance with ARRIS’s novel design software, materials, and manufacturing methods to develop the advanced carbon plate. The prototype running shoe with this plate was tested by athletes in major marathons, and the resulting Hyperion Elite 4 is scheduled for broader availability this spring.

“With ARRIS as a partner, we’re able to build a plate that mirrors our commitment to biomechanical expertise and engineering,” said Lee Sackett, Footwear Product Line Manager at Brooks Running. “We work together with ARRIS to simulate, test, and optimize this plate to innovate the entire shoe’s propulsion system. ARRIS’ manufacturing and simulation technology helps us take years’ worth of prototyping and lets us execute innovative designs in months, with geometries we were unable to use in the past – a massive step forward for footwear innovation.”

Pharrell Reveals 3D Printed Sneaker on Louis Vuitton Runway

Pharrell Williams, not just a singer, songwriter, and rapper, is also the men’s artistic director for the French luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton. In the Pre-Fall 2024 runway in Hong Kong, a 3D printed slip-on sneaker known as the LV Cobra was unveiled. This was made possible with the technology provided by the shoe 3D printing marketplace and manufacturer, Zellerfeld. The LV Cobra shares a similar silhouette and design language with some of Zellerfeld’s other collaborative footwear. However, it stands out due to the signature LV Monogram flower logo of Louis Vuitton.

The LV Cobra has a mixed-texture finish, which includes smooth panels and soft mesh, with a number of upper air vents for breathability. Up till now, the sneaker has been displayed in solely off-white and black. The sneakers appear relatively chunky from the side, resembling stylish clogs or Crocs, and they seem quite comfortable. In addition to collaborating with Pharell, Zellerfeld, known for its low-waste, recyclable footwear, has also collaborated with other celebrities for 3D printed shoes. These include sandals with Chris Brown and boots with Ye, who used to be known as Kanye West. As for the release details concerning the 3D printed LV Cobra slip-on sneaker, there is no information available at this time.

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