Professional Image 3D is committed to staying on the cutting edge of the latest 3D printing and prototyping technologies. Our news section is the central hub for our 3D Blog. Here we talk about upcoming events, and keep you all up to date on the continual growth of the 3D printing industry. Did you notice the 3D printed props in the latest Hollywood Blockbuster? Did you see the way that 3D printing enabled doctors to save a girl’s life? Or how it allowed a blind mother to see her ultrasound? This is the best place to stay in the know on all of the ways that 3D Printing is influencing the world around us every day.

What do you need it for? … Why do you ask?

Posted by on Nov 30, 2017 in 3D Printing, 3D Technology Blog | 0 comments

What do you need it for? … Why do you ask?

 Purpose, Precision & Price

As a 3D printing service bureau, we receive calls from clients with different ideas about what 3D printing is and what its capabilities are.  Some just want a physical part to hold in their hands while others need the parts for end use. Our goal at ProImage 3D is to deliver the best part at the best price, but to do this effectively we ask a lot of questions like “What do you need it for?” “Is there any heat or pressure involved in the use of the part?” “What surface finish are you trying to achieve?” etc. and usually the answer is “Why do you ask? Aren’t all 3D prints the same?”

In short, no… they are not with differences ranging in quality, durability and material choices from plastic to metal. We ask questions because we know that there is no one 3D printer that does everything. Each printer has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, whether it is in the material choices, printing process or cost to produce. Our questions are designed to ascertain the purpose, precision and price point of the needed part(s). Why pay for a race horse type parts if you only need a plow horse type part to get the job done? Here are some of the questions we like to ask our customers…

Purpose:  Is this part for prototyping form, fit and function only? Does it only need to look nice or perform in an end-use situation or both?

Precision: Does your part have moving parts? Are there any thin walls or features to consider? Do you have critical tolerances or measurements you need to hold?

Price: The cost of a 3D printed part is typically based on 3 factors:

1) Build material

2) Support material (In some printing processes this is the same as the build material)

3) Time to print and post process.

The geometry of the part along with the purpose, precision and price point help guide us in the best selection of materials and printing processes. As an example below… the same file was printed in both Polyjet (black) and FDM (white). The Polyjet print took 2 hours and 06 mins to print at 28um with a post processing time of 20 mins. The FDM part took 17 Hours and 10 mins to print at 200um with a post-processing time of 18 mins. Results: the black Polyjet part was more flexible to handle yet the white part is more durable. The black part printed 8x faster than the white part but material cost was 7x more expensive than the white part. So the part cost averages out to about the same with time and precision becoming the deciding factors. Do you need it fast or durable? I know… more questions.

To the moon and beyond!

Posted by on Nov 9, 2017 in 3D Printing, 3D Technology Blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

To the moon and beyond!

NASA is wanting to get to Mars and they need the publics’ help. They recently launched their latest Centennial Challenge and the goal this year is devise a way to construct a habitable structure on the planet Mars using 3D-printed material. $2 million in prize money is up for grabs so there will be no shortage of contestants. This is the 3rd phase of an on-going contest with previous years focused on architectural concepts and material components. This phase will be an actual on-site competition with the contestants being asked to come up with an autonomous adaptive manufacturing process using indigenous materials. In short, NASA wants to be sure when we do get humans up there someday, they will be able to construct shelters quickly using the planet’s native resources instead of having to rely on constant resupplies from Earth (examples of such material being clay, sand or gravel).

Image Courtesy of 3D Printing Media Network

While it has been 48 years since man first set foot on the moon, space exploration is experiencing a mini-renaissance with the rise of private companies looking to strike gold in the darkest reaches of the universe, such examples being Elon Musk and SpaceX or Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic which hopes to be a charter for future space tourists. NASA’s call for private aid is fueling the birth of a whole new industry and 3D printing is allowing small and medium-sized companies to construct rockets, satellites, spacecraft and more that would have never been possible outside of a giant government lab with thousands of engineers and billions in R&D.

Another historic milestone will be made this week as a 3D printed satellite will be launched into space by NASA thanks to the work of students at Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) and Caldwell High School in Idaho. This satellite will be carrying multiple 3D printing materials;  ABS, PLA, nylon, and PEI/PC Ultem. These materials will be delivered to the International Space Station so the scientists and astronauts on board can test their resiliency and usefulness in space for future missions.

The rapid advancement in 3D printing and aerospace really proves that one small step can turn into one giant leap for mankind.                            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Sources:

Benedict. “NASA kicks off $2M 3D Printed Habitat Challenge Phase 3: On-Site Habitat Competition.” 3ders.org, www.3Ders.org, 8 Nov. 2017,

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20171108-nasa-kicks-off-2m-dollars-3d-printed-habitat-challenge-phase-3-on-site-habitat-competition.html

“NASA Opens $2 Million Third Phase of 3D-Printed Habitat Competition”, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/centennial_challenges/3DPHab/nasa-opens-2M-third-phase-of-3d-printed-habitat-competition/

Scott, Clare. “3D Printed MakerSat Gets Ready to Test 3D Printing Materials in Space” 3DPrint.com, 3DR Holdings, LLC, 7 Nov. 2017, 

https://www.3dprint.com/193383/3d-printed-makersat/

 

WYSIWYG….WYSI What???

Posted by on Oct 31, 2017 in 3D Printing, 3D Technology Blog | 0 comments

WYSIWYG….WYSI What???

“WYSIWYG” pronounced wizēˌwiɡ, stands for What You See Is What You Get. This is a term that was once very popular in the graphic arts printing industry, at least in the early days of desktop publishing. It was a term often used with customers to explain why chunky or rough looking text and or graphics, sometimes referred to as raster disasters, displaying on their screen would look just like that on the printed page. It was a way of proofing work to avoiding unexpected surprises in the end product.

 I find today in the 3D prototyping industry that this is still true. Often times the 3D printer (any brand name) or printing process gets the blame for poorly printed results. We hear this all the time from customers complaining about the quality they received from another vendor.  And yes there is much that can be said about printer calibrations and how the lack or neglect thereof can and will produce poorly printed parts even with the best saved files. Yet often we find the files have been saved or exported, out of the CAD program of choice, in the .STL or .OBJ format for 3D printing in low resolution, usually the default settings, causing cylinders and curves to appear rough and faceted. While this generates a small file size to send to your vendor or printer the results are usually less than desirable. Therefore, we highly recommend to our customer to install a one of several free .STL viewers to inspect your part(s) before sending them to be printed. Many of the hobbyist to high end 3D printers will produce what is being sent to it, within the tolerances of the given printer. In short most 3D printers can produce better parts if they are given better files to work with. You can find a guide on how to save/export in a .STL format from the most popular 3D CAD programs by clicking here.

This was the original file sent. Notice the faceting on the curved surfaces.

This was exported at a higher resolution and will result in a much smoother 3D print.

Graphene in 3D Printing: Ten Times the Strength of Steel and Only a Fraction of the Weight

Posted by on Oct 23, 2017 in 3D Printing, 3D Technology Blog | 0 comments

Graphene is an elemental carbon made of one flat sheet of atoms that are arranged in a repeating hexagonal lattice. It is only one atom thick, which makes it weak and flimsy in its 2D form. Researchers at MIT were able to take the flimsy 2D material and turn it into 3D structures using a high resolution multi-material printer; making the graphene geometry incredibly strong—ten times the strength of steel but only a fraction of the weight. The material is electrically conductive and can be nearly transparent.

This article compares how folding a sheet of paper increases its strength the more and more you fold it; just as creating 3D printed objects with layers of graphene increases its ability to support substantial weight. MIT combined heat and pressure to compress small flakes of graphene to produce strong structures. The shapes had an enormous surface area in proportion to their own volume and were very strong.

Image provided by Computer World

Markus Buehler, head of MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental

Engineering (CEE), said that it’s not the material that’s the dominant discovery; it’s the geometry. He says that you could replace graphene material with any other mareial like polymers or metals or anything and use the same geometry to make that object have extreme strength and light weight.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Mearian, Lucas. “MIT Creates 3D Printed Graphene That’s Lighter than Air, 10X Stronger than Steel.” Computerworld, Computerworld, 9 Jan. 2017, www.computerworld.com/article/3155102/emerging-technology/mit-creates-3d-printed-graphene-thats-lighter-than-air-10x-stronger-than-steel.html.

“Graphene.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/graphene.

Curtis, Sophie. “Samsung Researchers Claim Graphene Breakthrough.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 4 Apr. 2014, www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/samsung/10745014/Samsung-researchers-claim-graphene-breakthrough.html.

 

Tethon 3D Ceramic Resins for Use in SLA and DLP 3D Printers

Posted by on Oct 10, 2017 in 3D Printing, 3D Technology Blog | 0 comments

Tethon 3D Ceramic Resins for Use in SLA and DLP 3D Printers

The days of 3D printing solely with plastics are far behind us. Not only can 3D printing be done using silver, titanium, steel, and waxes—we can also print using ceramic powders for binder jetting and stereolithography (SLA) processes. Tethon 3D was the first company to develop and commercialize ceramic powders as 3D printing material, and they are now using it to create high quality durable 3D printed ceramics.

Image Courtesy of 3D Printing Media Network

The company is built around a business that has a strong background in ceramics. They began at the Kaneko Experimental  Studio in Omaha, Nebraska, founded by a ceramic sculptor named Jun Kaneko. Their SLA materials are ceramic glass and ceramic: Vitrolite and Porcelite. These can be used for objects that need the same properties as ceramic; heat shock tolerance, heat insulating, anti-corrosive, chemically resistant, controllable porosity, and other factors. It’s used in automotive, jewelry, manufacturing, aerospace, architecture and healthcare.

Image Courtesy of 3D Printing Media Network.

Image Courtesy of 3D Printing Media Network.

Porcelite is an alumina-based ceramic resin. Once it’s printed it becomes a polymer clay composite material and after it’s sintered it becomes porcelain with a temperature stability of 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Vitrolite is a silica-based glass ceramic resin that’s sintered at a lower temperature. It’s very dense and very smooth, with a milky white color. The two materials could be used on many SLA and DLP printers, and are compatible with both industrial and desktop use.

 

Sources:

Anusci, Victor. “Tethon3D CEO Karen Linder Discusses Future of High Quality Ceramics 3D Printing.” 3D Printing Media Network, 7 Oct. 2017, www.3dprintingbusiness.directory/news.

3D Printed Human Spine Replica Can Prepare Surgeons for Spinal Surgery

Posted by on Oct 5, 2017 in 3D Printing, 3D Technology Blog | 0 comments

3D Printed Human Spine Replica Can Prepare Surgeons for Spinal Surgery

3D printing is being used more and more in the medical industry and is helping doctors and surgeons to prepare for procedures with realistic replicas of organ structures and bones by using 3D printed parts. Nottingham Trent University researchers are 3D printing replicas of human spines for this exact purpose.

3D printed vertebrate, provided by Nottingham Trent University

By printing realistic vertebrates and spinal discs they’re allowing students and trainees to learn in a safe and calm environment while still simulating a life-like procedure. This could improve the outcomes for real patients undergoing spinal surgeries.

Inside of the vertebrate is a softer cancellous bone, which the researchers replicated with soft foam. The outside is a harder cortical bone which was printed using a polylactic acid (PLA) material. The spinal discs on the replica were made of silicone.

The researchers are able to print spines with specific problems like scoliosis and use those to practice on. They can also use it to practice procedures such as laminectomies, trapped nerve relief, and the removal of bone structures. 

3D model of a human spine, via 3Dscience.com

It’s very important for surgeons to be thoroughly prepared before going into spinal surgery, because one small mistake in a real surgery could be catastrophic for the patient. In the future the researchers plan to print bones with varying strengths to help prepare surgeons for operating on people with diseases like osteoporosis.

 

Sources:

Haria, Rushabh. “Lifelike 3D Printed Backbone Replicas Will Prepare Surgeons for Spinal Operations.” 3D Printing Industry, 3 Oct. 2017, 3dprintingindustry.com/news/3d-printed-backbone-replicas-prepare-surgeons-spinal-operations-122249/.

Human Spine 3D Models, www.3dscience.com/3D_Models/Human_Anatomy/Skeletal/Human_Spine.php.

 

Tinkerfest 2017 a Success

Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 in 3D Printing, 3D Technology Blog | 0 comments

Tinkerfest 2017 a Success

               The crew at ProImage 3D had a blast last Saturday at Tinkerfest hosted by the Science Museum Oklahoma in OKC. We would like to thank the staff at the museum for inviting us to participate in the event and allowing us to help teach others about 3D printing and scanning. The turnout exceeded our expectations and we were blown away by all of the fun and exciting things happening at the event, including rocket launches and cardboard cities.

                We were able to bring our fused deposition modeling (FDM) printer with us and print off a few tugboats to hand out to the kids, as well as a few bat bookmarks. We truly enjoyed seeing how fascinated everyone was with what we were doing– parents and children alike! We hope to be back next year with even more activities for everyone to participate in and we’d like to thank everyone that came out to see us! 

ProImage 3D’s Rick Radford (right) and guests of Tinkerfest

ProImage 3D’s Danielle Reiss (Left) and guests of Tinkerfest

Self-Assembling “Patchy Particles” Could Revolutionize 3D Printing

Posted by on Sep 29, 2017 in 3D Printing, 3D Technology Blog | 0 comments

Self-Assembling “Patchy Particles” Could Revolutionize 3D Printing

                Molecular self-assembly is a process when a disordered system of molecules forms an organized arrangement without help from an outside source.  Self-assembly is also used in proteins to assemble themselves into virus capsids and phases associated with diseases; the process is driven by thermodynamic and kinetic factors. Scientists have figured out a way to mimic this process through colloidal fusion of particles known as patchy particles, making 3D printing at a molecular level a possibility.

                Created by a team of scientists at New York University (NYU), patchy particles are 10-100 times smaller than a human cell. They are made up of smaller triangular particles that come together like play dough to form a sphere through a process called colloidal fusion; these spheres can then go on to create even more complex structures.

Source: Springer Nature
Plasticine model illustrating the concept of colloidal fusion. When compressed, the tetrahedral cluster evolves into a patchy sphere.

This could allow us to print on an even smaller scale, bringing us closer to 3D printing nanotechnology. According to Stefano Saccana, assistant professor of chemistry at NYU, “You could print a car that is a fraction of a millimeter and that could someday actually run!”

 

Sources:

Jackson, Beau. “Colloidal Self-Assembly Has the Potential to Revolutionize 3D Printing.” 3D Printing Industry, 29 Sept. 2017, 3dprintingindustry.com/news/colloidal-self-assembly-potential-revolutionize-3d-printing-121437/.

McManus, Jennifer J., et al. “The Physics of Protein Self-Assembly.” [1602.00884] The Physics of Protein Self-Assembly, 2 Feb. 2016, arxiv.org/abs/1602.00884.

“Molecular Self-Assembly.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Sept. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molecular_self-assembly.

Website of Teun Vissers, www.teunvissers.nl/research/patchy-colloids/.

2017, Melissae Fellet18 September. “Patchy Particles with Predictable Patterns.” Chemistry World, 18 Sept. 2017, www.chemistryworld.com/news/patchy-particles-with-predictable-patterns/3008004.article

Science Robotics Uses 3D Printing and Biorobotics for Underwater Exploration

Posted by on Sep 25, 2017 in 3D Printing, 3D Technology Blog | 0 comments

Science Robotics Uses 3D Printing and Biorobotics for Underwater Exploration

          The Hadal zone lies at an eerie 20,000 to 36,000 feet below the sea in the Mariana Trench. A combination of water density, intense pressure and darkness make it difficult for scientists to capture data that deep in the ocean. Some living creatures such as sea anemones have adapted to these conditions and are able to survive using soft bodies and pedal discs to give them a strong grip that allows them to attach to rocks and withstand strong currents. The remora suckerfish is similar in that it has a highly modified dorsal fin that forms an adhesive disc, one of the most impressive adaptations within the vertebrates.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

 

          Science Robotics has designed a multimaterial biomimetric remora disc using 3D printing and soft robotics. This underwater robot is capable of strong adhesion and hitchhiking on smooth and rough surfaces, including shark skin. They used varieties of flexible and rigid material on an Objet Connex 500 C3 3D printer from Stratasys, and used Solidworks to create the CAD file. This could allow for new ways of exploration and understanding of marine wildlife, even in the deepest and darkest parts of the ocean.

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remora#/media/File:Remora_remora.jpg

Jackson, Beau. “3D Printed Suckerfish Grip Could Take Explorers into The Great Unknown.”3D Printing Industry, 15 Sept. 2017, 3dprintingindustry.com/news/3d-printed-suckerfish-grip-take-explorers-into-great-unkown-121577/.

Wang, Yueping, et al. “A Biorobotic Adhesive Disc for Underwater Hitchhiking Inspired by the Remora Suckerfish.” Science Robotics, Science Robotics, 20 Sept. 2017, robotics.sciencemag.org/content/2/10/eaan8072.full.

T3D Launches a Kickstarter Campaign for 3D Printer Powered by Smart Phones

Posted by on Sep 21, 2017 in 3D Printing, 3D Technology Blog | 0 comments

T3D Launches a Kickstarter Campaign for 3D Printer Powered by Smart Phones

 

          T3D, a startup company founded in the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a mobile 3D printer powered by the light of a smart phone or tablet. The printer is able to print without a protective cover or glass because of the special high sensitivity resin created by T3D; allowing viewers to watch the printer pull 3D printed objects right out of the resin bath.

          A smart phone or tablet goes underneath the tray of resin and the printer uses the light to cure the light-polymerized resin. The smart phone/ tablet acts as a light projector found in most typical SLA machines. The printer is capable of printing at 20 seconds per layer with a layer thickness of 100 microns, on a build tray that’s 16 x 7.6 x 8.5 cm. Thanks to that portable size and its ability to be controlled by mobile devices, it’s perfect for traveling and printing on-the-go.

 

 

Sources:

Jackson, Beau. “T3D Launches Kickstarter for Low Cost Cell Phone Powered SLA 3D Printer.” 3D Printing Industry, 15 Sept. 2017, 3dprintingindustry.com/news/t3d-launch-kickstarter-for-mobile-powered-sla-3d-printer-121461/.

http://myt3d.com/