Bugatti 3D prints world's largest functional titanium car component
The name Bugatti is associated with bleeding-edge motor cars rather than 3D printing, but the automaker has announced it has produced a new brake caliper that is not only the largest in the motor industry, but is the largest component to be printed from titanium alloy. The product of a joint effort by the Bugatti Development Department and Laser Zentrum Nord in Hamburg, the eight-piston monobloc brake caliper may one day lead to auto components that combine superior performance with faster, cheaper production.
The development of hypercars like the Bugatti Veyron and Chiron may be pushing the envelope of automotive performance, but it's also forcing the development of vehicle components and the materials used to make them. One example is the brake design used on the Chiron, the calipers for which are the largest installed in any production car and were designed using bionic principles. They're forged from high-strength aluminum alloy and contain titanium pistons – eight for the front brakes and six for the rear.
The new calipers are meant to combine minimum weight with maximum stiffness, but Bugatti felt there was room for improvement, so the company's engineers came up with another version made entirely of an aerospace titanium alloy called Ti6AI4V, which is normally used in highly stressed undercarriages, wing components, and jet and rocket engines.
According to Bugatti, calipers made from titanium would have a tensile strength of 1,250 N/mm² (125 kg/mm²). In addition, the titanium caliper, measuring 41 x 21 x 13.6 cm (16 x 8 x 5 in) and with walls only one to four mm thick, would weigh only 2.9 kg (6.4 lb), as opposed to an aluminum version's 4.9 kg (11 lb).
Unfortunately, while titanium promised superior performance and durability compared to aluminum with a 40 percent weight savings, titanium alloys are notoriously hard to cast or forge and often require exotic techniques, like explosive forming. Bugatti's answer was to turn to an additive manufacturing technique, better known as 3D printing, that uses lasers to fuse titanium alloy powder into precise, complex shapes.
The caliper went from idea to prototype in only three months. After Bugatti completed computer modeling, the data files were sent to Laser Zentrum Nord for final process simulation and printing using the world's largest printer capable of handling titanium thanks to its four 400 W lasers.
Bugatti says that printing the caliper took only 45 hours, which is a remarkably short time for making a complex prototype. During the process, the printer laid down 2,213 layers of fine titanium alloy powder one at a time. After each layer was set down, the lasers, guided by the design files, fused the alloy into a cross section of the caliper along with temporary support structures that cooled and solidified instantly, before the machine repeated the process.
Once completed, the excess powder was removed and the caliper was placed in a furnace, where it was initially subjected to a temperature of 700° C (1,300° F), which was lowered to 100° C (212° F) to stabilize the structure and eliminate stresses. The supports were then removed and the caliper was sent back to Bugatti for final mechanical, physical, and chemical processing to improve is durability before final machining.
"It was a very moving moment for the team when we held our first titanium brake caliper from the 3D printer in our hands," says Frank Götzke, Head of New Technologies in the Technical Development Department of Bugatti Automobiles. "In terms of volume, this is the largest functional component produced from titanium by additive manufacturing methods. Everyone who looks at the part is surprised at how light it is – despite its large size. Technically, this is an extremely impressive brake caliper, and it also looks great."
With the goal of being used in series production, the new caliper is scheduled to begin vehicle trials before June of this year.
Flying 3D-printer concept gets off the ground in Shanghai
The Fly Elephant 3D printing drone would be fed printing materials through a tube at the top, to be extruded through the nozzle at the bottom(Credit: DediBot)
Under the six rotor cage of the Open-ended Additive Manufacturing (OAM) drone hangs a 3D printing nozzle that's fed plastic, concrete mix or other material from a tube connected to the top of the OAM Fly Elephant. The drone's printing path will be precisely plotted by software, for a promised printing accuracy of 0.1 mm.
The 3D printing drone flying around the company's booth at TCT Asia is showcasing its potential applications in the construction industry, with the free-flying design meaning that the size and shape of printed structures are not restricted by the dimensions of a static 3D printer's enclosure. Printed examples on display look similar to the kind of layer-by-layer 3D-printed builds in Dubai and Spain.
Construction projects could be undertaken by a cluster of 3D printing drones working together, possibly with drones each extruding different materials for a kind of multiple print head approach to structure builds. Of course, short battery life may well limit the potential usefulness of such technologies so DediBot is looking to wireless power solutions to give the drones potentially unlimited air time on the construction site.
All of which could make the out-there plan put forward by Vincent Callebaut to rebuild Mosul in Iraq seem not so far fetched after all.
The Fly Elephant is still very much at the concept stage, with many questions yet to be answered – including what impact on flight, movement and printing accuracy the material supply tube might have on the drone, would printing need to abandoned during high winds, and would the process be limited to producing rough and ready structure prototypes or might we see drones printing usable buildings? But the flying prototype on show in Shanghai, China, is an intriguing taste of things to come. Maybe.
Electronics 3D-printed onto human skin
The printing system can compensate for subtle movements of the hand(Credit: University of Minnesota)
Various research institutes have already developed skin-applied electronics, that are pre-made and simply adhered to the user's body. Researchers at the University of Minnesota, however, have taken a different approach. They've developed a method of 3D-printing custom electronics directly onto the skin.
Led by Prof. Michael McAlpine, the scientists are utilizing an adapted inexpensive 3D printer, that extrudes a special conductive ink made of silver flakes. Unlike other such inks, which need to cure at high temperatures and would thus burn the skin, theirs cures at room temperature.
Because no one can hold their body completely still, an array of temporary dot-like markers are initially placed on the skin, after which the skin is scanned. The printer subsequently uses a computer vision system to track these markers during the printing process, automatically moving its print nozzle to stay in alignment with the curving contours of its subtly-moving target.
The resulting electronics could be powered wirelessly (as is the case with the LED seen in the video below), although McAlpine tells us that in the future, it should also be possible for the system to 3D-print batteries or solar cells. Once users were done with the electronics, they could just be peeled or washed off.
"We are excited about the potential of this new 3D-printing technology using a portable, lightweight printer costing less than $400," says McAlpine. "We imagine that a soldier could pull this printer out of a backpack and print a chemical sensor or other electronics they need, directly on the skin. It would be like a 'Swiss Army knife' of the future with everything they need all in one portable 3D-printing tool."
It should also be noted that by using a bioink in the printer, the team was able to print cells onto a live mouse's skin wound – so the technology has potential medical applications, as well.
A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Advanced Materials.
Source: University of Minnesota
Nano Dimension Joins Techniplas Open Innovation Program, Will Use DragonFly 2020 Pro 3D Printer for Automotive Applications
Global design and manufacturing provider of automotive products and services Techniplas, headquartered in Wisconsin, brings 3D printing companies together to offer benefits from their shared technologies. The company is working to shape the future of mobility and is committed to open innovation, as evidenced by its open innovation program. Techniplas focuses on developing partnerships that provide 3D printing innovators mutual benefits in each other’s capabilities and strengths, and companies like Sharebot, DWS, Sicnova, ParaMatters, and Nexa3D have recently joined the program as innovation partners.
The like-minded partners in the open innovation program work together to push the boundaries of automotive manufacturing, and Techniplas announced at CES 2018 this week that Israeli 3D printed electronics leader Nano Dimension has joined the program.
“We are thrilled to welcome Nano Dimension as a member of our program which brings together today’s best and most innovative players and technologies. With Nano Dimension on board, we are the first to bring additive electronics capabilities to our automotive customers,” said George Votis, Founder and Chairman of Techniplas.
Nano Dimension is targeting the demand for electronic devices that rely on PCBs, using its unique 3D printing technology to disrupt and reshape the future of how electronics are made. The company, which was the first to embed conductive paths and print antennas into shapes and 3D print fully functioning PCBs, came on the scene with its DragonFly 2020 electronic circuit board 3D printer back in 2015. Nano Dimension ended its highly successful beta program this summer, and introduced its industrial-grade DragonFly 2020 Pro this fall.
The award-winning flagship DragonFly 2020 Pro allows for the 3D printing of functional electronics, including PCBs, antennas, sensors, conductive geometries, and molded connected devices, and is, according to a Techniplas release, “poised to transform electronic additive manufacturing by empowering companies to take control of their entire development cycle.”
Nano Dimension has joined the Techniplas open innovation program in order to make 3D printed conductive components, encapsulated sensors, and smart surfaces available to the automotive industry for the first time.
Nano Dimension CEO Amit Dror said, “Techniplas’ open innovation program is fast becoming the preeminent hub for innovative 3D printing companies to validate and mainstream their additive manufacturing solutions for the automotive industry. Together, we plan to lay the foundation for a new era of connected mobility and automotive products that are unencumbered by traditional design and manufacturing restrictions.”
PCB 3D printed by Nano Dimension [Image: Sarah Goehrke for 3DPrint.com]
As part of this new partnership, Nano Dimension will bring its DragonFly 2020 Pro 3D printer to the new Techniplas Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center in California, which also houses the company’s digital business unit. The industrial 3D printer will use its advanced inkjet engineering materials expertise in order to speed up development of cognitive, connected next-generation vehicle components, parts, and systems.
By joining the open innovation program, Nano Dimension’s 3D printed electronics and Techniplas’ cognitive lighting technology will come together to offer new ways of designing and 3D printing electronic conductive paths, in one step, right into the interior and facia surfaces of vehicles.
This week, Techniplas invites all CES 2018 attendees to stop by its booth #9100, in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, in order to experience the combination of these two technologies firsthand. 3DPrint.com will also be at CES this week, bringing you all of the latest product and technology news right from the showroom floor.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR 3D PRINTING IN 2018? THE ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING EXPERT PERSPECTIVE
What’s next for 3D printing in 2018? We asked the CEO’s, analysts and other experts in our industry that question.
Their responses give predictions for 3D printing in 2018 featuring Blockchain technology, the Internet of Things, high-speed 3D printers and trends in metal 3D printing.
Bart Van der Schueren, CTO of Materialise
For 2018, we believe that the adoption cycle for 3D Printing will become increasingly easier, thanks to more automated processes, integrated software, collaborations with partners across industries and standardized processes.
Materialise e-Stage for metal 3D printing. Photo by Michael Petch.
Al Siblani, CEO of EnvisionTEC
While we can’t disclose much of our behind-the-scenes work with customers, we continue to see manufacturers moving quickly toward mass customized production — for medical, consumer and sporting goods — as well as real short-run production with 3D printers. This long-talked-about shift is finally being driven by the availability of high-speed 3D printers and functional new materials that make direct printing of end-use parts that compete with injection molded pieces a reality.
In 2018, we believe an even bigger development is coming. EnvisionTEC is one of many 3D printer manufacturers who have been racing to provide the dental market’s first 3D printed orthodontic aligners (not to be confused with aligners thermoformed on 3D printed models). The challenge is real to deliver a material that can directly print aligners with the proper biocompatibility, stability, flexion and strength. We feel confident that 2018 will be the year of the 3D printed aligner.
Also in 2018, the EnvisionTEC team sees a downturn coming in what appears to be an every-few-years hype cycle in low-cost, low-quality 3D printers. Much like the hype around MakerBot climbed for half a decade before trailing off, we’re starting to see a slowdown in the recent wave toward cheap 3D printers. While some of these low-cost 3D printer companies may survive long-term as they try to enter a more premium end of the 3D market, where the requirements for high accuracy, repeatability and sophisticated materials are paramount, we believe the next year will see a shakeout of many of these companies.
EnvisionTEC 3D printed jewelry molds. Photo by Michael Petch.
Shane Fox, co-founder and CEO of LINK3D
In 2018, we’ll see an increase in collaboration between software and hardware. This will help industries advance their additive manufacturing facilities towards mainstream manufacturing. Those that invest in automation software will begin to experience the true benefits of what Industry 4.0 promises.
Eric Savant, CEO of iMakr
2018 will see another significant upswing in the adoption of 3D printing, both on a consumer and professional level, and iMakr will continue to play a global role in facilitating that trend. Lower priced entry level 3D printers, like our very own $99 STARTT, make entering the 3D printing market a relatively risk-free proposition for home buyers.
On a professional front, improved dependability, advancement in materials and more affordable access to innovation will drive ever more businesses and schools to explore new applications for 3D printing. With the introduction of our new franchise scheme, iMakr is poised to provide on the ground support, advice and leadership across the world in this fast developing market.
Vishal Singh, co-founder and CTO of LINK3D
I believe that in 2018 the emergence of Blockchain technology will slowly be adopted within the Additive Manufacturing industry because Blockchain offers immutability of digital files. This is a quality that is paramount to increasing security management of IP throughout the AM workflow.
Shon Anderson, CEO of B9Creations
I believe we’ll continue to see more customer demand for tailored solutions beyond the basic technology, with user interface improvements, industry-specific workflow integrations, and innovative material solutions at the top of their list. These are the investments we’ve made based on market feedback.
Final preparations for RAPID + TCT taking place. Photo by Michael Petch.
Romain Kidd, CEO of MyMiniFactory
Following a record year for the adoption of desktop 3D printers, 2018 will see even more consumers get their first device. With popular 3D printer models now costing less than a Playstation or an Xbox, this growth in adoption will be driven by 3D printer manufacturers focusing their attention on the user experience of the whole solution – hardware + software + content.
Indeed, MyMiniFactory Click & Print – our unique solution which removes the need for slicing – allows manufacturers to open up the market to users who would otherwise never get into 3D printing. Specifically, Click & Print shortens the learning curve traditionally associated with 3D printing.
For designers, this growing adoption of desktop 3D printers translates into an increased demand for high quality 3D printable content, and as a consequence of that, more opportunities to grow their audience and monetise their talent.
Ramon Pastor, Vice President and General Manager at HP 3D Printing
In 2018, we’ll see an inflection point in the number of commercial applications for industrial 3D production as costs are dramatically reduced and awareness of its many advantages increases. More companies in more industries will start reinventing their businesses for manufacturing’s fully-digital future.
Amit Dror, CEO of Nano Dimension
In 2018, the 3D printing market will continue to mature, where we are anticipating the addition of new entrants into the market, technological advancements, and more customer-driven end applications. As a driving force behind the Internet of Things, the Industry 4.0 revolution and other advanced manufacturing technologies, 3D printing and highly sophisticated additive manufacturing technology will translate the digital world to the real world. As such, we can expect to witness a more connected, digital, functional and agile world to do things the right way. It’s a world limited only by our imagination.
Nano Dimension 3D printed electronics. Photo by Michael Petch.
Menno Ellis, SVP Strategy and Vertical Markets, 3D Systems
I believe that 3D printing in 2018 will see continued advancements in bioprinting of tissues and organs, enabling greater number of healthcare applications. Also, continuing advancements in material development enabling new applications for end-part production in high stress environments including auto, aero, consumer goods and medical/dental.
This year 3D printers will see significant price reduction of production-caliber technologies and platforms (DLP, SLS, Metal) will open up new markets and drive penetration for 3D printing.
There will be an increasing importance of APAC. Technical advances and market gains by Chinese OEM’s, including growing 3D printing adoption by APAC manufacturing facilities as range of 3D printing benefits, for example economic, technical, operational, exceed labor cost arbitrage.
3D printing M&A activity in 2018 will be driven both by captives, for example GE 2016 acquisitions of Arcam and Concept laser, and consolidation among legacy hardware and software players seeking to control a larger portion of the solution and leveraging scale for demanding R&D environment.
In 2017 3D Printing Industry made frequent visits to the APAC region. Photo by Michael Petch.
Prof. Wildemann. TCW Transfer-Centrum GmbH & Co.
In 2018, the industrialisation of the metallic 3D printing value chain will make significant progress, leading to more reliable, more economical and better certified production.
Constantine Ivanov, CEO of DigiFabster
I think that 3D printing is heading the way of the 2D printing industry. Starting in 2017 we saw growing numbers of 3D printing bureaus open, partly thanks to HP.
3D printers are becoming more reliable, easier to use and producing higher-quality output. A lot of post-production effort is still required, but this is better than a year ago.
Owners now have a little bit more time to think about other important things like marketing, workflow and labor cost optimization. That is happening right now. And that makes me very happy because it gives us a lot of work for us.
2018 will be definitely a year of new user-friendly printers, high-quality materials, and automatic post-production solutions, but more important to the industry, that it should be a year when more AM companies become more efficient and profitable. This is my wish for all industry.
Andre Wegner, CEO of Authentise
We’re going to see more focus on software tools that enable greater speed, reliability, efficiency and quality. There’s an increasing realization that many of the challenges the industry has to overcome to make additive a true mass-scale production technology can be solved by software.
3D Systems Figure 4 3D printer. Photo by Michael Petch.
Cullen Hilkene, CEO of 3Diligent
What will the next year hold for 3D Printing technology?
First, the arrival of extrusion metal printing. Today’s extrusion printers are the most prevalent and, arguably, user-friendly 3D Printers in the market. Now, after years of there being zero metal extrusion printers, there will be two in the new year from Desktop Metal and Markforged. These technologies promise new materials and a higher degree of user friendliness for metal printing.
Second, will be stories about other metal injection molding-based 3D Printing systems that are focused on bringing down the price of printing. Each of these, like extrusion metal printing, will offer a different take on building up a part “scaffold” and then sintering it in an oven as a secondary step to create a part.
Third, will be an increasing recognition that these metal injection molding (MIM)-based systems don’t displace existing 3D printing technologies but instead will target the market for molding and machining parts. These lower cost systems will gain some traction with traditional metal 3D Printer users like aerospace and medical, but where they will truly make their mark are in industries like industrial products, automotive, and oil and gas.
Fourth, will be the expansion of additive manufacturing as a production technology. More and more announcements will come from the Food and Drug Administration and Federal Aviation Administration that parts have been approved for production use. News of the success of these parts in market will start leaking out as well.
Fifth, there will be more buzz about increased speed. This will start with headlines from the new products that HP and Carbon are launching. And that will lead to incumbents who have been chasing them to highlight their successes. In addition to these known products, there will be more news about some of the exciting next-generation technologies that are coming from research labs.
These are the top five trends I see coming for 2018, and they all bode well for the year to be another great one for 3D printing.
Zortrax and Shining 3D. Photo by Michael Petch.
Richard Gaignon, CEO of 3DCeram
Ceramic 3D printing will be really effective if and when a company launches a fully automated line.
Gordon Styles, founder and president of Star Rapid
When it comes to metal 3D printing, it wouldn’t be surprising for 2018 to be uneventful. The reality is that we are still in a sort of trial phase and many companies are testing the water in terms of figuring out how the technology can be leveraged for their specific purposes. This year we’ve seen many companies take the plunge and reach out to us about metal 3D printing. This has exposed a knowledge gap when it comes to design-for-manufacturing practices about the process.
To help combat this issue, Star Rapid launched online tutorial videos and in-person training at out factory and other companies have launched various educational initiatives as well. Many companies that know how to design metal 3D printing have found suitable applications and have ordered parts. But these are still in a trial phase. They are testing small batches of parts to ensure that they successfully operate under real-world conditions with the intended performance. Once this is completed and doubts are erased, the industry will explode with demand. Most likely, this won’t begin to happen until the latter part of 2018.
GE launches the ATLAS 3D printing system. Photo by Michael Petch.
Janis Grinhofs, CEO of Mass Portal
In 2018, the 3D printing industry will see the opening of a broader market for end-use applications beyond early adopters, as in many verticals the the long tail will start investigation deployments, for the following reasons:
- Measured performance — cases, examples and studies of real-world end-use applications; data the verticals can understand and trust.
- Higher level of automation in workflows and machines, meaning easier deployment and lower barrier of entry.
Massportal’s Dynasty additive manufacturing system. Photo by Michael Petch.
Andy Kalambi, CEO of Rize
Many new players will enter Additive Manufacturing – including material providers, manufacturing companies and technology companies. Ecosystem orchestration will be key to the success of 3D printing to be able to deliver additive at scale.
Edward D. Herderick, PhD, Director Additive Manufacturing, College of Engineering CDME
2018 will be the year of metal printing—all the major manufacturers are building larger machines with more lasers and higher power energy sources. This improvement in productivity, coupled with greater maturation and understanding of printed metal performance, and we’re going to see new applications emerge in sectors beyond aerospace and healthcare like automotive and oil and gas. The applications will grow because they’re not just driven by performance, but cost management and economics.
Visiting GE Healthcare in Uppsala, Sweden. Photo by Beau Jackson.
Michele Marchesan, New Kinpo Group (XYZPrinting), Senior Vice President Industry 4.0
Customers will focus on cost effective solutions and 3D printed parts will be required for function. Metal 3D printing will find increased application and market share. Likewise, high speed plastics will increase market share.
Gary Taylor, Regional Manager UK&I at EOS
As our customers continue to innovate at scale, it’s exciting to see the growing potential of this technology as we continue to strive toward the factories of the future.
Dr. Hans J. Langer, Executive Chairman of the EOS Group and founder of EOS. Photo by Michael Petch.
Jonathan Schwartz, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Voodoo Manufacturing
In 2018, I expect to see a continued focus on materials from both the printer companies, but now from large material companies that are just starting to enter the 3DP market. With new materials will also continue to see more and more end-use applications for 3D printed parts, both at the high and low-value ends of the spectrum.
Dr. Dirk Simon, Global Business Director BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH
Taking the recent announcements of several 3D printing equipment suppliers into account, in 2018 we expect that more and more high throughput systems becoming open for use of materials from various suppliers. This will substantially increase the competitiveness of Additive Manufacturing versus classical manufacturing technologies.
Oerlikon entered the additive manufacturing industry. Photo by Michael Petch.
George Fisher-Wilson, Communications Manager at 3D Hubs
As demand increases for low-cost industrial technologies and the benefits they can provide so will the adoption of generative design. Generative design is breaking new ground for engineers around the world to easily create efficient parts in every sense of the word. In order to truly take advantage of generative design, you need technologies that can produce the geometries generated.
This is particularly relevant for low-cost metal 3D printing options now developed by Desktop Metal and Markforged which provide functional end parts.
Todd Grimm on 3D Scanning in 2017. Photo by Michael Petch.
Chris Connery at CONTEXT
During 2018, we will see the emergence of a new class of low-end industrial metal 3D printing machines. While these are, of course, not for the masses, “low-end” in this context still means ~$150k, this new class includes $1M machines that will allow more companies to experiment with 3D printing in ways that were previously out of reach for most of them.
Farewell My Concubine performed by Beijing Opera singers at the Royal College of Art with 3D printed textiles by Mingjing Lin. Photo by Michael Petch
Dr.-Ing. Paul Schüler, Managing Director of CellCore
Big developments concerning mass production of metal AM parts in smart factories including the PAG (Premium Aerotech) plant in Varel, GE plant in Lichtenfels and Bionic Production plant in Lüneburg.
Prodways high precision 3D printing. Photo by Michael Petch.
Hugo Fromont & Pierre Ayroles, co founders of Cults
FDM 3D printing will improve by allowing to print much faster, for example the algorithm to speed up printing developed by engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Personal 3D printers will allow printing in multiple colors, such as the Da Vinci Color from XYZPrinting.
3D modeling for 3D printing will become more and more valued because manufacturing is no longer a barrier. Only the idea of design will be important and its distribution, its sharing, will be strategic.
David McCann, Senior Business Architect at Clariant
We anticipate more industrial products being produced with extrusion type printing (filament).
The products will demonstrate that extrusion printing meets the desired industrial requirements such as strength, surface quality, certification, and more.
Michael Sorkin, Head of Europe at Formlabs
The market needs to hold its promises of the last years. What new players need to do in order to survive is to start focusing on vertical instead of just horizontal growth. There is so many applications, where the potential is not fully explored: aerospace, healthcare… For this qualitative approach, a lot can be done on the materials side as dentistry has proven already in 2017.
2017 was a good year for learning, 2018 should be a year of doing. Formlabs is going to set the industry standards by announcing partnerships and materials next year – stay tuned and meet us at CES!
Medical and Dental 3D printing applications. Photo by Michael Petch.
Joshua Dugdale, Technical Manager, The Manufacturing Technologies Association
I think the AM industry is currently struggling from a lack of History. Essentially other manufacturing technologies (milling, grinding, turning, forming etc) have had decades to develop and in what was previously a less regulated environment. Hence now, they are mature technologies which everyone understands and knows what the value propositions are and have an understanding of parts made using those technologies.
Therefore, AM is now having to compete against established technologies in a highly controlled environment and people just don’t yet quite fully understand where the value is in using the technology and we aren’t yet in a position where we fully understand/have confidence in the consistency of the mechanical properties of parts being manufactured. I think we are slowly getting there on this but this is the kind of thing that just takes a little bit of time as the community builds a knowledge base.
The 3D Printing Industry in 2018
What are your predictions for 3D printing in 2018? Let us know in the comments section below, or you can contact us here.
One prediction for 2018 is that the 3D Printing Industry Awards will be bigger than ever. We have some exciting news about the event coming soon – also there is still time to make your nominations for the awards.
Want to read more about the future of 3D printing? Our series “The Future of 3D Printing” has in-depth articles from almost 100 leaders in the 3D printing industry.
Featured image shows HP MultiJet Fusion 3D printed parts in PA12 displayed during the Taiwan International 3D Printing Show. Photo by Michael Petch.
This cheap 3D-printed home is a start for the 1 billion who lack shelter
Food, water, and shelter are basic human needs, but 1.2 billion people in the world live without adequate housing, according to a report by the World Resources Institute’s Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. Today at SXSW, an Austin-based startup will unveil its approach to combat that deficiency by using low-cost 3D printing as a potential solution.
ICON has developed a method for printing a single-story 650-square-foot house out of cement in only 12 to 24 hours, a fraction of the time it takes for new construction. If all goes according to plan, a community made up of about 100 homes will be constructed for residents in El Salvador next year. The company has partnered with New Story, a nonprofit that is vested in international housing solutions. “We have been building homes for communities in Haiti, El Salvador, and Bolivia,” Alexandria Lafci, co-founder of New Story, tells The Verge.
The first model, scheduled to be unveiled in Austin today, is a step toward providing shelter to those in underserved communities. Jason Ballard, one of ICON’s three founders, says he is going to trial the model as an office to test out their practical use. “We are going to install air quality monitors. How does it look, and how does it smell?” Ballard also runs Treehouse, a company that focuses on sustainable home upgrades.
Using the Vulcan printer, ICON can print an entire home for $10,000 and plans to bring costs down to $4,000 per house. “It’s much cheaper than the typical American home,” Ballard says. It’s capable of printing a home that’s 800 square feet, a significantly bigger structure than properties pushed by the tiny home movement, which top out at about 400 square feet. In contrast, the average New York apartment is about 866 square feet.
Inside the 3D-printed home. Photo: ICON
The model has a living room, bedroom, bathroom, and a curved porch. “There are a few other companies that have printed homes and structures,” Ballard says. “But they are printed in a warehouse, or they look like Yoda huts. For this venture to succeed, they have to be the best houses.” The use of cement as a common material will help normalize the process for potential tenants that question the sturdiness of the structure. “I think if we were printing in plastic we would encounter some issues.”
Once ICON completes material testing and tweaking of the design, the company will move the Vulcan printer to El Salvador to begin construction. ICON says its 3D-printed houses will create minimal waste and labor costs are significantly reduced. The company also intends to build homes in the US eventually. It’s a compelling solution to solving housing shortages but one that could be contentious among labor unions that represent workers.
It’s almost cliché that tech innovations happen in the high-end, for-profit segment long before they filter down to the masses, where innovation could serve the greatest social good. ICON and New Story are challenging that premise. Lafci uses the example of latency in cellphone availability to reach the African continent as the reason she believes in the endeavor. “(ICON) believes, as do I, that 3D printing is going to be a method for all kinds of housing,” she says.
But the company is already looking past the global housing crises to think about communities that will one day live off-planet. “One of the big challenges is how are we going to create habitats in space,” Ballard says. “You’re not going to open a two by four and open screws. It’s one of the more promising potential habitat technologies.”