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By i3d

Reimagining Rocket Engine Design With 3D Printing

A UK Software company, Betatype, is pushing engineers to rethink and reimagine rocket engine design using 3D metal printing, or additive manufacturing.

The most recent example comes from a Betatype engineer, Marten Jurg, who has applied this philosophy while working on his postdoctorate degree.

Here’s exactly how they are pushing the boundaries of 3D printing:

  • They have successfully deployed an open file format called Arch which simplifies the handling of complicated CAD files
  • Engine processes an object for production in a powder bed fusion system.
  • Pilot assesses the optimal movements of a laser to produce fine details

Together, these components have allowed Jurg to integrate a fine lattice into the wall of an engine’s shell, resulting in an even cooling of the engine and its contents, typically fueled by liquid hydrogen that must be stored at −252.882 °C (−423.188 °F).

These “optimized” features of Betatype’s platform have enabled the engineers to create a sample of a scaled-down rocket engine printed in Stainless Steel 316L on an EOS M280 machine. Using a bigger machine, another company called AMAERO has taken Betatype’s platform and created an even larger version, bringing it to near operational capacity.

Betatype says this on their company blog,


Featured image: Marten Jurg’s rocket engine design, 3D printed with a cooling mesh wall on an EOS M280. Photo via Betatype

By i3d

2017 State of Additive Manufacturing – Wohlers Report

Wohlers Associates sends a questionnaire to service providers each year to help identify trends in the additive manufacturing (AM) service industry.

One hundred service providers in 26 countries participated in the survey for Wohlers Report 2017. The industry as seen through the eyes of these companies is important because they represent a wealth of knowledge, experience, and insight. They are among the early adopters and innovators of new AM and related technology, and are often the first to experience growth or downturns in business that serve as harbingers of emerging trends in the AM industry.

Most of the service providers that responded to the survey had a positive year in 2016, in both the primary and secondary revenue streams. Based on this data and their comments, we believe the majority are in relatively good financial health when the survey was conducted in early 2017. As a whole, they are growing, and growth in 2016 continued a positive trend that has been ongoing for five years.

You can see the report here.

Boeing 3D Printing

By i3d

The Use Of 3D Printing At Boeing

The Use Of 3D Printing At Boeing

The use of 3D printing at Boeing is alive and strong and here’s how they are using it. Leo Christodoulou is the Director of Structures and Materials, Enterprise Operations and Technology at Boeing  (NYSE:BA). During a presentation at the recent Additive Manufacturing for Aerospace, Defense and Space conference he gave insights into how 3D printing is increasingly used at the world’s largest aerospace company and the largest U.S. manufacturing exporter.

The Pentagon just recently awarded Boeing a $679 million deal for the Super Hornet spacecraft which features at least 150 parts made using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) metal 3D printing. To date, there are more than 50,000 additive manufacturing parts being used successfully on Boeing aircraft.

Christodoulou, explaining the advantages to additive manufacturing, said:

AM holds at least three promising advantages. First, AM enables designs with novel geometries that would be difficult or impossible to achieve using CM processes, which can improve a component’s engineering performance. Second, AM can reduce the “cradle-to-gate” environmental footprints of component manufacturing through avoidance of the tools, dies, and materials scrap associated with CM processes. Third, novel geometries enabled by AM technologies can also lead to performance and environmental benefits in a component’s product application.

The general belief from Boeing’s perspective is that 3D printing will dominate tooling and it can cut costs by up to 70% which is extremely significant.  Additionally, Boeing sees ways that additive manufacturing can actually begin to create new design innovations and architectures.

future of additive manufacturing

By i3d

The Future Of Additive Manufacturing

The Future Of Additive Manufacturing

Last year, GE made headlines in the Additive Manufacturing world when they announced the purchase of Arcam AB and Concept Laser. This was the largest deal to date in the 3D printing industry. GE, somewhat of a newcomer to 3D metal printing, is now helping to push and define the future of additive manufacturing.

GE’s current Chief Productivity Officer and Senior Vice President, Philippe Cochet spoke many years ago about how, “the application of insights from digital connectivity with intelligent devices will elevate the skills of our workforce.”

As GE has ventured into the industry, they have defined three levels of thinking about additive manufacturing at an industrial level:

  • Component thinking
  • Systems thinking
  • DfAM (tearing down the product and designing for additive manufacturing)

The well known CFM LEAP-1A Fuel Nozzle is classed as level 1 additive thinking. In this case additive manufacturing was applied to an existing multi piece part, reducing the number of components from 20 to a single piece. One particularly costly process that was eliminated by the move to 3D printing was that a nickel alloy brazed together with  foils using gold, in traditional nozzle method is no longer required.

An example of level 2 thinking is the CT7 Combustor. This was an 18 month project on an engine that powers fixed wing craft. By using 3D printing, over 100 pieces were consolidated into one. (systems thinking)

Level 3, however, is where GE is today. An example is the Advanced Turboprop engine (ATP). 855 parts were reduced to 12 and the new process eliminated structural castings (though some casting is still required). The ATP has 20% lowered mission fuel burn, 5% weight reduction and the test schedule was reduced from 12 to 6 months.

Achieving these types of results is what will be driving additive manufacturing and the future of the industry. This gives freedom to enterprises seeking to push the boundaries of what is possible.

By i3d

Historic 3D Printed Rocket Engine Flight by Bagaveev Corporation

Historic 3D Printed Rocket Engine Flight by Bagaveev Corporation

I3D MFG 3D prints rocket thrusters in metal for Bagaveev Corporation. Bagaveev wanted to show how far the technology has moved and relevant Powder Laser Forging is by publishing a video on YouTube that shows their historic test of its 3D printed rocked engine flight.

  Read more

additive printing

By i3d

News: GE Opens $40 million Center For Additive Technology Advancement

GE Opens $40 million Center For Additive Technology Advancement

With all of the big names getting the attention in 3D printing, many are surprised to learn that GE (General Electric) is also a big player.  GE is pretty cautious when it comes to large investments in technology as they have seen trends come and go, however, their $40 million investment this past week in a facility for Additive Technology (3D printing) confirms that they see the writing on the wall: Additive Manufacturing is not a fad or trend, it’s here to stay.

One really exciting thing that will come to fruition is the fact that GE never opens a facility just for the sake of using a technology; they will advance it further and that’s really why this announcement is such a big deal.  GE opened the new center in Pittsburgh which was exciting to the city because it puts them on the map as a leader in 3D printing and the advancements that come from it.

“We’ve tapped into America’s best-kept secret,” says Jennifer Cipolla, who runs CATA, in regards to Pittsburgh, where Tesla and Google have also opened offices.

“We think Pittsburgh has the chance to be one of the four or five destinations for advanced manufacturing,” adds GE Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt.

The new facility is funded by each of the GE businesses, with the goal of integrating 3D printing for all. GE has historically been very involved with 3D printing to create fuel nozzles for jet engines.

 “Our mission is to ensure additive technology becomes a standard part of the tool kit for each business,” Cipolla says. “By having a shared facility, they can share the cost burden and we can advance the technology across the entire company much more rapidly than if they were to invest individually.”

The goal is to push the limits of additive manufacturing and stay at the forefront of innovation within the industry. The CATA industrialization lab is meant to promote this mission, allowing GE businesses to bring in their 3D printing concepts and optimize them, as well as working to bring them to fruition.

If there was any doubt about the future of additive manufacturing and DMLS, then this move by GE should cement the fact that it’s not only here to stay but it’s going to become the standard in metal printing.

By i3d

3 Big Reasons Why Metal 3D Printing Is Growing

3D Metal Printing (DMLS) is getting bigger.  In a recent article published by 3D Printing Industry, author Davide Sher highlights some of the reasons why the 3D Metal Printing industry isn’t shrinking or declining, it’s getting much bigger.

One of the reasons the 3D metal printing industry is getting bigger is competition. When you see tough competition, this indicates the need for the services and equipment or there wouldn’t be anyone in the market. There are currently about eight players in the space and more are coming onboard.  EOS is one of the market leaders along with Concept Laser.

Second, there are increasingly more technologies being used for 3D Metal printing. There are other technological approaches, for example, like the binder jetting technology proposed by ExOne and Digital Metals. Although binder jetting needs post processing, the technology can do things that powder bed fusion (currently the most widely used method) cannot.  These newer technologies will open yet unseen possibilities for thin walls, high detail, smooth finish, and fully dense parts that may even be made up of multiple materials in the future.

Third, there is actual demand for production parts coming out of 3D metal printing.  Both the automotive industry and the aerospace industry have began making parts not just for prototyping but actual production.

In the aerospace industry, the use of topological optimization and generative design is soon going to be a must in order to meet the environmental requirements of tomorrow.

Another indication for growth was highlighted in this Forbes article,

When GE, for example, chooses to invest $3.5 billionto purchase the 3D-printing machines that can produce metal parts and train the staff needed to run them, it’s not doing so because the technology is cool—it’s doing so because that’s where the additive manufacturing industry is headed.


By i3d

U.S. Air Force General Proclaims Additive Manufacturing As A Massive Game Changer

Additive Manufacturing (DMLS) has been a rising trend that has the potential to revolutionize nearly everything we manufacture from human organs to mechanical components to firearm parts.

General Ellen Pawlikowski, Commander of the Air Force Material Command, compared the importance of additive manufacturing to other game-changing technologies like hypersonics, directed energy, and autonomy, stating,

“If you were to ask me what’s the fourth game changer, in my mind it’s additive manufacturing.”

I3D MFG agrees with these statements as they have been at the forefront of this  game-changing technology for nearly two years now, producing some of the most complex and revolutionary parts for their aerospace, firearms, heat exchanger and thruster clients

For the Air Force, these types of 3D metal parts, including flexible electronics, sensors, fuzes, energetics and warheads, help AFRL achieve the longer-term goal of using technologies like DMLS to rapidly prototype advanced capabilities for warfighters.

Dr. Amanda Schrand, principal investigator for FLEGOMAN at the AFRL/RW stated,

“We are maturing additive manufacturing to address technical challenges in fuze technology and ordnance sciences to increase the lethality of small weapons, and enable modular and flexible weapons. We also hope to decrease the time it takes to refresh critical components as well as decrease the cost to produce a weapon and its components. We are currently focusing on additively manufacturing survivable fuze electronics such as detonators, switches, capacitors and traces, leveraging the expertise of our colleagues at the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Sensors Directorate, Air Force Institute of Technology and Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center. Additionally, we are developing tailorable, lightweight, cellular warhead cases and structural reactive materials that offer strength and energy on demand. Finally, we are exploring ways to improve energetic materials by printing them rather than pouring them.”

I3D MFG, is able to use their experience and engineering to design, recommend,  and produce advanced metal components using additive manufacturing (DMLS) in order to fuel the next-generation of 3D metal printing techniques.

By i3d

PiperJaffray Report: Metal 3D Printing A Bright Spot In The 4th Quarter

PiperJaffray released the results of their 4th Quarter 3D Printing Survey which can be found in our Library.  Please download it and read the entire article as it’s a great deep dive into the current and future state of 3D metal printing.

What they found for the 4th quarter was an indication that system demand remained challenged from the 3rd quarter.  As it turns out, PiperJaffray believes that Q4 and 2015 turned out to be challenging for the entire industry as a whole as users digested excess capacity which had built up over the years.

They also believe poor macro and FX conditions, as well as vertical specific headwinds in the Oil and Gas industry, played a role in the disappointing year for many 3D printing companies.

Though the data looks a bit discouraging in the report, it is encouraging to hear from industry contacts that interest and demand is beginning to reaccelerate for 3D technologies and they believe pipelines are strong heading into 2016. PiperJaffrays believes this is evident by the accelerating 1-year growth expectations from both Stratasys and 3D system resellers.

All in all, as the report points out, industry experts believe it will take additional quarters to get through some of the headwinds affecting companies in 2015, but are optimistic we will see a turning point in the second half of 2016.

Access the report here to see a full industry breakdown with insights and analysis.

By i3d

3D Metal Printing (Additive Manufacturing) Gives The Ability To Create The Nearly Impossible: With Limitations

Marc Saunders, Director – Global Solutions Centres at Renishaw, recently discussed how Additive Manufacturing (AM), a specifically 3D metal printing, can give us the ability to create components from designs that would be nearly impossible to produce conventionally.

As he points out, it’s not as simple though as having “unfettered freedom” to do whatever we want.  There are capabilities and limitations.

Mr. Saunders does a great job pointing out some key design considerations for laser melted metal parts. Here’s a few he points out:

  • Feature Size
  • Surface Finish
  • Overhangs
  • Lateral holes
  • Minimizing supports
  • Residual stress and distortion

Give the article a read in order to get the details on these key considerations.  As Marc point out,

“AM gives us huge freedom to design parts differently, but we do need to be aware of some of the characteristics and limitations of the process, so that we create parts that can be built successfully.

The DfAM rules described above are not too onerous in practice, and actually encourage us to consider ways to make parts that are lighter, faster to build, and more cost-effective.

Modern design and build preparation software helps enormously to find an optimum design, orientation and support strategy so that we can produce consistent parts economically. “


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Reimagining Rocket Engine Design With 3D Printing
2017 State of Additive Manufacturing – Wohlers Report
Boeing 3D Printing
The Use Of 3D Printing At Boeing
future of additive manufacturing
The Future Of Additive Manufacturing
additive printing
News: GE Opens $40 million Center For Additive Technology Advancement
3 Big Reasons Why Metal 3D Printing Is Growing
U.S. Air Force General Proclaims Additive Manufacturing As A Massive Game Changer