Entrepreneurial startups are pushing 3D printing’s boundaries. Check out these examples of the next generation of 3D print technology innovation in technology that benefits consumers and enterprises.
The seven 3D print technologies continue to spin off variants and hybrids that improve finished-piece quality, increase the range of materials that can be 3D-printed, and increase productivity. Evaluate our Cool Vendors and other startups to stay ahead of the rapidly evolving 3D print technology curve and make better strategic decisions about technology uses and market opportunities
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (aspectbiosystems.com)
Why Cool: Aspect has developed a 3D bioprinting platform technology based on its proprietary Lab-on-a-printer platform technology, capable of creating heterogeneous, structurally accurate and functional 3D bioprinted tissue for research. The technology includes a multifunctional microfluidic printhead capable of manipulating and sequencing multiple biomaterials, living cells, extracellular matrix content, growth factors, bioactive compounds and other bioinks “on the fly” during the printing process.
Aspect is working on a portfolio of validated tissues that have key applications in drug development, medical R&D and other applications. One such tissue, the 3DBioRing airway, demonstrates a 3D-printed contractile airway smooth muscle model (see Figure 1). Using this, Aspect has enabled the modeling of an asthma attack outside of the body in standard multiwell plates.
Source: Aspect Biosystems
Lod, Israel (www.massivit3d.com)
Why Cool: Massivit 3D delivers a unique material-dispensing technology and machines for building very large objects and shapes, often with complex or intricate designs, driven from smart algorithmic software. With a proprietary Gel Dispensing Printing (GDP) technology that is covered by 12 issued or pending patents, the company has set out to develop large and fast 3D printing solutions for a variety of applications, starting with the visual communication and theming applications.
GDP technology is unique, with the materials utilized being ultraviolet (UV)-sensitive gel with immediate solidification and polymerization upon exposure to UV light. The result is good structural strength and flexibility to create a wide variety of large-scale objects, without the support structures required by other material extrusion printers, and printed items up to 4 feet x 5 feet x 6 feet. Massivit’s printer runs at up to 39 inches per minute in the X and Y axis and at up to 13 inches per hour in the Z (vertical) axis.
Ness Ziona, Israel (www.nano-di.com)
Why Cool: Nano Dimension’s 3D printer overhauls the ways electronic product development teams work. Nano Dimension’s proprietary technologies enable the use of conductive ink for ultrarapid prototyping of complex, high-performance multilayer printed circuit boards right on printed solid parts using standard formats for PCB fabrication. It reduces the time, cost and complexity of producing electronics-enabled devices substantially. Also, the technology potentially enables scalable production of custom products. This puts Nano Dimension’s PCB printer at the convergence of electrical, mechanical and software design and manufacturing.
Source: Nano Dimension
At this stage, Nano Dimension positions the printer for use as a rapid prototyping tool. As materials evolve and receive end-use standards approval, a DragonFly printer will then be able to fabricate customer-specific circuitry. Conceivably, the prints can have unique signatures that make counterfeiting of the item with a custom 3D-printed PCB difficult if not impossible.
Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany (www.nanoscribe.de/en)
Why Cool: Nanoscribe’s 3D printing technology produces parts with features at a micro level that are currently impossible to create with conventional manufacturing techniques. Nanoscribe’s Photonic Professional GT lithography system typically solidifies photoresist materials by two-photon polymerization that is initiated by laser light. The system can use liquid photoresist materials that crosslink and directly solidify under exposure, as well as solid, spin-coated resists that either directly crosslink or undergo a chemical change that leads to crosslinking after post-exposure thermal treatment.
The company’s printer is able to drive innovative designs across dimensions ranging from a few microns up to the millimeter scale. Its integrated approach includes sophisticated user-friendly software, as well as intuitive and straightforward process solutions tailored to specific applications in the fields of 3D printing and maskless lithography.
Micro- to Mesoscale Lattice Cubes
New York, New York (source3.io)
Why Cool: 3D-printable user generated content (UGC) is inevitable as “open” 3D designs become widely available. This content could be wholly new and unique, or it could be an existing, modified item. Importantly, 3D printers do not have to produce a finished good to enable IP theft. The ability to make a wax mold from a scanned object or image, for instance, can enable a thief to produce large quantities of items that replicate the original, which gives content producers pause.
YouTube’s platform ultimately became accepted because it is not as much a threat as an opportunity to monetize both business and consumer content. How can companies (or designers) enable 3D printing of their property and products in a way that protects their brand and revenue streams?
Source3 has developed a platform that provides the same features that enable 3D-printable UGC as YouTube has for audio and video UGC: licenses with well-defined rights; attribution through tags, metadata, image recognition and shape recognition; monetization through sale of reproduced goods; and on-demand production royalty systems with analytics.
This research does not constitute an exhaustive list of vendors in any given technology area, but rather is designed to highlight interesting, new and innovative vendors, products and services.
Pete Basiliere, Marc Halpern, Mike Shanler and Andrew Stevens contributed to this research. Check out the complete Cool Vendors in 3D Printing, 2016 report which includes the challenges each Cool Vendor faces and the analysts’ recommendations on how to leverage this research.
Our Cool Vendors were nominated by the respective analysts, reviewed by Gartner’s 3D printing research community and approved by the Cool Vendors Special Report authors. Primary research about each provider was gleaned from publicly available information and conversations with the Cool Vendors.
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