New is the new normal – flexible color is here
New advancements in 3D Printing seem to be happening on a daily basis. New companies are formed while others collapse. Printers and materials are evolving faster than ever. The very latest advancement in 3D Printing, or Additive Manufacturing, is the development of flexible color. Stratasys released this technology last week to kick off the RAPID show in Detroit. There is only one 3D printer in the world that can create parts in full flexible color, and we have it.
3D Printing Innovations
We spent a day walking the show floor at the COBO Center in Detroit. Representation from almost every major Additive Manufacturing machine manufacturer was present. We saw the big boys in plastic 3D Printing, Stratasys and 3D Systems. We chatted with players in the Metal Additive Manufacturing world, like EOS, Concept Laser, SLM, and Renishaw. We even saw a friend from DMG Mori there to tell us some inside details about their foray into additive manufacturing. We were also very impressed with two start-up companies who were selling revolutionary desktop 3D printers. Polar3D showed us a really interesting FDM design that extrudes PLA material onto a circular rotating base to save space and movement. We saw a great product that puts the detail and technology of SLA into a package compact enough to fit on your desk, by Formlabs. Literally every manufacturer had an update to or totally new technology since we’d last checked in, but none made a splash like Stratasys.
There is no other machine in Additive Manufacturing that can do what Stratasys’s Connex3 can do. The Connex3 is Stratasys’s flagship machine. It can print in three unique materials, allowing us to combine materials with very different characteristics. We can optimize parts for color, flexibility, durability, clarity, and more. And now, we can print in an extremely wide range of colors in an even wider array of shore A flexibility values. Flexible color has applications in the medical world especially, but will be beneficial to product designers in all industries. This was the biggest announcement at the show, and the Stratasys booth was humming with activity. Billy had just enough time to borrow a couple flexible color palettes for a photo. Travis got to speak with the Connex3 development team, who had just flown in from Israel the day before. We saw full color flexible parts on display, and even got to see Scott Crump, Stratasys’s founder and Chief Innovation Officer.
We came, we saw, we learned
Another highlight of the show was getting a chance to listen to some really interesting speakers. Penny Pritzker is the United States Secretary of Commerce, and spoke about the current state of manufacturing. Jim Carroll is a futurist and public speaker who studies trends and technology. Both had our full attention.
Penny Pritzker made it plain to us in the audience that the American government is on the side of manufacturing, and is providing money and resources to advance industry in the US. Many of us were nodding our heads as we heard Secretary Pritzker emphasizing the need to educate our future workforce and change the perception of manufacturing in our young people. October 3rd is National Manufacturing Day, and we at Staub hope to do our part by showing the new look of Advanced Manufacturing to our young people at an event on that day.
Jim Carroll spoke about the rate at which our world is changing. He told us about the way that technology has been changing our lives in ways that we don’t even realize. Carroll’s research predicts that 60% of kindergartners will grow up to work in jobs that don’t even exist today. He asserted that Fast is the new Big. Carroll said that fast will beat big every time, and that is inspiring for entrepreneurs and consumers. With continual incentive to move faster, technology will progress in ways that we cannot imagine at this point in time.
Moving forward this 3D world
The big takeaway from this trip is that change is constant in this industry. Growth, change, and progress are defining 3D Printing right now. An industry that was once dominated by one technology and one material is seeing a major influx of innovation. We at Staub Additive will continue to ride the wave of change and work to stay on top of trends and changes in Additive Manufacturing. Wish us luck!