3D Printing Makes Thinkers Into Doers

By Kendall Joudrie, Thinking Robot Studios.

In November 2013, Natasha Hope-Simpson lost her left leg in a hit-and-run accident. As you might expect, she had to put her whole life on hold. At the same time, Natasha proved stronger than she had ever imagined. Natasha moved forward with her life through design. After reflection on the prosthetic leg she had been given, she knew it had to be different. As a graduate at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD), she sought to
make a leg that was more personal, one that fit her personality and her anatomy.

She wanted a leg that was human.

It all began in February 2014, when Natasha spoke to a class at which NSCAD Director Gregor Ash happened to be visiting. Natasha discussed her prosthetic design efforts and the challenges of creating this functional, aesthetic personal medical device.

Inspired by Natasha’s drive and ambition, Ash came to us at Thinking Robot Studios with a challenge: to team with Natasha to create a prosthetic design in time for NSCAD’s Maker Symposium within 15 days. We make a living at creating custom orthopedic implants and systems, but I remember thinking that this was going to be a challenge. How on earth were we going to pull this off?

completed prostheticscan-cad-prosthetic-web design ready for prototypingWe knew that 3D printing and scanning was the only way to do this quickly and accurately, so we immediately called Mike Fanning, CEO of NovaCad, a 3D Systems reseller. For scanning, we called Ian Weir at Canada’s Department of National Defense and Bob Garrish of Spring Loaded technology. Natasha’s team of one had, within less than a day, become a team of six. But there was still a lot to do.

In order to get the shape and size of Natasha’s prosthetic leg correct, Ian and Bob took two different scans of Natasha’s existing leg using laser and white light scanning. They processed the scans using Geomagic® Studio scanning software and converted the data into usable 3D so my business partner, Jourdan Dakov, and I could perform the engineering steps. Using the mesh scan data, we created the prosthetic‘s mechanical and structural
components in CAD.

In the meantime, Natasha was trying to work out the aesthetic side of the prosthetic leg. She wanted something as attractive as it was functional, and she had many ideas but little time to develop them. The breakthrough came when she discovered the 3D printed masks of Melissa Ng on the Internet.

“Melissa’s designs were amazing,” said Natasha. “They were perfect. I instantly fell in love.”

So I quickly contacted Melissa in New York City, and just like the rest of us, she was eager to help. “I was deeply moved by her story and was happy to donate my design to the project. I will continue collaborating with Thinking Robot over the next year as they develop a final prosthetic for Natasha,” said Melissa.

the design and engineering team with Natasha at the Maker symposium

proethstic-design-webMelissa extracted her design data into a usable format and immediately sent it over. At this point we had three days to apply the design to the mechanical parts before 3D printing was to begin. To say the least, this process was intense. We were adjusting mechanical CAD data and applying the design elements from Melissa. We knew from Mike Fanning and the 3D Systems team in Boston that we only had a few days to get them a printable file.
Yet seven days after starting the project, and after some long days and nights by our team members, we had a prototype design ready to be 3D printed. We rushed the CAD files to NovaCad .

“I immediately sent the files to the 3D Systems team in Andover, Mass., and specified the materials to be used,” said Mike. “The team there pulled out all the stops to print the components and get it shipped back to us.” The 3D Systems team printed on the ProJet 7000, a robust SLA printer that delivers highly accurate 3D parts with excellent surface smoothness.”

team-prosthetic-nova-scotia-web

3D Printed Resort Pool Model Delivers Realistic Results from WhiteClouds

Delivering realistic models of architectural designs has always been a challenge. While 3D renderings and ‘fly-throughs’ can help a client understand the design’s beauty and functionality, there’s nothing like a physical model to assist.
“In the past, modelmakers would spend weeks, maybe months, creating, carving, painting, to bring a realistic model,” said Kerry Parker, VP of Business Development. WhiteClouds. “Today we use 3D printing from the ProJet® 660 to create vivid full color models in a few hours.”

Indeed, at WhiteClouds, a 3D printing service bureau based on Ogden, Utah, this latest resort pool printing project exemplifies everything that full-color 3D printing delivers – fast and vibrant results that allow the client to know exactly what is being proposed.
“With the Color Jet Printing (CJP) technology, the layer resolution is at 89 microns which delivers very fine detail but in full CMYK color,” said Kyle Gifford, designer, WhiteClouds. “In this model you can see all the way into the plants, chairs and tables that surround the pool, plus the detail of the tile pattern in the pool.”

This 14 inch-wide print took very slightly over five hours to print on the ProJet 660.
Find out more at: https://www.whiteclouds.com/


New Heights with 3D Systems’ SLA 3D Printing Technology

In 2013 Apple sold more than 170 million iPads® worldwide. With a reported 500 million iPhones® in use along with millions of Samsung® Galaxy phones and a variety of other mobile devices, it goes without saying this market is hot. Likewise, the ensuing demand for peripheral devices, such as headsets, is exploding.

Fujikon, an award-winning headphone manufacturer for over 30 years, is itself on the wild ride of the headset and speaker market for mobile devices. In a market that’s getting more competitive by the day, innovation is a must. The Hong Kong-based Fujikon is no exception, as they are constantly exploring better noise-cancelling functionality, wireless connectivity and sound quality as well as innovating more attractive products and enabling faster time-to-market. In order to survive, these components are all core demands for any major market player.

In 2011 Fujikon had to take the next step forward; they realized that their 200-strong R&D team needed to adopt new practices and technologies in order to enable faster product development. 3D printing was at the top of the list. So in June of the same year, company executives asked a team to review, test and evaluate all the major 3D printing technologies.

parts-fujikon-webSLA printed parts for Fujikon on ProJet 7000Over 18 months, the team benchmarked multiple systems inside and out based on what they required: a sizeable build platform, precision, very smooth surface finish, and material properties (assuring that parts could be assembled, drilled and screwed without breaking).

Only one 3D printer matched all their specifications: the ProJet® 7000. With the help of reseller Shanghai Metang Novatech, Fujikon brought in the ProJet 7000, and as of May 2013 they had fully installed it, trained the staff and were off and running.

The ProJet 7000 is 3D Systems’ workhorse Stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer. It gives users the hallmark precision of SLA with a versatile build size of 380 x 380 x 250 mm. Its two laser sizes enable users to rapidly create parts while ensuring feature accuracy, smooth surface finish, and a choice of layer thickness. The material Fujikon tested, VisiJet® SL Flex, offered toughness for assembly testing, screwing and fit testing, while still having a perfect surface finish.

“As soon as we started, we could see and experience the stability of the ProJet 7000,” said Mr. Chunxiang Wu. “This was perfect die-less manufacturing: we produced accurate samples with arbitrary and complex geometry that we would not have considered before.”

The R&D teams were delighted with the fact that the ProJet 7000 was fast enough to print overnight, and it enabled them to test the product designs the next day.

“The ProJet 7000 instantly started to help our customers, our engineers,” said Mr. Wu. “We could think up a new idea, and within a day could evaluate the design, perform validation and verification of the parts and assemblies, conduct acoustic testing, review packaging design and reduce the risks associated with producing tooling for the new products. Before, the same process would have taken a longer time.”

With the ProJet 7000 entrenched as part of its everyday operation, Fujikon is seeing benefits across the board. Preliminary estimates indicate a first year savings of 5% in total production development time and at least 11% materials savings compared to the team’s old 3D printer. Most notably, 3D parts production is now an amazing 62% faster compared to Fujikon’s older methodologies.

“With the competitive market environment, and increasing manpower costs, we have to find ways to be better at what we do,” said Mr. Wu. “The ProJet 7000 is allowing us to meet demand and compete in the market. We complete product development effectively and efficiently, and we are excited to see how 3D printing from 3D Systems will improve our competitive edge as we go forward.”