September 2019 saw the start of the year-end 3D printing tradeshow season kicking off with EMO Hannover followed by the TCT Show in the UK. Of course, most companies saved their biggest announcements for Formnext in November. This month also saw some interesting developments in 3D printing for dental and medical, and legal and regulatory news including LEGO’s takedown notices to the 3D printing community.

Tens of millions of dollars invested

On September 19, leading 3D printer OEM Stratasys announced that it had increased its stake in Xaar 3D, a business set up in partnership with printhead supplier Xaar in July. Increasing its shareholding from 15% to 45%, Stratasys was given the option to acquire the remaining 55% of the subsidiary for a value of at least $33 million exercisable over three years. Together, Stratasys and Xaar are developing High-Speed Sintering (HSS) technology for commercialization.

Neil Hopkinson, Director of 3D Printing at Xaar, holds a couple manifold part 3D printed using HSS. Photo by Beau Jackson
Neil Hopkinson, Director of 3D Printing at Xaar, holds a couple manifold part 3D printed using HSS. Photo by Beau Jackson

On September 26, another high-value deal was struck between Chinese electrical equipment and mobile game developer Shenzhen Hifuture Information Technology Co. Ltd. and XJet. Shenzhen Hifuture revealed its intentions to invest up to $45 million in the ceramic and metal 3D printing provider, with the first $25 million allocated to the company by the end of the year. Following up on this news later in the year, XJet confirmed that the deal was going ahead as planned.

Over in the U.S., Wisconsin-based on-demand manufacturing service, Midwest Composite Technologies (MCT) forged ahead with its intentions of forming the world’s largest independent additive manufacturing service business. The company acquired fellow additive manufacturing service provider FATHOM for an undisclosed sum.

A beat closer to 3D printed organs

The medical and dental sector continues to create value for 3D printing technologies. In September 2019 New York’s Voodoo Manufacturing launched its Clear Aligner Service. With this product, the company contributes to a growing field of application for 3D printing in dentistry, typified by the likes of SmileDirectClub.

In tissue engineering, researchers from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute invented a new method of 3D bioprinting termed SWIFT (sacrificial writing into functional tissue). As a demonstration of the method, the team created cardiac tissue which could beat synchronously over a 7-day period.

The 1.5-centimetre mini-heart kept beating on its own for more than a week. Clip via Wyss Institute at Harvard University
The 1.5-centimetre mini-heart kept beating on its own for more than a week. Clip via Wyss Institute at Harvard University

In more general medical 3D printing, we also spoke to Dr. Beth Ripley, radiologist, VHA Senior Innovations Fellow and VHA 3D Printing Advisory Committee chair from VA Puget Sound about the hospital’s commitment to advancing 3D printing.

CECIMO places additive manufacturing centerstage of European trade discussions

Ahead of discussions at the European Commission, machine tool association CECIMO released a statement in late September 2019 reinforcing its commitment to protecting the interests of additive manufacturing stakeholders. As manufacturing regulation was under review in light of a U.S.-EU trade deal, the association said it would “address policymakers to avoid burdening the sector with unnecessary regulation.” Continuing a positive dialogue with the European Parliament, CECIMO organized at the Additive Manufacturing European Conference on December 4. Further updates have yet to be reported.

At the very end of the month, the 3D printing community was also hit by takedown notices from Lego Group relating to models infringing on the company’s IP.

Supreme court judges in LEGO. Photo by Maia Weinstock
Supreme court judges in LEGO. Photo by Maia Weinstock

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Featured image shows a gear 3D printed on the Carmel 1400. Image via XJet/Twitter.





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