3D Printing vs CNC Explained and Compared

3D printing vs CNC milling: All3DP compares these competing manufacturing technologies and explains which one to use for which purpose.

Note:We are talking about CNC mills and 3D printers in a price range between a few hundred to 3,500 dollars.

CNC millingmachines take a block of solid material (e.g. aluminum or wood) and use sharp rotating tools or cutters to remove all parts that are not needed. So: Milling is a subtractive method in contrast to additive manufacturing as in 3D printing.

CNC mills are computer-controlled. The computer feeds them machine-specific code that controls the cutting tools (just like the G-code used by 3D printers). The models for CNC mills are created using 3D modeling software, so-called CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) software applications. The CNC mills funded through Kickstarter in the last months also accept STL and OBJ files (just like 3D printers), some come with 1-year subscriptions for the CAM software Autocad Fusion 360.

Two examples of CNC mills successfully funded through Kickstarter:

3D printing:There are several types of 3D printers using different technologies and materials. All have in common that they start from scratch and build three-dimensional objects layer by layer (additive manufacturing).

CNC millscan work on a huge variety of materials: metal alloys (e.g. aluminum, steel alloys, brass, copper), softwoods and hardwoods, thermoplastics, acrylic, modeling foams, machining wax (for creating a positive model for casting). You may need different cutting tools for different materials, but the tool-to-machine interfaces are usually standardized so the tools can easily be exchanged.

This way, you can utilize a CNC mill to manufacture prototypes in the same material that will be used for the final product so you can immediately start testing.

Desktop 3D printersare usually restricted to a few materials, typically thermoplastics (PLA, ABS, sometimes nylon) or resins. Thermoplastics can be mixed with other materials such as ceramics, wood, metal, but the workpieces produced on a 3D printer will not be as robust as workpieces cut from a block of metal or wood.

As thermoplastics and resin 3D printers use completely different methods, a resin printer cannot handle thermoplastics and vice versa.

CNC millssuch as the Pocket NC and the Nomad 883 that were funded through Kickstarter, offer positioning accuracies of around 0.001 inch (0.025 mm) and tolerances of 0.005 inch (0.0127 mm). Of course, there are 3D printers such as the Zortrax M200 supporting resolutions of 0.025 mm and the CEL Robox with 0.02 mm. But the material worked on in a CNC mill (e.g. aluminum) allows much higher precision than the FDM used in many 3D printers that tends to deform when exposed to too much heat.

In practice, dull or damaged cutting tools, worn mills or faulty data delivered by the CAM software may result in inaccurate workpieces.

Some3D printers(e.g. CEL Robox, Zortrax M200) promise very high precision but fail to deliver it from time to time. Just take a look at our Common 3D Printing Problems article, and you will find that high precision and FDM 3D printing not always go together. However, not always the technology is to blame: There is a lot a 3D printer user can misdo.

Comparing speed is difficult as CNC mills and 3D printers are typically used for different workpieces and materials. However,3D printingjobs often take hours to complete, whereasCNC millingjobs with comparable size and complexity normally do not take more than an hour.

CNC mills are typically faster when chipping away material from a solid block than 3D printers that build objects layer by layer and occasionally have to slow down to avoid printing problems.

Noise:Depending on the material used,CNC millingcan get extremely noisy. Cutting metal or wood using a large-diameter tool (to quickly remove large parts) can be ear-deafening. The rattling noise from a desktop3D printerwithout casing is like a gentle waft in comparison. When cutting wax models, the noise from a CNC mill is hardly perceptible, however.

Vibrations:When working on a metal or wood block, aCNCmillalso vibrates heavily you wouldnt want to have it on the desktop near you (even if you wore ear defenders to block of the noise). Vibration normally is no issue when 3D printing.

CNC millingmeans cutting away material using a rotating tool. The result: There is a lot of material spurting away, and that may be quite sharp (e.g., splinters of wood or metal). Not all CNC mills are fully enclosed when working on a block of material so things can get quite messy. And with enclosed mills, you have to clean up the mess inside, once the workpiece is finished.

3D printingis not messy by design. When something goes wrong, however, you may need to remove thermoplastics from your printbed. But that is nothing compared to cleaning up after CNC milling.

Some postprocessing may be required both after 3D printing and CNC milling: Grinding and sanding. But we wouldnt call that messy.

By design, there is less waste in3D printingas this technology only requires the material needed for building the workpiece. InCNC millingyou need a block of material that has at minimum the size of the workpiece a lot of material has to be removed and often cannot be recycled.

There is a lot of overlap was far as the range of applications is concerned. Hence, we focus on the applications either technology supports while the other does not.

CNC millingis the better solution when manufacturing workpieces that need to be extremely robust and precise and/or heat-resistant.

3D printinghas more exotic fields of application: It can be used for bioprinting, for printing food, for building purposes, and it can be used in space (e.g. on the ISS or in future space missions).

Thats difficult to compare. But getting started is less costly with 3D printing: You can get decent 3D printers for about $500 (e.g. the Prusa Steel or the Kossel ), while the CNC mills featured on Kickstarter recently start at $2,000.

Hm, thats like asking: lead pencil or ballpoint pen? For some jobs you need a lead pencil while for others the ballpoint pen is the better tool. A 3D printer is the tool of choice for some applications, a CNC mill is the tool of choice for other applications. In an ideal world, an ambitious maker would purchase both a 3D printer and a CNC mill to be able to choose the right tool for the workpiece he intends to produce.

And if the space in your workshop is limited: You can get the best of both worlds.

In May, 630 backers on Kickstarter contributed almost $1.2 million to fund the development und production of a fascinating machine namedBoXZY. BoXZY is a multifunctional machine combining 3D printer, CNC mill and laser cutter/engraver. This multitalent will be available in November.

BoXZY is a robust maker space in a compact aluminum cube that easily fits on a table. It can be turned from CNC mill to 3D printer to laser by simply exchanging tools. Additional tools and attachments can be added. The CNC mill operates at between 10,000 and 30,000rpm. It cuts aluminum, steel alloys, hardwoods, acrylic, thermoplastics (e.g. Delrin), modeling foams (such as Renshape), and machinable wax. The 3D printer uses various kinds of filaments: PLA, ABS, PVA and Nylon.

The BoXZY Loaded will cost $2,900, it combines CNC mill, 3D printer and laser engraver; there is also a BoXZY Pick 2 edition for $1,999 that combines two of the tools (depending on the buyers choice). $3,500 will buy you a BoXZY Supreme, including all 3 tools plus enclosure panels (for trapping heat and debris and blocking laser beams) plus heavy-duty mill and engraving sets and more. All BoXZY boxes come with Autodesk Fusion 360 Ultimate.

We expect more multi-purpose devices in the next future. There had been a Kickstarter project comparable to BoXZY a few weeks ago but it had been withdrawn recently.

Lead image byMichael Schwarzenberger through Pixabay

License: The text of3D Printing vs CNC: Explained and ComparedbyAll3DPis licensed under aCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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How 3D Printing Will Impact The Manufacturing Industry

The implications of emerging technologies such as 3D printing on the industrial manufacturing market are often hotly debated. Some experts in the industry feel that it will be hugely disruptive, while others believe the technology is decades away from viability.

Forecasts project significant growth in the industry over the next five years. As stated by the website On 3D Printing, The 3D printing industry is expected to change nearly every industry it touches, completely disrupting the traditional manufacturing process. As a result, the projected value of the industry is expected to explode in the near future. In fact, On 3D Printing projects that the market for 3D printing technology itself is expected to grow to $5.2 billion by 2020.

As the market grows and the cost of printers falls, it is likely to give rise to new competitors in traditional markets, and spur innovative new products, as prototypes for new products will become significantly less expensive and less risky to fabricate.

Yet product development and the competitive environment are just two of the potential implications. This emerging technology is also likely to have a significant impact on how manufacturers do business, specifically as it relates to shifts in material cost, incremental cost calculations, and traditional assembly line and product pricing strategies.

3D-printing technology has the potential to make the manufacturing process options infinite and extremely precise. For example, today, using whats known as subtractive process, if you want a part made out of aluminum, a block is placed into a CAD system and the excess material is cut away to make the part. Using this process, approximately 60 to 70 percent of the aluminum block ends up as scrap depending on the complexity and shape needed. The scrap is later melted down and reused for future manufacturing needs.

By contrast, 3D-printing technology is additive, and manufacturers are able to use the minimum material needed to fabricate a part. In the example above, using a 3D printer could essentially eliminate the process of melting down excess scrap material and wasted resources, ultimately driving down total material costs for the manufacturer. For the manufacturing industry in general, this could significantly reduce capital tied up in raw materials and costs to reclaim scrap.

Improvement to incremental cost calculations

While the initial cost of a 3D printer could be upwards of a million dollars, the technology has the potential to substantially reduce incremental unit costs for a manufacturer. There is a considerable chance that a part made on a 3D printer could cost far less than one completed through traditional manufacturing processes.

Eventually, the industry may reach a tipping point where the fully allocated costs associated with 3D printing will fall well below the traditional manufacturing process even with the upfront investment in the printers themselves. If thats the case, then it is likely we will see a complete shift in the way industrial manufacturing is done.

Assembly line and pricing strategy transformation

During the manufacturing process, sales teams must work very closely with the production teams to make sure all delivery dates are met and the customer is kept happy from point of sale through production and delivery. In a traditional assembly line process for engineered-to-order products for instance, the tools and material must be changed out for each individual job and reprogrammed for each customer and product. With 3D printing, the production team is given greater flexibility since assembly is a single operation and set up time is reduced to nearly zero. Due to flexibility in this new assembly line process, sales reps would be able to push orders through faster and in a greater capacity, since they are fulfilled almost immediately without waiting for optimal production windows which can accommodate the particular tooling or material used for each order. Additionally, the manufacturing process can be done at a lower cost and every order can be treated like a rush order with shorter production time.

On the other hand, shorter production time and lower overhead costs to the manufacturer doesnt mean that companies will no longer be able to collect value out of a strategic pricing process. Companies may still be able to charge the same price and even enjoy an increased margin rate due to the specificity and uniqueness of products available via 3D-printing processes. Because the manufacturers costs are less, they can decide how much of that cost savings to pass along as a price reduction to customers in order to secure business and keep it out of the hands of competition, or how much to keep in their pockets as increased profits.

For now, the impact of 3D printing on industrial manufacturing is merely theory, but manufacturers who choose to ignore the benefits and transformation associated with this technology risk falling prey to those that embrace it. 3D printing continues to evolve at a rapid pace and each day were seeing something new created from it. What started as fabrication of plastic screws and small parts made of glass has turned into full manufacturing of complete end-products working automobiles and even buildings have been 3D printed in a single manufacturing action. This proves that the possibilities of 3D-printing technology are endless for manufacturers.

Barrett Thompson is the general manager of pricing excellence solutions atZilliant.

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3D Printing for Mass Production

3D printing speeds are likely to ramp up over the next decade or so, bringing material costs down as they do.getmedia/37913475-cd40-400b-8f40-9fae8f5d40e9/3D-Printing-for-Mass-Production_thumb.jpg.aspx?width=60&height=60&ext=.jpg

A high-speed sintering 3D printer at work. Image: University of Sheffield

Despite the fact that it can be used to make pretty much anything, 3D printing has already been pigeon-holed. In the public imagination, the technology belongs in a science museum, or sitting on some DIY hobbyists desk. When put to work in industry, its limited to whipping out a few prototype variations, one-off pieces, or parts that require only a very short print run. The cars, guns, and oddball chess sets made by 3D printers are mere curios, made by the handful. When it comes to the world of mass production, manufacturers continue to turn to other technologies.

Thats the story so far. But it wont be the story for long. People are beginning to see the potential for high volume, says Neil Hopkinson, a professor of mechanical engineering at theUniversity of Sheffield, in the U.K. The biggest resistor is the cost of a part.

A recentpaperin the U.K. pointed to just what needs to change to exploit that potential, and for the cost of the part to come down: if additive techniques could pick up the pace, to the tune of somewhere between four and ten times as fast as the current rate of3D printingproduction, the technology would become competitive with anything else found on a factory floor.

Laser sintering is a bottleneck to the whole process, says Hopkinson of the method that stacks one layer on top another, fusing them with a laser. If you want to make big parts or lots of really small parts, its prohibitively slow and expensive. Hopkins has shown an alternative with a much wider neck. His method usesinkjet technologyto print an infrared absorbing ink onto the bed, and use that to center the material. Behind the print head is a lamp, which heats the infrared ink and melts the particles beneath it.

As costs come down, manufacturers who used to rely on machining will turn to 3D printing.

Depending on the size of the printing bed and the size and complexity of the object, Hopkinsons method has the potential to be ten to 100 times faster than current laser centering technology.

As the speed increases and the cost comes down, manufacturers who used to rely on machining and injection molding will turn to 3D printing, and those with a lower production volume are likely to make the switch first. Where companies currently use machining for a few thousand parts, the material is restricted to metal. By turning to 3D printing, plastics become an option.

With increased production, the cost of those plastics will come way down as well, making the whole technology easier on the budget. Its only because 3D printing remains a niche means of production that the cost of materials is so high. The same materials cost much less when slated for injection molding, but only because of the size of the market. As 3D technology speeds up and spreads out, materials companies are likely to drop the costs as they rise to meet the demand. A lot of material suppliers have historically not been interested in the field of rapid prototyping, says Hopkinson, They can see that high-volume additive manufacturing is on the way, and they are preparing to get those materials ready for market.

Many injection-molding companies recognize that 3D printing may soon take a bite out of their business and are investing in their own 3D printing machines. But they neednt worry that injection molding will go the way of linotype. 3D printing has a much narrower range of materials available to it.

Already 3D printing is on the rise for consumer products. Today, iPhone cases have been printed by the thousands and companies like Nike have turned to 3D printing for complex, limited run shapesboth using current with laser centering techniques. Once inkjet or other methods replace laser centering the world will be filled with printed products. Just as the last here years have seen a boom 3D printing in the home, the next five years will be characterized by a much bigger growth of industrialadditive manufacturing, says Hopkinson.

Over ten years ago I predicted wed start using laser centering to make products in the low thousands. I think most people thought that was rubbish and would never happen, says Hopkinson. But its happening. The manufacturing world is now more accepting of the next leap. I would say the majority of people believe its going to happen, he claims.

Michael Abrams is an independent writer.

Learn more about best practices and trends in additive manufacturing and 3D printing atAM3D India 2015.

Laser sintering is a bottleneck to the whole process. If you want to make big parts or lots of really small parts, its prohibitively slow and expensive.

Prof. Neil Hopkinson, University of Sheffield

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The Future is Here 3D Printed Prosthetics

The future is here! If you are one of the millions of physically unique individuals around the world that require the use of a prosthetic limb, prepare to be amazed. In fact, you will be amazed even if you do not wear a prosthetic limb.

When prosthetic limbs were first created, they had seemed like something straight out of science fiction, but they have been a boon to countless unique individuals. Well, technology never stands still and designers, inventors and creative artists have not rested on their laurels either. No, sir, they keep pushing the frontiers of technology.

The result is, physically unique members of society can easily obtain much less expensive and quicker prosthetics by way of 3D printing. You read that right:3D printed prosthetics! I bet that made you sit up straight and take notice. It certainly boggles the mind. But how exactly does 3D printing and prosthetics work?

Okay, you know what three dimensional means; you know what printing is, but what exactly is 3D printing, you ask?That is a very good question.

3D printing is the process of creating solid, three-dimensional objects from digital files. The process is additive, which means that layers upon layers of material are laid down in succession until the desired object is created. That is to say, the final object is built layer by layer, and each layer forms a thin, horizontal cross-section. You can check out this clip to see an example:

With 3D printing, a thin plastic filament is melted. The melted filament is then squeezed through a nozzle. A computer-generated rendering is created, one layer at a time. The bottom layer is created first, and then successive layers are added in turn.

Now you are thinking: So far, so good,but how does it work?Well, it is fairly simple actually. Let us say that you were going to create a 3D object: You would first of all create a virtual design of that particular object. To do this, you would build the virtual design via a 3D modeling program in a Computer Aided Design, or CAD file. The final model is then sliced by the software into many hundreds of horizontal layers. The file is then uploaded into the 3D printer, and the printer proceeds to create your object layer after layer after layer until voila a completed three dimensional object emerges! The layers are so seamlessly fused, they are undetectable by the human eye.

All right, you are now 3D printing savvy, but now you are wondering: Why 3D printed prosthetics?

There are many reasons why 3D printed prosthetics make sense, and why this particular technology promises to be the way forward for physically unique people. The prosthetic-making process is a difficult one. In addition, it is an expensive process. The main benefits of 3D printed prosthetics include:

A commercially-made prosthetic typically costs between $5,000 and $50,000. This means that untold numbers of unique people around the world are unable to afford the prosthetics that would greatly improve their quality of life. Contrast those costs with the cost of 3D printed prosthetics that costs only a few hundred dollars,and perhaps less than deed, an e-NABLE team of volunteers crafted a prosthetic hand that only cost around $50. Yes, just $50! You read that right. I had to pick my jaw up from off the floor when I saw the final cost. It just seems so incredible.The volunteers used 3D printed sections of the hand along with readily available connectors and screws. They are not stopping there, however. The team of caring individuals plans to develop an open source of hand design files for printing. That would be fantastic. So many lives could be changed for the better from such an initiative. Unique people around the globe can raise three cheers for technological wizardry and three cheers for the selfless e-NABLE team of volunteers. Truly, they serve humanity.

A 3D printed prosthetic limb can usually be made in a day. In comparison, it generally takes weeks or even months to produce and calibrate regular prosthetic limbs.

Prosthetics made from 3D printing can be easily customized, and created to suit the owner. Artistic, rugged, and specialty designs have been made to suit specific activity use, including outdoor activities such as biking. This level of customability would cost a fortune with current prosthetics.

Given the fact that children grow like weeds with no disrespect to the weed or to the child a physically unique child will very quickly outgrow a prosthetic limb. Replacing the limb to keep pace with the childs rate of growth until he or she reaches maturity can be a pretty expensive process, especially when you consider that the majority of insurance companies balk at paying for prosthetics for children because they outgrow the limbs so quickly. It really is not easy for families to pay out $10,000 or so every year, or every other year.No such problems exist with 3D printed prosthetics!The ease of production and the much lower cost of 3D prosthetics make it a much more attractive option. In addition, stretchable and expandable 3D prosthetics may soon be available for children. Such a device could grow with the child. A grant-winning student has created a childs 3D prosthetic that stretches and expands. That link is on our resources page.

It is tempting to think that 3D printed prosthetics cannot be as good as conventional prosthetics but, surprise, surprise, 3D printed prosthetics compare favorably with, and seem to trump, conventional prosthetics on a number of fronts. Examples include:

Many physically unique wearers of conventional prosthetic limbs experience prosthetic socket discomfort.Research undertaken by a doctoral student at MIT involves the design and production of a more comfortable 3D printed prosthetic socket. This would make 3D printed prosthetic sockets far superior, comfort-wise, to regular prosthetic sockets.

Furthermore, there is nothing like word of mouth from a real-life user in the recommendation of a product. In April 2014, 3D universe, a website that is focuses on 3D printing, published a rather enlightening article in which a physically unique wearer of a prosthetic limb compared his regular prosthetic hand, that cost $42,000, to a 3D printed Cyborg Beast hand that cost only $50 to produce. If you have been feeling somewhat skeptical so far, his comparison of the 3D printed prosthetic hand to the real deal should convince you of the merits of 3D printed prosthetics. You be the judge. Here is his story in a nutshell:

Born with his left hand missing, 53-year-old Jose Delgado Jr. has a lifetimes experience of many different prosthetic devices. For the past year, he has had the use of a myoelectric prosthetic device that cost $42,000. Jose was fortunate in that his insurance company picked up the cost of this hugely expensive device. Many physically unique individuals are not so lucky.

This myoelectric prosthetic device works by taking the signals produced by the muscle fibers within his forearm, and translating those same signals to move the fingers of the prosthetic hand mechanically. The prosthetic hand is actually a very good replica of a real hand.

Anyway, Jose agreed to test the 3D printed Cyborg Beast prosthetic hand that was printed out by Jeremy Simon of .Source:

When Simon met up with Jose, Simon was unsure how the 3D printed prosthetic hand, costing just $50, would compare with Joses Cyborg Beast hand that cost $42,000. After all, Joses job involved a good amount of lifting and other manual activities, so any prosthetic hand had to be up to such demanding tasks on a daily basis. Really, what chance did a 3D printed hand that was created from ABS plastic have against such an expensive prosthetic hand? Nevertheless, Simon fitted Jose with the 3D hand.

Time passed as it has a habit of doing and Simon once again met up with Jose. Imagine how astounded and delighted Simon was when Jose told him that the 3D printed prosthetic hand had out-performed the prohibitively costly $42,000 myoelectric hand that he had been using for more than twelve months. Jose went on to tell Simon that he much preferred the 3D printed hand. Who would have thought it?

Well, the upshot is: Simon is now in the process of printing a newer, stronger hand for Jose. Simon is using Bridge nylon, which is stronger than ABS plastic. As such, Jose will receive a new 3D printed prosthetic hand that is even more robust than the one he tested.

Now, perhaps you are mostly convinced, but you are wondering what happens when breakage occurs. Yes, things break but, in the case of 3D printed prosthetics, a replacement can be printed easily and quickly. If only it were that simple to fix the broken shingles on the roof, or the massive dent in the car door.

If you agree that Joses story is absolutely amazing, you can add your voice to the discussion about Joses experiences. It can be found at under Delgados experiences. Joses story validates and recommends 3D printed prosthetics in a way that not even the slickest marketing campaign or advertising strategy could.

The Cyborg Beast 3D printed prosthetic hand is the same type of prosthetic hand that was used in the Robohand project. These open source 3D printed hands have helped/enabled more than 200 people around the world. Not only are they very affordable, they are also extremely versatile and easy to use. At a cost of just a mere $50 to cover materials for each 3D printed hand, the cost of Joses myoelectric hand $42,000 could produce 840 of the 3D printed prosthetic hands.Source:

Joses story, above, is not a one-off by any means. An increasing number of physically unique individuals are reaping the benefits of 3D printed prosthetic limbs. For them, science fiction has become their science fact their reality.

Below, we meet eight people with a variety of 3D printed prosthetics, and we learn what kind of impact their prosthetic limbs have had on their lives.

Come: Take the journey with me as we share their personal stories. Let us marvel at modern technology, human ingenuity and the indomitably of the human spirit that refuses to say quit!

Amanda, standing in her ekso-suitAmandas Ekso-Suit was fully customized. Using data obtained from a full body scan, custom parts were printed to perfectly fit Amandas body. The addition of mechanical parts from EksoBionics provided the necessary automation. In this way, Amanda can safely move around on her legs, with the assistance of a pair of walking sticks.

Amanda now has a new lease on life: She is one of ten test pilots who assist in the design and testing processes of 3D printed exoskeleton devices. I am sure you will agree that Amandas life has been transformed.

The potential now exists for countless people with spinal injuries to regain their mobility, just like Amanda has.

You can learn more about the device, and the mechanisms by which it works, at this website:

Hayley Fraser Hayley, aged five, was born without fingers on her left hand. The condition, known as symbrachydactyly, left just a stump at the end of her arm.

Hayley was so self-conscious about the stump, and she often attempted to hide it whenever photographs were taken of her, and at nursery school.

Not anymore! Hayley is now the proud owner of a girly-pink, 3D printed prosthetic arm. She is the first British child to receive such a device. E-Nable, a charity based in the United States, made the arm for Hayley, after the British National Health Service turned down her parents request for a prosthetic. The team of volunteers took inspiration from the Iron Man super-hero in their creation of Hayleys arm.

A happy and confident Hayley now likes to show off her very unique limb. Her dream has come true and her self-esteem has skyrocketed. She can now do things that other children who are not physically unique take for granted: Hayley can hold her teddy bear. She can even peel a banana by herself and wonders never cease she can now paint her nails. Hayley feels very special indeed.

When Hayley, from Inverness in Scotland, was three-years-old, doctors in Edinburgh suggested transplanting a toe to her left hand, which they would turn into a finger. However, her parents searched for other options. Through an Internet search, they learned about E-Nable. Hayley was matched with a volunteer at the University of Wisconsin, Professor Frankie Flood.

A plaster cast of Hayleys arm was sent across the Atlantic Ocean to Professor Flood. He made the 3D printed prosthetic parts and created Hayleys extraordinary pink and purple arm. The whole process took just six weeks. Extraordinary!

Hayleys hand is controlled by her wrist: Her fingers close with the downward movement of her hand, and her fingers open with an upward movement of her hand. Thanks to E-Nable, Hayley is now a true Wonder Girl and probably the envy of all the other children in her school!Source:

Little Emma was born with a rare condition that negatively impacted her muscular strength and limited her mobility. The medical name for Emmas condition is arthrogryposis multiplex congenital.

As her mother Megan Lavelle tells us in a heartbreaking YouTube video, Emmas shoulders were rotated and her legs were up at her ears when she was born. As she grew, Emma was able to slowly gain control of her lower limbs, but it soon became evident that she would never gain control of her arms. Emma could not wipe away her tears by herself. She could not feed herself. Emma could not color or draw pictures like other little girls and boys.

Drawing However, that all changed when her mother learned about Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX) when she attended a family conference. Working at the Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children, Tariq Rahman and Whitney Sample created the WREX, and they invited Emma to try out the early prototype of the device. When Emma tried it, she was able to raise her hands to her mouth for the first time in her short life. It was a truly inspiring and heartwarming sight for all the people involved.

As joyous as that occasion was, the prototype WREX was too big and heavy for a little child like Emma. Undaunted, Tariq Rahman and Whitney Sample set about creating a smaller WREX that Emma could carry around quite easily.

Now, Emma has complete bodily independence that allows her to use her arms as well as her other limbs. Emma can play using her hands, she can feed herself and she can wipe away tears of joy from the happiness that she derives from her magic arms as she calls them.

Thanks to its ease of customization and manufacturing, the device is super easy to produce.Source:.

Natasha Hope-Simpson A 24-year-old artist and musician from Wolfville, Nova Scotia in Canada, Natasha was involved in a hit-and-run collision between two cars.

After Natasha underwent a total of eight surgeries, doctors concluded that her badly mangled leg could not be saved. Amputation was the only viable option that remained. So, amputation it was!

Even so, big-hearted Natasha is filled with the most amazing grace. She has found it within herself to forgive the driver of the other car that destroyed her leg. Incidentally, to date, the driver has not been found.

Equally, Natasha did not give in to despair. Instead, she looked toward possibilities. With her creative instincts bubbling inside her, Natasha sought to design a better-looking prosthetic limb than the one she was given.

Through a number of contacts, and contacts of contacts, Natasha eventually collaborated with Mike Fanning at NovaCad: 3D Systems reseller. Other interested parties also provided assistance and, a laser scan was made of Natashas good leg so as to fully capture her bodys symmetry. Ultimately, Jourdan Dakov and Kendall Joudrie of Thinking Robot Studies created a stable prototype in consultation with Natasha. The actual aesthetics was left to Natasha.

Whilst she had a ton of ideas, Natasha did not have a lot of time. She had been attracted to some Dreamer/Nightmare masks at Shapeways. Learning of Natashas story, the artist at Shapeways donated the design to Natashas project, and the mask-inspired 3D printed prosthetic was born.

With her printed legThe complete design and engineering process for Natashas prosthetic took just 15 days from conception to production. Through Natashas creative vision a vision that was born of adversity, loss and heartache other owners of 3D printed prosthetics will benefit from Natashas

aesthetically-pleasing limbs as they become widely available. As for Natasha, she has found a new purpose in life. With the creative team working with her, she is a woman on a mission.

Natashas whole approach to the tragedy that entered her life is truly inspiring and uplifting. We can all learn something from Natashas can-do spirit and determination.

Liam Liam is a small boy in South Africa. He had no fingers on his right hand, and wasnt able to ride a bike or do a number of other things like other boys his age.

That has changed, however. Liam is now a happy, smiling boy in possession of a 3D printed mechanical hand. In fact, Liam received two prosthetic hands: The Talon and the Talon Beast , giving Liam a choice of which hand to wear at any particular time.

How did this come about? Well, Liam is one of the recipients of the Maker movement, Give your neighbors a hand. This movement within the E-Nable community has become a global phenomenon. Prop Maker has promised to create new hands for Liam until he becomes an adult. Such generosity is remarkable indeed, especially when you consider that the devices have to be shipped over a distance of 10,000 miles!

Liam is now a beaming little boy as he rides his bike and shows off his new hands. They are hands that were made by people he has never met, and who gave of their time for a child who was a world away.

Howard Kamarta A year ago, Howard Kamarata, a United States Navy veteran, was doing some carpentry work when a freak accident led to the loss of four fingers on his left hand. Surgeons were able to save his little finger, but Howard was left with 3 nubs between his thumb and pinky. A married man, Howard had even lost his ring finger!

At a church function the following week, Howard and his wife Pat met Casey Barrett. Casey is an industrial designer, and he had seen a YouTube video of young Liam in South Africa, and learned about Liams 3D printed prosthetic hands. Wishing to help Howard, Casey Barrett accessed files for a partial finger prototype and created a partial finger 3D printed prosthetic for Howard.

Testing his new fingersThe two men are now collaborating on the creation of 3 different segments in each finger, using similar flexible material to that used by the Flexyhand design.

In the meantime, Howard is enjoying the use of his new fingers and learning to use them for more things with each passing day. He does not have to rely on others to pick up things such as cups and bottles for him, and he can even play cards with his buddies once again. Howard had thought many activities were lost to him after the accident occurred, but 3D printed prosthetics have restored normal functions to his hand.

The two men have now formed a partnership with Matt Augee of RecFX Foundation. They have a vision of creating free 3D printed prosthetic hands and fingers for anyone in need. Their particular focus will be on veterans and military family members.

Alex Pring Six-year-old Alex was born with a partial right arm, and a prosthetic limb was too expensive for his family, especially when their insurance company refused to cover the cost.

In an effort to help her son, Alexs mother, Alyson Pring, contacted an online community that specializes in making 3D printed prosthetic hands. A doctoral student, Albert Manero, read Alysons letter and was moved to help.

Albert Manero and a group of fellow students at the University of Central Florida got together and, over the course of seven weeks, built a 3D printed prosthetic arm for Alex. It cost only $350 to build, a mere fraction of the $40,000 that a conventional prosthetic would have cost.

Alex is extremely pleased with his robot arm, and says it is not even heavy. Alex is happy that he can now feel things.

Leon McCarthy When Leon was born, he had no fingers on his left hand, but his family could not afford the many thousands of dollars that conventional prosthetics cost.

After a search on the Internet, Leons father found the answer to their prayers. It came in the form of a YouTube video that showcased the work of Ivan Owen. Owen had used a 3D printer to make a prosthetic hand for a five-year-old boy back in 2011. Leons father was inspired: He used the 3D printer at Leons school and, following Owens directions, he created a prosthetic hand for Leon.

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Any style/color combination can be printed

Now, the 12-year-old can draw pictures, hold bottles, pick up food and do all the things that others take for granted. Furthermore, the father wants to use his new-found knowledge and skill to help others who are in need of prosthetics.

There seems to be a snowball effect to 3D printing technology. Overwhelming, it seems that people who have been helped by the 3D printing technology want to go on to help others. This is a fantastic way to help the 3D printing revolution expand.

In the exciting world of 3D printed prosthetics, countless volunteers, companies and organizations have given of their time, expertise and creativity to help others.

What follows is a brief whos who in 3D printed prosthetics:

 E-Nables global community of volunteers has created many varieties of 3D printed prosthetics. Not only that, they have made the files available for download by anyone who wishes to create or further improve the devices. The files are completely free to download.The volunteers are dedicated to helping as many people as possible to live richer lives via 3D printed prosthetics.E-Nable volunteers have worked tirelessly to bring prosthetics to men, women and children who would otherwise go without the aid of artificial limbs. There is a design to suit almost any requirement, and they continue to push forward with the creation of even more designs.Long may the seeds of human kindness grow within the E-Nable community!I think you will agree with me that they are a group of truly inspiring individuals who dare to make a difference.Visit this website to learn more about E-Nabling the future. You also have the option of signing up for blogs, following the movement on Twitter/Facebook and making donations if you so wish. This is a cause worth supporting in every way:

Some other companies and individuals who are forging new frontiers in 3D printed prosthetics include:

The somewhat limited scope of this article means that not every worthy individual, group or organization can be mentioned. For this, apologies must be made to the countless and nameless individuals who have been left out. Your work is no less valued, and your efforts are truly life-changing. We thank you for all that you do.

Anyone can become involved in the 3D printed prosthetic revolution. If you are ready, willing and able to join the revolution, you have many options:

Join an online forum/discussion group

Meet up with a group to learn about the latest developments and help to spread the word

Donate to E-Nable or other 3D prosthetics charities

Purchase a 3D printer and give others the gift of a limb: There are a number of printers available. A review of the top 3d printers can be seen at this website:

Spread the word on social media: Tell your friends, family and colleagues about the many physically unique people whose lives have been changed by the selflessness of others, and of the affordability and ease of 3D printed prosthetics

If you have an engineering or design background, download the files and help to further develop prosthetic prototypes, or offer advice for new designs

The benefits of 3D printing are not confined to the prosthetic revolution. The technology is changing perceptions and expectations, and it is not just about prosthetics.

3D printing can be used to create a variety of bodily organs and anatomical parts. Currently, 3D printing is being used to make a variety of medical implants, and they fit better than older cranial implants that are known to cause seizures or to block blood vessels.

According to Professor David Dean at Ohio State University, the problems that plagued older technology are a thing of the past. He states that 3D printing has given major hospitals the ability to use specially-printed implants that are customized to each patient. These new implants are typically printed and delivered to hospitals on the same day.

3D printed implants include the following:

3D printing is proving to be a boon particularly in pediatric medicine. It has been reported in the British press that each child that suffers the loss of an ear, or those who have disfiguring ear injuries or defects, will be given 3D printed ears in the near future. Scientists have developed an exciting and ground-breaking technique that they will use to correct the defects.

The team of scientists at University College London, led by Professor Alex Selfalian, discovered that it is possible to print the structure of the ear using a type of biological ink that builds up layer-by-layer to form the shape of the ear.

The ear would then be implanted in the arm, under a flap of skin. It would be left there to develop blood vessels, and after a period of time the ear would be attached to its usual position at the side of the head.

The technology has already been shown to work. Indeed, ears have been grown on the backs of rats, and it is just a small step to apply the technology to human beings. Human trials are to begin in the very near future in the United Kingdom and in India. The technology has widespread application, especially as a great many children are born without ears in India and other parts of Asia. In fact, the problem is massive, and the need is pressing. Indeed, there are already numerous children in Mumbai waiting to take part in the upcoming trial, so dire is the need there.

The current procedure for replacing or repairing ears involves the process of removing cartilage from another part of the body, such as the rib. It is a rather involved procedure that is both invasive and painful for the patient. With 3D printing, being able to just print off an ear using 3D printing technology means that the surgeon would only have to perform one operation, compared to the four or five operations that are currently necessary. It is easy to see, then, that 3D printing can save each child a lot of fear, pain and discomfort.

With the 3D technique, scientists scan the undamaged ear and then flip the picture, thereby creating a mirror image copy to make a life-like ear.

The 3D printing revolution has given rise to some heartwarming and inspirational stories about the recipients of 3D printed prosthetics, and the people and organizations that made their dreams a reality. The remarkable thing is: The revolution is still in its infancy, and will grow by leaps and bounds.

The metaphysical poet, John Donne, had written that no man is an island and the volunteers and organizations mentioned in this article certainly epitomize that phrase. The phrase seems to have become their creed as they help people around the world live more fulfilled lives.

Many of the recipients of 3D printed prosthetics had thought themselves cut off from normal life, each being, in essence, an island unto him- or herself. Not so! The people behind 3D printing and 3D printed prosthetics have shown the world that no man is an island.

In a world of wars, conflict, accidents and physical uniqueness, there is hope. From the soldier who has lost a limb in battle, to the victims of mine explosions sin Africa, to the children born without limbs or digits, there is hope. For those who cannot afford conventional prosthetics, or those who do not have access to the technology, there is hope. That hope is contained in these few words: 3D printing and prosthetics.

Open source designs and 3D printed prosthetics will not be able to help everyone who has a need, but it offers hope to many who had previously been without hope and what is life where there is no hope?

3D printing and prosthetics is the promise of the future and the future is here!

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Why dont you include a name of the author and the reference??

References are listed after most of the sections, and the name of the author for this entire article is located at the top of the page, just below the title.

I do agree that an official bibliography would be nice in a singular spot.

Natasha Hope-Simpson is so beautiful and has such a lovely smiling face!

Where can I get a prosthetic 3 d printed 3/4 of a foot? I love in AZ and am almost ready to be fitted for one but dont know who can provide the service, please help me to locate!

Hello Laura, I am fairly certain someone at help you.They have a mighty network of can-do folks that love a good 3d printing challenge. They also have a google+ grou.

Cost Effective 3D Printing Thanks to Mass Customization

Cost Effective 3D Printing, Thanks to Mass Customization

Cost Effective 3D Printing, Thanks to Mass Customization

Elijah Poston May 27, 2015 1:06:16 PM

3D printing is not the answer to every manufacturing challenge. I (and my pocketbook) would love it to be, but for 3D printing to truly take over the duties associated with the production of every object in the world, it would have to operate with the same principles as it does, but do so several hundred times faster, which may be possible in the future, but isnt today.

Where 3D printing machines get a huge leg up is in their suitability to the way manufacturing is changing around the world. This is a result of the direction consumers are going in their demands. More and more, there is high demand for mass customization.

Mass customization, as defined byInvestopedia, is a marketing and manufacturing technique that combines the flexibility and personalization of custom-made with the low unit costs associated with mass production. As evidenced by our whitepaper onlow volume, agile, additive manufacturing and capital costs, 3D printing is entering the domain of mass production, and its inherent capabilities of customization make it perfect for the job.

Where once, a staple of mass production was the Model-T or the Bell Telephone, today people look to the laser-engraved backs of iPods as a perfect example of mass customization. Other examples include phone cases in every design imaginable, custom paint jobs for cars, and credit cards with customer-specified images printed on them.

So, why does mass customization make 3D printing the right choice for any sized business? There are three major reasons.

First, with mass customization comes smaller production runs. With smaller runs, the amount of time spent changing tools and setting up for the next batch increases, because more batches are completed faster, but tool changes take the same amount of time. Entire sciences have gone into reducing this time period as much as possible. 3D printing, on the other hand, has no tool or mold to change. Simply clear the platform, and start printing the next item. Any sized business benefits from saving time, and eliminating operations like tool changes is a huge way to do so.

A second reason has to do with linear scalability. Because the size of production runs are going down, thePrint Podis becoming more cost effective. Most mass-customizable runs today are less than ten thousand units per batch, thereby making the Print Pod a viable solution. Linear scalability also has the added advantage for smaller businesses who cant afford the upfront costs of traditional manufacturing.

YourType A Machines 3D printersreach their full potential regardless of how much of them you decide to purchase. This is opposed to traditional manufacturing methods, where there is an exponential growth curve associated with increased tooling capability. You can invest in our products, a little bit at a time without incurring opportunity costs associated with having an incomplete, non-modular system that cant reach its full potential unless you buy the kitchen sink upfront.

The third and final reason behind what makes us leaders in cost effective 3D printing is theinherent redundancythat comes with having multiple cost effective machines instead of one behemoth machine, whether it be an Injection Molding machine or a high-priced industrial 3D Printer. If you have multiple, and you need to take one out of service for any reason, the other machines will still run, thereby avoiding the aforementioned time spent paying bills and creating no revenue, and minimizing opportunity costs associated with time that you could have spent generating revenue.

The savings in cost behind using a Print Pod, as opposed to more traditional methods of manufacturing are alluring, but one question people have concerns the reliability of 3D printing, which is going through a steep development curve, and has many documented examples of mechanical problems. This fear is mitigated with our system both because our machines have an extremely low statistical failure rate (around 6%), and we also stand by each machine we sell, by offering backup print services and service packages to go along with our industry leading warranties.

The aforementioned redundancy further reduces the failure rate. A six-machine print pod, therefore has a 1% chance of failure on the scale that traditional machines face every time there is a failure. When combining the versatility and reliability we guarantee, the Series 1 Print Pod is the ideal solution for your manufacturing needs, no matter the size of your company.

3D Printing Business Ideas 3 Essential Tips

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3D Printing Business Ideas: 3 Essential Tips

by FabianJuly 6, 2017Tutorials9 Comments

Learn how to turn a 3D printing business idea into reality: start with an idea that adds value, keep your costs low, and learn from successful 3D printing start-ups. Read on to see which 3D printing business models generate profit.

Do you search a business idea that involves 3D printing? Make sure that you come up with a product that sells because it isinnovative. It might not be enough to sell an object only because it is 3D printed − it also needs to give customers added value that traditional manufacturing cannot provide.

3D printing can create things that are impossible to create with traditional manufacturing. A striking example is theOne_Shot.MGX stool by Patrick Jouin. This is a stool that has been printed in one piece no screws needed, no pieces to attach. These features can bring a big advantage to all kinds of objects that would require a lot of manual labor with traditional techniques.

3D printed in one piece: One_Shot.MGX by Patrick Jouin. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

3D printing also enables you to producemass customizationproducts. One of the great things about 3D printing is that you dont have to order 10,000 units of an item to make it affordable for customers and put it on the market. You can start producing and selling as of a single print. So, turn this to your advantage and offer a product that matches your customers needs. Come up with an idea that is unique, customizable and fits demand perfectly!

Mass customization: the production workflow of the future. Make sure to adapt for 3D printing business model. ©Musen Lin.

Maybe you want to create a browser-based 3D design tool that allows other users to create 3D printable items? Or maybe you want to create an app that lets your users tweak and customize their products? Personalizable jewelry, perfectly fitting glasses frames, 3D selfies this great technology offers unlimited possibilities and lets you start an interactive dialogue between customers and production.

Still, it might be difficult getting started. Thats why we want to present ways of finding funding and keeping your starting costs as low as possible.

To start your 3D printing business, there are two important things to keep in mind:find fundingandkeep your costs low. Luckily, everybody is talking about 3D printing today − and so there are lots of funding programs out there for your 3D printing start-up.

Heres an example: Projects likeFABulouscreate and support a service ecosystem for 3D printing start-ups. They bring together investors and entrepreneurs. They just launched theirsecond Open Call, during which SMEs and entrepreneurs can submit innovative ideas for the development of new web businesses in the field of 3D printing. Make sure to search for similar projects in your region.

Another way to fund your business is to use the power of the crowd: weve already worked with start-ups that used crowdfunding platforms likeKickstarterandIndieGoGoto turn their dream of a 3D printing business into reality.

In addition to securing funding, one of your most important financial challenges is to keep costs as low as possible. However, running and maintaining a printing facility requires a lot of seed capital, which might be a risky investment when you dont yet know how your product will sell. And thats where it makes sense to think aboutoutsourcing productionto minimize costs and risks.

i.materialise has developedseveral interfaces (APIs)that allow your business to connect with our systems. You simply feed the data from your apps or websites to us − and our 100+ 3D printers do the rest! Its the best risk-free starting point for any 3D printing business idea.

Using industrial 3D printers: our APIs do the trick.

We have over 10 APIs in place − from referral models to white label partnerships − and our aim is to offer as much of our websites functionality through the API as we can. However, some APIs might be more useful for your business than others − the optimum way to connect to i.materialise depends on your business model.

See more examples, and learn how to connect your business to our printing facility,here.

So, how do other companies do it? Its always a good idea to check whats out there before jumping into the (cold) water. Be sure to visitthis pageto see some examples.

One of the best examples isTwikit− an online platform where everybody can tweak and customize designs using intuitive configurators. For example, you can use Twikit to customize your personal trophy:

Create a 3D printable and customizable trophy with Twikit.

A trophy is a great product for 3D printing, because it always needs to be customized with the name of the tournament and the name of the winner(s).

When a user visits the Twikit website he will place his order there. Meanwhile, Twikit connects to the i.materialise API to send the ordered models to our 3D printing infrastructure. We then print and ship the order on behalf of Twikit, using their packaging and branding.

White label: Twikit gets its own packaging.

This way, Twikit avoids the huge expense of building their own printing facility, and we get to do what we do best: 3D printing on ourcutting-edgeindustrial printers. Visit our dedicatedAPI pageto learn more about connecting your business to our 3D printing factory. Want to see what your product looks like as a 3D print?Upload it to our website our online 3D printing service will take care of the rest. Also make sure to browse our overview of available 3D printing materialshere. Youll be surprised to see what is already possible today.

need business idea? What about 100 awesome business ideas for 2016??

3d printing high demand! Need more business ideas? Check my BIO for a link

3d printingis still very new, but it promises to become one of the biggest industries everdue to its relevance to a wide range of sectors.

Good article Fabian. I really like what Twikit is doing. What are your thoughts about something similar, but instead of trophies, the user being able to do a 3D printed customized character of themselves as described here:

As 3D scanner have gotten cheaper and processing has become more automated starting a 3D printed figurine business is starting to become very viable. Here are a few tips from our most successful customers:

3D printing has come a long way and we have seen this with the Twindom 3D printer! What a great way to start a business with low investments and high margins. PLUS what an amazing gift to give someone. Wedding toppers, trophies, action figures or even family portraits. We do this and have always received amazing responses from our clients . some great info and pictures.

Really nice to read the ideas,so simple.MaduraiWebCan it effectively work for my small art business.

3D printing is fairly new to the wide-spread public, but has been around since at least the mid-80s, in one form or another. While not true, 3D printing, stereo-lithography was invented by Chuck Hull in ~1984. True 3D printers were coming from 3D systems by the mid 90s (Actua and ThermoJet). They have, however, come down in price and up in supply significantly in the last few years, greatly upping their potential.

And most importantly dont forget to create your own company page at Its free!

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Leave your stamp on the things you buy. Take a look at some of wonderful companies we work with to offer a great range of unique, customizable products.

No matter the occasion, no matter the budget, our talented community of designers makes sure there is something for everyone in our 3D printing marketplace.

Looking for answers? Simply search our Help Center for the most common questions or browse our helpful articles.

Share your 3D printing projects, meet fellow designers, get feedback and professional advice from the i.materialise team. »

Get updated about outstanding 3D designs, the newest 3D printing technologies and the best 3D modeling software tutorials.. »

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Contrary to popular belief, there isnt a one-size-fits-all approach to 3D Printing. This principle also applies to pricing. From Titanium to colorful Ceramics, Multicolor, Polyamide, 18K Gold and more, each material has its own criteria that influence its price. For the majority of designs, the (imaginary) box around your model or the model volume will be the main driver. But sometimes, model surface, orientation, and density also come into play.

Model volume, model surface, orientation

Model volume, box around your model, model surface

Model volume, box around your model, orientation

Model volume, model surface, orientation

Required Machine Volume, Box around your model, Model volume, density

Model volume, box around your model, model surface

Model volume, model surface, orientation

A fixed cost independent from the parameters of your model (EUR/piece or USD/piece).

The minimum price you have to pay per ordered piece. Unlike the startup cost, this cost vanishes when the price is higher than the minimum price (EUR/piece or USD/piece).

An imaginary box around your model determines how much space your design will take up in the printer (X x Y x Z = mm).

The volume of your model is used to calculate the material cost (mm).

The way your model is positioned on the print platform will impact the support generation and therefore the price.

The ratio of the box surrounding your model to the model volume will influence the price, and for example, will allow price corrections in designs with a low model volume and a large surrounding box (% mm/mm).

If you order two or more copies of a model, the price automatically decreases, mainly because the preparation of multiple copies can be carried out more efficiently.

The volume of your models and the space around it that your model requires in the build chamber in order to build it successfully.

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Settling the Debate CNC Machining vs 3D Printing

Bunty LLC – Custom Machined, Forged, Cast & Plated Parts

Bunty LLC – Custom Machined, Forged, Cast & Plated Parts

Settling the Debate: CNC Machining vs. 3D Printing

How to Turn Your Invention Into a Functioning Prototype

Settling the Debate: CNC Machining vs. 3D Printing

CNC routing is essentially the reverse of 3D printing. Instead of using a computer to control the armature and print head that layers substance in three dimensions, CNC routing utilizes a drilling tool to carve materials. This is basically the difference between making a sculpture out of clay and carving it from marble, only in this case, theres a robot doing it instead of a human.

CNC milling technology has existed ever since MIT introduced it in the 1950s. CNC routing is essentially the reverse of 3D printing. Instead of using a computer to control the armature and print head that layers substance in three dimensions, CNC routing utilizes a drilling tool to carve materials. This is basically the difference between making a sculpture out of clay and carving it from marble, only in this case, theres a robot doing it instead of a human.

Three-dimensional printing has gone mainstream, challenging the way people think about printers. As consumers become familiar with 3D printing, they often struggle with the complexity of the new technology. Similarly, business customers have become aware of 3D printing and are now looking for the ways to make the technology work for them. Although 3D printing might still seem novel, new printers continue to emerge as an alternative to the established CNC routers in production environments.

This article aims to help the readers assess the utility of 3D printers when compared to CNC machines, with regard to precision, materials, cost, quality, efficiency, and speed.

Although computer-aided design software works with CNC routers and 3D printers, the two technologies use various methods to create outputs. In fact, CNC routers use a method that works opposite of the way 3D printers work. CNC machines start with a block of material and cut away at it until nothing remains except the intended product. On the other hand, 3D printers start from nothing and add layers of a specialized material to form a mass that assumes the shape of the product design. This additive process makes 3D printers flexible enough to create a variety of outputs, limited only by the capability of the printer.

Albeit the subtractive process of CNC technology often produces faster results than the additive process of 3D printers, both approaches to production have advantages that make each type of machine well-suited to achieve differing objectives.

Image courtesy of makerbot.creativetools.se

CNC milling and 3D printing have characteristics that make them suitable for particular uses. A CNC router can efficiently produce considerable quantities of large, heavy, precision-crafted products to be used for commercial and industrial equipment, machines, and engines. CNC machines can use a variety of materials for production and create large quantities of a given product, although they can also produce small batches of products, usually at a higher unit cost.

The flexibility of a 3D printer enables it to quickly change between various jobs. However, since the cost per unit of a given output is always the same, regardless of quantity, such printers are uneconomical for large production jobs. The adaptability of 3D printing, however, makes it useful for creating unique, personalized designs for particular customers. 3D printing has become a favorite tool for artists and other creative professionals who thrive on creating one-of-a-kind products. New technologies have harnessed the flexibility of 3D printers for use in medical and dental settings, creating customized items that fit particular patients.

CNC routers have the capability of scaling between large and small outputs. The scale of the output produced by a CNC router depends on the capabilities of the machine and the raw material used in production. On the other hand, 3D printers use an additive, layering process that makes them ill-suited for the production of large items. Existing 3D technology can scale from creating small, customized items to producing larger objects similar in size to a small refrigerator.

Despite the fact that 3D printers will most likely evolve to become capable of producing bigger objects, they probably will not catch up to the extensive capabilities offered by CNC machines. Furthermore, the time required to print large objects also limits the scalability and feasibility of 3D printing technology.

At this time, heavy-duty outputs made from high-density metals with high tensile strength come from CNC routers. CNC outputs include precision parts used in engines, airplanes, production machinery, and other high-intensity environments. Moreover, CNC routers can also make outputs from wood, wax, plastic, and almost any other material.

Most 3D printers use additive processes to create products from specialized plastics, resins, metals, and other materials. As a result of the unique materials used for the printing process, 3D parts usually do not have the necessary strength for use in demanding settings including airplanes, vehicles, and production machinery. Instead, the materials used to print 3D objects work well for creating models used for prototypes as well as consumer-grade products for home and personal use.

New 3D technology for use in the production of medical and dental products use unique FDA-approved materials, and the new metal 3D printers underscore the evolving nature of 3D printing technology. While no 3D printer can now create the same quality of output as a CNC router, the future holds almost unlimited possibilities.

CNC machining also provides superior surface quality when compared to the best outputs 3D printers can produce. CNC-produced parts can go straight to their destination whereas the output from 3D printers usually requires separate steps for finishing a task. This makes the 3D printing process less efficient than the CNC process.

3D printers lack the precision necessary for mission-critical applications. Even with Selective Laser Melting (SLM) technology that prints 3D outputs in metal, 3D printing cannot replicate the accuracy of CNC machines. To illustrate, CNC milling can provide mechanical accuracy of one micrometer on every axis, a level of precision impossible with 3D equipment.

CNC machines start with milling a block of material so as to meet design specifications. When speed becomes a factor, CNC machines can trade accuracy for speed, thus giving operators control over production time.

As a general rule, using the additive processes of 3D printing to make something from nothing takes longer than using the subtractive process of removing material from a block of the existing material. Conventional 3D printing uses a slow process to create layers of material that gradually form the desired output.

Like a paper printer, the 3D printer itself determines print speed to increase the rate of production, a faster printer is required. Even at its best, 3D printers cannot keep pace with CNC machines. Even after a 3D printer finishes, the output requires further attention before use. Specifically, the post-production process requires manual removal of complex supports before washing, polishing, and curing the product before it becomes useful.

The variety of available 3D printers and materials makes production-time comparisons with CNC mills difficult. For the most part, jobs take longer to finish when there is a larger volume of material to solidify. For CNC products, production time depends on the machined surface area and the amount of material removed. Generally, CNC production offers advantages in speed over 3D print jobs.

The differences between CNC milling and 3D printing technologies make comparisons on a per-part basis difficult. The definition of a typical unit varies between customers, materials, and jobs. Although price considerations may factor in the decision between the use of a CNC router or a 3D printer, comparisons often come in general terms.

When using CNC machines to create a certain part, small quantities usually come with a higher unit cost, but large batches become increasingly economical. This makes CNC an ideal choice for mass production. With 3D printing, every unit of output costs the same, regardless of the batch size. When producing small quantities of an item, the equal cost of every unit produced represents an advantage, but when producing large amounts of an item, the uniform cost per unit can become a problem.

With CNC machines, the unit cost of a product can increase according to the complexity and precision of the output. The higher cost of complicated CNC outputs often stems from the larger number of tool paths required, the smaller cutters used, and the amount of time needed to complete those jobs. 3D print jobs, however, cost the same, regardless of the complexity of the units produced.

Image courtesy of matthew venn via flickr

An advantage of one technology may often be the disadvantage of the other. In this section, a list of main advantages for each of the two technologies will be presented.

1. A broad selection of materials to use for production.

2. Freedom to choose the resolution of production in exchange for speed or cost benefits.

3. Superior quality surfaces and high precision.

4. Price constant regardless of the product size and volume.

1. Easy to use: easy to prepare for an operation.

2. Part complexity does not affect the price of the part.

3. The limitless capacity to create products with intricate designs.

4. Price constant regardless of the batch size.

5. Flexibility to quickly change production jobs.

To a certain degree, CNC technologies and 3D Printing overlap in capability, but they each have strengths that make them suitable for specialized applications. CNC mills will usually work best for projects that require sophisticated, high-precision products made from readily available materials. The characteristics of 3D printers make them ideal for the creation of prototypes, visual justifications, and custom-designed products. All things considered, the world has plenty of room for both 3D printers and CNC machines.

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3D printing for preoperative planning offers great benefits in the medical field. However, due to the high costs of industrial-grade printers, not to mention difficult-to-obtain software, it isnt widely used. Together with a team of researchers at Jagiellonian University, Jan Witowski has discovered how to create models of human livers for use before complex surgeries using a desktop 3D printer.

Preoperative models (or pre-surgical guides as theyre sometimes known) are particularly helpful in procedures requiring accurate anatomical visualization. Theyre considered superior to standard imaging techniques, and offer several benefits, such as shorter operative and recovery time, reduced blood loss and better resection margins.

When performing a laparoscopic resection on the liver, its important to be able to see where the tumor is and where nearby vessels are located. This reduces the risk of excessive blood loss during surgery.

Its a minimally invasive procedure, and surgeons are keen to explore new ways to improve the preparation for the operation. However, based on the most recent literature review, there were only 10 incidences worldwide where doctors were using 3D printing as part of their preparation process. The big question is what exactly is deterring them from using this technology?

As Witowskiidentified in his paper, traditionally, the main factor putting surgeons off from using 3D printing was cost. Industrial-grade printers cost over $200,000, and few medical facilities have staff with the expertise to use them. Additionally, software for segmentation costs thousands to use and these are all costs that few practitioners are willing to take on. Until recently, most liver models were created using material jetting (Polyjet/Multijet), which cost up to $5,000 per model.

Another important factor deterring surgeons from embracing 3D print technology was time. It would take around four to seven days to develop a model using an industrial-grade 3D printer. Outsourcing took even longer.

Witowski also highlighted the fact that SLA and SLS werent suitable, as surgeons would lose the ability to visualize the parenchyma (the external shape of the liver). He made it his goal to offer an alternative, using an FDM printer and silicone reducing manufacturing to a fraction of the price, while preserving all the details required to improve the surgical procedure.

3D printing a liver model using a desktop 3D printer reduces the process to around 60-100 hours in total. It was also considerably lower in price. Witowski illustrates how it works using a case study.

The 52-year-old female patient in question first had a laparoscopic colorectal resection, then two years later, underwent a laparoscopic right hemihepatectomy (a second liver resection), after her follow-up CT scan showed a single metachronous metastasis.

Her CT scans were used to get a clear visualization of their anatomical structures, then virtual models were transformed into an STL file and 3D printed. For this, Witowski used Blender, Meshmixer andUltimaker Curaand an Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer.

The model development consists of four key phases: object segmentation, 3D model computer processing in common view, slicing and printing, then finally, finishing and assembly with silicone curing.

The total printing time ranges from 60 to 100 hours, depending on the model size, number of parts, printing accuracy and type of printer used. In this instance, the print took 72 hours and was executed in six print jobs, due to interchanging material and build plate dimensions.

Post-processing was important, to maximize the smooth qualities of the silicone surface and prevent cloudiness. The model was sanded using 100-300 grit sandpaper, then washed with water and dried. It was then coated with XTC-3D, a self-leveling resin. Every part was coated, then left to cure for around three hours until the resin had dried, then the process was repeated to ensure the surface was smooth enough for silicone casting.

Multi-part structures were glued together using a common cyanoacrylate-based adhesive, then protected with insulating tape and plasticine in the connected areas. This prevents silicone leakage during the casting phase.

Thanks to Ultimaker, Witowski was able to create a transparent, full-sized liver model, complete with visible vessels and colorectal metastasis, for under $150. This was achieved using a combination of 3D printed models and molds for silicone casting.

Desktop 3D printers like Ultimaker can be placed immediately in the hospital, and produce physical models of patient anatomy in a matter of hours or days. This allows surgeons to touch and feel the model, making the process of planning the surgery more realistic.

Jan concludes: I chose Ultimaker because of its reliability. I need to have a printer that wont fail me when I am printing several 20+ hour print jobs day after day. I truly believe that using low-cost printing is a huge step towards personalized medicine. Ill definitely continue using Ultimaker, especially for high-impact projects where I need to be sure to provide results on time.

Models created using traditional techniques were estimated as costing around $1,000 for a liver model and $500 for a kidney.

Cost comparison between fabrication methods

Labor costs and costs associated with 3D printer operation were neglected, as Witowski did not require extra staff (experts, technicians, computer graphics, etc.) for execution.

Using FDM methods, the model was created within five days. Surgeons were then able to explore the models visually and tactilely, helping them create an operative plan.

By adopting 3D printing across the departments of Vascular Surgery, Cardiac Surgery, and Urology, the Jagiellonian University hosts the largest 3D printing research center in Poland and consults doctors across the country. Jan and his team have demonstrated that 3D printing is not just a trend, but a real medical tool aid. The department is excited to work further with FDM technology while exploring the wider benefits. Surgery guidance, training for medical students, and demonstration models for patients provide doctors and patients alike with greater understanding and peace of mind.

Most recently Jan and his team have printed a model of pulmonary arteries for cardiologists in Otwock, Poland, used for balloon pulmonary angioplasty – a process to widen narrow or obstructed arteries or veins. Reports show that using these models reduced operative time, improved short-term outcomes, and assist with planning significantly.

Its likely to be only a matter of time before medical practices start adopting desktop 3D printing technology more widely and making the most of the benefits.

Disclaimer:Ultimaker 3D printers are designed and built for fused deposition modeling with Ultimaker engineering thermoplastics within a commercial/business environment. The mixture of precision and speed makes the Ultimaker 3D printers the perfect machine for concept models, functional prototypes and the production of small series. Although we achieved a very high standard in the reproduction of 3D models with the usage of Ultimaker Cura, the user remains responsible to qualify and validate the application of the printed object for its intended use, especially critical for applications in strictly regulated areas like medical devices and aeronautics.

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Costs of 3d Printing Buyers Guide

ByAdminonJune 7, 2013in3d Printer Buying Guide

3D printing can be accomplished in various ways. The 3D printer needs a digital file (.stl file) so that 3D printing will happen in a successful manner. For 3D printing various kinds of materials are used which include powder, liquid and sheets. Hundreds of layers are printed as per the instructions given by the computer present in the printer. It is very much required to figure out the cost of printing so that you can undertake various projects without any difficulty.

In order to accomplish 3D printing, you should purchase the support material and the filament. Most of the commonly used filaments are ABS and PLA. 3D printing costs will not only depend on the speed of the printer but also on the print material. As cartridge is used which contains the ink in traditional 2D printers, you should go for filament of required fineness. It is required to follow the specifications mentioned by the manufacturer.

The actual cost of 3D printing is directly proportional to the amount of the raft and support required for each pound or kilogram that you will print.

The average cost will be of the order of $0.02 to $0.08 per cubic centimeter. It will be $0.33 to $1.32 per cubic inch.

The formula holds good to calculate the print cost:

Print Cost = Weight of Model x (Spool Cost/ Weight of Full Spool)

There are online resources through which you will be able to find the cost of 3D printing. The values that are required to be entered on such sites are Volume, Surface Area and bounding box. On the other hand, you can upload the .stl file so that the approximate printing cost can be found out. You can visit such sites for definite pricing information.

It is required to go through premium sites so that you will get accurate information. The estimates will be prepared after conducting few real tests. You can take them as guide in most of the cases.

There are dedicated sites which will offer the pricing information of 3D printer and the printing materials. At the moment 3D printers are being used by entrepreneurs and hobbyists as well.

If you would like to figure out the current price, you can check the current market price on various sites including m. For example, ABS filament of 1Kg spool is priced at $33 at the moment. It is manufactured by Zen Toolworks. The price varies as per the brand and various characteristics demanded by the design and the printer.

You should know the correct ways of operation of the 3D printer so that you will not only print high quality object but also will be able print the object at low price. Before purchasing the filament, you should cross check the suitability of the filament for the machine that you are operating with.

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