3D Printing

Thursday, 04 February 2021 18:24

3D Printing in 2020

In 2020, 3D printing persistently advanced its path towards industrialization and innovation. The developments that pushed 3D printing to where it is today will continue further into 2021, indicating that new projects will surge, technological necessities will need to be satisfied, and new challenges will need to be overcome, all bringing forward new applications for 3D printers and expanding towards new horizons.

Let’s go through what the 2020 brought to the 3D printing world and what it implies for the future.

3D printing during the pandemic

The Coronavirus pandemic brought challenges to almost every single country, the most difficult where how to manage and stop the spread of the virus and how to get enough medical supplies (valves for reanimation devices, etc.), we saw a fast response of the global 3D printing community aiding to these specific problems.


Ventilator valves where really scarce during the COVID19 outbreak, and thus the 3D community ran to model and print working prototypes to be used in hospitals. (REUTERS)


The COVID-19 pandemic has also resulted in a significant shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) worldwide. Professional additive manufacturing providers, makers, and designers in the 3-dimensional (3D) printing community have posted free COVID-19–related 3D printer designs on their websites.

In reaction to the acute shortage of protective wear for medical personnel during the pandemic situation, professional additive manufacturing providers, makers, and designers in the 3D printing community quickly developed and mass-produced protective face shields.


Prusa3D came out with a final design called Prusa PRO Face Shield, which meets the standard of EN 166:2001 for protection against drops and sprays (protection class 3) . (prusa3D.com)



3D printing communities across the world became a massive driving force in the effort to produce protective wear for those, who need it the most. (prusa3D.com)


Development for 3D printed structure on the Moon

ICON is a company that has won NASAS 3D printed habitat challenge, and has become the selected to develop a fully operational 3D printer capable of sustaining the harsh conditions of the moon’s surface, this while printing enhanced lunar structures and building a sustainable site for Off-Earth exploration. As part of its Artemis program, NASA is attempting to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024, and it has already used 3D printing to develop rocket engine part.


“Building humanity’s first home on another world will be the most ambitious construction project in human history and will push science, engineering, technology, and architecture to literal new heights,” said Jason Ballard, Co-founder and CEO of ICON. (iconbuild.com)


NASA has pointed that, through the Artemis program, the Moon will be the first Off-Earth site for sustainable surface exploration. Building a sustainable presence on the Moon requires more than rockets. Robust structures will need to be built on the Moon to provide better thermal, radiation, and micrometeorite protection.

Direct-to-Textile 3D Printed Clothing

3D printing continues to offer fashion designers greater freedom in creating complex geometries with fabric, the European Union has funded a research project called Re-FREAM, an effort uniting artists, designers, and scientists as they combine 3D printing and textiles to rethink the manufacturing process of the fashion industry.

The Re-FREAM goal is to develop new concepts for the future of fashion by means of new processes and aesthetics that are inclusive and sustainable.

Stratasys first introduced its PolyJet technology back in January 2020, a technology that creates objects by jetting fine droplets of photopolymers, materials that solidify when exposed to UV light. Last year, Stratasys started working with fashion designers to show their PolyJet direct-to-textile printing technology, from design through to production, demonstrating the possibility for localized manufacturing and mass customization.


PolyJet 3D Printers are scaled to meet diverse needs in capability and production capacity. The printers fall within two groups: single material at a time and multi-material simultaneously. (Stratasys)


This collaboration follows closely not only of their unveiling the new ability to 3D print onto regular textiles, but also onto sustainable fabrics in vivid colors, creating a shimmer effect when the clothing is in motion, while maintaining the comfortability of regular fabric outfits.


Japanese-style kimono designed by Ganit Goldstein using direct-to-textile PolyJet multi-color 3D printing. (Stratasys)


Another advantage of Stratasys PolyJet™ 3D Printers is that they are certified by Pantone, as meeting the PANTONE validated standards of color quality and realism. Backed by this authentication, PolyJet solutions are perfectly aligned to meet the strict requirements of design studios as they match the design-to-manufacturing process.


This validation allows for simple and accurate color communication between designers and manufacturers. (pantone.com)


High-volume 3D printing is around the corner

At the moment, 3D printing is generally viewed as a technology suitable for low level to mid-volume production. That it will most likely be the case in 2021, but every year we also see more opportunities and developments that will help us achieve higher-volume production with 3D printing.

Conveyor belt 3D printers, have max printing size limitations on X-Y axis but with a theoretically infinite sized z-axis print size or even a continuous production of 3D printed parts, the limitation of this technology is its speed and supported materials, thus not a viable alternative for High-volume 3D printing.


Continuous production of 3D printed parts is a possibility with this technology, it isn’t required that all the printed parts are of the same model. (Blackbelt3D)


Another approach to achieve a high-volume production of 3D printed parts is deploying hundreds of 3D printers and making a Printing Farm, large scale 3D printing is generally less expensive than injection molding below an average of 50000 units/parts, the downside of this continues to be the manufacturing speed (of each 3D printer) and the increase in control required for all the deployed printers, this to ensure quality and reduction of errors.


The whole point of a 3D printing farm: On-demand, efficient manufacturing. (all3dp.com)


On the long run, the on demand nature of additive manufacturing can make production cheaper than other large volume processes, it even has the advantage of customization and personalized production batches, as each printer can lay-out different 3D models, another advantage is the no tooling costs involved, meaning products are brought to market at a much faster rate.

Published in 3D Printing

In October 2020, seven of the world’s leading chemical companies have come together to launch Sustainable Chemistry for the Textile Industry (SCTI) with a commitment to collaboration, innovation and transformational change, the new alliance aims to lead the textile and leather industries towards a more sustainable future.

The seven founding members of SCTI: Archroma, CHT Group, Huntsman, Kyung-In Synthetic Corporation (KISCO), Pulcra Chemicals, Rudolf Group and Tanatex Chemicals have made substantial investments in sustainable solutions in recent years. They are now committing to investing and working together to further advance chemistry knowledge and its safe and sustainable application in the textile and leather industries.

SCTI is developing a global harmonized sustainability standard for chemical products used in the industry, along with a supporting assessment tool that covers all aspects of the products; from hazards through to environmental, ecological and social impacts to help the industry produce more sustainable textile and leather end products for consumers through cleaner and more transparent supply chains that use less water and energy and produce less emissions and pollution.

Published in Inkjet Inks

EFI introduces two new printers for the high-end, high productivity soft signage market to help display graphics producers reach new heights in productivity and extend their capabilities.

“EFI, through our Reggiani division, has decades of experience bringing to market the highest quality in fabric printing in the industry.” Scott Schinlever, COO, EFI Inkjet. “These two new printers are specifically designed to meet the most stringent quality and productivity needs in soft signage for companies that want to truly differentiate themselves in a highly competitive marketplace. With their extreme speed and reliability, the EFI POWER and COLORS printers can often replace multiple soft signage printers, producing more premium signage work with a single footprint.”

EFI COLORS 340

Is ideal for many applications: from table throws and pop-up promotional tents to SEG backlits, flags and retail fixtures and can handle different fabrics up to 450 gr/m2.

The EFI CLORS 340 can prints at up to 9,149 square feet per hour (in a four-color x 4 configuration) and for even higher-volume production environments, the EFI POWER 340 prints up to 16,835 square feet per hour.

Using genuine EFI water-based CMYK dispersed dye inks, the printer gives users entrée into an ultra-premium point-of-purchase category for soft signage, producing smoother color transitions and ultra-realistic skin tones.

Available up to 24 printheads, the COLORS 340 offers greater versatility in color capabilities to print in four-color x 2, four-color x 4 or six-color x 4 configurations, as well as an eight-color configuration featuring standard CMYK and light CMK color inks, plus a penetrating agent.

The printer’s 2,400 dots per inch (dpi) resolution with four level grayscale printing and drop sizes from 4 to 18 picoliters can deliver 100% penetration on both sides of the material, making it ideal for the production of national flags. Its precision sticky belt feeding mechanism ensures near-perfect, continuous tone image quality at high speeds with no wrinkle artifacts on a wide range of materials. And with the EFI’s unique continuous ink recirculation system for textile printing improves ink yield, reducing the need to purge while eliminating downtime associated with printhead maintenance.

EFI POWER 340

The EFI POWER 340 digital soft signage printer has most of the capabilities of the COLORS 340 but at a blazingly fast speed of up to 16,835 square feet per hour.

The POWER 340 is also capable of printing direct-to-fabric or onto transfer paper using genuine EFI water-based CMYK dispersed dye inks. And, like the COLORS 340 model, it employs the proven, reliable sticky belt feeding mechanism. The POWER 340 features up to four colors, in either four-color x 4 or four-color x 8 configurations. With its remarkable speeds, users can profit from producing the appropriate quality at the highest speed with a lower total cost of ownership for high-volume demands.

Both printers employ a powerful EFI Fiery® proServer Premium digital front end, which means operators can take advantage of the ultimate in color management, job management, and powerful tools for nesting, step and repeat, scaling, cropping, barcode creation and tiling.




Photo courtesy www.efi.com


Published in Textile Printing
Friday, 02 October 2020 22:58

Roland DG ZT-1900 Textile Printer

Roland DG EMEA announces its largest and most productive textile printer to date the “ZT-1900”. This dye-sublimation printer is 1.9m wide and delivers quality print on applications including; fashion, sportswear, personalized interior decoration and soft signage.

The new ZT-1900 can print 220 sqm/hr in draft mode and 150 sqm/hr in production mode and a mirrored CMYK configuration for increased productivity. An integrated infrared dryer allows quick drying, and a 5 kg ink container capacity enables fast finishing, while high levels of automation allow 24-hour production.

Four double-channel Kyocera printheads deliver detailed text, image quality and vibrant solid colours. Roland's high-density dye-sublimation inks produce a wide colour gamut and are compatible with coated and uncoated paper for production versatility. The ZT-1900 also handles lightweight paper (>18gr/sqm) and large paper rolls up to 450kg to reduce paper cost and increase printing time without stops.

"The ZT-1900 is ideal for existing users of digital sublimation printers seeking to increase production, and for businesses who are currently using analogue methods who want to move into digital with a high-productivity, high-quality system. The cost efficiency and low running costs of the ZT-1900 will also benefit anyone working to extremely tight margins.” Paul Willems, Roland Director of Business Development and Product Management EMEA.


Photo courtesy www.rolanddga.com


Published in International

Have you ever straightened your hair or at least known someone who has? Obviously, heat is in charge of making this change, but with the minimum amount of water, its effect could reverse completely or at least to have a notable change. Why does this happen? It’s really simple… Hair has shape memory and in response to some changes or stimulations, it will return to its original shape.

Imagine your clothes could do the same? For example, a T-shirt that expands when exposed to moisture and that shrinks when dry or having a one-size piece of clothing that fits all person’s measurements? Researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) developed a biocompatible material that can be 3D printed into a predetermined shape and programable to go back to its original shape. It is made with keratin, which is extracted from Agora wool used in textile manufacturing.

One of the main characteristics, or at least one of the most important in my opinion, is the reduction of waste in the fashion industry, “The implications for the sustainability of natural resources are clear. With recycled keratin protein, we can do just as much, or more, than what has been done by shearing animals to date and, in doing so, reduce the environmental impact of the textile and fashion industry.” Said Kit Parker, the Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics at SEAS.


Keratin fiber textile. Photo courtesy of The Harvard Gazette.



Keratin fiber textile. Photo courtesy of The Harvard Gazette.


As mentioned before, when this keratin-based fiber is stretched or exposed to an external stimulus, the structure re-aligns to fit some determined shape and it remains in that position until it is triggered to go back to its original shape.

As an experiment, one fiber sheet was turned into a permanent origami shape. Once it was set, the researchers submerged it in water and they unfolded and rolled it into a tube and dried it. Once it was set again and turned into a fully stable tube, they submerged it again so the process was reversed and it folded back into an origami star.

“This two-step process of 3D printing the material and then setting its permanent shapes allows for the fabrication of really complex shapes with structural features down to the micron level,” said Cera. “This makes the material suitable for a vast range of applications from textile to tissue engineering.”

So for a little twist when it comes to textile, it sounds like a great way of innovation and this might be the future for the fashion industry for reducing its gigantic waste this industry produces.

Published in Textile Printing

DuPont announced the new series for its Pigment Inks portfolio, DuPont Artistri Xite P2700.

The Artistri P2700 its a digital textile premium pigment ink formulated for mid- viscosity printheads, that offers deep, rich black and outstanding color saturation. Due to the ink formulation, it delivers the quality needed for textile printers in home, furnishings and apparel applications.

“We are delighted to deliver brilliant colors with great wet and dry crock without compromising hand feel and the sustainability advantage of water-based pigment ink jet inks,” Eric Beyeler, global ink jet marketing manager, DuPont Image Solutions.

Published in International

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