Category Archives: Equipment

SolidWorks Takes a Step Closer to an Integrated Digital Thread in 2017

SolidWorks, a supplier of computer aided design (CAD), computer aided engineering (CAE), and other manufacturing and design software, recently announced that in 2017, it will integrate currently separate software suites to provide a “fully digitized design to manufacturing ecosystem.” Currently, part designers using CAD software need to design a part capable of performing its function while making sure the part is manufacturable given manufacturing equipment availability, configurations, and limitations. The software can currently perform certain sanity checks based on established Design for Manufacturing (DFM) rules, but Dassault Systemes (SolidWorks’ parent company) CEO Gian Paolo Bassi reported that in 2017 the company plans to go much further in allowing the software to make and optimize such decisions. In particular, SolidWorks plans for its software to keep track of what kinds of manufacturing equipment a given user has available, along with the capabilities and limits of that equipment, and even parts that are available off-the-shelf commercially, in order to determine whether a given design can be reliably made in a given manufacturing environment. The company plans to let the designer input the performance parameters for the part, which will allow the software to modify designs to make them manufacturable. Once a design is finalized, the same software will be able to configure equipment to manufacture the part. The goal is to make the design and manufacturing process as seamless as possible by identifying and fixing potential problems earlier in the design process, and to notice issues human engineers miss. Continue reading

From DéCor to Data: How an Online Home Goods Retailer Utilizes 3D Scanning Hardware and Software to Enable Emerging Sales Channels

Lux Research recently spoke with Mike Festa, Director of Wayfair’s Next at Wayfair, about how the online retailer is innovating on its customers’ online shopping experiences. Wayfair has over 7 million furniture and home décor products available through its website, and started the Wayfair Next R&D lab to bring part of the brick-and-mortar shopping experience to online shoppers through visualization and ease of interaction (client registration required). The lab was created to digitize Wayfair’s extensive product catalog using 3D scanning to create augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) customer experiences. Creating this experience would require 3D scanning hardware, associated software and expertise, as well as developers to create the customer-facing AR and VR applications for desktop and mobile platforms. To redefine the online shopping experience and let people visualize products in their own homes, Wayfair needed to overcome the sizeable engineering hurdles associated with creating 3D models of its millions of products. Continue reading

Digitizing Material Data Is Essential for Building Material Manufacturers in the Long Term

NBS International published its BIM Report 2016 based on a survey conducted with construction industry professionals from the U.K., Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, and Japan. According to this report, 90% of the respondents are using building information modeling (BIM) to produce 3D visualizations, more than 70% of BIM users use it for clash detection, and around 50% use BIM for performance analysis. Clearly, there is a new level of awareness towards BIM and the majority of industry professionals think that it will be an integral part of design processes in one way or another. As the construction industry transitions towards digitization, the BIM landscape is loaded with various software solutions satisfying specific designers’ needs. We recently published a report detailing these BIM solutions ([see the report “Beyond Material Innovations: How Construction Technologies for Digitization and Automation Will Compete and Influence the Industry”] client registration required). It is essential for building material manufacturers to understand this landscape and how these solutions might influence them in the short as well as long term. This insight points out the benefits of BIM for material manufacturers going forward. Continue reading

Webinar – Better, Faster, and Cheaper: How Emerging Design and Manufacturing Tools Improve Materials Development

Developers face rising pressure to bring novel, high performance materials to market faster and cheaper. Yet, most materials fail to meet commercial expectations, and lengthy timelines limit attractiveness to investors. On average, materials R&D takes as long today as it did decades ago. Now, emerging design and manufacturing tools such as 3D printing, 3D scanning, material informatics software, and modeling and simulation software, are beginning to accelerate materials and part design times. Continue reading

3D Printed Customized Scaffolds Could Help Fabricate Complex Load-Bearing Concrete Components, but Manufacturability Concerns Exist

Last month, Gramazio Kohler Research, a Zurich-based research institute, received the Swiss Technology Award 2016 for its Mesh Mould project, which enables building load-bearing concrete components in any shape without standard formwork. Specifically, the researchers made a scaffold with a customized shape according to computer-aided design (CAD) by using a 3D printer to extrude unspecified polymer, and then the team poured concrete into the scaffold. The mesh-in-scaffold prevented concrete from running out laterally, so that the scaffold filled with concrete finally became the load-bearing concrete component the team designed. Continue reading

GE’s Failed Takeover Bid of SLM Solutions Shows That It’s a Seller’s Market for 3D Printing Companies

The month of October turned out to be a turbulent one for GE Aviation. After announcing a $1.4 billion acquisition of both Arcam and SLM Solutions (client registration required), it emerged that activist investor Elliot Advisors (which owns stakes in both companies) was challenging the terms of the deals. Elliot Advisors claimed that the acquisition bid for SLM Solutions undervalued the company, despite being at a 37% premium over SLM’s stock price at the time. GE Aviation eventually dropped its bid for SLM Solutions, and was forced to both raise the price of the Arcam deal and reduce the acceptance threshold. GE then announced that it was acquiring Concept Laser, a German manufacturer of selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D printers. Continue reading

NVBOTS and Cincinnati Incorporated Announce SAAM, BAAM’s Little Brother

What They Said

NVBOTS (client registration required) and Cincinnati Incorporated recently announced the Small Area Additive Manufacturing (SAAM) industrial 3D printer as a complement to Cincinnati Incorporated’s Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) system (client registration required). Cincinnati Incorporated will handle sales distribution, and support for the SAAM, while NVBOTS provides the printer and associated NVCloud software. The SAAM is a small build volume fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printer that is positioned as an automated prototyping tool for designers and engineers looking to print designs using BAAM amongst other manufacturing tools.

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Assessing the Opportunity of Additive Manufacturing for the Oil and Gas Industry


Oil and gas companies are beginning to explore the application of additive manufacturing to become more efficient in the current low oil price era. Several speculative use cases exist across the upstream/downstream sectors and offshore/conventional wells.

Lux Research developed a methodology to score 12 use cases based on the value generated by printing them and their suitability for being printed. Our analysis identified use cases such as pipeline pigs and sand control screens as forthcoming and liner hanger spikes and drill bits as high-potential applications. Among our findings:

  • Some use cases are lucrative. Profitable use cases include 3D printing chemical injection stick tools and nozzles for downhole cleanout tools. Two speculative use cases that also sit in the “forthcoming” quadrant are sand control screens and pipeline pigs.
  • Collaboration is key to technology hurdles. Partnerships are key to overcoming technological barriers in the short term. Oil and gas companies should engage with metal printing companies such as EnergyX and Arevo for developing new printing techniques for use cases like liner hanger spikes. For drill bits, candidate partners include Nanosteel and QuesTek Innovations.
  • Culture, conservatism are barriers. Oil and gas executives cite industry size and structure, risk aversion, and lack of infrastructure as key reasons for slow adoption of 3D printing. However, the success of 3D printing in the automotive and aerospace industries shows these factors are not insurmountable barriers, and the oil and gas industry’s growing focus on operational efficiency is driving change.

The oil and gas industry must implement a three-pronged approach – internal conceptualization, partnerships, and infrastructure – to successfully adopt additive manufacturing.

By: Harshit Sharma

GE and Local Motors Launch Fuse Crowdsourced Innovation Platform

GE and Local Motors recently announced the launch of a crowdsourced innovation platform, “Fuse.” The Fuse model is to publicly post problems as a challenge, potentially with a cash prize to solicit submissions, and then evaluate the results. It is part of Local Motors’ new Forth division, and may be joined by similar initiatives with other partners besides GE. As of this publication, Fuse already has four posted active projects related to GE’s innovation needs in non-destructive testing. Fuse will also have 3D printing resources to produce prototypes or for small-batch manufacturing. One GE official claimed that the Fuse model can reduce product development time by 50%, but at this point it is unclear whether that degree of improvement can generalize beyond a few chosen use cases. Continue reading

ORNL 3D Prints Autoclave-Capable CFRP Mold

In May 2016, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) reported that they had 3D printed a set of autoclave-capable carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) molds. The group used high performance thermoplastics (HPTPs) loaded with chopped carbon fiber: one mold used polyhenylene sulfide (PPS) from TechmerES, and the other used polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) from BASF. They printed the molds using a Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) 3D printer from Cincinnati Incorporated (client registration required), which can print parts up to 20 ft x 8 ft x 6 ft (6.1 m x 2.4 m x 1.8 m) in size with a 50 kg/hr material deposition rate. The researchers have stated that they expect the autoclave-capable materials they used to be commercially available for 3D printing by the end of 2016. Continue reading