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3D Printing Blog

The i.materialise blog keeps you updated about outstanding 3D designs, the newest 3D printing technologies and the best 3D modeling software tutorials.

3D Printing Functional Robots

How futuristic do you need us to be, really? For months Hiro (our business development guy in Japan) has been working on an area that is very important to us here at i.materialise: using 3D printing to customize robots.
We think that in the coming years two technologies that are ripe for democratization are robots and 3D printing. To combine both of them into one service is irresistible to us. Because of this Hiro has been doing extensive research on what people that have robots at home need.
A few months ago robotics enthusiast news source Robots Dreams already posted a review of some of the parts we had made back then. Check it out below.

This gives you insight into one of the consumer robot areas that we are exploring. Our initial baby steps back then consisted of creating, together with a customer, some customized faceplates and other robot parts using SLS. This let the customer create a custom unique version of his Kondo robot. Last year I went on vacation to Japan an

Polyjet 3D printing by Objet

Israeli company Objet has a very detailed 3D printing process called Polyjet. Polyjet works with layers by layer building up a photopolymer and then hardening it with UV light. Polyjet produces very highly detailed parts that are very attractive. The parts are however not very strong and have low heat deflection temperatures. Polyjet is great for art objects, artistic projects and things such as characters whereby detail is crucial. On i.materialise we call Polyjet FineLayer epoxy and you can get it in White. Check out the video below showing you the entire Polyjet process on an Objet Eden.

  • Hardness 83 Shore D
  • Flexural modulus (stiffness) 2140 MPa
  • Flexural strength 74,6 MPa
  • Elongation at break 15 – 25%
  • Izod Notched Impact Resistance 37.5 J/m
  • Heat Deflection Temp (@ 1,82 MPa) 47.6° C
  • Natural Color white
  • Minimum Wallthickness 0.7

3D print your warheads and missiles

It is not surprising really. Lockheed Martin received a patent on using additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing) to make warheads. The Lockheed Martin patent provides for, “integral constructions, tailored fragmentation patterns, use of dissimilar materials for special effects, and variable material property constructions for enhanced performance” in warheads.

I’m guessing that the special effects are not the same special effects that James Cameron & LucasArts come up with. The patent, US Patent 7093542, granted in 2006, goes on to say:

“Direct manufacturing techniques of additive fabrication enable design and fabrication of specialized warheads using unique shaping, materials, and structures that have conventionally been difficult or impossible to use. Special warhead shapes may include nose cones, walls of controlled thickness, fragmentation patterns, and the like. Unique and previously unused materials include new material alloys, non-homogeneous materials, defor


Earlier this week The New York Times published a nice article called ‘3-D Printing Spurs a Manufacturing Revolution’. Although the article is getting a lot of attention, it only shows you a glimpse of what 3D printing can actually do. If you feel like discovering a whole lot more, you should visit the FABRICATION LABORATORY in Barcelona and experience all the 3D digital manufacturing technologies up close.

Fabrication Laboratory. New scenarios for 3D design and production is a series of events that are held at the Disseny Hub Barcelona ( from 15 June 2010 to 29 May 2011. With FABRICATION LABORATORY the DHUB presents an overview of the new 3D digital manufacturing technologies, a phenomenon that’s constantly evolving and leading to radical changes in design and production processes worldwide. The idea of the DHUB is to show the reflection on how these machines and software allow a new kind of fabrication that involves a different way of designing and programming.

Impulse 3D printing Can we print a better tomorrow?

3D printing is often touted as a technology that will reduce waste, reduce carbon emissions and make the world a greener place. But, we’re capricious covetous monkeys and I worry that any gains made by the technology will be eroded by our greed for more and better stuff. I’ll confess to something terrible now: I once bought two HP printers on sale because the second would be cheaper than an additional cartridge. I promptly tossed the first once its cartridge was empty. Imagine the callous destruction we could accomplish with the wholesale commoditization & democratization of manufacturing through 3D printing. So, what should we do? Is there anything we can do to guard ourselves against ourselves?

A while ago Matt Forsythe asked a question on Twitter: “What will be the 3D printer equivalent of office-jerks printing out all their emails?” I replied, “people will impulse 3D print 20 pairs of sunglasses, pick one and toss the rest.”

Impulse 3D printing has been a real worry for m

3D printing commercial aircraft parts (and burning them with a Crème brûlée torch)

One of the biggest problems with 3D printing materials is that they’re basically built to fail. Traditionally materials have been chosen specifically because they have low melting temperatures or are weak. 3D printing is now entering a phase whereby the parts used increasingly must be strong, robust and functional for use in the real world. Delicate prototypes still have a place but increasingly the market will have to cater to direct digital manufacturing whereby final parts are produced on demand. One material showing us where thing are headed is Ultem 9085. This material, made by Saudi firm Sabic, is made for use on Stratasys FDM machines.
The combination is a powerful one. Ultem has been certified for use on commercial aircraft, is strong, very light, has very low toxicity when burned, high melting temperature and is actually flame retardant. It is a portent of a new class of materials with advanced properties that are certified for advanced uses. To show you just how awesome

3D print an entire coffee table in one piece

Check out the video to see how we 3D print an entire coffee table in one piece.

The Module by design label .MGX, designed by celebrated designers WertelOberfell–Platform is printed in one piece our Stratasys FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) machines. The coffee table is based on fractal growth patterns in trees and designed specifically to minimize waste. Individual Module coffee tables can be intertwined in order to get just the size of table you need.

The machine used in the video is the Stratasys FDM Maxum, one of the largest 3D printers in existence with a build volume of 600 by 500 by 600 mm. I hope the video does the scale of the thing justice, I could sit in it if I dared.

Our parent company Materialise has the largest FDM capacity in the world outside Stratasys itself. We have over 20 FDM systems, the majority of them the huge Maxum machines. The FDM production people are also currently trying to be patient while they wait for capacity to increase yet again so t

Delight with your very own 3D light

Announcing the Google SketchUp & i.materialise 3d printed Lamp Design Challenge.

Designers can enter to create and win their own lamp using Google SketchUp. The top 3 designers win their very own lamp 3D printed. The lamp comes complete with a light and base. The overall winner wins a Google SketchUp Pro 8 license. Check out the rules, how you can join and some examples on our Design Challenge page here.

We can”t wait to see how you surprise us with your very best in SketchUp product design skills. We’re looking for the most original lamp possible. How far will you take us? What will you make?

You can see some more lovely 3D printed lamp designs here on Flickr.