The Inside 3D Printing Expo has returned once again to Singapore for the 3rd year running, and was again hosted by the Suntec City Convention centre. On the other hand a fewwhat scaled down in physical dimensions since last year, there were yet a lot of high end exhibitors revealing off their wares to a 3D printing-hungry public.
Of quite own interest was the HP booth, who had bought a variety of printed components for visitors to inspect and play around with. During last year’s expo, HP revealed their entry into the 3DP game during a packed seminar, and showed a whole bunch of videos and apparently promised the Moon in terms of their ambition and capability. Whilst HP have not officially revealed a release date for their super-fast ink jet printing device, their demo objects were quite informative to play with (and at very least demonstrate that they are manufacturing progress)… for the reason, let’s be honest, a swanky video is really excellent, but tangible demo objects speak a million words.
Arranged in the HP display were a variety of items, ranging of tiny, aesthetic models (to demonstrate colour and resolution capability) up to seeming end-use parts (to demonstrate mechanical and dimensional stability). One such engineering part was a tabbed torsion spring (pictured). Whilst it may not appear particularly notable at initially glance, it should be pointed out that the stiffness of this part varies along its geometry. The 2 end tabs are soft and pliable, while the spring section is firm and stiff. This is a a fewwhat rad achievement for a single part, printed in one go, with no extra assembly. HP informed me that this mechanical effect was achieved by altering the high end of curing agent during the print job, creating a kind of “stiffness gradient” that varied in proportion to the amount of agent utilized.
Additionally, HP had bought along a pair of printed scissors; it appears that functional 3D printed plastic blades are now a thing, and, of my own demonstration, they seem a fewwhat sharp. Or sharp adequate to cut thick cardstock, at very least, and unquestionably sharp adequate to not be running with. So, although there is no official release date of the 2D printing juggernaut on when their tech can be hitting the market, HP described that they aim to be releasing their tech within 18 month (tentatively), so that is a thing to appear forward to on the plastic printing side of things.
From the metal 3D printing world, German company SLM Solutions had a stand with a bunch of informative aerospace parts on display. Having a background in aerospace engineering, I was immediately drawn to what appeared to be a few form of space rover wheel. On talking to the SLM rep, I was informed that it was indeed a lunar rover wheel, and was a prototype for the Google Lunar X-Prize (specifically of the Part Time Rocket Scientists team, who have not long ago teamed up with Audi). In addition one of the SLM items on display was a quirky, biological-appearing structure, that was reminiscent of the Crystalline Entity of Star Trek: The Next Generation (I don’t understand adequate of biology to manufacture a reasonable comparison to a real-life biological example- but I do understand Trek).
This odd appearing item was apparently a shower head adapter, that had been created as a bespoke job for a customer. Given the weird and seeminlgy random placement of the water jet/tendril things, I suspect it may have been additional useful at cleaning the within of the shower, pretty than the user of the shower. Regardless of how well it performed in real life, it was yet an informative create, and demonstrates how SLM/SLS can be utilized for the creation of intricate fluid mechanical devices, that is always of excellent interest to the aerospace industry.
Onto the computer grade printing devices now, there were a few less offererings compared to last year, and sadly not many representing the host nation…but as I am already in the market for a computer printing device for my office, and so I took a appearsie anyway… 2 printing devices that caught my eye were the Cubicon Single of South Korea’s HyVISION System (additional info here) and in addition of South Korea was a company by the name of “Finebot”.
There does not seem to be much going on in terms of technology for computer 3D printing devices at the moment, but both of these companies had attractively created units, and every had a little a thing extra that created them stand out of the crowd. The Cubicon Single has a heated chamber, that keeps the part heated at around 80 degrees Celcius, thus reducing the accident for thermal distortion (particularly of ABS parts), and the Finebots were capable of printing in a rubbery Polyeurethane material, in addition to the standard ABS and PLA filament. The Cubicon has got rave reviews throughout different types of sources, but the Finebot appears to have flown under the radar for the many part. With any luck there can be a review on 3D Printing Industry at a few point in the following.
Sadly, I did not have time to attend the seminars this year- a minor mishap with an open drain cover the previous day resulted in an appointment with the radiologist after the expo… I had appeared around the convention centre on the off-accident that there was an X-Ray machine conference being held at the same time, who may have wanted to use me as a guinea pig, but to no avail.
So, that is all of this year’s Inside3DPrinting conference in Singapore. For readers who can be in Germany this month, the following leg of the tour can take the expo to Dusseldorf on 24th-25th February. So, if you are in the area, do pop in for a visit. Early bird tickets are yet on the market.