Thursday, 27 February 2014

3D printing brings low cost energy solutions to developing countries

The idea of leveraging renewable energy sources to bring electricity to the developing world is a potential solution to a serious global problem. Companies are using 3D printing to shape and test innovative concepts and designs that can make a difference in the lives of millions of people.


Solar In a Suitcase: The Making of the FORTY2

This video on South Dakota start-up Peppermint Energy illustrates  the company’s flagship product, the FORTY2, a portable solar generator that draws enough energy from the sun to provide light, refrigerate medicine or food, or power a laptop. A battery connected to the array stores power for use when the sun is down. Its simple format and rugged casing can ease disaster relief and elevate the quality of life where electricity is scarce. The energy it delivers is clean, reliable and free.
3D printed solar generator, peppermint energy, FORTY2
The FORTY2 brings reliable electricity to developing areas
Behind the scenes, the story of how the FORTY2 was transformed from a spark of an idea into a desert-durable product with global distribution is inspiring. Peppermint’s president, Chris Maxwell  said, “The theme that kept occurring to us was: How do we get energy to everyone, everywhere?” The challenge was to create a functional prototype, within budget (money and time) for real world design testing.

Without a moment to spare, the team at Peppermint Energy turned to FDM 3D printing technology from Stratasys for development of the FORTY2. This step  enabled the Peppermint team not only to produce complex models for design verification, but also test functionality with the same durable ABS plastic used in today’s end product.

At three feet wide and roughly 60 pounds, the FORTY2 required a robust housing strong and large enough to hold all of its components. The first full-scale, working prototypes produced on a Fortus 3D Production System were so realistic that they enabled the Peppermint Team to identify and correct design issues, leading to a better product. For example, hand carrying the first prototype proved problematic so the Peppermint team decided to make the FORTY2 smaller, while ensuring that the solar panels were still able to generate the required power.  Also one of the 3D printed prototypes revealed an unnecessary  power switch on the outside of the case, leading to a simplified on/off design – the FORTY2 now turns on automatically when the unit is opened.

As a result of using Stratasys 3D printing for prototype design evaluation and validation, the company reduced time and significant savings of up to $250,000 in tooling costs compared with traditional mold-based techniques.

Peppermint Energy is a thriving startup business, growing and creating jobs based on the idea that clever, green innovation can improve lives and sustain profit margins. In response to the devastating Haiti earthquake in 2010, the FORTY2 was developed to bring emergency power to the area; as shown in the video, it is also being used in the rebuilding efforts. We dare you to watch the Peppermint story and not get the warm feeling that bright ideas are coming together to make the world a better place.

To download the full case study, click here.

Sometimes a new path becomes clear when you see the pitfalls of the old one. Brian Gramm was researching large-scale renewable energy, such as wind farms, when a totally new approach dawned on him. Rather than trying to make green energy look like the old, big-plant electrical grid, why not generate power right where it’s used, and let consumers have their own miniature power plants that can go anywhere?
“There are situations where large-scale solar is right, like office buildings. But the things that most of us use daily, most often, really don’t require much power,” said Gramm. He co-founded Peppermint Energy, a South Dakota company that makes a portable, plug-and-play solar generator called the FORTY2. Like a solar plant in a suitcase, the FORTY2 draws enough juice from the sun to power lights, laptops — even a dorm fridge. A battery stashes power and delivers it after sundown.

Inspiration to Distribution

Peppermint Energy Solar Generator in a Field The FORTY2 changed a lot between idea and delivery. At first, Gramm thought the device would resonate most with U.S. consumers — tailgaters and campers seeking off-the-grid recreation. But experts were most excited about what the FORTY2 could do in the developing world, where three billion people live without reliable electricity. If Peppermint’s device could power lights for working and learning after sunset, equipment for disaster relief, and refrigerators for penicillin, it could change lives.
Think of it: Lifesaving medicine could reach places it couldn’t go before. The device could also spark commerce in remote areas as entrepreneurs find ways to monetize free reliable power.
To do the most good, Gramm realized the FORTY2 had to be robust. In a portable size, providing the spikes of intense power that refrigeration demands was a big engineering challenge. Gramm set about assembling the talent, resources and relationships to put his vision to work. “Honestly all I had at this point was a bit of an idea, and a picture,” he said.
Once engineers had honed the device as far as possible in CAD, Peppermint needed a physical prototype. “It was hard for anybody, including me, to truly appreciate size and scale when you’re looking at it onscreen,” Gramm said. At three feet wide and likely to weigh 60 pounds, the FORTY2 required a seriously robust housing, complex and strong enough to hold all of its components. Fused Deposition Modeling™ (FDM®) was the only 3D printing method that could deliver.
The first full-scale prototype, built in a Fortus® 3D Production System, revealed some of the design considerations that led to the FORTY2’s delightfully simple operation. “It’s only when you see it in physical form that you realize the form and function should be the same,” Gramm said. For example, a power switch is unnecessary; just opening the FORTY2 turns it on. The Peppermint team also decided to make the whole device even smaller than intended after carrying the first prototype proved awkward. Gramm said if he had to do it all again, he’d use 3D printing even earlier in the process.

Modeling Relationships

A 3D printed prototype made of strong ABS plastic Surprisingly, the prototypes helped build another essential element to success: relationships. “Ever try to ask a vendor ‘Make me a custom thing that works in concert with a bunch of other stuff that I can’t show you’?” said Peppermint president Chris Maxwell. Full-size prototypes facilitated discussions with manufacturers and component vendors. Best of all, Maxwell said once the product was tangible, potential investors felt they were buying into a business, not just an idea. Some even took the prototype home for a weekend.
In a second iteration, the team discovered a 1/4-inch flaw in the FORTY2’s design, which Gramm said would have been overlooked in CAD. Additionally, the powerful battery required for refrigeration made it necessary to scale back other components. “We were able to make changes that I would estimate saved us at least a quarter of a million dollars in tooling,” said Gramm. Because of the two FDM prototypes, the team committed to production with confidence rather than hope.
- See more at: http://www.stratasys.com/resources/case-studies/consumer-goods/peppermint-energy#sthash.u3x8jih5.dpuf
Sometimes a new path becomes clear when you see the pitfalls of the old one. Brian Gramm was researching large-scale renewable energy, such as wind farms, when a totally new approach dawned on him. Rather than trying to make green energy look like the old, big-plant electrical grid, why not generate power right where it’s used, and let consumers have their own miniature power plants that can go anywhere?
“There are situations where large-scale solar is right, like office buildings. But the things that most of us use daily, most often, really don’t require much power,” said Gramm. He co-founded Peppermint Energy, a South Dakota company that makes a portable, plug-and-play solar generator called the FORTY2. Like a solar plant in a suitcase, the FORTY2 draws enough juice from the sun to power lights, laptops — even a dorm fridge. A battery stashes power and delivers it after sundown.

Inspiration to Distribution

Peppermint Energy Solar Generator in a Field The FORTY2 changed a lot between idea and delivery. At first, Gramm thought the device would resonate most with U.S. consumers — tailgaters and campers seeking off-the-grid recreation. But experts were most excited about what the FORTY2 could do in the developing world, where three billion people live without reliable electricity. If Peppermint’s device could power lights for working and learning after sunset, equipment for disaster relief, and refrigerators for penicillin, it could change lives.
Think of it: Lifesaving medicine could reach places it couldn’t go before. The device could also spark commerce in remote areas as entrepreneurs find ways to monetize free reliable power.
To do the most good, Gramm realized the FORTY2 had to be robust. In a portable size, providing the spikes of intense power that refrigeration demands was a big engineering challenge. Gramm set about assembling the talent, resources and relationships to put his vision to work. “Honestly all I had at this point was a bit of an idea, and a picture,” he said.
Once engineers had honed the device as far as possible in CAD, Peppermint needed a physical prototype. “It was hard for anybody, including me, to truly appreciate size and scale when you’re looking at it onscreen,” Gramm said. At three feet wide and likely to weigh 60 pounds, the FORTY2 required a seriously robust housing, complex and strong enough to hold all of its components. Fused Deposition Modeling™ (FDM®) was the only 3D printing method that could deliver.
The first full-scale prototype, built in a Fortus® 3D Production System, revealed some of the design considerations that led to the FORTY2’s delightfully simple operation. “It’s only when you see it in physical form that you realize the form and function should be the same,” Gramm said. For example, a power switch is unnecessary; just opening the FORTY2 turns it on. The Peppermint team also decided to make the whole device even smaller than intended after carrying the first prototype proved awkward. Gramm said if he had to do it all again, he’d use 3D printing even earlier in the process.

Modeling Relationships

A 3D printed prototype made of strong ABS plastic Surprisingly, the prototypes helped build another essential element to success: relationships. “Ever try to ask a vendor ‘Make me a custom thing that works in concert with a bunch of other stuff that I can’t show you’?” said Peppermint president Chris Maxwell. Full-size prototypes facilitated discussions with manufacturers and component vendors. Best of all, Maxwell said once the product was tangible, potential investors felt they were buying into a business, not just an idea. Some even took the prototype home for a weekend.
In a second iteration, the team discovered a 1/4-inch flaw in the FORTY2’s design, which Gramm said would have been overlooked in CAD. Additionally, the powerful battery required for refrigeration made it necessary to scale back other components. “We were able to make changes that I would estimate saved us at least a quarter of a million dollars in tooling,” said Gramm. Because of the two FDM prototypes, the team committed to production with confidence rather than hope.
- See more at: http://www.stratasys.com/resources/case-studies/consumer-goods/peppermint-energy#sthash.u3x8jih5.dpuf

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Two New Reasons To Smile About 3D Printing for Digital Dentistry

This week saw Stratasys release two new dental specific 3D printing items: the Objet Eden260V Dental Advantage 3D Printer for dental and orthodontic labs; and VeroGlaze, a dental material for natural looking dental models with A2 teeth color shade, plus fine details and resolution. These exciting new releases are set to help dental labs make the leap to advanced digital dentistry and service their customers faster, consistently and more accurately than ever before.

digital dentistry, 3d printer
Objet Eden260V Dental Advantage
The new Objet  Eden260V Dental Advantage 3D Printer
The new Objet Eden260V Dental Advantage 3D Printer provides a lower cost entry to advanced digital dentistry. This means labs can rapidly produce dental and orthodontic appliances, replacing time-consuming manual models and model-making with intraoral scanner output and 3D printing.
Avi Cohen, Director of Global Dental at Stratasys, said:  
“The Objet Eden260V Dental Advantage can create a wide range of dental models, surgical guides, positioning trays and orthodontic appliances significantly faster than hand milling, and can also be used to 3D print many different models all at once on a build tray that’s 20% to 40%  larger than alternative digital dental  systems.”
This is a clear advantage for increasing production capacity and operational costs, especially since no indepth special skills or computing knowledge are needed by technicians to run it.
But speed isn’t the only benefit of the Objet Eden260V Dental Advantage, it also produces accurate and consistent models.

VeroGlaze offers a natural look for dental models
veroglaze, 3d printing dental material
VeroGlaze offers a natural tooth colour
VeroGlaze is a new dental specific Objet PolyJet material for precise A2 teeth colour shade for a more natural look. It can be used in conjunction with all open intra-oral, impression and plaster scanners and is optimized or 3D printing models for crowns, bridge restorations, diagnostic wax-ups and veneer try-in.
“Apearance and accuracy are everything in our business and we’re delighted with the details and resolution of the models being produced on our Objet Eden260V 3D Printer with the new VeroGlaze,” says Yves Dossche, manager of Remedent in Belgium, a leading manufacturer of veneers for the dental industry.

With these new introductions, there’s no better  time to make the move into digital dentistry. To speak to your local award-winning Stratasys distributor contact Objective3D.

For a free sample dental model, click here.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

University upgrades to Multi-Material printing

When Objective3D upgraded Victoria University of Wellington's 3D printer to an Objet 500 Connex multi-material printer, it opened up a whole new world of possibilities.

The Objet 500 Connex is able to print flexible and rigid materials simultaneously, with over 120+ digital materials available. It is this technology that allowed Victoria University's Richard Clarkson to design and print his 'Seamless Blossom Project' - the world's first inflatable 3D printed flowers.



"This project is the exploration of what we can start to do with 3D printers," said Richard Clarkson. "The flowers came about by the idea of trying to create this organic form from this totally inorganic process."

An interactive display, the flowers open and close as air is moved into the internal chamber. No electronics are used.

Multi-material printing reduces the number of steps and processes involved to produce a single part of assembly. Flexible and rigid materials are printed simultaneously, reducing assembly time and former design constraints.

The Objet Connex series are available in several models with build platforms ranging from 26x26x20cm (Objet260 Connex) to 50x40x20 (Objet500 Connex).

RedEye Australasia, the largest FDM service bureau in the southern hemisphere, offers Connex multi-material parts, and discounts for existing Stratasys machine owners.

To find out more about the range of Objet Connex multi-material printers, and the new Connex3, colour multi-material printer, click here.