This edition of Rapid 3D Printing News brings you 3D printing news about the futuristic 3D printed bike, Nera from NOWLAB, 3D printing patent fight between competitors Formlabs Inc. and DWS Systems, BMW’s prints and installs their One-Millionth 3D printed part, & 3D printing with simulated lunar dust by Lithoz and ESA-led project.
NERA E-Motorcycle, The World’s First Fully 3D Printed & Functional E-Motorcycle by NOWLAB
NOWLAB, the innovation lab, and consultancy of German manufacturers of large-scale FFF 3D printers, BigRep, developed the world’s fully 3D printed and functional e-motorcycle, the Nera e-motorcycle. Interestingly, apart from the electrical components, all other components like tires, rims, frame, fork, and seat are 3D printed.
BigRep had already demonstrated the 3D printed airless tire and rims in their previous projects. This new NOWLAB project combines all the elements into a single unique and interesting project.
According to Daniel Büning, Co-founder and Managing Director of NOWLAB, “The NERA combines several innovations developed by NOWLAB, such as the airless tire, functional integration, and embedded sensor technology. This bike and our other prototypes push the limits of engineering creativity and will reshape AM technology as we know it.”
The aim for Nera was not just to build a 3D printed bike, but to set a benchmark for the industry. The engineers, therefore, remodelled a new design for the bike instead of simply building onto the existing designs. This approach helped them to truly create a unique design. Something which traditional manufacturing is not capable of producing.
Nera is not just a one-off the product but it is a marvel to acknowledge the potential of 3D printing and the benefits it offers for producing end-use parts, particularly for small batch production by reducing lead times and costs, optimizing supply chains, and limiting dependency on supplier networks.
Nera is fitted with innovative components like the airless tires with customized tread; a lightweight rhomboid wheel rim, flexible bumpers (instead of suspension) and the electric engine, which is fitted in a customizable case.
About NOWLAB: NOWLAB is the innovation lab and consultancy of BigRep. They work with companies to make the most advanced, innovative, and yet unseen applications and technological solutions in additive manufacturing.
3D Printing Patent fight intensifies as DWS Systems seeks damages from Formlabs
The 3D printing patent infringement seems to be the buzzword. Just recently we saw a 3D printing patent fight between Desktop Metal and Markforged and now we see two other companies, USA-based Formlabs and Italian DWS Systems filing suits claiming infringement, both being manufacturers of SLA 3D printing machines.
The Italian manufacturer of SLA 3D printers, DWS systems, recently filed a counterclaim alleging infringement of its U.S. patent. Additionally, it also seeks damages in the lawsuit started by Formlabs Inc.
Responding to the counterclaim, Formlabs co-founder and CEO Max Lobovsky said in a prepared statement “Formlabs is committed to vigorously defending our position that we do not infringe any patent claims in this case against DWS. Our competitors are often threatened by the speed to market, innovation and incredible engineering that goes into all Formlabs products. But no one wins when a company tries to hold back progress in the market with patents claiming technology that has been well known in the industry for years.”
Chronology of the 3D Printing Patent Infringement Lawsuit
January 2017: The fight started when DWS Systems first took Formlabs to court in January 2017 with a case filed in Italian court which claimed that Formlabs violated its European and Italian Stereolithography 3D printing patents.
August 2017: DWS filed a similar suit against Formlabs, in Germany this time.
December 2017: DWS followed it up with another suit against the company and its distributor in Turkey in the Istanbul Civil Court for Intellectual Property and Industrial Rights.
June 2018: Formlabs then started a lawsuit asking a U.S. federal court in Virginia to declare that its technology does not violate the foreign patents, which are identical to DWS’ U.S. patent. In its complaint, Formlabs sought a declaratory judgement of non-infringement of the DWS US patent No. 8,945,456 by its FORM 2 3D printing machine. The patent relates to the heating system in the 3D stereolithographic printers
August 2018: The German lawsuit, filed one year earlier, ruled in favour of DWS Systems and declared Formlabs had violated its patent.
5th November 2018: The U.S. federal court judge declined a request from DWS to scrap Formlabs’ case asking for the declaratory judgment, and the Italian company is currently seeking an appeals court review of whether the overseas disputes are enough for Formlabs to request the declaratory judgment in the U.S. court.
13th November 2018: DWS has now filed a counterclaim for infringement and damages referring to the manufacture, use, and sale by Formlabs of the FORM 2 printer, which is claimed to be the most successful product of the Massachusetts Company. In its counterclaim, DWS also asserts that Formals’ infringement is, and has been, willful.
Most of the lawsuits still await court judgements and there is a lot at stake for both these established companies. It will be a wait-and-watch game for the industry and the customers.
BMW Installs its One-Millionth 3D Printed Part in BMW Roadster
BMW has always been at the forefront of incorporating 3D printing into their production workflow. BMW has been researching and producing in the field of additive manufacturing technologies since 1990. Over the last decade, the use has significantly increased and the fact that it recently 3D printed its one-millionth part is a testament to this effort.
While the overall yearly average was around 100,000 3D printed parts, this year the total number of parts at BMW will reach to around 200,000 components, which is a 42% rise in the part manufacturing.
According to Dr. Jens Ertel, Director of the BMW Group Additive Manufacturing Center: “The use of components made by additive manufacturing in series production of vehicles is increasing particularly strongly at the moment. We are following the development and application of advanced these manufacturing methods very closely indeed, partly through longstanding cooperations with leading manufacturers in the field. At the same time, we are engaging in targeted technology scouting and evaluating innovative production systems.”
With this continuous increase, BMW recently fitted its One-Millionth 3D printed component in series production in a BMW i8 Roadster. The piece, window guide rail, was developed and integrated into series production in a mere five days. This milestone component was manufactured in HO Multi Jet Fusion Technology. This technology is now put in use in the series production of BMW vehicles for the very first time. It can produce up to 100 window guide rails in 24 hours.
BMW Group has identified additive manufacturing as a key production method. By starting early, the group has managed to lead the pack and has been quick to capitalise on its experience by identifying potential uses for additive manufacturing technologies.
Lithoz 3D Prints with Simulated Lunar Dust to Investigate Building Parts on Moon
Lithoz, an Austrian company specialising in ceramic 3D printing, has 3D printed finely-detailed ceramic parts using simulated lunar regolith as a part of the European Space Agency-led investigation into how 3D printing could be used to support a lunar base.
The formulated lunar dust/powder/regolith was mixed with a light-reacting binding agent. This was then used to 3D print various components with an aim to use the original lunar regolith for printing tools or even large structures.
According to ESA materials engineer Advenit Makaya, “These parts have the finest print resolution ever achieved with objects made of regolith simulant, demonstrating a high level of print precision and widening the range of uses such items could be put to. If one needs to print tools or machinery parts to replace broken parts on a lunar base, precision in the dimensions and shape of the printed items will be vital.”
He continued, “Normally their print process is based on materials such as aluminium oxide, zirconium oxide or silicon nitride. What we’ve demonstrated here is that it can also work with raw regolith, which is a collection of various different types of oxides, chiefly silicon oxide but also aluminium, calcium and iron oxides, among others.”
Johannes Homa, CEO of Lithoz reacted, “Thanks to our expertise in the additive manufacturing of ceramics, we were able to achieve these results very quickly. We believe there’s a huge potential in ceramic additive manufacturing for the Moon.”
Going forward, these parts will now be tested for their strength and mechanical properties with the hope that parts with similar properties can be one day produced on the moon making the lunar operations and expeditions more efficient and productive.
About Lithoz: Lithoz in an Austrian 3D printing company specialising in the development and production of materials and additive manufacturing systems for 3D printing high-performance ceramics.
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