Advice From TEAMM Network Members On How To Prepare For RAPID 2019

As one of the biggest 3D Printing trade shows is about to start, AM News asked its members for tips and ideas to help you get the most from the RAPID + TCT event at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan on May 20 through 23. With 6,000-plus registered attendees, over 400 exhibiting companies, and more than 110 conference presentations, there is more than enough to keep you learning new concepts and networking with peers.

There are many compelling reasons people go to the RAPID event each year — mostly, to keep up with the cutting edge changes in 3D printing overall (which are significant on their own), but specifically within medical technologies, metal 3D printing, and the creative, unbelievable artwork, to name but a few. Figuring out how to take it all in is a big challenge with such an enormous tradeshow. Here are ideas to make it manageable.

Dr. Ismail Fidan at Tennessee Tech University highly recommended that attendees get the RAPID mobile app for either iOS or Android. Either one can help you register for conference workshops or peruse the event’s list of 429 exhibitors (at press time).

“Other than educators like me, several industrial and commercial organizations attend so they learn the latest trends and technologies in their specific AM fields. It is a big event and hard to visit all the exhibitors. It is nearly impossible to listen to all the presentations, but with some organizing before you go, you can get a tremendous amount of new knowledge from this must-attend event for almost all STEM educators and practitioners,” he said.

Mel Cossette, Executive Director & Principal Investigator of the National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education, said that she has found it helpful to look at the tracks prior to attending and identifying areas of interest. She then looks at the sessions to find the overlap and plan her event time.

“Also, look at the exhibit floor plan to get a sense of which exhibitors are of high interest, mid-interest and maybe not so much and where they are located. I found I could get tied up with exhibitors that I found personally interesting rather than those that I aligned to the tracks/sessions I was attending or planned to attend. This way I got to the ones I really needed to connect with and then visited others as time permitted,” she advised.

Carl Dekker, founder and President of Met-L-Flo suggested that students and young professionals check out the Career Development Forum to hear Tech Talks from additive manufacturing experts who will discuss their current role, opportunities and share their career journey. The forum is an interactive event designed to enhance career development and grow future generations of leaders in the additive manufacturing industry.

You can learn more and register for the annual RAPID 3D Printing event here.

National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers Offers Apprenticeship Webinar

Hiring technicians with the skills required to work in additive manufacturing continues to be a serious challenge for most companies. Thanks to an innovative new registered apprenticeship program for additive manufacturing technicians, manufacturers have a way to develop and enhance their workforce.

In a free webinar on Thursday, May 2, 2019, TEAMM Network member, the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers (NCATC), will present details about an upcoming, new apprenticeship training program for 3D Printing Technicians as well as other occupational trade apprentice program opportunities.

You can register for the virtual event at the America Makes and RCBI Apprenticeship Works signup page. It begins at 8am Pacific/11am Eastern.

Apprenticeship-Works RCBI
Apprenticeship-Works RCBI

The “Developing Additive Manufacturing Talent through the Apprenticeship Model” webinar will explore:

    • An overview and information on the additive manufacturing/3D printing technician apprenticeship program
    • How an apprenticeship program can improve your recruitment, retention, and succession planning efforts
    • How apprenticeship increases your company’s productivity and improves quality
    • Features of the new AM technician apprenticeship
    • Benefits to partnering with the Apprenticeship Works program at RCBI

Apprenticeship Works — the National Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Partnership at the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) — makes apprenticeships more accessible and affordable for employers, helping reduce skills gaps. This national effort is funded by a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor that expands RCBI’s proven apprenticeship model.

According to the website: “Through Apprenticeship Works, RCBI and its team of national partners help companies develop and implement customized, world-class training that combines hands-on, work-based learning with related classroom and online instruction using the highest industry standards, ideal for small, medium and large multi-site operations.”

RCBI is looking for additional partners nationwide to expand apprenticeship opportunities in advanced manufacturing. A primary focus includes innovative pre-apprenticeship programs for women, transitioning military personnel and disadvantaged youth.

There are many occupations to choose from:

  • Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing Technician (example outline)
  • Tool and Die Maker
  • Industrial Maintenance Technician
  • Welding Technician
  • Engineering Assistant
  • Assembly Technician
  • CNC Operator and Programmer
  • Electrician
  • Industrial Manufacturing Production Technician
  • Die Setter
  • Machinist
  • Press Operator
  • Quality Control Technician
  • Robotics Technician
  • Composites Technician
  • Airframe Mechanic
  • Press Brake Operator

This RCBI programs exists thanks to cooperation with the US Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship, under the American Apprenticeship Initiative grant funding. Employers interested in participating in the Group Standards of Apprenticeship and utilizing the related outlines may contact Lucinda Curry at lcurry@rcbi.org or 304.720.7742 (All OJT and related training may be customized to meet employer needs.) This program is available nationwide.

The Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI), part of Marshall University in West Virginia, encourages job creation, economic development, innovation and entrepreneurship by supporting manufacturing companies of all sizes. RCBI and America Makes, along with other national partners, collaborated on the first nationally recognized apprenticeship for additive manufacturing technicians, launched in fall 2018.

In addition, RCBI offers Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology with 3D Printers through its Design Works labs and is a national Center of Excellence for composite materials providing support to NASA engineers as well as first-tier Department of Defense suppliers in West Virginia.

Tennessee Tech Launches New Mobile Multitasking 3D Printer

Tennessee Tech University (TTU) announced today that it is launching TechBot, a mobile, multitasking 3D Printer designed, developed and fabricated by TTU faculty and students. TTU has applied for a provisional U.S. Patent on the 3D printer.

Although there are many 3D printers on the market today, the TechBot differs in its mobility. Most printers today demand a rigid frame structure. This new printer is not limited to a traditional work envelope as are other conventional 3D printers –  the user can define and set up their own work surface to print almost any type of material from the paste-based extruder.

TTU TechBot 3D Printer
TTU TechBot 3D Printer

This is another key difference with the TechBot – it does not use traditional 3D printer materials, such as, filament, powder, pellets, or resin that are commonly used in several other additive manufacturing processes. It has a paste-based method, using a syringe, to dispense any paste type material on any X and Y direction. It can do 200mm in height on the Z axis.

The team has found a number of uses and applications for this Mobile printer:

      • Using the TechBot mobile multitasking platform to develop a mobile tape applicator for multi-purpose gyms. This will result in a quick and precise method to convert a multi-purpose gym floor from a basketball court to a volleyball court.
      • The TechBot platform can also be used to incorporate a fast drying paint extruder to paint team logos onto arena floors. During Sports tournaments, the TechBot could paint both team logos onto an arena floor within minutes. This paint can be removed with the appropriate dissolver.
      • Another application for the TechBot platform is in the construction industry to extrude grout between tile gaps.

Other applications are being explored, across a wide range of areas, such as, 3D food printing (think cakes, pies, desserts) to circuit boards. The team has also looked into the printing of concrete structures with the TechBot. 

The TechBot is designed to incorporate 4 omnidirectional wheels at the corners which greatly improves the print accuracy. The extrusion head is incorporated within the frame of the TechBot, this makes it possible for one z-axis to be capable of printing multiple materials using different extrusion methods. The TechBot is also offered as a do-it-yourself (DIY) kit (assembly required).

TechBot is funded through NSF Award 1601587, Additive Manufacturing Workforce Advancement Training Coalition and Hub (AM-WATCH). Research Team Members are:

The TechBot team also received technical support from Ed Tackett (University of Louisville), Amy Elliott (Oak Ridge National Laboratory), Tom Singer (Sinclair Community College), and Mel Cossette (Edmonds Community College).

Click on the images to get a full-size photo of each image. If gallery does not display an arrow to move forward, hit the back button on your browser.


Technical specs of the TechBot

  • Size: X-37cm Y-37cm Z-66cm
    • Max printing area: X-unlimited Y-unlimited Z-200mm
  • OmniWheels: 60mm diameter
  • Syringe Extruder: Uses a 150mL syringe
  • Driven by a 40mm Nema 17 motor with a 27:1 gear ratio
    • Lead screw is used for the up and down motion
  • Syringe Extruder frame was designed in house
    • Utilizes a filament run out sensor
  • Board: MKS GEN L V1.0 Board
    • Runs on marlin code
  • Stepper Motors: 4x 48mm Nema 17 stepper motors
    • Using Nema 17 motor mounts
  • Frame: 2020 aluminum extrusion
    • Size: 32cm x 32cm x 40cm
  • Aluminum corner brackets and right angle plates for a perfectly square frame
    • Z Axis: 34mm  Nema 17 stepper motor turning a lead screw for z axis movement
    • Supported by 2 linear guide rails with linear bearings

Advanced Materials and 3D Printing at World Economic Forum

Davos.

Each year, thousands of people gather at Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum (WEF). With a theme that impacts our AM News readers this year (and beyond), Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we wanted to encourage you to look at two priority areas for WEF: advanced materials and 3D printing.

We compiled and shared this short overview video on our Materials Education Facebook page (come visit, like our page, and learn more about materials science):

The World Economic Forum is looking at the large, global picture of society and business. But their research initiatives are well-funded and reveal many details that can help you in your educational endeavors, both for teachers and students. We encourage you to dig in on their Advanced Materials page as well as the one on 3D Printing. We will continue to share insights and new findings here as we uncover them.

According to the WEF site, “Participants drawn from all over the world and from every sphere of influence: business, government, civil society, academia, arts and culture, and media… Leaders and luminaries including Sir David Attenborough, Shinzo Abe, Angela Merkel, Prince William, and Jacinda Ardern will gather in Davos for the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2019.”

Although the 2019 event is now done, the WEF continues to work on a variety of important issues, from the above-linked Materials work to other important topics aimed at building a better global future.

NOTE: Of course, you can also find many news updates and resources on the pages of the TEAMM website and in our regular AM News posts, particularly this one on 3D Printing training for teachers via the TTU AM-WATCH program

Berkeley Lab Develops 3D Print Structures Composed Entirely Of Liquids

Just as people have begun to understand and use 3D printing, here comes a new technology: Liquid 3D printing from one of the top government labs. With 13 Nobel prizes, 70 scientists who are members of the National Academy of Sciences (one of the highest honors for a scientist in the U.S.), numerous National Medals of Science under their belt, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) knows a bit about how to adapt and tweak materials properties to get what they want.

Recently, the Berkeley Lab has developed a way to print 3D structures composed entirely of liquids (Full details linked at end of post). There are existing 3D printers that can do this, so, naturally, the Berkeley Lab team modified an existing 3D printer to do what they wanted: inject threads of water into silicone oil. This allowed them to sculpt tubes made of one liquid within another liquid. This YouTube video from the team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory elegantly demonstrates and explains how they got it to work.

The Berkeley Lab team believes their all-liquid material could be used to construct liquid electronics that power flexible, stretchable devices. If you have seen the new Samsung flexible, foldable phone screen, you have a rough idea of the concept in action.

According to the official post, “the scientists also foresee chemically tuning the tubes and flowing molecules through them, leading to new ways to separate molecules or precisely deliver nanoscale building blocks to under-construction compounds. The researchers have printed threads of water between 10 microns and 1 millimeter in diameter, and in a variety of spiraling and branching shapes up to several meters in length. What’s more, the material can conform to its surroundings and repeatedly change shape.”

Read more details about how the Lab created a nanoparticle “supersoap” – a surfactant that locks the water in place as they create tubes.

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If you are an educator interested in other materials science topics, please check out The National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education (MatEdU) with its database of educator-focused curriculum resources.

You may also be interested in the upcoming annual M-STEM event that brings together students, faculty, and business to strengthen understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) principles, especially relating to materials science, and to enhance K-20 technology education integration. Read more about M-STEM 2018 on November 5-6, 2018 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.