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4.-7.10. 2022

International Engineering Fair

A conference on 3D printing has attracted nearly 300 experts


The International Engineering Fair has for the second time become the scene of the largest Central European Conference on 3D technology. Major global suppliers presented the latest trends and interesting examples of practical application both in development and especially in manufacturing, where 3D printing is increasingly catching on.

Spatial printing has undergone rapid development in recent years and reverts the long ingrained processes of modelling and design of products. The first phase, when people were astonished at the very principle of 3D printing, has already passed though. Today, there are companies that can find applications for this progressive technology and reach the market with a specific solution. "There are already really many companies involved in 3D printing, but the market matures and it is not just about the sale of 3D printers," says Jan Homola, organizer of the "3D Printing - Trends, Experiences And Business Opportunities" conference and editor of the Konstruktér magazine and www.3d-tisk.cz server. "A printer is just a tool and it is very easy to produce it today, but it is important to have the know-how and to have something to offer on the market. The value of 3D printing lies in the ability to reduce the cost of development and manufacturing processes," emphasizes Jan Homola.

The Materialise company for example, a world leader in the provision of services, unveiled its factory for vacuum casting for small batch production at the conference. Its designers, engineers and calculators create a tailored product based on the assignment and the delivery is ensured by approximately one hundred professional 3D printers, which Materialise have available. "More and more companies now see 3D printing as a serious production technology that is complemented by the existing manufacturing processes," as Jan Homola explains the shift that has only taken place in recent years, because 3D printing was originally used primarily in the development of prototypes.

The technology itself is already thirty years old. 3D printing is actually a general designation for the so-called additive manufacturing, in which the resulting product materialises through gradual deposition of building material in very thin layers joined together usually by melting or gluing. The range of technologies is very broad and ranges from cheaper options such as extrusion of melted plastic or metal wire to the laser sintering of powder material or very precise light polymerization. Their common advantage is the ability to produce one-off things and shapes that could not be produced with conventional technology such as machining, and at significantly lower cost. The quality of the final products differs according to the technology and thus also the financial cost, but there are still new possibilities being found for them.

The Renishaw company presented the possibilities of 3D printing of metal parts at the conference. They have developed a mountain bike titanium frame, which has 44% less weight over the original aluminium frame and while it is six times stronger. The frame which is exhibited in Hall A1 at the 3D technology exhibition has unmatched density of material – over 99.7%. Another interesting application in the field of sports is the optimization of sports shoe insoles, so that it fits perfectly to its wearer and allows them to achieve peak performance. There are also horseshoes for racing horses printed out which are very light and do not gall. The 3D technology exhibition also presents among others, unique wings for electric airplanes which have a very light and rigid grid structure of perforated plastic or a car veteran reconstructed using 3D scanning and 3D printing.

"Production of customized items is a new thing that brings 3D printing to the consumer sector and thus shifts the technology to real everyday use," says Jan Homola. As an example, he mentioned a British company that enables one to define a completely uniquely assembled electric guitar in their e-shop. The individualised guitar will arrive a week after ordering at an affordable price. Another company offers the production of individual headphones through the mobile phone. Just take a picture of an ear with a dime for size reference and within a week the customer receives headphones that fit perfectly do not fall out and does not cost any more than a standard branded product.

Also the area of personal 3D printing is developing. "For 30 to 50 thousand Crowns you can buy a 3D printer and produce original articles of daily consumption at home – a phone pouch, combs, etc. But there are also more important applications, such as when one of 1200 children are born with a deformed leg and quickly grow out of prostheses. You can download a free digital prosthesis from the internet today, and produce it again and again with the printer depending on how the baby grows and it costs about 300 Crowns," explains Jan Homola the diverse possibilities of 3D printing.

The active participants of the conference also included the company Stratasys - the market leader in the field of 3D printing, who presented the use of this technology in the development of a prototype of a luxury car. The Czech supplier of 3D digital technologies MCAE Systems as a co-organizer of the exhibition in Hall A1 contributed with presentations on colour 3D printing and 3D printing in the production of automotive components and formulas. The conference organizers were expecting 150 participants, but eventually there were almost 300 of them. The Brno Exhibition Centre thus saw by far the largest Central European meeting of experts of various professions, who are connected by 3D printing.

Date: 30 Sep 2014 18:45:00

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