One day you may be able to 3D print your own Nike shoes


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Athlete Eliud Kipchoge won the 2018 London Marathon wearing a pair of Nike VaporFly Elite trainers with the world’s first 3D-printed upper. This is the world’s first trainer that’s upper half is crafted through 3D printing (much like a conceptual design we covered before). Using a 3D printer and a thermoplastic polyurethane filament, Nike can produce shoes crafted to an athlete’s foot measurement and performance data.

How is this different from Nike’s Flyknit, you ask? They’re miles apart. While Flyknit can knit together a fabric of a certain shape and size, printing out shoe parts means you can achieve something that’s more three dimensional than a 2D fabric weave. Another advantage is that while in Flyknits, the interwoven threads of fabric rub across each other when flexed, causing frictional resistance between the interlaced (warp and weft) yarns, this doesn’t happen with 3D printed textiles, where material is melted, extruded, and made to fuse together to create a single part. This technique of 3D printing shoe uppers also allows you to experiment with different kinds of weaves with incredible precision and control, making certain sections of the shoe firm, while others flexible or even breathable. This 3D printed TPU textile also works seamlessly with many other materials, most notably Flyknit yarns, to provide an optimal balance of fit and structure. In fact, Flyknit yarns can be engineered to thermally bond with the Flyprint textile, eliminating any need for glue or stitching.

Developed for last year’s Berlin Marathon, and perfected over time for this year’s London Marathon (resulting in a victory), we just may see more completely 3D printed footwear in the future… and who knows, we may be able to print our own too, instead of having them delivered to our homes!

Designer: Nike





NanoSteel Wins RAPID + TCT Innovation Auditions for 3D Printing Tool Steel for Powder Bed Fusion

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GE Additive booth, RAPID 2018

Metal 3D printing is gaining momentum, as technology continues to advance for making strong, solid parts with unique geometries for a wide variety of applications, ranging from medical and aerospace to construction, automotive, and even art. However, it is not without its issues, which is why many companies and researchers are constantly hard at work to improve the materials and the processes when it comes to additive manufacturing with metals.

At this year’s RAPID + TCT, which came to a close yesterday in Fort Worth, Texas, metal 3D printing received top billing, with companies releasing new metal 3D printers and software for metal 3D printing. In addition, the top two finalists for the Innovation Auditions at the conference this year were both introducing new metal additive manufacturing innovations.

Each year at RAPID, the Innovation Auditions recognize innovative new services or products exhibited at the conference. Qualified innovators, selected by a panel of industry experts and investors, have the opportunity to share, in five minutes or less, why their innovations could make a difference. Two finalists then present during the morning keynote and the audience selects the winner… and this year, I was lucky enough to be in the room when the final presentations were given.

Innovations were presented from Additive Industries, Eurocoating s.p.a., FibreTuff Medical Biopolymers LLC, LPW Technology, Inc., NanoSteel, Roboze Inc, SPEE3D, and the University of Michigan. Battling for first place this year were Additive Industries and NanoSteel.

Debbie Holton, the Vice President of Events and Industry Strategy for SME, took the RAPID stage first on Wednesday morning, ahead of the third keynote. After announcing a quick poll regarding medical 3D printing, which was the keynote topic that day, Holton introduced the two finalist presenters for the Innovation Award.

“Additive manufacturing is truly changing lives every day,” Holton said.

First up was Harry Kleijnen with Netherlands-based Additive Industries, talking about the Product Removal Module for the company’s customizable MetalFAB1 3D printer. The new 404 x 404 x 400 mm module allows for the integrated removal of 3D printed parts, post-heat treatment, from the build plate, along with resurfacing the build plate without any human operator intervention.

The module has features such as integrated heat treatment, automatic powder removal, and reduced inventory of the build plate; additionally, the automation built right in to the solution eliminates manual labor, as a robot transports the 3D printer’s part collection bin.

“Additive Industries believes that integration in additive manufacturing really expedites productivity,” Kleijnen said.

As the manual labor is gone, lead time has been majorly reduced, along with costs – down to less than €200 per cut.

“We need to bring this reduced cost into the additive manufacturing chain and automate this process,” Kleijnen explained. “That’s why we developed the product.”

The company identified a total of 15 different steps that were previously being completed in order to resurface the plate, and removed 10 of these MetalFAB1 Product Removal Module that weren’t adding any value.

With new sub-modules including trapped powder removal, surface milling with an integrated tool changer, an Atex grade vacuum cleaner, band saw technology product removal, and a separate bin for safe parts transportation, the company was able to integrate all of the steps into just its one module.

Then, Dr. Jonathan Trenkle from NanoSteel, which has been developing steel alloys for 15 years, walked onto the RAPID stage for the company’s finalist presentation on its new 3D Printable Tool Steel for Powder Bed Fusion.

Dr. Trenkle said, “We’re really revolutionizing the tool, die, and mold industry.”

He explained that the challenge is “printable, high-performance tool steels” that are easy to work with – namely due to being crack free and working at room temperature. Last summer, NanoSteel introduced the case-hardening BLDRmetal L-40 steel powder, which has, according to the company, “unique properties and capabilities within the 3D printing space for powder bed fusion.”

The ferrous alloy powder can be 3D printed with powder bed fusion technology at room temperature to achieve components that have no cracks, and, as Dr. Trenkle explained,”excellent as-printed hardness and toughness and compatible with industry standard surface hardening treatments.”

[Image: NanoSteel]

L-40 material can be used in multiple applications, like tool and die, due to its excellent physical properties and lack of processing limitations. Dr. Trenkle said that the other values and benefits provided by the material include free parameters for major brands, affordability, and fast innovation – now, tools, dies, and molds can be 3D printed in just hours, as opposed to months.

Dr. Trenkle also explained that the NanoSteel team plans to start looking into cobalt materials next, in terms of health and safety.

The work from NanoSteel, as well as the other organizations participating in this year’s Innovation Auditions, is an exemplary showcase of the innovative spirit striding forward in additive manufacturing. Congratulations to these impressive innovators!

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below.

[All photos: Sarah Saunders for unless otherwise noted]

New LulzBot Mini 2 3D printer launched at RAPID

More announcements about new 3D printers from RAPID with a first look at the new LulzBot Mini 2 3D printer from Aleph Objects Inc.

The LulzBot Mini 2 is a desktop FFF 3D printer and includes several of the 3D printing accessories that were previously only available as add-on extensions.

Speaking about the announcement, Aleph Objects’ Director of Marketing Ben Malouf said, “The original LulzBot Mini revolutionized the category by offering ease of use and workhorse reliability in a compact package.”

With the Mini 2 we listened to our users’ feedback and added improvements like SD card printing and much quieter operation, but we kept what they love: the rugged, portable form factor; material versatility; and fantastic print quality.

The Lulzbot Mini 2 3D printer. Photo via Lulzbot.

Increased build volume, Aerostruder tool head as standard

Additions to the LulzBot Mini 2 include Einsy RAMBo electronics with Trinamic drivers, “for whisper-quiet operation and a build volume increase of approximately 20% over the previous model with no increase in footprint.”

Further hardware upgrades on the forthcoming 3D printer are a belt-driven Z-axis which that will increase the speed and accuracy of the printer in comparison to older models, without a reduction in resolution.

As mentioned, the Mini 2 now has 3 stand-alone accessories included as standard. These are:

– The Aerostruder Tool Head designed around the E3D Titan Aero hot end and extruder

– The LulzBot modular bed system with reversible heated glass/PEI surface

– A graphical LCD Controller for tetherless operation

Shipping of the LulzBot Mini 2 will begin in June.

Renewed focus on engineering

In addition to hardware upgrades, a new edition of Cura Lulzbot Edition is scheduled to coincide with the shipping of the first units. Cura LulzBot Edition version 3.2 software is currently in public beta. Features include improved load times, a new interface and additional slicing options.

Announcing the new 3D printer during RAPID marks what Ben Malouf calls a, “renewed focus on the company’s core markets in product and process engineering.”

LulzBot 3D Printers aren’t cheap. They are engineered and built to withstand thousands of continuous hours of operation with very little maintenance. They are manufactured in the USA from quality domestic and imported components, and backed by a friendly and knowledgeable team of support professionals in Colorado.

The LulzBot Mini 2 is on display at booth 404. More information about the 3D printer is available on the Aelph Objects website.

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M3D Launches Full-Color Palette 3D Printer “Crane Quad”

Crane Quad

M3D, the American 3D printer manufacturer, is launching a new desktop printer called Crane Quad for under $500. It offers more than 50,000 colors with its full-color palette. This is one of three 3D printers in the new Crane series.

Touted as a world first, M3D is launching a full-color 3D printer which they also claim brings a “new era of color 3D printing.” The Crane Quad 3D printer is a new desktop machine from US-based manufacturer, M3D.

It promises 50,000 colors, a build volume of 214 x 214 x 230mm, and a full-color palette. Therefore, it is a multi-material 3D printer which can also produce multi-colored objects. To make the printer even more desirable, the starting price is $399.

The new printer offers a “QuadFusion” 3D print head, enabling it to print and blend four filaments of most colors and material types, so long as they’re 1.75mm. The direct-drive extruder has four motors, three fans, and a 0.35 mm mixing nozzle.

Another feature to note is the open-source controller board which was co-designed in partnership with Duet3D. As a result, M3D call it the “Duet 2 Maestro”. It features five-axis motion control with 256 micro-step resolution, Ethernet connectivity, 120 MHz Atmel/Microchip ARM processor, as well as micro USB and micro SD card ports.

“Our new Crane Quad desktop 3D color printer is a real breakthrough in 3D printing capability and affordability… Its ability to print multiple colors and multiple materials simultaneously is a first, and it takes us one step closer to 3D printers being able to produce real-world objects that outperform traditional manufacturing, both in cost and performance,” said Michael Armani, co-founder and CEO of M3D.

Crane Quad

Crane Quad is Just One in a New Series of Three Printers

By mixing four colors, you can cover most of the color specturm. But, to do this, M3D explains that the base colors needed are CMYK. This is, cyan, magenta and yellow with black, white or transparent as keys.

However, it’s also possible to print using just one color too. Filaments with different physical characteristics can be fused into a single object with new properties.

“Just as M3D started the home 3D printing revolution in 2014, today we continue to drive the evolution of consumer color 3D printing with the introduction of Crane Quad… For M3D, this launch is not just about introducing groundbreaking innovation – it represents our company’s commitment to the full-color 3D printing movement, and our dedication to providing consumers with the tools to get closer to the widespread on-demand use of 3D printed products that we know is the future,” said Armani.

As well as Crane Quad, there are another two new printers available called the “Crane Dual” and the “Crane Bowden”. The series pricing starts at $199, with Bowden being the base model. Crane Dual can mix filament colors or materials and has many of the same features as Crane Quad.

M3D points out that every Crane 3D color printer is tested, shipped fully assembled and has a six-month warranty. Find out more about the specifications of the Crane series on the M3D website.

Source: Press Release

Crane Quad

Crane Quad

License: The text of “M3D Launches Full-Color Palette 3D Printer “Crane Quad”” by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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