SOLIDWORKS Partners with FABLABS and FAB Academies

By Marie

SOLIDWORKS partners with FAB Foundation to sponsor the global network of FABLABS and FAB Academies.  At FAB10 Conference, Disseny Hub Barcelona, I have been fortunate to work with Sherry Lassiter, director of FAB Foundation and to meet many FABLAB coordinators from around the world.

#FAB10 Barcelona

The FAB Foundation facilitates and supports the growth of the international FABLAB network.

FAB Car

The first FABLAB started at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms under the direction of Neil Gershenfeld.  FABLAB’s mission is “to provide access to the tools, the knowledge and the financial means to educate, innovate and invent using technology and digital fabrication to allow anyone to make (almost) anything.”

#Fab10 Audience

FABLABs and FAB Academies impact is felt everywhere and shared this week at the FAB10 Conference.  Helping to create new jobs, educating the young and the not so young, developing the entrepreneurial spirit, FABLABs growth rate is exploding – doubling every 18 months.

FAB10 Fashion

SOLIDWORKS 3D Design software will be an integral part of the FABLABs and FAB Academies registered with FAB Foundation.  SOLIDWORKS supports the FAB Foundation’s efforts in 3D design, manufacturing, teaching and learning.

FAB10 Kid's Fest

This post originally appeared on the SOLIDWORKS Education Blog.

Marie PLANCHARD is Director of the Education Community for SOLIDWORKS. You can reach her @mplanchard1.

How 3D Printing Is a Revolutionary Sustainable Innovation

By Asheen

3D printingAs a sustainable innovation leader at a technology company, I’m often asked about the implications of recent advances on sustainable innovation. In this article I’ll highlight the potential of 3D printing to revolutionize sustainable innovation.

Three-dimensional printing — or more specifically, additive manufacturing, the term generally used to mean commercial-scale production using 3D printing technologies — is a concept that deserves its geek fandom. But I’d wager that few people have appreciated its revolutionary implications as a sustainable technology. Philosophically, 3D printing is the first technology that has the potential to enable a more biomimetic production model by aligning with one of nature’s fundamental tenets: the tendency to manufacture locally. (These and other deep design principles from nature are collectively known as the practice of biomimicry.)

Why Additive Manufacturing is a Shift

To understand why, consider the difference between how an object is traditionally manufactured and how one is produced additively. Traditional manufacturing methods focus on milling a starting blank — that is, removing material until you’ve achieved the desired shape — or injecting material into a mold. Both types of processes rely on expensive, high-throughput machinery to achieve high economies of scale that minimize costly raw material waste, so such manufacturing is generally performed at a company’s main production facility and then shipped around the world. In an additively manufactured product, in contrast, the product is printed layer by layer, with each cross section stacked on top of the one below it. Since this operation can be performed without huge, high-throughput machinery, it can be performed at hundreds or thousands of remote locations — or millions, if you consider the potential of a 3D printer in every household — with near-zero waste.

This hints at a very interesting shift for commercial product makers: they can focus on designing the best product as the source of their intellectual capital, rather than on how the design can be cheaply manufactured. Imagine, for example, if we could purchase the 3D model of an object we wanted to buy, rather than the object itself, and then download and print it in our home 3D printer. By buying this design from an “app store” of 3D objects rather than a brick-and-mortar shop, and printing it ourselves, we’ve completely eliminated all of the waste of traditional manufacture, as well as 100% of the energy and material normally consumed in transportation and packaging — while enjoying a more custom-tailored and convenient shopping experience.

3D Printing Materials

Sustainable Manufacturing

It’s also worth highlighting the materials that are typically used in a 3D printer — surprisingly, here too we can find a sustainability story. The most common materials used for the printing of plastic parts are acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polylactic acid (PLA). Both are thermoplastics; that is, they become soft and moldable when they’re heated, and return to a more solid state when they’re cooled. ABS is far from environmentally friendly, but PLA is actually a sugar-derived polymer, so it can be made from plants; most commonly, it’s made from corn. (If you’ve ever drunk from a clear plastic cup or used a plastic fork marked “compostable” or “made from corn”, that was PLA.) Provided that we use ecologically sound agricultural practices, we could sustainably grow the feedstock for all of our 3D-printed objects!

The other beautiful thing about thermoplastics is that they can be re-melted and reshaped into new objects several times (though not infinitely, as their structure will eventually depolymerize). That means that when you’re ready to change your toy truck into a toy airplane, you could, in theory, toss it back into the 3D printer to be reshaped into the new object. This gets to one of the biggest sustainability challenges with plastic products today: their end-of-life treatment. Putting plastics into curbside recycling bins seems like an environmentally sound idea (and it’s still better than throwing them into a landfill), but once they’re trucked, sorted, cleaned, and usually commingled with lower-value resins, there’s usually not much economic margin to squeeze out of these recycled plastics — one reason why their rates of recycling are so low. In contrast, putting your pure PLA back into your 3D printer eliminates this whole recycling chain — so we can add “end-of-life impacts” along with transportation and manufacturing waste to our list of eliminated life cycle impacts.

Metals can also be made using an additive manufacturing practice called selective laser sintering (SLS), although these “printers” are much higher-end. Once these become suitable for casual use, it opens up a whole new category of objects that can be built. Although in theory metal is infinitely recyclable (its simpler crystalline structure does not degrade with re-melting), the grinding steps needed to reprocess the used metal into powder suitable for sintering would require a lot more equipment and energy, and would likely prohibit the recycling of 3D-printed metal objects in the same printer – even a direct SLS printer (which uses a single material powder).

At the Doorstep of Future Usages

True radical innovation occurs not from new technologies, but when those new technologies enable newly possible business models. Take, for example, the cool modular mobile phone concept called Phonebloks. Imagine that you want that new, higher-megapixel cell camera block that they refer to… so you just buy and download the new block, toss your old one back in the printer, and print up the new model in PLA with a metal layer with the electronics sintered on — all powered by the solar panels on your roof. Now, we’re starting to approach the manufacturing process used sustainably by nature over the last 3.8 billion years. And someday; your house?

Asheen PhanseyAsheen PHANSEY is Head of the Sustainable Innovation Lab at Dassault Systèmes

Love.by.me, YOUR 3D-printed Jewel

By Fred

Would you like to surprise your loved ones ? Build a unique piece of jewelry with your names in 3D — online , easy, and starting from 13€!

Jewelry reinvented – a new innovative design concept, mixing 3D printing and generative online design: love.by.me (use Chrome or FireFox for a better experience)

Generated on the cloud with CATIA, the 3D design is created from your name and your loved one’s, resulting in a unique piece of jewelry. Available in several sizes, colors and materials (including Silver!), the jewel is 3D-printed, making custom-made jewelry available at an affordable price!

This new type of online 3DEXPERIENCE allows consumers to act on the design intent, ultra-personalization made easy. The frontier between manufacturers and consumers is shrinking as we now can make our own products virtually AND physically. Consumer becomes a Consum’actor!

If you like the love.by.me concept, help us make it viral by sharing pictures of your piece on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter (tag your photo  #winyoursilverheart and #lovebyme ; the most retweeted before June 30th will win a 3D-printed silver heart!)

Watch the video below to see love.by.me in action, or go ahead and create your own 3D-printed heart now :-)

YouTube Preview Image


Page 1 of 612345...Last »
3ds.com

Beyond PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), Dassault Systèmes, the 3D Experience Company, provides business and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations. 3DSWYM, 3D VIA, CATIA, DELMIA, ENOVIA, EXALEAD, NETVIBES, SIMULIA and SOLIDWORKS are registered trademarks of Dassault Systèmes or its subsidiaries in the US and/or other countries.