I just got back from a few days in Bellevue to attend the Seattle edition of the 3D Printing World Expo. It’s about a 3 hour drive from my house and I couldn’t resist the fact that so many people and companies in the 3D printing space would be in one place.
One of the of the cool features of this expo was the art displays of elaborate works that were 3D printed in various materials. It was great to see so much stunning work in one place.
3D Printing in SPACE!
Mixed in with the art displays was something pretty cool. The strange box above is a 3D printer from Made In Space who is a company that has developed a 3D printer that will be going to the International Space Station later this year for testing with astronauts in orbit.
They’ve already proven that 3D printing works in zero gravity and have the mission patch to prove it. They also had on display a number of cube/kick satellites as well as a few sample tools they plan on printing on the ISS.
I had to get one of their awesome t-shirts too.
I also found out that Dara at Made In Space was also involved in the iLab Haiti project which took 3D printers to Haiti to help after the devastating earthquake. They designed various medical devices that they didn’t have access to that could be printed onsite. These devices included umbilical cord clamps, IV bag hooks and oxygen tank valves.
One of the cooler things I came across while looking around the expo was this 3D printed chainmail at the Octave booth:
What made it interesting is that it’s just regular FDM printed but then has been painted with a conductive material and electroplated with nickle.
It felt like metal, was actually cold to the touch and yet still was super lightweight. It seemed quite strong too. Apparently the process is pretty simple and may become available with a desktop electroplating device in the near future. Here’s another amazing example:
There were a lot of companies showing their resin printers which was great to see so many with lots of print samples. Form Labs was noticably missing but I got to see output from the B9 Creator, the Pegasus and others. SeeMeCNC also had their DropLit DLP kit on display (but not printing).
The World Needs More MakerSpaces
It uses an inkjet printer to print double sided color ‘slices’ of a 3D model.
That stack of paper is then loaded into the machine and then, one page at a time, it gets pulled into the print bed, compressed and glued to the previous page and then a blade cuts out the model one layer at a time.
3D Scanning booth
3D+ME had an interesting booth with a Marvel tie in where you can get 3D scanned and then your face put onto a super hero body and for $90 they’d ship you a full color, 3D printed action figure. It’s a pretty slick booth that uses an XBOX Kinect and a DSLR to scan your face.
The booth was just at San Diego Comic-Con and is coming soon to a mall near you.
Of course, there were a lot of FDM printers on display too. I’ve tagged all of them in these photos and they included Airwolf3D, EZ3D, MakerBot, Openbeam’s mini kossel pro, Revolution Printers, Leapfrog Creatr from US Cutter, Lulzbot, Robox, Up, Wanhao’s Duplicator 5 and Zim.
There were a number of higher end printers on display. ExOne had a table full of great metal and sand prints.
I also had the chance to catch up with my friends at ProtoPlant over coffee and donuts before the second day of the expo. They are working on some new filaments such as high temp PLA which behaves a little more like ABS in it’s heat resistance, carbon fiber PLA and some nice black poly-carbonite ABS filament which normally is only available in a natural color. They invited me to check out their facility which I’ll do next month on my way to XOXO Fest.
I’m really glad I ended up making the trek to Seattle…it was well worth the effort to go to such a great showing of the latest and greatest 3D printing technology. Lots more photos and video from the expo can be found on Flickr.
UPDATE: Linked more companies and printers in the article.