Sales Agency Opportunity

RapidMade is a fast growing Portland, Oregon-based 3D printing, engineering, and manufacturing company. We provide advanced solutions to help clients create products, accelerate development, improve quality, lower costs and increase sales. We are a consultative sales, business-to-business company serving clients throughout the U.S. and Canada.  We offer rapid prototyping, reverse engineering, product design, low-volume production and tooling, sales, artistic and architectural models, and customized promotional item services.

We are seeking an entrepreneurial sales agent who is familiar with 3D CAD, Scanning and Printing technology and how these technologies can be applied to creating parts, prototypes, patterns, tools, molds and models.

We are expanding our sales organization and searching for the right agent to represent the company in the Boise ID area. The Boise, ID territory (200-mile radius/serving I84 corridor from Pendleton, OR – Burley, ID and I86 to Pocatello, ID). You will have exclusivity to represent RapidMade in the territory and will receive a competitive commission rate for your services.  We provide extensive training, sales and marketing material, product samples, and access to our vast database of applications.

If you are looking to become part of the North American manufacturing renaissance, please apply to Renee Eaton, CEO at reaton@rapidmade.com include your company name, relevant experience and information about your business.

Posted
AuthorRenee Eaton

The following is an excerpt from Valerie Brown's recent article on the potential health effects associated with 3D printing...  maybe one reason to leave the printing to professionals?

3-D Printing Is Getting Huge Hype, But It Could Be One Massive Health Risk

A study found the machines can emit high levels of ultrafine particles whose biological behavior and health effects are unknown.

September 23, 2014  |  

3-D printers can use a variety of raw materials, ranging from thermoplastics to metal and ceramic powders. Design-obsessed chefs will love the countertop model that can print any desired shape in sugar or chocolate.

Like the personal computer and the cell phone, 3-D printing appears to be irresistible. But the temptation to exploit the technology may lead enthusiasts to disregard important information. For example, a recent study found that desktop machines can emit extremely high levels of ultrafine particles (UFPs), also called nanoparticles (less than 100 nanometers, in the size range of viruses). The specific biological behavior and health effects of these particles are largely unknown, but other research on UFPs suggests caution.

Evaluating the safety of UFPs “should be of highest priority given their expected worldwide distribution for industrial applications and the likelihood of human exposure, directly or through release into the environment,” wrote Gunter Oberdörster, a professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center School, in a 2005 reviewof nanotoxicology and UFPs.

The most common feedstocks are plant-based polylactic acid (PLA) and petroleum-derived acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS). These come in spools of filament that are threaded into the machine and then melted and extruded out a nozzle that moves back and forth across a base. The whole contraption looks like a more complicated version of the machines that will etch your dog’s name onto a bone-shaped piece of stainless steel at the pet supply store. Free software is available to create a digital file that tells the printer what to do.

The temperatures necessary to melt 3-D feedstocks vary. PLA filament must be heated to around 350 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas ABS has to reach about 500 degrees. Whatever gases and UFPs are released during printing will come out into the ambient air unless the machine is attached to a ventilating and/or filtration system. Most inexpensive printers do not even have enclosures around the print surface.

Users describe the smells of printer operation in different ways. Shashi Jain, who organized a 3-D printer group in Portland, Oregon, says the ABS filament smells like a hot burner on an electric stove. The makers of the 3Doodler, a hand-held pen, assure potential customers that the smell of ABS is “less noxious than a permanent marker” and that PLA smells like corn.

These statements imply that because the emissions from 3-D printers do not have overwhelming and repellent odors, they are safe.

“One needs to be aware of what might come out of [3-D printers],” says Oberdörster. “There [is] reason for concern.”

UFPs are very common in the environment, from natural sources like forest fires and volcanoes and from human sources like engine exhaust. But regardless of their source, it iswell established that UFPs can trigger inflammation and cause serious cardiovascular and respiratory problems when inhaled, particularly for people with pre-existing heart or lung disease. Since 3-D printers are a new source of unintentional UFP production and some of their feedstocks like ceramic and metal powders are very new engineered nanomaterials, their health effects have not been studied.

Thus the thousands of “makers,” as 3-D printing enthusiasts call themselves, who set up in small businesses or their homes, don’t know exactly what risks they face. And assumptions about the chemistry and typical exposure scenarios for the feedstock materials in their typical forms may be far off base for 3-D printing, for an important reason: size matters.

In 2013 Brent Stephens, assistant professor of architectural engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, published a study of five typical 3-D printers in a retail store. The room was about the size of a “small bedroom,” Stephens says. He and his students measured the concentrations of particles in the room before the printers were operating, during operation, and during a post-printing resting phase. Peak particle concentrations when two PLA printers and three ABS printers were running simultaneously reached 150,000 UFPs per cubic centimeter – nearly fifteen times background levels. ABS printers emitted particles at ten times the rate of the PLA printers. None of the machines was enclosed.

It’s important to note, Stephens says, that in terms of UFP emission numbers, “3-D printers are right smack in the middle” of the pack of common devices, including toaster ovens, laser printers and air popcorn poppers. Popcorn seems benign, he says, so maybe 3D printers are harmless too – or, he adds, maybe it’s the other way around. “Could there be something we don’t know about popping corn?” he asks.

What materials do at “normal” scale doesn’t determine their nano-behavior. UFPs have much more surface area relative to their mass compared to their bulk forms. This not only changes their physical behavior, but it can affect their chemistry as well, says Oberdörster. For example, their extra surface area makes them more reactive than their bulk forms and more likely to catalyze chemical reactions.

This is worrisome, particularly regarding ABS. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified acrylonitrile as a probable human carcinogen and butadiene as a known human carcinogen. Styrene is deemed “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” by the National Toxicology Program. These ingredients are monomers that combine to form the polymer ABS.

Scott Lusk, director of plastics communications with the American Chemistry Council, says that makers are unlikely to be exposed to these carcinogens because “[W]hen monomers are reacted to form polymers the monomer is generally fully reacted into the polymer. So the potential for exposure to a monomer (even a hazardous monomer) from use of a polymer would ordinarily be expected to be quite low – if at all.”

But no one knows how ABS UFPs really behave in the body. They can move through the skin and lungs to reach the bloodstream. And there’s another disturbing property of ultrafine particles: when inhaled into the nose, they can travel through the olfactory nerve to the olfactory bulb in the brain. They can also move along neurons and spread into the cerebrospinal fluid, according to a 2009 review of research on UFPs and the brain by Oberdörster.

It’s the inhalation route that is the most concerning in the context of 3-D printing, because that’s a major route of exposure for makers, and because the olfactory route to the brain bypasses the blood-brain barrier, which protects that organ against most external bodily insults. Furthermore, as Oberdörster noted in his 2009 review, low-level but chronic inhalation of UFPs may lead to their “significant accumulation” in distant organs even if the transfer rate from the point of entry is low. So if a brain is exposed to a repeated parade of UFPs from a 3-D printer, what happens? Scientists do not know.

There is currently no governmental regulation specific to 3-D printing. The EPA does not regulate indoor air. The Consumer Products Safety Commission has not yet developed a policy regarding the equipment. The American Chemistry Council has not taken a position regarding the possible health risks of 3-D printing, says Lusk.

Nor are there occupational protections in place. The National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety “does not have any recommended limits for exposure of particulate matter,” says Celeste Monforton, an assistant professor in the department of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University in San Marcos, Texas “This is an example of technology moving ahead while our environmental and safety standards are back in the dark ages.”

That leaves the millions of excited and creative would-be users in a quandary.

Stephens would like to see further research on the actual composition of the emitted nanoparticles, including their toxicological profiles, as well as “more information on realistic exposures in real environments,” he says. If the results are problematic, he adds, “Let’s explore ways to build enclosures, add filtration systems, and [set] more stringent guidelines for use.”

In the meantime, there are some things 3-D printing practitioners can do at home or at work to mitigate the risks: buy an enclosed printer; ensure good ventilation in the room where the printer operates; and use a mechanical (non-electronic) air purifier with an ultra-low penetration air (ULPA) filter. These precautions must serve until regulations are in place or true replicators arrive, and either may be a long time coming.

Valerie Brown is an independent journalist based in Oregon's Willamette Valley. She has written about environmental health, climate, radiation, energy and other issues for numerous publications including Miller-McCune Magazine, High Country News, SELF, and Environmental Health Perspectives. In 2009 she was awarded first prize for explanatory print journalism by the Society of Environmental Journalists for her article "Environment Becomes Heredity" in Miller-McCune Magazine.

 

    Living so close to the D.C. beltway, one can't help but sense the government's presence.  Many businesses in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia have strong ties to federal and state agencies (and their spending).  While we might argue about the advantages, disadvantages and appropriateness of these relationships, there are times when government support can make a difference...

    In Maryland, RapidMade belongs to an additive manufacturing community, 3D MD, that was initiated by state and county officials anxious to ensure that Maryland was poised to ride the 3D printing wave to a manufacturing renaissance. 

    "3D Maryland is a state-wide leadership initiative to increase engagement between 3D printing and additive manufacturing and regional businesses, industry, and entrepreneurs. By building on our regional strengths and growing a local advanced manufacturing ecosystem, the program will collectively move to strengthen Maryland’s economy.

    We also look to increase the awareness of 3D printing and additive manufacturing technologies and the competitive advantages these technologies offer. Through the increased awareness we hope to drive business growth, facilitate engagement and implementation, transform existing companies, and create new start-ups."

    3D MD practices what it preaches.  An innovation and prototyping lab was created for business and public use.  A host of educational and networking events are held regularly, and Jan Baum, 3D MD's director, evangelizes statewide and in D.C., trying to convert anyone willing to listen.

    Why should folks in the Pacific North West take note?  Here are a couple of reasons:

    We need to make sure that we don't get left behind.  Sometimes the independent, pioneering spirit that made our region so strong can isolate us.  Because we are so far removed from the political epicenter, we miss out on some of its opportunities.  Is it a coincidence that none of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation's regional centers are west of the Mississippi?

    Networks like 3D MD create strong communities that promote awareness and collaboration. I've only been here a year, and I probably know as many, if not more, additive manufacturing professionals in Maryland than I do in Oregon.  Yes, the Maker Movement might encourage smaller-scale ecosystems to evolve, but will they be as vibrant and sustainable?  And given what is at stake, can we rely on organic growth to ensure the Pacific North West emerges as a leader in Additive Manufacturing?

     

    PrintAlive BioPrinter Process...

    Image Credit:  Inside 3DP

    Image Credit:  Inside 3DP

    Researchers at the University of Toronto have built the PrintAlive Bioprinter which prints skin grafts derived from a host patient's own skin cells.  These cells, used as the material "ink" needed to produce the build, are deposited into strips that contain fewer cells than are typical in the "full continuous sheets" commonly used.  The benefits of this approach are two-fold:  it is faster than using cultured skin cells which take two weeks or more to grow enough to be grafted.  And when skin damage runs deeper than the epidermis, this technique's bioprint pattern allows multiple layers to be applied and still survive.

    The team includes Masters students Arianna Mcallister and Lian Lend, PhD student Boyang Zhang and University of Toronto Associate Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Axel Guenther. To date, their research has been confined to mice, but the researchers reportthe technology has worked to heal "severe wounds" and they expect human trials may be possible in two to three years.

    Further south, a research team at the University of Massachusetts Medical school, led by Dr. Jie Song, is using a MakerBot Replicator to print a latticed scaffold implant it hopes will someday promote healing in damaged bones and tissues.  Unlike the traditional filaments used in FDM printers, this 3D printer is fed a combination of "plastic and the therapeutic stem cells or proteins that a patient needs to heal, and the flexible scaffold that emerges could become a kind of patch for use by surgeons."  The lab is also investigating a similar approach to "regenerate the periosteum, a tissue that covers bone."

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The following is an excerpt from Malia Spencer's article in the Portland Business Journal...

    3D printing, beer and big ideas: The latest OEN PubTalk

    Malia Spencer

    Staff Reporter-Portland Business Journal

    Oregon Entrepreneurs Network set out last night to answer the question: “Will 3D printing change the world?”

    With all the big ideas that this type of discussion elicits, it was a good thing there was beer on hand. OEN Pub Talk participants dissected the topic and concluded that the answer to the question is a bit nuanced.

    Yes, they said, but we're still in the early days.

    See Also

    3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is a hot topic in tech and manufacturing circles. The process involves building items from the ground up, layer by layer, based on 3D computer drawings. Traditional manufacturing, or subtractive manufacturing, creates items by removing material until the desired shape is created.

    On Wednesday night OEN brought together local experts in the 3D printing space to talk about what this technology is and how it will change things. The panelists were:

    The panel was moderated by Portland's resident 3D printing expert Shashi Jain.

    The promise of 3D printing is that it can lift constraints placed on our design abilities based on the sheer limits of our traditional manufacturing technology. Or as Beem put it, “The constraints are placed on the tools available. Buildings look the way they do because of the limits of our tools,” he said. “But the tools are changing.”

    What happens when manufacturing and machining are no longer the limits for designers? That’s the promise.

    However, we aren’t there yet. Printers are still limited to specific materials and the entire industry is still figuring out standards for material specs, reliability and the software that runs it all.

    There are machines that can print in human tissue, plastic, ceramic and metals. Hunter showed off the one-of-kind 3D printed, titanium bike that Industry made along with Ti Cycles as the Portland entry for the Oregon Manifest urban bike challenge.

    It didn’t win the contest — the popular vote went to Seattle’s entry — but it looked pretty slick.

    Building a 3D printed bike was an illuminating experience, Hunter told the crowd.

    “There are still limits, it’s still a manufacturing process,” he said of the current technology. There are questions on how to get the strength needed and finishes.

    It’s part of the challenge that remains as the technology develops. But, all the panelists thought it will eventually disrupt an array of industries, particularly biomedical and health care(just think about custom implants that can be made cost effectively).

    One area that won't be upended but will be augmented is traditional manufacturing, the panel agreed. There will still be items that can be made simply and at scale cheaper with traditional methods, instead of making them individually.

    “It will revolutionize manufacturing, but it will be more like enabling existing technology,” Cramm said.

    While we like to think additive manufacturing is more sustainable than its traditional counterpart, plastic prints are not exactly earth-friendly.  One Canadian company, Printearth, hopes to change that.  Started by Phil Chiasson in Ottawa, Printearth intends to offer an improved compostable PLA material called Earthplastic which will degrade more readily than the bioplastic PLA filaments currently on the market.  And in an effort to expand its product line, the company is also working to develop a starch-based alternative that degrades in both water and soil.  Printearth plans to begin local manufacturing  and distribution soon. 

    Personally, I would love to see a grass-based plastic filament since starch-based products often compete with food sources.   Every time, I see newly cut grass, I think it is such a waste.  Apparently, I'm not alone...

    Metabolix presented a paper last year that described its progress in "genetically engineering switchgrass to produce a biodegradable polymer that can be extracted directly from the plant... Metabolix already sells such a polymer, but it’s produced by bacteria that feed on plant sugars in expensive fermenters. A plant-based process, which could use crops grown on marginal lands, would require less equipment."  

    This achievement should reduce current prices considerably and encourage wider adoption.  Hopefully any breakthroughs would be quickly adapted for use in 3D printing.

     

     

     

     

    Posted
    AuthorRenee Eaton