Have you used 3D printing to solve a unique problem on the shop floor? Have you created a product for sale or developed an interesting component that can only be made additively?
If so, consider entering your 3D printed part in The Cool Parts Showcase, a contest highlighting additively manufactured parts. Hosted by the video series The Cool Parts Show from Production Machining sister publication Additive Manufacturing, the contest seeks 3D printed parts that are currently in use or for sale, as well as promising proof-of-concept solutions.
Past parts entered into the contest and highlighted on the show include everything from complex boring tools (above) to the vibratory mat that separates these small parts at a Swiss turning shop (below) to custom vacuum robot grippers (top of this page). Photos: Additive Manufacturing Media
Finalists will be invited to display their parts this August at Formnext Forum: Austin, a new conference and expo focused on 3D printing for production which runs August 28-30 in Austin, Texas. Creators of the finalist parts will receive all-access passes to this event. Attendees and fans of the show will be able to vote on their favorites, and the winning parts will be announced during the event. Three winners will be featured in their own episodes of The Cool Parts Show.
Entry parts can be 3D printed using any process, from any material. To qualify, parts must be end-use components (sorry, no prototypes, molds or models), and fall into one of three categories:
- Best Production Part, a product or component that is currently for sale and is 3D printed in full production volume. (Think: industrial filters, cutting tools, vibratory mats, an accessory for CNC machining — our 2021 winner in this category.)
- Best Bespoke Solution, a part that solves a unique, one-time problem. (Think: scapula implant, custom vacuum robot grippers, Mars rover parts, one-off replacements.)
- Best Proof-of-Concept Part, an item not yet in production, but one that illustrates AM’s trajectory or progress toward future applications. (Think: parts made from unusual materials, next-generation EV concept parts, biomimicry-inspired helicopter heat exchanger — our 2021 winner.)
The Showcase is open to manufacturers, designers, inventors, students and anyone using 3D printing to solve problems.
Recent shop visits reveal that some machining businesses have added/are considering adding 3D printing equipment, while others are content sending that work — for items such as polymer fixtures and jigs — to outside vendors.
Some shops have purchased inexpensive polymer 3D printers for their operations. Does it make sense to take this a step further and give (or loan) a sharp young employee one to experiment with at home? This small investment could pay off for your shop in different ways.
Input from readers like you is always welcome as we make decisions about the types of articles and article topics we pursue for Production Machining.