Shifting 3D Printing Sales to Business Solutions Selling

[Source: CartoonStock]

Charles R. Goulding and Preeti Sulibhavi of R&D Tax Savers discuss sales approaches in the 3D printing industry.

 The 3D printing industry is a fragmented industry with numerous players that are new to selling and overly rely on traditional features and functions selling.

With features and functions (F&F) sales the 3D product salesperson focuses on touting the beneficial features of their equipment and/or materials and software and explains how their product offerings function. The more sophisticated and successful sales method is to understand the customers’ needs and offer tailored business solutions. Since few 3D printer sellers engage in business solution selling it is a clear way for 3D printing sellers to distinguish their offering. 

The Lighting Industry Model

One industry where many participants made great progress converting from F&F selling to business solution selling is the lighting industry. The lighting industry made this conversion starting in 2005 and hasn’t looked back. Our tax firm worked with the lighting industry on 15,000 successful lighting projects using business solution selling and will use those examples to illustrate business solution selling for the 3D printing industry.

Business solution selling requires broader business knowledge and good listening in order to hear the voice of the customer. Business solution selling includes 1) Deeper understanding of customer vertical markets; 2) Product Leasing; and, 3) Taxation.

[Parody of Glengarry Glen Ross by Michael Kupperman / Source: Condenaste ]

[Parody of Glengarry Glen Ross by Michael Kupperman / Source: Condenaste]

1. Understanding Customer Markets

Although the lighting industry has existed since the late 1800s, it continuously focuses on developing product for today’s new market opportunities. Some recent examples include infection-resistant fixtures for hospital environments, LED lighting solutions for cannabis growing, and lighting controls including IoT for the smart home. Although the 3D printing industry has certainly accomplished this with dental applications and jeweler applications, it needs to engage in more vertical market analysis. The lighting industry is at the center of the new lighting / 3D printing initiative at the Rensselaer Lighting Research Institute that is bringing together leading companies from both the lighting and 3D printing industries. This program will clearly introduce the 3D printing industry to the large lighting product market but perhaps equally as important they can see firsthand how the lighting industry uses business solution selling.

2. Leasing

Having a straightforward customer-friendly leasing program greatly expands product selling opportunities. The customer can easily be pre-qualified and then receive the 3D printing products they require merely by placing an order. Carbon, the fast-growing 3D printing industry disruptor, recognized this from the onset and only leases its 3D printing product line. Today many vendor purchasing systems are so burdensome they actually dissuade companies from making 3D product purchases. In the lighting industry, DLL, the large diverse product lessor and subsidiary of Rabo Bank, identified the major market opportunity in leasing lighting systems and created a business unit that strictly focuses on the lighting market. Two of the largest 3D printer sellers, namely GE and HP Inc., have decades of leasing and financing experience. They already have a large library of pre-qualified companies that are cleared to purchase 3D printing products immediately. Those 3D printing industry participants that don’t have a leasing resource may want to consider partnering with a lessor that is interested in participating in the 3D product market. Leasing also provides the opportunity to bundle other vendors’ products. For example a customer project may require 3D printers plus other equipment such as CNC machines, injection molding equipment, collaborative robots and even another vendor’s 3D printing products. A lessor can package everything into one master lease.

3. Tax Incentives

3D printer product purchasers are typically manufacturers and/or design firms that are entitled to R&D tax credits at the federal and state level in 40 states. Startup 3D printer product companies may be eligible for up to $250,000 per year in cash rebates. The 3D printer seller that references tax incentives will distinguish themselves from other sellers. Our experience is that the lighting seller familiar with tax incentives far outperformed their peers who were unfamiliar with the lighting incentives.

The Research & Development Tax Credit

Enacted in 1981, the now permanent Federal Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit allows a credit that typically ranges from 4%-7% of eligible spending for new and improved products and processes. Qualified research must meet the following four criteria:

  1. Must be technological in nature

  2. Must be a component of the taxpayer’s business

  3. Must represent R&D in the experimental sense and generally includes all such costs related to the development or improvement of a product or process

  4. Must eliminate uncertainty through a process of experimentation that considers one or more alternatives

Eligible costs include U.S. employee wages, cost of supplies consumed in the R&D process, cost of pre-production testing, U.S. contract research expenses, and certain costs associated with developing a patent.

On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the PATH Act, making the R&D Tax Credit permanent. Beginning in 2016, the R&D credit has been used to offset Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) for companies with revenue below $50MM and now, startup businesses can obtain up to $250,000 per year in payroll tax cash rebates.


Our view is that 3D printing sellers who evolve from feature and function selling to business solution selling will be much more successful. We also believe they will have fun doing it.

Thermoregulation and Hydration in Female American Football Players During Practices

Lopez, RM, Ashley, CD, Zinder, SM, and Tritsch, AJ. Thermoregulation and hydration in female American football players during practices. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000–000, 2019—Little is known about hydration practices and thermoregulation in female tackle football players. The purpose of the study was to examine the thermoregulatory and hydration responses of female professional American football players. Fifteen females from the same tackle football team volunteered for this observational field study. Each subject was observed for 4 practices for the following measures: gastrointestinal temperature (TGI), maximum TGI, heart rate (HR), maximum HR (HRmax), fluid consumption, sweat rate, percent body mass loss (%BML), urine specific gravity (USG), urine color (Ucol), perceptual measures of thirst, thermal sensations, and rating of perceived exertion (RPE). Descriptive data (mean ± SD) were calculated for all measures. Main measures were analyzed using a repeated-measures analysis of variance. Trials took place during evening practices. Average TGI during practices was 38.0 ± 0.3° C while maximum TGI was 38.4 ± 0.3° C (n = 14). Average practice HR was 118 ± 11 b·min−1, while HRmax was 148 ± 13 b·min−1. Subjects arrived at practices with Ucol of 3 ± 1 and USG of 1.018 ± 0.007. Postpractice USG (1.022 ± 0.007) was significantly higher than prepractice across all days (p < 0.001). The average sweat rate across 4 practices was 0.6 ml·h−1. Average %BML was 0.3 ± 0.4%. Thirst and thermal sensations were moderate (4 ± 1 and 5 ± 1, respectively), while RPE was 11 ± 1. Female football players tended to have similar physiological responses to males. Although subjects seemed to adequately match their sweat losses with fluid consumed during practice, there was considerable variability in hydration indices and hydration habits, with some subjects experiencing hypohydration and others overestimating their fluid needs. Those working with this population should emphasize the need for hydration education and establish individualized hydration regimens.
Address correspondence to Rebecca M. Lopez,
Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.

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Validity of a taekwondo specific test to measure vo2peak and the heart rate deflection point.

This study investigated whether the progressive specific taekwondo test (PSTT) is a valid test to measure peak oxygen consumption (VO2PEAK) and the heart rate deflection point (HRDP) in taekwondo athletes. Eighteen male black belt athletes (25.3 ± 4.8 years; 8.2 ± 4.7 years of practice; 171.8 ± 4.7 cm; 76.1 ± 8.2 kg, and 13.1 ± 2.9% body fat) involved in regional and national level competitions performed the PSTT and an incremental treadmill test (IT). The following variables were analyzed: VO2PEAK, respiratory quotient, oxygen consumption at the HRDP (VO2HRDP), peak heart rate (HRPEAK), HRDP, and peak post-test blood lactate concentration. During the PSTT the peak kick frequency (FKPEAK) and kick frequency at the HRDP (FKHRDP) was also obtained. During the IT, the peak speed and the speed at the HRDP were identified by the DMAX method (the first and last points of the curve were connected by a straight line and the most distant point of the curve to the line was considered as the heart rate deflection point). No differences were observed between VO2 responses during the PSTT and IT (p>0.05). VO2PEAK and VO2HRDP presented bias (1.3 ml·kg-1·min-1 and -0.78 ml·kg-1·min-1, respectively) derived from the Bland & Altman plots, with the 95% limits of agreement indicating that the differences between the two measures can reach 11% for VO2PEAK and 17% for VO2HRDP. The PSTT is a valid tool to assess aerobic power and capacity in taekwondo athletes based on direct comparisons to a treadmill test. The test presents more specific variables for the assessment and training of taekwondo athletes, such as FKPEAK and FKHRDP, which can be used to determine and control the effects of training and help coaches in prescribing training programs.
Corresponding author: Fernando Diefenthaeler, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Centro de Desportos – Laboratório de Biomecânica Campus Reitor João David Ferreira Lima, Trindade, Florianópolis – Santa Catarina – Brasil CEP: 88040-900 E-mail: Telephone: +55 48 3721-4779
Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.

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Union Tech USA Fails

Union Tech is ceasing operations in the USA [Source: Union Tech]

An announcement on Union Tech’s USA website indicates they are shutting down their business.

The announcement, dated April 10, says that a trustee has been assigned to dispose of their assets in order to pay creditors. The trust assignment agreement says:

“WHEREAS, Union Tech is indebted to various persons, corporations, and other entities and is unable to pay its debts in full, has decided to discontinue its business, and is desirous of transferring its property to a trust to be administered by the Trustee/Assignee for the benefit of its creditors (‘Assignment’) so that the property so transferred may be expeditiously sold or liquidated and the proceeds thereof be fairly distributed to its creditors without any preference or priority, except such priority as established and permitted by applicable law;”

At first this may seem surprising: Union Tech is a well-known, global corporation based in China that has been supplying SLA-style 3D printing equipment to industry for over a dozen years. They may be China’s largest SLA 3D printer manufacturer, and that’s saying something. But there’s a lot more to this story.

The legal entity expiring here is not Shanghai Union Technology Corporation proper, but rather a US entity whose purpose was to market their equipment in the USA. Union Tech USA was first launched in 2016, when it became clear they could do so without legal ramifications from patents that had then just expired.

Signatures on the Union Tech asset assignment legal document [Source: Union Tech]

Signatures on the Union Tech asset assignment legal document [Source: Union Tech]

Things seemed to be going reasonably well for them in the USA, as Union Tech’s products are quite well regarded, but then something bad happened. Something very, very bad.

One of their key staff members was caught red-handed stealing customer lists from a competitor. The gist of the story was that 3D Systems’ former Director of Sales was recruited by Union Tech USA, but he brought with him to Union Tech 3D Systems’ list of 440,000 clients, prospects and leads.

This theft was discovered by 3D Systems in what must be one of the most ridiculous scenarios ever: the Sales Director had contracted with a data recovery firm to extract the client information from the file, but the contractor mistakenly copied all correspondence to the Sales Director’s old 3D Systems email address.

Which was being read by 3D Systems HR staff. Oops!

It’s quite a story, and we encourage you to read our piece on Union Tech stealing 3D Systems’ customer data.

It was a very strong case then, and it seems likely that the amount of settlement owed to 3D Systems as a result of the case exceeded their ability to pay. Hence bankruptcy.

A Union Tech Pilot 250 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]

A Union Tech Pilot 250 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]

But what happens now? There are a number of scenarios to consider.

First, Union Tech likely has clients using their equipment in the USA, which now does not have local support. I would imagine Shanghai Union Technology Corporation will figure out some method of providing support to existing clients through importing parts as required and organizing repair services through third parties.

Second, it is unlikely US-based companies will consider Union Tech as a strong option for future purchases, given the latest news.

Third, it is likely the expiring entity was an independent licensee of Union Tech technology in the USA. This is why it was affected rather than the main company in China. Because of this, it is highly likely that Union Tech will re-start operations with an entirely new licensee in the USA sometime in the future. But they’ll have to somehow get their purchasing prospects over this recent failure.

And they’ll have to ensure the licensee is a lot more careful.

Via Union Tech

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Subclinical Cytomegalovirus DNA Is Associated with CD4 T Cell Activation and Impaired CD8 T Cell CD107a Expression in People Living with HIV despite Early Antiretroviral Therapy [Virus-Cell Interactions]

Most people living with HIV (PLWH) are co-infected with Cytomegalovirus (CMV). Subclinical CMV replication is associated with immune dysfunction and with increased HIV DNA in antiretroviral therapy (ART)-naïve and -suppressed PLWH. To identify immunological mechanisms by which CMV could favor HIV persistence, we analyzed 181 PBMC samples from 64 PLWH starting ART during early HIV-infection with subsequent virologic suppression up to 58 months. In each sample, we measured levels of CMV and Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) DNA by ddPCR. We also measured expression of immunological markers for activation (HLA-DR+CD38+), cycling (Ki-67+), degranulation (CD107a+) and the immune checkpoint protein PD-1 on CD4+ and CD8+ T cell memory subsets. Significant differences in percentages of lymphocyte markers by CMV/EBV shedding were identified using Generalized Linear Mixed Effects models. Overall, CMV DNA was detected in 60/181 time-points. At the time of ART initiation, presence of detectable CMV DNA was associated with increased CD4+ T cell activation and CD107a expression, and with increased CD8+ T cellular cycling and reduced CD107a expression on CD8+ T cells. While some effects disappeared during ART, greater CD4+ T cells activation and reduced CD107a expression on CD8+ T cells persisted when CMV was present (p<0.01). In contrast, EBV was not associated with any immunological differences. Among the covariates, peak HIV RNA and CD4:CD8 ratio had the most significant effect on the immune system. In conclusion, our study identified immune differences in PLWH with detectable CMV starting early ART, which may represent an additional hurdle for HIV cure efforts.

Importance Chronic viral infections such as HIV and CMV last a lifetime and can continually antagonize the immune system. Both viruses are associated with higher expression of inflammation markers, and recent evidence suggests that CMV may complicate efforts to deplete HIV reservoirs. Our group and others showed that CMV shedding is associated with a larger HIV reservoir. Subclinical CMV replication could favor HIV persistence via bystander effects on our immune system. Here, we collected longitudinal PBMC samples from people starting ART and measured immune changes associated with detectable CMV. We found that, when CMV was detectable, CD4+ T cell activation was higher, and CD8+ T cell degranulation was lower. Both results may contribute to the slower decay of the size of the reservoir during CMV replication, since activated CD4+ T cells are more vulnerable to HIV infection, while the loss of CD8+ T cell degranulation may impede the proper killing of infected cells.

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What The Notre Dame Incident Tells Us About 3D Printing

A 3D printed gargoyle [Source: Dezeen]

The recent fire at Notre Dame in Paris was certainly a tragedy, but it also hints at the future of 3D printing.

While investigators attempt to determine the cause of the unfortunate blaze, and engineers determine the extent of the damage and develop a plan to restore the building to its former glory, there are others who are thinking of new ways to do so.

In a report in dezeen, a Netherlands-based company, Concr3de, proposes to use 3D printing to assist in the reconstruction efforts. Concr3de has developed a method of 3D printing stone-like objects and they believe they could reproduce some of the sculptures that were destroyed in the disaster.

There are some advantages in doing so, including an ability to reproduce the objects nearly identically to the originals. Another advantage is the ability to use new materials in the project. Apparently, the limestone used in the original sculptures is no longer available, as the source mine is now covered by urban buildings. Any thoughts of reconstructing the sculptures would then be forced to use alternative materials anyway.

This would only be possible if detailed 3D scans of these sculptures existed. It turns out that such scans were in fact taken. They can then be used to reconstruct the statues using several different manufacturing techniques, including 3D printing.

Concr3de’s stone 3D printing equipment likely doesn’t have sufficiently large build volume to recreate the sculptures in single prints. However, that’s not the big challenge because these sculptures could be segmented into smaller pieces, printed, and then assembled afterwards. Some of the original sculptures would have undergone the same segmentation.

This is merely a proposal at this stage, and obviously we are not yet very deep into the reconstruction project; engineers are still determining what must be done, let alone how it should be done.

Whether this project uses 3D printing in this manner is yet to be determined, but clearly this approach will only increase in frequency in the future. That suggests some important actions be taken by building owners.

That action would be to obtain detailed 3D scans of the building. We’ve seen that Notre Dame will likely benefit significantly from the scans that had been taken of that structure, so other building owners should consider doing the same.

There’s an interesting parallel taking place here. You may recall our previous posts regarding the catastrophic fire at the Brazilian Museum, which destroyed virtually all of its artifacts. At that time we strongly recommended that museums worldwide swiftly pursue 3D scanning of their collections to ensure they have something in case of disaster.

Now it seems clear that museums, and other buildings of note, should not only 3D scan their contents, but also the buildings themselves.

Wherever you are in our world, think about the critical buildings and collections in your region. Ask yourself what would happen if they were destroyed. Would you feel better if you knew there were 3D scans available?

Via Dezeen

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The Effects of a Periodized vs. Traditional Military Training Program on 2-Mile Run Performance During the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT)

The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of an experimental versus traditional military run training on 2-mile run ability in Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets. Fifty college-aged cadets were randomly placed into two groups and trained for four weeks with either an experimental running program (EXP, n=22) comprised of RPE intensity-specific, energy system based intervals or with traditional military running program (TRA, n=28) utilizing a crossover study design. A 2-mile run assessment was performed just prior to the start, at the end of the first 4 weeks, and again after the second 4 weeks of training following crossover. The EXP program significantly decreased 2-mile run times (961.3s ± 155.8s to 943.4 ± 140.2s, P=0.012, baseline to post 1) while the TRA group experienced a significant increase in run times (901.0 ± 79.2s vs. 913.9 ± 82.9s) over the same training period. There was a moderate effect size (d = 0.61, P=0.07) for the experimental run program to “reverse” the adverse effects of the traditional program within the 4-week training period (post 1 to post 2) following treatment crossover. Thus, for short-term training of military personnel, RPE intensity specific running program comprised of aerobic and anaerobic system development can enhance 2-mile run performance superior of a traditional program while reducing training volume (60 min per session vs. 43.2 min per session, respectively). Future research should extend the training period to determine efficacy of this training approach for long term improvement of aerobic capacity and possible reduction of musculoskeletal injury.
Corresponding Author: Jay A. Campbell, PhD 1401 Asp Avenue, Office #109 Norman, OK 73069 Email: Phone: (205) 435-1935 Fax: (405) 325-0594
Funding Source: None
Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.

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Validation of the 3-min all-out exercise test for shuttle running prescription

A 3-min all-out exercise test (3MT) for running has been developed to determine critical speed (CS) and finite capacity for running speeds >CS (D’) which allow for the prediction of time limits (TLIMs) associated with running different distances. Most team sports require shuttle running; however, the 3MT was validated for uninterrupted, track running and not shuttle running. The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of shuttle running 3MT to determine critical speed (CS) and D’. A total of 12 subjects were tested using a baseline 3MT along with three separate distance time-trials of all-out shuttle running to determine true CS and D’. The 3MT (2.94 ± 0.39 m·s-1) and the true CS (3.00 ± 0.36 m·s-1) for shuttle running did not differ (p = 0.71) and had a coefficient of variation (CV) of 7.7%. Conversely, D’ from the 3MT exceeded true D’ by 42 m (p = 0.04, CV = 36%). The TLIMs estimated for the 3 different distances were within ∼2 to 6% (p = 0.60). Based on these outcomes, the shuttle run 3MT may offer a suitable method for prescribing shuttle running interval training.
Correspondence to: Robert W. Pettitt, PhD, FACSM, ATC, CSCS Minnesota State University, Mankato 1400 Highland Center Mankato, MN 56001 (507) 389-1811 (507) 389-5618
Viola Holbrook Human Performance Laboratory
Disclosures: There are neither conflicts of interest to report nor any fund agencies associated with this study.
Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.

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The Validity of a Global Navigation Satellite System for Quantifying Small-Area Team-Sport Movements

Delaney, JA, Wileman, TM, Perry, NJ, Thornton, HR, Moresi, MP, and Duthie, GM. The validity of a global navigation satellite system for quantifying small-area team-sport movements. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000–000, 2019—The recent development of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) has improved the availability and signal strength of surrounding satellites compared with traditional global positioning systems, although their ability to quantify rapid changes in speed may still be limited. This study aimed to evaluate the validity of GNSS to quantify the mean speed (m·s−1) and acceleration (m·s−2) of movements typical to team sports. One participant completed 9 periods of 4 minutes of activity, separated by 2-minute rest periods, which involved walking, jogging, and running in a variety of directions and patterns, aimed to simulate a team-sport movement profile. Speed and acceleration were quantified from a 10-Hz GNSS unit and compared with a 10-camera, 3-dimensional motion capture system (VICON), from which the movement of both the participant’s center of mass (COM) and the location of the GNSS unit (e.g., C7 vertebrae) were calculated. Practical estimates of speed were associated with small differences from both the criterion COM (effect size; ±90% confidence limits = 0.19–0.25; ± ∼0.21) and criterion C7 (0.14–0.22; ± ∼0.13). The corresponding estimates of acceleration derived from raw data were classified as small (0.16–0.22; ± ∼0.15) and small to moderate (0.25–0.35; ± ∼0.24) for the COM and C7, respectively. Software-exported acceleration values exhibited very large mean bias compared with both criterion measures (−3.81 to −3.77; ± ∼0.24). This study demonstrates that 10-Hz GNSS possess acceptable validity for assessing the average demands of movements typical of team-sports training and competition, although caution is recommended when using software-exported measures of acceleration.
Address correspondence to Jace A. Delaney,
Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.

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Electrically Assisted 3D Printing

Applying an electric field during 3D printing [Source: ScienceAdvances]

Researchers have developed an incredibly ingenious new method of 3D printing very strong structures using techniques analogous to nature.

Researchers at the University of Southern California were inspired by the material known as “nacre”. You haven’t heard of nacre? More than likely, you have, as it is simply the formal name for “mother of pearl”. That’s the substance that mollusks use to construct their very tough shells.

Why are they so tough? It turns out the secret is in the microscopic structure of the material. Nacre is composed of small “bricks” of calcium carbonate joined together with proteins. These are set in a sophisticated brick-and-mortar style arrangement that provides tremendous strength.

The question is, how could you do this with 3D printing?

Apparently some research has previously been done on generating this type of material in 2D environments. However, according to the researchers, the methods of doing so were quite complex and unlikely to be commercialized.

The researchers came up with an ingenious approach that used the familiar photopolymer resin 3D printing process. The difference was that they first mixed the resin with tiny graphene nanoplatelets. This would normally provide some additional strengths to the resin print, but there was another difference.

Concept for aligned 3D printed graphene nanoplatelets [Source: ScienceAdvances]

Concept for aligned 3D printed graphene nanoplatelets [Source: ScienceAdvances]

An electric field was employed during 3D printing. This field caused the graphene nano platelets to simultaneously align with each other according to the electric field. When the resin and graphene nanoplatelet mixture solidified, the resulting object had a much stronger microstructure.

The researchers found that this printed substance had a strength more or less equal to that of natural nacre. They also found that the substance had an anisotropic electrical property that is not found in nature.

They explain:

”The bioinspired BM architecture enhances the mechanical strength and electrical conduction by aligning GN in each layer to maximize their performance by crack deflection under loading. The electrically assisted 3D-printing method can build a multifunctional lightweight and strong 3D structure with electrically self-sensing capability.”

A 3D printed helmet that senses when it is cracked [Source: ScienceAdvances]

A 3D printed helmet that senses when it is cracked [Source: ScienceAdvances]

In other words, this material could electrically detect when it cracks! This is an incredibly interesting feature with countless practical applications. One application that the researchers suggest is a helmet, which could inform you when it is damaged.

Significant mechanical testing was done on sample prints, and they explained their results:

“The 3D-printed structure with aGNs shows significantly enhanced toughness, impact, and compression resistances due to the synergistic effect and crack deflection. The 3D-printed nacre displays lightweight property with comparable specific fracture toughness to the natural nacre. In addition, the alignment of GNs leads to the anisotropic electrical property, presenting a feasible direction for building protective wearable sensors that can self-sense the crack.”

A very interesting aspect of their process was that they were able to change the alignment of the graphene nanoplatelets for each individual layer of the print. One could easily imagine a sophisticated FEA System being used to devise the optimum alignment strategy for a given part. That would be a very different approach to part design.

Hopefully this approach will be commercialized so that all of us can make good use of it.

Via ScienceAdvances

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