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Rapid part replacement with Figure 4 technology


As a globally recognized leader in research, development and transition of technologies, the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) is conducting one of three awarded America Makes MAMLS projects under the theme: Emerging Process Technology for Low Criticality Part Families. Specifically, UDRI is exploring “Rapid Part Replacement via Digital Light Processing,” an additive manufacturing process enabled by 3D Systems’ Figure technology. For the purpose of this study, low criticality parts include electrical connectors, knobs, elastomeric grommets, and spacers, each of which serves a functional purpose onboard aircraft.

Both UDRI and 3D Systems also participated in Phases 1 and 2 of the MAMLS program, which were similarly focused on sustainment, but under different core topics. Although each project has been independent from the others, the previous phases laid the groundwork for the third phase to launch without delay and gave UDRI and 3D Systems a practical understanding of how the ALCs work, and what their needs are. Phases 1 and 2 also helped to identify the business cases for additive manufacturing for different parts, shedding light on what can and cannot be easily sourced and where using additive manufacturing makes sense.

For legacy aircraft, the business case for additive manufacturing comes into play for parts that are out-of-production due to manufacturing obsolescence, high creation costs, low quantity requirements, unavailability of original tooling, poor documentation, or other availability-related challenges. The speed of part replacement offered by emerging technologies like Figure 4 offers an opportunity to agencies like the U.S. Air Force that can advance strategic sustainment initiatives. Over the next two years of this research project, UDRI and its collaborators will work to uncover where Figure 4 fits into the larger picture of aircraft sustainment.

UDRI parts on Figure 4 platform
3D Systems’ role is to facilitate UDRI by supplying materials for the applications under investigation in this project by either matching existing commercial photopolymers or formulating new ones.

The need for speed

3D Systems’ Figure 4 is a modular manufacturing process that uses a non-contact membrane in combination with a projector-based imaging. In contrast to toolpath-based AM technologies, Figure 4 fabricates an entire part cross-section with a single projection, retaining fine resolution, smooth surfaces, reactive production material chemistries, and fast print speeds. Figure 4 also delivers six sigma repeatability (Cpk > 2) across all Figure 4 materials, making it the most manufacturing ready 3D printing technology available.

Along with geometric accuracy, print speed and material suitability are key. The prospect of performing a lasting custom repair job in a single day is highly appealing to increasing aircraft readiness and availability for same-day mission use. Before that capability can be celebrated however, UDRI is rolling up its sleeves to methodically identify and solve potential issues to pave the way for adoption of Figure 4 technology by the USAF, other DoD (Department of Defense) agencies, and more.

Figure 4 part cross section during printing
Figure 4 fabricates an entire part cross-section with a single projection, retaining fine resolution, smooth surfaces, reactive production material chemistries, and fast print speeds.

Experts in every corner

UDRI excels in the areas of advanced materials, engineering, aerospace technologies, and structural physics, among others, and is collaborating with external experts to make this project as comprehensive and effective as possible. Together with 3D Systems, UDRI is working through material development, characterization and post-processing protocols to align and document material performance with the requirements of aviation qualified materials. These specifications run the gamut from mechanical and environmental properties to safety standards such as fire retardancy.  3D Systems’ role is to facilitate UDRI by supplying materials for the applications under investigation in this project by either matching existing commercial photopolymers or formulating new ones.

Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are also key collaborators and will perform rigorous inspections on UDRI’s test parts to validate the outcomes. UDRI is going through all the military specifications, ALC, and OEM partner qualifications to test parts against industry standards. According to Dr. Timothy Osborn, Group Leader for Additive Manufacturing Technology Development at UDRI, this assembly of collaborators represents the correct testing matrix to push the research finding into application faster than other programs.

UDRI replacement part printed on Figure 4
The prospect of performing a lasting custom repair job in a single day is highly appealing to increasing aircraft readiness and availability for same-day mission use.

A scientific approach to transitioning digital light processing

The first task of the program will identify the specific parts to test and outline the material specifications those parts require. Using a Creaform HandyScan scanner and reverse engineering software, UDRI will digitize the parts using a 3D scan-to-CAD workflow and prepare the files for printing. Once printed, the material testing will begin. Dr. Osborn predicts the study will begin to generate good data around the six-month mark, culminating in the final report and recommendation to the Air Force upon the project’s completion.

There are currently a number of unknowns around Figure 4 technologies for these applications, but the speed and geometric tolerances of this technology hold significant promise. Through this program UDRI and its collaborators plan to unlock the science required to make rapid part replacement a reality.


Cleared for public release. Case Number: 88ABW-2018-5721 

USAF aircraft in hangar
The sustainment mission of the United States Air Force becomes increasingly challenging as large numbers of legacy aircraft, systems and equipment steadily age.

The sustainment mission of the United States Air Force (USAF) becomes increasingly challenging as large numbers of legacy aircraft, systems and equipment steadily age. Addressing this burden requires quick, reliable and lasting maintenance solutions. Industry frontrunners and researchers are looking beyond traditional sustainment solutions to opportunities in emerging technologies. Rapid part replacement using 3D Systems’ additive manufacturing for built-on-demand inventory control is a compelling solution currently under serious evaluation.

America Makes, the nation’s leading and collaborative partner in additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing technology research, discovery, creation and innovation, is at the helm of an initiative to identify and vet nascent sustainment options for transition as appropriate. Under the “Maturation of Advanced Manufacturing for Low-Cost Sustainment” (MAMLS) program, America Makes is now in Phase 3 of a Project Call for applied research and development programs designed to improve efficiency in the factory as well as for Air Logistics Complexes (ALCs) to ensure the strategic readiness of the USAF.

Professional 3D Printer Support Services


Here at CDG, we offer support services for 3D printer owners across the UK. If your machines’ downtime is costing you too much time and money, our service will give you priority access to our team of highly-trained engineers. We pride ourselves on offering an open, professional and efficient 3D printer support service, and the following are hallmarks of our support service.

1. Helpful

Our case system ensures that whenever there’s a support enquiry, those involved will get a full record of the problem and the steps taken to solve it. We take great care to respond to every single enquiry, and when time must be taken for problem diagnosis or the arrival of spare parts, we make sure to be proactive at keeping you informed.

“CDG Support Engineer visited yesterday and did some troubleshooting, as ever with your team super polite, helpful and great company.”

2. Experienced

We pride ourselves on offering the most transparent 3D printing support service in the UK. We’re open about every stage of the support process, and we don’t want to tie our customers in knots with obscure language or confusing small print.

“The service was impeccable as expected… CDG Support Team have been pro-active and in fact gone above and beyond.”

3. Fast Response

Often, when a machine requires servicing, most time is lost waiting for the arrival of spare parts. We get around this by also stocking spare parts. For common issues, that enables us to begin working on your machine much sooner. We also stock a wide variety of consumables, allowing us to offer next working day delivery so long as a material is in-stock and ordered by 3 pm.

“All good, all done, CDG Support Team is great. Will be printing tonight and sending log files tomorrow. ... very happy.”

Which 3D printers do we support?

Our team of engineers are able to service a wide variety of 3D printers. We are partnered with 3D Systems (inc. ProJet, Figure-4, FabPro), Omni, Sinterit, Intamsys, Fusion, ZCorp and ZMorph and so we are particularly experienced with their range of products. Why not give us a call and ask about your specific machine?

Find out more?

If you’d like to find out more about the packages we offer or request a quote, feel free to give us a ring at 01420 88645 or email our support team at

Why the Biggest Benefit of 3D Printing is Hidden Under the Surface


How Lattices are Pushing the Boundaries of Design in Numerous Industries

Imagine you’ve been tasked with designing the perfect motorcycle helmet. You’ll need it to be strong, with significant impact protection, but you’ll also need the structure to be lightweight enough for the user to wear it comfortably without straining themselves. And to top it all, you have to stay within budget.

This challenge of compromising between strength, weight, and cost has long been a key driver of innovation within engineering. In recent years, one particular innovation has emerged as an exciting solution, poised to transform manufacturing across many industries: the lattice structure.  

Lattice structures are micro-architectures made up of a network of nodes and struts. Products made with lattice structures are incredibly robust, but also extremely lightweight, thanks to their partially hollow interiors. In some cases, the overall part mass can be reduced by as much as 90%. Since they require less material than fully solid structures, lattice structures are naturally resource-efficient and energy-efficient. However, owing to their complex structure and small components, lattices are extremely difficult to create using traditional manufacturing methods. The only way to mass-produce them is through 3D printing.

Lattices occur naturally in the world around us. Crystals owe their strength and damage-resistance to a lattice-based hierarchical structural. Furthermore, the use of different materials to achieve multi-functionality can be observed throughout nature. For example, the bark of a tree is hard and resistant but the material underneath is spongy, providing the tree with thermal insulation and reducing moisture loss. Similarly, an insect’s cuticle provides it with armour protection, while its exoskeleton provides the underlying structural support.   

This nature-inspired multi-functional design has wide-reaching implications across a range of industries, from saving millions in the aerospace sector, to improving treatment outcomes in medicine.

Formula 1

Engineering in Formula 1 is geared towards losing as much weight as possible without impeding the power - or safety - of the car. Here 3D-printed lattice structures can play a critical role in lightweighting the metal in the car. Thanks to their high surface area, lattices can be used as part of heat exchangers and intercooolers, helping to reduce the overall heat of the car. Similarly, the low stiffness and resilience of lattices allow them to dampen vibrations, which is very useful in reducing the amount of energy going into a car’s manufacturing system.

Medical Devices

Amputees often come up against the challenge of finding a prosthetic that’s comfortable and lightweight. With an internal lattice structure, prosthetics can be made much closer in weight to human bones, and could also be produced much more cheaply. Lattice structures could also help to reduce the cost of producing surgical instruments.

Furthermore, lattice structures have incredible applications for medical implants, one of the fastest growing areas of 3D printing in the medical industry. Porosity is an important factor in such parts, as this reduces stiffness and improves bone cell growth, and a lattice structure can increase porosity by 80%. We’ve already seen improved treatment outcomes and a reduction of rejection rates in 3D-printed spinal, hip, and knee implants.


Every gram of extra weight matters when creating an aircraft. A significant increase in lightweightedness can, therefore, save an aerospace company millions. Lattice-like structures have particularly significant implications in metal engine components or plastic cabin partitions, where they could significantly reduce the weight of the plane without compromising strength.

By perfectly combining strength with lightweightedness, lattice structures have incredible potential to improve performance, cut costs, and reduce environmental impact across a myriad of industries. Through 3D printing, organisations can move beyond the inefficiencies of traditional manufacturing and unlock the huge benefits of multifunctional materials.  

Introducing the Figure 4 Modular


The Figure 4 Modular is among the most groundbreaking technologies to emerge from the 3D printing world in recent years. It is the first of its kind to bring together ultra-high speed printing with the latest in materials science, along with easy scalability.


As your prototyping and 3D production needs increase, the Figure 4 Modular system allows you to easily scale up to mass-production. A scalable, semi-automated 3D production system, the Figure 4 Modular has the capacity for up to 24 print engines and can print up to 10,000 parts a month, allowing you to rapidly expand your production capacity, from smaller scale batch production all the way up to large-scale factory operation.

The technology had been patented by 3D Systems’ co-founder Chuck Hull back in 1984, but it’s only now, 35 years later, that the technology is advanced enough to realise his concept.


The Figure 4 Modular system provides an end-to-end digital manufacturing workflow, tackling everything from automated print job management and queuing, through to automated delivery and centralised post-processing, which includes cleaning, drying and curling. Each individual printer module can run different materials, allowing for the printing of multiple parts and resulting in a 15% higher throughput.

The system also offers an incredibly fast turnaround of parts, providing same-day prototyping and direct 3D production. As a result, this technology allows businesses to revolutionise their manufacturing floors, producing high-quality parts within hours, as well as providing them with the agility to rapidly expand their operations.


— Fast prototyping

— Low volume bridge manufacturing

— Casting patterns

— Elastomeric parts


— Automated material handling

— Individual printer modules can be dedicated to individual materials

— Centralized post-processing (cleaning, drying, curing)


— Six Sigma quality and repeatability

— High throughput and productivity

— Same day print and ship

— Manufacturing agility


If you'd like to find out more about this ground-breaking new technology, you can reach out to our team:

• Email

• Or give us a ring on 014240 88645.

Using the ZMorph's CNC Mill with Metal


The ZMorph is a multi-tool 3D printer that’s known for its versatility: it provides both subtractive and additive manufacturing in one, offering FFF 3D printing, laser engraving and CNC milling. This makes it a brilliant all-in-one solution for producing custom 3D products at a low cost, completely in-house.

It’s relatively well known that CNC milling can carve wood, but it can also engrave metal. In this post, we’ll share some tips and tricks to get the best out of the Zmorph’s CNC mill when working with metals:

Ensure the metal is properly mounted. It’s best to use a reliable workholding solution so that your material isn’t at risk of flying off.

Use heat resistant materials. Metal milling generates a lot of heat, so when using 3D-printed fixtures, use only those printed from heat resistant materials like ABS or PET-G.

Watch out for the cutter. Make sure your cutter doesn’t hit your fixture, or else you could damage both your fixture and your product.

Use the correct cutter. The cutter needs to be sharp and of the correct shape to effectively shear through the metal. Look for cutters designed for the specific material you’re using and also make sure that the cutter is not blunt or damaged before using it.

Safety first. Always take the necessary precautions when metal milling. Wear protective glasses, make sure the machine has closed covers at all times when it’s in operation, and occasionally check your workspace for excess shavings to vacuum off and clear away.

If you’d like to find out more, you can view the printer on our sister site,

Geomagic Essentials software launch


3D Systems and SHINING 3D have partnered together to bring you an all in one solution for your 3D scan to CAD needs.While modern CAD software is still quite limited in its ability to make use of 3D scan data, Geomagic Essentials brings you the tools needed to use the CAD system as part of your scan-based modeling workflow. Converting your 3D scans to CAD has never been easier. Geomagic Essentials is the bridge software that extracts all the necessary elements of a scanned part for immediate use in your CAD software.

• Bridging the Gap between 3D Scanning and CAD
• Low total cost of ownership
• Improving customer journey and experience



Geomagic Essentials provides the tools needed for processing 3D scan data. (scan to print, downstream reverse engineering workflows in your native CAD)

-Scan processing allows you to directly edit scan data

-Manage file size through decimation for faster processing

-Scan-native application for better performance and efficiency

-High quality automatic CAD conversion

-Feature extraction allows for the extraction of CAD perfect shapes from scan data

-Precise geometry allows you to compare design features to scan data for accuracy analysis

-Convert your 3D scan data to a solid format

-Import all geometry into the native CAD package for a familiar modeling environment

Complete Scan to CAD Workflow

Scan and capture real-world geometry with the upmost precision at unrivaled speeds with the Einscan Pro 2X series Multifunctional Handheld Scanner. Create rich 3D models that can be used in a multitude of digital formats. Export your scan data directly to Geomagic Essentials. Enhance your creativity and streamline your design process like never before.


Directly edit and process your scan data to be used in familiar and native CAD platforms. Manage file size, multiple scans, and orientations in one complete easy to use solution. Prepare your scan for your native modeling environment.


Import your processed scan with ease raising the overall efficiency of your design workflow. Analyze, design, and reverse engineer your scan with all of the CAD tools at your disposal.





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