Thursday, December 17, 2015

Taking a Blogging Break

In recent weeks, I have struggled more than usual in creating interesting content. I feel it is time to take a break from blogging for a while.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Living the Trends

Acrylic Print
In December, in a photo gifting fulfillment plant, you don't just study trends in the photo industry. You live the trends. And you do whatever it takes to get great products to your customers in time to be given as Christmas gifts.

The two biggest long term trends that I see in our Black River Imaging plant are a shift toward increasingly premium products and a compression of the peak manufacturing season.

The products that are in demand include lay-flat photo books, ultra-thick greeting cards on richly textured paper, cards with die-cut shapes, metal prints and large format prints mounted to the back of acrylic. These are all items that require extensive finishing operations after the printing is completed.

While the products are more complex, they still need to be produced quickly. Every year, a higher percentage of the total orders for the entire year are produced in the month of December. We are always happy to see the peak season begin and relieved when it is over.

How is your December going so far?

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Perfection with 14 Sides

Truncated octahedron From made by user Cyp using POV-Ray
One of the primary advantages of additive manufacturing is the ability to build structures that would be impossible to create using traditional subtractive machining. This can be particularly important for aerospace and automotive applications where reducing weight while maintaining structural integrity can generate substantial fuel savings.

Weight reductions can be accomplished by using titanium and other lightweight materials which are easier to print than machine. It can also be accomplished by replacing solid structures with partially hollow structures.  The key is removing as much material as possible without compromising the strength of the part.

To create the internal shape of a strong, lightweight part, a truncated octahedron may be the world's most perfect shape. A fourteen sided polyhedron composed of six square faces and eight hexagonal faces, a truncated octahedron has edges which are all the same length. A truncated octahedron can be created by joining two square pyramids at their based then cutting off all six of the corners to remove one third of the edge length.

Truncated octahedra.jpg by AndrewKepert.
One remarkable feature of truncated octahedra is they stack together to completely fill a three dimensional space without any voids. An object constructed of hollow truncated octahedra is lightweight and strong enough to resist shearing and buckling. The strength and weight can be varied within a single part by varying the thickness of the walls or the size and quantity of the octahedra.

What is your favorite shape?

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