First up in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, 3D model provider CGTrader has raised over $9 million in a recent funding round. Olympian Colby Pearce has partnered with new company Lore to launch a custom 3D printed road cycling shoe. Finally, researchers from Germany published a paper suggesting that natural feedstock material, like the powdery refuse produced by boring insects like termites, could be a more sustainable 3D printing material.

CGTrader Announces Series B Funding Round

CGTrader founders Marius Kalytis and Dalia Lasaite

3D model marketplace CGTrader, founded in 2011 by its current COO Marius Kalytis, announced that it has raised a total of $9.5 million in a Series B funding round. Finnish VC fund Evli Growth Partners led the round, along with previous investors LVV Gruop and Karma Ventures, and Mikael Hed, the former CEO of Rovio, also invested and has joined CGTrader as its board chairman. The international company, with offices in Lithuania and New York City, is a major provider of 3D content, and with 1.1 million 3D models and 3.5 million 3D designers serving 370,000 businesses like Staples, Nike, and Microsoft, CGTrader also claims to be the largest 3D model provider. With the help of this new funding, CGTrader plans to consolidate its position and continue developing its platform, and is also thinking about investing in automating 3D modeling, asset management processes, and quality assurance.

“3D models are not only widely used in professional 3D industries, but have become a more convenient and cost-effective way of generating amazing product visuals for e-commerce as well,” explained Dalia Lasaite, the CEO and Co-Founder of CGTrader. “With our ARsenal enterprise platform, it is up to ten times cheaper to produce photorealistic 3D visuals that are indistinguishable from photographs.”

3D Printed Custom Cycling Shoes Launching

US Olympic cyclist and bike fitter Colby Pearce is a national champion and record holder, and has focused on shoe fit for a long time, both for himself and his clients. Now, he’s working with a company called Lore to launch a 3D printed custom road cycling shoe, the LoreOne, next month. A spokesman for Lore, which employs many people who have worked in design and engineering at big brand names such as Nike, Apple, Tesla, and Puma, said that the shoes will be manufactured in California and sold consumer direct at first, though plans to sell the LoreOne via bike fitters are set for 2022. While there aren’t yet a lot of details available about the new shoe, such as how much it weighs and how much it costs, we do know that the hardshell shoe will supposedly be more efficient due to its carbon monocoque design—a structural system where an object’s external skin supports the load. Additionally, the LoreOne will be 3D printed using scans of a rider’s feet.

Pearce said, “The technology, materials, design and manufacturing is light years ahead of everything else on the market.

“The way the athlete works with the shoe is groundbreaking, and the foothold is unparalleled. The Lore project is three massive steps forward from any other shoe on the market. Prepare to have your head explode while your feet feel true power transfer for the first time ever. The LoreOne shoe will change the way you interact with your bike, forever.”

3D Printing Wood Particles from Boring Insects

a) European house borer (Hylotrupes bajulus) full grown larva (top) and adult beetle (bottom); b) the sieved frass (in a particle size fraction of 45 to 100 μm) produced by larvae and used for 3D printing.

A team of researchers from the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung, or BAM) published a paper, titled “Searching for biological feedstock material: 3D printing of wood particles from house borer and drywood termite frass,” about their work using wood processed by the European house borer (EHB) and drywood termite insects as a natural, novel 3D printing feedstock. Frass is the technical term for the fine, powdery refuse left behind by these insect larvae during feeding, and through their research, the team found that the quality of these materials differed greatly in terms of processability for binder jet 3D printing, and that neither qualify for fabricating “ready to use” structures due to low mechanical strength. However, these naturally available feedstocks are more environmentally responsible when it comes 3D printing for scientific material sciences, and could be used instead as preforms, especially the feedstock pellets of termite frass.

“Small particles produced by the drywood termite Incisitermes marginipennis and the EHB Hylotrupes bajulus during feeding in construction timber, were used. Frass is a powdery material of particularly consistent quality that is essentially biologically processed wood mixed with debris of wood and faeces. The filigree-like particles flow easily permitting the build-up of wood-based structures in a layer wise fashion using the Binder Jetting printing process. The quality of powders produced by different insect species was compared along with the processing steps and properties of the printed parts. Drywood termite frass with a Hausner Ratio HR = 1.1 with ρBulk = 0.67 g/cm3 and ρTap = 0.74 g/cm3 was perfectly suited to deposition of uniformly packed layers in 3D printing,” the researchers wrote.