EBM 3D Printing Gets Thomas Edison in a Twist

By on August 24th, 2018 in blog

 Oskar Zielinski with the 3D printed bust of Thomas Edison [Image: GE Additive]
Oskar Zielinski with the 3D printed bust of Thomas Edison [Image: GE Additive]

Famed inventor Thomas Edison has a great deal of layers to him — and a new metal likeness pins that number at 4,300.

Usually when we hear from GE Additive, it’s Very Serious Business, but today they’ve shared over a charming look at output from Arcam EBM in the shape of a twistable Edison.

R&D technician Oskar Zielinski, whose typical duties include maintenance, modification, and repair, turned to the Arcam Q20plus system to put it through its paces.

“The idea actually came from a colleague in Cincinnati, Mark Meyer, who requested a piece of Edison for educational purposes. I was sent a file of a really low resolution model, and it was there and then that I decided we had to model a high resolution statue that we can show with pride at GE Additive,” Zielinski tells Fabbaloo of the inspiration behind the detailed finished product.

He designed 25 stacking pieces building Edison in 4,300 layers, each 90 microns and containing different net structures. 3D printed in Ti64 in a single 90-hour build, the resulting bust is 387mm tall and fully twistable.

If you’ve ever had the feeling that your boss is looking over your shoulder as you work, now Edison actually can twist over his own shoulder to watch Zielinski at work.

The GE founder offered support to the company as it grew, but today’s technologies aren’t offering him the same; that is, very little support was needed in the creation of the bust.

Zielinski’s statue required “only a little support between the outer skins of the slices and nets were all free floating without any supports at all,” GE Additive notes.

The removal of support structures from metal 3D printed builds is never a beloved pastime, and this intricate show piece is a nice highlight of what can be achieved sans supports.

 [Image: GE Additive]  
[Image: GE Additive]  

It also represented a learning experience for Zielinski. While he works hands-on with Arcam’s EBM technology every day, there is always something new to be learned, and he tells us that this process was enlightening.

“I got a lot of experience working with many different programs for manipulating models. Then there was also the aspect of preparing a build that would succeed on the first try,” Zielinski tells Fabbaloo.

“I learned a lot and I am equally excited every day I come in to work. Learning new skills every day.”

Ultimately, the learning curve proved itself in an impressive new statue. For his part, Zielinski is proud of the “huge” final piece — and is left wondering “what Thomas Edison would have thought if someone would have told him during the 19th century about the technology that exists today.”

Via GE Additive


By Sarah Goehrke

Sarah Goehrke is a Special Correspondent for Fabbaloo, via a partnership with Additive Integrity LLC. Focused on the 3D printing industry since 2014, she strives to bring grounded and on-the-ground insights to the 3D printing industry. Sarah served as Fabbaloo's Managing Editor from 2018-2021 and remains active in the industry through Women in 3D Printing and other work.