3D Print, Peel, & Place

3D Print, Peel, & Place

Nov 13, 2017

By Jeff Reinke, ThomasNet A team at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT was recently able to create a 3D-printed part that can fold up on itself – allowing for a greater number of applications in delicate electronic environments. A key component in the development of this technology was the accidental discovery of new material for printing. Printable electronics are nothing new, but to expand the use of these components, researchers have been trying to find materials that are less susceptible to heat and water. They were also looking to find ways in which they can create precise angles when folding these printed pieces to ensure optimum compatibility. The new material was inadvertently discovered while CSAIL researchers were trying to develop ink that yielded greater material flexibility. What they ended up finding was a material that let them build joints that would expand enough to fold a printed device in half when exposed to ultraviolet light. The new printing material or ink expands after it solidifies, whereas most comparable materials contract. This unusual property allows for the part to form joints or creases for changing its shape after it has been created. This material discovery offers opportunities in both the near and longer term.  First, this ability to construct 3D-printable electronics with foldable shapes could expand the production of customized sensors, displays, and transmission devices. Over the longer term, more complex electronics could become a reality, including electromechanical and power-assisted components, as well as end-products for industrial...

3D-Printing Marine-Grade Steel

3D-Printing Marine-Grade Steel

Nov 2, 2017

By Jeff Reinke, ThomasNet Marine-grade stainless steel, or 316 as it’s called in the industry, is highly sought after for applications that range from underwater storage tanks to kitchen utensils and appliances. This need stems from its unique ability to resist pitting and corrosion after being exposed to salt and water. However, these properties are usually obtained by adding molybdenum, which can have an adverse effect on the ability to stretch and form a metal. Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory may have come across a way to preserve the non-corrosive capabilities of 316 while simultaneously improving its ductility. The team announced a technique for 3D-printing a low-carbon type of marine grade stainless steel that they’re calling 316L. As profiled in Nature Materials, the additive production process has been found to enhance both strength and ductility properties. This breakthrough translates to expanded capabilities in industries such as aerospace that operate in harsh environments where materials need to be durable, flexible, and non-corrosive. The ability to 3D print these types of materials stems from analyzing their structure and understanding the small, splinter-like defects that seem to form when the metals are produced in traditional ways. Bringing an additive process addressed these gaps while preserving the essential benefits. Perhaps more exciting is that researchers believe this breakthrough could lead to improved production approaches for numerous other materials by using 3D printing. The results could enhance quality exponentially across a range of products and...

Strut-Truss Design, 3D Printing Reduce Mass of Satellite…

Strut-Truss Design, 3D Printing Reduce Mass of Satellite…

Sep 26, 2017

“Strut-Truss Design, 3D Printing Reduce Mass of Satellite Structural Components” Featured in Design-2-Part Magazine PALO ALTO, Calif.—Space Systems Loral (SSL), a provider of satellites and spacecraft systems, recently announced that it has successfully introduced next-generation design and manufacturing techniques for structural components into its SSL 1300 geostationary satellite platform. Its first antenna tower that was designed using these techniques, which include additive manufacturing (3D printing), was launched last December on the JCSAT-15 satellite, the company said in a press release. “SSL is an innovative company that continues to evolve its highly reliable satellite platform with advanced technologies,” said Dr. Matteo Genna, chief technology officer and vice president of product strategy and development at SSL, in a company release. “Our advanced antenna tower structures enable us to build high performance satellites that would not be possible without tools such as 3D printing.” The highly optimized strut-truss antenna tower used on JCSAT-110A consisted of 37 printed titanium nodes and more than 80 graphite struts. The strut-truss design methodology is now standard for SSL spacecraft, with 13 additional structures in various stages of design and manufacturing, and has resulted in SSL’s using hundreds of 3D printed titanium structural components per year, according to the company. “We would like to thank our customer, SKY Perfect JSAT, for partnering with us on this important satellite manufacturing advance,” said Paul Estey, executive vice president, engineering and operations at SSL, in the release. “This breakthrough in satellite design is an example of SSL’s holistic approach to new technologies and its teamwork with satellite operators that need to maximize their satellites’ capability.” For SSL (www.sslmda.com), optimizing at the system level with additive manufacturing is reported to have enabled an average of 50 percent reductions in mass and schedule for large and complex structures. The savings over conventionally manufactured structural assemblies are much greater than what is possible with the optimization of an individual part. Since the launch of JCSAT-110A, SSL has completed assembly and testing on several other strut-truss structures and continues to expand its use of additive manufacturing and other next-generation design and manufacturing techniques, the company...

A way to make 3D printed parts stronger

A way to make 3D printed parts stronger

Sep 21, 2017

By Bill Bregar, Plastics News Brandon Sweeney, a doctoral student at Texas A&M University’s Department of Chemical Engineering, has developed a way to make 3D printed parts 275 times stronger. Sweeney, working with his adviser Micah Green, associate professor of chemical engineering, applied traditional welding concepts and a carbon nanotube composite filament to bond the submillimeter layers in a 3D printing part using focused microwaves. Sweeney began working with materials for 3D printing while he was employed at the Army Research Laboratory at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. “I was able to see the amazing potential of the technology, such as the way it sped up our manufacturing times and enabled our CAD designs to come to life in a matter of hours,” Sweeney said. “Unfortunately, we always knew those were not really strong enough to survive in a real-world application.” When he started his doctorate studies, Sweeney was working with Green in the chemical engineering department. Green had been collaborating with Mohammad Saed, assistant professor in the electrical and computer engineering department at Texas Tech, on a project to detect carbon nanotubes using microwaves. The three men came up with an idea to use carbon nanotubes in 3D printed parts, then using microwave energy to weld the layers of parts together. “The basic idea is that a 3D part cannot simply be stuck in an oven to weld it together, because it is plastic and will melt,” Sweeney said. “We realized that we needed to borrow from the concepts that are traditionally used for welding parts together where you’d use a point source of heat, like a torch or TIP welder, to join the interface of the parts together. You’re not melting the entire part, just putting the heat where you need it.” The team puts a 3D printed filament and apply a thin layer of a carbon nanotube composite on the outside. “When you print the parts out, that thin layer gets embedded at the interface of all the plastic strands,” Sweeney said. “Then we stick it in a microwave, we use a big more sophisticated microwave oven in this research, and monitor the temperature with an infrared camera.” The patent-pending...

Your Shoes Will Be Printed Shortly

Your Shoes Will Be Printed Shortly

May 16, 2017

By Christopher Mims, Wall Street Journal Innovative techniques in 3-D printing mean some previously impossible design will start showing up in consumer products This may be the year you get 3-D-printed shoes. By the end of 2017, the transformation of manufacturing will hit a milestone: mass-produced printed parts. Until now, that concept was an oxymoron, since 3-D printing has been used mainly for prototyping and customized parts. But the radical innovation of 3-D printing techniques means we are finally going to see some previously impossible designs creep into our consumer goods. In the long term, it also means new products that previously would have been impractical to produce, and a geographical shift of some manufacturing closer to customers. I have two very different examples of this milestone, one plastic, the other steel. There’s a running shoe from Adidas AG, with a 3-D-printed latticed sole that looks almost organic, like the exposed roots of a plant. Then there’s a steel hinge, indistinguishable from any other metal part except for incredibly fine striations in its surface, as if it had been deposited like sandstone rather than forged. In a feat impossible with conventional manufacturing, all three moving pieces of the hinge were crafted together. 3-D printing is more than two decades old, but to date the process has been limited to making novelties, prototypes, bits of machines for factories, or expensive specialized parts, like fittings for prosthetic limbs or fuel nozzles in jet engines. After years of searching for a 3-D printing tech that is up to the challenge of sneakers, Adidas came upon a startup called Carbon Inc., which has raised $222 million to date. Instead of the plodding process of depositing plastic one layer at a time from a nozzle, Carbon’s “digital light synthesis” printers transform a liquid plastic into a solid using UV light and oxygen. This yields products comparable in quality to molded plastics at a competitive speed and cost, at least when making tens of thousands of a given object. Why Now? Because traditional manufacturing requires molds, casts and machining, it has high upfront costs. It’s great if you want to make a million of something, but not so great if you...