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...

Audi and Alta Devices to Develop Automobiles with Solar Roofs

Audi and Alta Devices to Develop Automobiles with Solar Roofs

Nov 1, 2017

Featured in Design-2-Part Magazine SUNNYVALE, Calif.—Audi and Alta Devices, a subsidiary of solar-cell specialist, Hanergy Thin Film Power, plan to work together to integrate solar cells into panoramic glass roofs of Audi models. With this cooperation, the partners aim to generate solar energy to increase the range of Audi electric vehicles. The first prototype is expected to be developed by the end of 2017. As the first step, Audi and Alta Devices (www.altadevices.com) will integrate solar cells into a panoramic glass roof. But the companies plan to eventually cover almost the entire surface of the roof with solar cells, which they say is possible due to Alta’s uniquely flexible, thin, and efficient technology. The electricity generated from the cells will flow into the car’s electric system and can supply, for example, the air-conditioning system and seat heaters—a gain in efficiency that has a direct positive impact on the range of an Audi electric vehicle. “The range of electric cars plays a decisive role for our customers,” said Audi Board of Management Member for Procurement Dr. Bernd Martens, in a press release. “Together with Alta Devices and Hanergy, we plan to install innovative solar technology in our electric cars that will extend their range and is also sustainable.  At a later stage, solar energy could directly charge the traction battery of Audi electric vehicles. That would be a milestone along the way to achieving sustainable, emission-free mobility.” Alta Devices’ innovative solar cells will generate the green electricity. The solar cells are reported to be very thin and flexible, hold the world-record for efficiency, and perform extremely well in low light and high temperature environments. “This partnership with Audi is Alta Devices’ first cooperation with a high-end auto brand,” said Dr. Jian Ding, senior vice president of Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Ltd., CEO of Alta Devices, Inc., and co-leader of the Audi/Hanergy Thin Film Solar Cell Research and Development Project. “By combining Alta’s continuing breakthroughs in solar technology with Audi’s drive toward the future of the auto industry, we will define the solar car of the...

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...

Overcoming the Fears of Digital Transformation

Overcoming the Fears of Digital Transformation

Sep 20, 2017

By Anthony Bourne, Industrial Equipment News Manufacturers need to think carefully about how they position IoT and other disruptive technologies, and how they communicate the benefits. Digital Transformation (DT) is coming of age. In the recent Digital Change Survey commissioned by IFS, 80 percent saw themselves as “enabled, enhanced or optimized” to leverage DT. Even more impressively, 89 percent said they had “advantageous” or “adequate” funding in place for digital projects—a clear acknowledgment that the time of disruptive technologies is here. But why are businesses investing? Where do they see the big profits? And how successfully are they selling digital change throughout their organizations? Beyond Efficiency The survey found that over a quarter (27 percent) of companies say digital transformation makes them more competitive. Additionally, 29 percent see the main benefit as accelerating innovation and 28 percent feel that growth opportunities in new markets are the primary advantage. Companies using digital transformation to ask far-reaching strategic questions—like “can I use it to get myself a bigger share on the market, or increase my product portfolio?”—are making the most of the long-term, strategic opportunities. They’re sensing how it can transform even seemingly small tactical decisions into key strategic differentiators. But these companies are in the minority. The largest group in the survey, 47 percent, still see the main benefits of DT as “improving internal process efficiencies”, which makes me wonder: do companies really see the full potential? Innovation can make or break a company, and study after study foregrounds it as a C-level priority. So why doesn’t it appear to be a driver for digital transformation? Considering technology investments, this could mean that the majority of funds are invested in making internal processes more effective and thereby failing to enable innovation. Improved internal efficiency as the key reason to explore DT is, in my view, too short sighted. It fails to exploit the strategic benefits and makes it more difficult to win the understanding and commitment of the staff. Overcoming Fear of Change Despite plenty of good news, the survey still reveals that 42 percent of respondents view aversion to change as the main barrier to digital transformation. Companies need to think carefully about how they position...