Stratasys and Oak Ridge National Laboratory Partner for 3D Printing
Additive manufacturing (AM) is on plenty of people’s minds these days, including those in the U.S. government. In addition to the manufacturing initiative, Stratasys (Rapid Ready company profile here) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have partnered to further AM research. The partnership intends to improve Stratasys’ signature fused deposition modeling (FDM) process.
The joint venture is backed by the Department of Energy (DOE) and will use ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility to propel FDM into a more widely used manufacturing process. The DOE is pursuing AM research to reduce manufacturing energy consumption, increase global competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing, and reduce time to market for new consumer goods.
The main objectives of the project are:
1) development of in-process inspection to assure part quality and suitability for service, and
2) development of carbon fiber reinforced FDM feedstock materials to produce strong, lightweight components.
As we’ve discussed here before, any reduction in the weight of materials used in the construction of airplanes decreases the amount of fuel required for flights. Any breakthroughs in this area during an age of soaring fuel prices would be of great benefit to industry, government and the public.
The cost of oil aside, developing in-process inspection for quality assurance (QA) is probably the more important of the two goals, from an AM point-of-view. The nature of AM makes it difficult (but not impossible) for the technology to accurately reproduce material standards. The inclusion of additives changes the material, which would require a new standard. Hopefully, an in-process QA method could overcome this shortcoming.
The stated goal of making U.S. manufacturing more competitive should also be attractive to any of my readers in the States. Reshoring efforts have had some small impact on the economy, but it is high tech manufacturing that will create jobs.
“The research and development done at the MDF allows us to explore innovative ideas in next-generation materials and manufacturing technologies to help U.S. industry,” says Dr.Lonnie Love, Distinguished Research Scientist and Group Leader for Automation, Robotics and Manufacturing at ORNL. “The project with Stratasys will lead to commercialization of new products that will ultimately make U.S. manufacturing more competitive and energy efficient.”
Below you’ll find a video about the partnership.