Direct Metal Deposition (DMD)
The nature of manufacturing is undergoing a fundamental shift. Thanks to additive manufacturing (AM), products or prototypes that used to take days or weeks to construct can now be completed in hours. Companies are beginning to wake up to the potential of AM, and are looking for ways to educate themselves about the technology, and to leverage the power of 3D printing.
In the US, NAMII is one center for innovation, education and development, but it isn’t the only place where there’s a focus on AM. Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) Manufacturing Demonstration Facility also provides research assistance, as well as opening access to industrial AM systems to a variety of businesses. Stratasys has formed a partnership with ORNL, and other companies are following its lead. Continue reading →
Researchers at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia have found a way to slash the time it takes to make components out of aluminium and other metals by fine tuning the metals used in direct metal deposition (DMD) additive manufacturing (AM) systems. By using copper and tooling steel, researchers say they can cut cooling times of molten aluminum as it’s cast into molds. Traditionally aluminium components, such as those used in motor vehicles, are cast into a steel die or mold. The molten aluminium takes considerable time to cool down, and the component cannot be removed from the mold until it had cooled and hardened.
Swinburne Ph.D. graduate Khalid Imran and his supervisor Professor of Advanced Manufacturing at Swinburne’s Industrial Research Institute, Syed Masood, have combined the use of a giant 3D printer from Precision Optical Manufacturing (POM) Group and layering metals to make a predominantly copper mold that is promising to significantly reduce waste and cut cooling times in high-pressure die-casting by 33%.
I generally enjoy covering additive manufacturing (AM). One of the few sticky areas is process terminology. Different companies call the same process by wildly different names. For example, what Stratasys calls Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), 3D Systems calls plastic jet printing, and the RepRap community calls fused filament fabrication (FFF).
The processes use an extruder head to lay down layers of thermoplastic to create objects in roughly the same way. More people recognize FDM than plastic jet printing or fused filament fabrication. Stratasys, which developed the technology, has trademarked the phrase Fused Deposition Modeling. As a result, 3D Systems and members of the RepRap project don’t call what is basically the same technology by the same name.
How many people out there actually enjoyed their science fair projects? I know I did (and I have the medals to prove it), and I didn’t even have the amazing tools available to kids these days. While not exactly a science fair project, students from eight schools in Knox County, Tennesse are using 3D printing as part of their creation process for the FIRST Robotics Competition.
FIRST is a national robotics competition that pits students in grades 9-12 from more than 2,000 schools. Other than the feeling of accomplishment that comes with competing in this sort of event, competitors gain access to nearly $14 million in college scholarships. Sponsors for the event include Autodesk, Microsoft, PTC and Texas Instruments.