Additive manufacturing (AM) offers a solution to any number of production issues, particularly for designs with complex internal geometries and, of course, for rapid prototyping. Beyond prototyping, the word “rapid” can get lost. For small production runs or one-off designs, it’s hard to beat the speed offered by AM. For large production runs, processes such as injection molding are faster than 3D printing.
Loughborough University and FaraPack Polymers (a subsidiary of the University of Sheffield) have developed the first AM system that may put the lie to notions that 3D printing is too slow for serious production. Able to produce finished parts in around 10 seconds, the High Speed Sintering (HSS) process could well represent the next step forward for full production AM. Continue reading
Last May, President Obama announced his plan for improving the technological backbone of manufacturing in the US with the formation of a series of 15 public-private funded manufacturing innovation institutes throughout the country. The pilot institute, America Makes (or NAMII), opened shortly thereafter in Youngstown, OH and began to serve as a hub for high-tech manufacturing, including additive manufacturing, for the region.
With the pilot program humming away, the President has announced two new institutes led by the Department of Defense and supported by a $140 million in Federal funding that has been matched by $140 million in private funding. The new innovation hub in Detroit will focus on lightweight and modern metals manufacturing, while the hub in Chicago will concentrate on digital manufacturing and design technologies. Continue reading
The word “slow” is relative. If you are stuck on a two-lane highway behind an old granny out for her Sunday drive, it feels like you are moving slowly, but it’s only very recently that a single human could dream of transportation that moved at such a rapid pace. So, when people claim additive manufacturing (AM) is slow, that too is relative. Compared to plenty of traditional manufacturing situations, AM is positively speedy.
But we always want to go faster. A new partnership between Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Cincinnati, Inc. hopes to result in a 3D printer that is 500 times faster than current AM systems, and offers an improved build area of up 10 times current volume. Continue reading
Additive manufacturing (AM) is an amazingly flexible tool. It can construct complex objects during the course of a single build that would normally require multiple other traditional manufacturing processes. No matter how remarkable, however, every technology comes with a few limitations.
For AM, one limitation is the static nature of 3D printers. While the object inside an AM system might be able to take almost any shape, the printer itself must sit still in one place to produce that object. The Joris Laarman Lab has been working on more freeform versions of AM, last year with a resin/plastic based system, and this year working with metals. Continue reading
Big business’s reaction to additive manufacturing (AM) has been somewhat mixed. While some companies are still investigating the technology, others have jumped in with both feet. GE belongs to the latter category. The company signaled its interest in AM with the acquisition of Morris Technologies in 2012. That was followed up with the news GE Aviation intended to use 3D printing to build nozzles for its LEAP engine.
Continuously looking for ways to use AM, GE then announced it would be using cold spray to build and repair parts. With AM proving itself in other departments, GE Oil and Gas is also buying into AM to build fuel nozzles for gas turbines, and for rapid prototyping needs associated with pipeline inspection. Continue reading