Additive manufacturing (AM) seems to have its fingers in almost every pie these days. From rapid prototyping to large-scale production to medical and dental usage; 3D printing is everywhere. With that in mind, it shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise that AM has designs on your dinner plate.
Systems and Materials Research Corporation (SMRC) has received a six month, $150,000 grant from NASA to investigate the potential of using AM to build meals. The basic idea follows the standard pattern of AM. In this case, instead of slowly building up layers of metal or plastic, the RepRap style printer will build up layers of protein, sugar and carbohydrates. Continue reading
The design flexibility offered by additive manufacturing (AM) makes the technology uniquely suited to a number of applications where the shape of an object is as (or nearly as) important as the functionality. Rapid prototyping obviously comes to mind where getting the shape of something right is frequently the only concern, but functional end-use products can also benefit from 3D printing.
Desert Star Systems has created a line of tags, called SeaTags, built using molds developed through AM and designed for use in the ocean. The benefit to using AM to construct the SeaTags is that each tag can be tailored for a specific species. A tag designed for use on turtles, for example, would need to be designed to have as little drag as possible, while one designed to fit on a shark’s fin would have completely different dimensions. Continue reading
New technologies don’t just grow themselves. Just like anything else, additive manufacturing (AM) requires research and innovation to keep its competitive edge, and to further enhance its capabilities.
President Obama pushed for the creation of a country-wide manufacturing initiative project that resulted in the opening of NAMII. NAMII is only the first of a proposed 15-site network, but not every state is willing to wait for the federal government to fund new manufacturing research centers. Not only is the federal government slow as molasses, the competition for the next site means not every state will be a winner. Virginia has taken matters into its own hands with the grand opening of the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM).
Additive manufacturing (AM) has taken some great strides in the two plus decades the technology has been around, but there’s always room for innovation. Continuing research and development will ensure that AM keeps pace with the demands of an evolving industry. National defense also has a stake in AM, and any improvements have the potential to save lives.
It was with those two areas primarily in mind that President Obama pushed ahead with his plan for a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. The pilot program for the Network, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), was founded in Youngstown, OH and has become a center for advances in AM. Last November, NAMII and the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) sent out a call for projects, and now seven programs have been selected to share $4.5 million in funding. Continue reading
While plenty of companies are moving toward larger additive manufacturing (AM) systems, not every project needs to be the size of an aircraft wing. Nanoscribe, as might be guessed from the name, is moving in the opposite direction, offering a 3D printer that is capable of building objects measured by the micron, rather than the foot.
Rapid Ready has covered this sort of AM before, and now the technology is commercially available in the form of the Photonic Professional GT. The new system uses laser lithography and two-photon polymerization to build sub-micrometer polymer structures at, according to the company, high speed. Continue reading