Optomec Receives Patent for Miniaturized Aerosol Jet Print Head

The battlefields of patent litigation have been fairly quiet recently, at least in the world of additive manufacturing (AM). That seems like a positive sign for the industry as a whole, allowing companies to focus on research and development, rather than courtroom theater. During this time of peace, new patents are finding their way to approval, and while not every patent is earth-shaking, some are worth examination.

Optomec has recently received a patent for its miniaturized aerosol jet print head, titled “Miniature Aerosol Jet and Aerosol Jet Array” (patent # 8,640,975). The patent ensures exclusivity for an aerosol jet print head design that is smaller, lighter, and less expensive to manufacture than previous iterations. The patent also leaves room for Optomec to grow, including provisions for multiplexing the miniaturized print head geometry within linear arrays or custom arrangements for high-volume production scale-up. Continue reading

Optomec Launches LENS 450 Metal 3D Printer

As RAPID 2013 continued into day two, we discovered the LENS 450 metal additive manufacturing (AM) system; a new offering from Optomec. Described by the company as “low cost,” the new metal 3D printer uses the same technology as the LENS 850, but has a smaller footprint.

The LENS 450 has a 100 x 100 x 100 mm (3.9 x 3.9 x 3.9 in.) build envelope that is hermetically sealed for the operation of a 400W IPG fiber laser. It offers a deposition rate of up to 80 g/hour, positional accuracy of around .25 mm and a liner resolution of .025 mm. Continue reading

Imprint Energy Printed Batteries Show Promise for Digital Manufacturing

Some things just seem to go together. Peanut butter and jelly, Oreos and milk, and, quite possibly, printed electronics and additive manufacturing (AM). I’m hardly the only one to notice this particular combo. Disney, and a team effort by Stratasys and Optomec, have worked with the idea of combining the two technologies to create a greater whole.

3D printing is already capable of producing complex parts, but hasn’t really moved forward with creating products with advanced functionality. Printed electronics are becoming a hotter commodity, to the point of being recognized as part of the greater printing community, as can be seen with the attention the technology is receiving at the SGIA Expo. Printed electronics are cool all on their own, but, metaphorically speaking, need a place to live in order to realize their full potential. Continue reading

Editorial: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of 3D Printing

Kind of like the Force (and duct tape), technology has a light side and a dark side. This is true for even the most basic tech. Fire can cook your meal or burn down a house. It’s tempting to focus on the bad and overlook the good. Just like in school, the bad kids got more attention than the good kids, but a smart teacher doesn’t paint all children with the same brush.

The rise of 3D printing will bring out the good and bad in people, just like every other technology. For every 100 people that print out a doorstop, you’ll have a couple using the technology to pirate objects and designs. I’ve covered some of this ground in earlier posts, but I thought it might be worthwhile examining the issue from a different angle.

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3D Printing Takes to the Skies

Slowly but surely additive manufacturing (AM) is insinuating itself into industry. Maybe not even so slowly. The basic strengths of AM (complex internal geometries, the capability to create strong, lightweight objects) are of particular interest to aerospace companies to help reduce fuel costs and lower manufacturing expenditures.

We first looked at AM and aerospace all the way back here and more recently here. In 2011, the University of Southampton demonstrated a 3D printed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Part of what made the UAV of interest to the aerospace community was that it was printed as one piece, rather than as a number of different parts that required additional construction. This offered the possibility of speeding up production.

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