variable-density printing

3D Printed Spring Exceeds Traditional Manufacturing

I’ve talked to a number of people in the additive manufacturing (AM) industry who don’t believe the technology is ready to take over more traditional methods of mass production. This is probably true is most cases, particularly where parts are just stamped out by the dozen. Not every part that’s made for consumer use is produced in large batches, however, opening the door for improvements on design offered by AM.

LayerWise and TNO have teamed up recently to produce an end-use part through AM. In the course of developing an actuator for high accuracy positioning, TNO found it required a specific type of spring. The original prototype spring was created from machined high tensile steel.

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MIT’s Natural Approach to 3D Printing

Even after nearly two decades of development and use, 3D printing is still a relatively new technology. As is the case with most new technologies, the manner in which it is implemented is often based on what people expect from older technologies. Most 3D printers are used to create prototypes, but the creation of a prototype isn’t anything new, 3D printers just make the process faster.

The same is true of many actual products created by 3D printing. Companies use the technology to create the same products that have always existed. Jewelry made using 3D investment casting is basically the same as any other jewelry that resulted from pouring metal into a mold. True breakthroughs in 3D printing will come when companies learn to change the form of their products, rather than just the manner in which they are created.

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