Sep 21, 2017 | By David

Time waits for no man, and neither does the 3D printing world. We’re a little more patient at 3ders though, so here’s another round-up of recent developments you might have missed. Stories include an award being granted for 3D printed wind turbine blades, SLM Solutions getting its biggest-ever contract, and more besides.

Sandia National Laboratories wins award for 3D printed wind turbine blades

Winners of the annual Federal Laboratory Consortium awards were recently announced, and the innovative 3D printing work of Sandia National Laboratories was recognized. The FLC awards program is intended to promote the achievements of federal laboratories and their industrial partners. In the case of Sandia, this is National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc. that operates the laboratories for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Sandia collaborated with Oak Ridge National Laboratory on production of its 3D printed turbine blades, which won it a Regional Partnership Award from the FLC. The blades were designed to cut costs in the testing process for new blades. They were made to replicate the wake of a full-size blade, but on a much smaller scale. They were one third of the size of regular blades, and cost 95 percent less.

ExOne announces availability of new 3D printable stainless steel

Major global 3D printing company ExOne, based in North Huntingdon, PA, has made a significant addition to its product portfolio for industrial 3D printing. Its production service center can now provide manufacturing clients with components made from 17-4PH stainless steel.

Also known as SAE Type 630 and UNS S17400,17-4PH is a chromium-nickel-copper precipitation-hardening stainless steel that is commonly used for applications requiring high strength and a moderate level of corrosion resistance. Compared with other stainless steel alloys, it is also preferred for its weldability. After 3D printing, 17-4PH parts produced at ExOne’s production service center will be heat treated according to Condition H900 to increase hardness.

ExOne already provides 3D printed parts made from a range of other stainless steels, including 420 stainless steel infiltrated with bronze, 316 stainless steel infiltrated with bronze, and 316 stainless steel highly sintered. Now manufacturers that require 17-4PH, which includes aerospace, automotive, and medical companies, amongst others, can make use of ExOne’s unique binder jetting 3D printing technique. Binder jetting is cheaper than other large-scale metal 3D printing techniques such as stereolithography, while providing the freedom of design and complexity that conventional manufacturing methods can’t.

3D printing company SLM Solutions signs largest-ever supply contract

Based in Lubeck, Germany, SLM Solutions has been one of the leading global providers of metal 3D printing systems for many years now, and the company has been looking to expand its presence in Asia since it was first floated on the stock exchange back in 2014. It has just signed its largest-ever sales contract with a manufacturing customer in China, agreeing to provide 50 machines from its SLM 280 series.

The deal will go through one of SLM’s Chinese sales partners. The company also has subsidiaries in Singapore and India, intending to gain a firm foothold in the region, and this major sale will go some way to achieving that goal. The highly customizable SLM 280 series is already the company’s most popular 3D printer line, in particular the multi-laser version which offers a very high level of productivity. 50 of the machines will be sold over the course of three years, and the contract is expected to raise up to 43 million euros in revenue for SLM Solutions.

According to Uwe Bögershausen, board member of SLM Solutions Group AG: "This contract shows that we are absolutely right in focusing on developing long-term customer relationships and underpins our long-term growth trajectory as an independent German company."

Oak Ridge National Laboratory develops new 3D printing process to repair old engines

Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been advancing 3D printing technology in all kinds of ways for a while now, forming major collaborations with industrial partners in a variety of different sectors. The latest additive manufacturing breakthrough from ORNL is intended to save energy and costs for diesel engine manufacturer Cummins, Inc.

Cummins, Inc provides diesel engines, which tend to be used in heavy-duty vehicles go through extreme conditions. Repairing these engines after a million miles of usage can be a complex and time-consuming process, often requiring the replacement of the cylinder head. At its Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, ORNL has developed a new method to fix the engines that will cut down on costs and use significantly less energy.

The research team effectively “scoop out” the worn section of the engine, and use 3D printing to deposit a high-performance alloy in its place. This material is actually better than the original casting, improving the strength of the engine to levels that it previously didn’t have.

“We’re decreasing the engine’s thermal conductivity, which holds heat in longer, and turning it into increased efficiency,” said Nikhil Doiphode, Cummins’ parts R&D engineer. “While these are not brand-new engines, we’re striving to make them better than new.”

Future Engineers challenges students to design 3D printable model for International Space Station

Future Engineers is an award-winning online education platform that promotes technology and engineering innovation by issuing national design challenges for K-12 students. Its latest contest has just been announced, and it is the sixth in a series of space challenges developed in collaboration with the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME) Foundation and with technical assistance provided by NASA.

The Two for the Crew challenge tasks students to design a model that can be 3D printed for astronauts on board the International Space Station. The crux of the challenge is to combine two different objects that astronauts already use on the ISS into one. Students will learn about the advantages of in-space manufacturing, including customization, which means that astronauts can print what they need, when they need it, and can make very specific parts for the unique environment of the ISS.

“Designing 3D prints for space isn’t limited to how we currently use or perceive traditional tools and equipment,” said Deanne Bell, founder of Future Engineers. “I‘m excited to see how students innovate new hardware that is more efficient and above all addresses astronauts’ needs.”

The winner of this free-to-enter contest, which offers contestants free access to its technology partner AutoDesk’s 3D design software, will be announced in March 2018. The winning design will then be 3D printed on the ISS, using Made In Space’s manufacturing facilities. Winners in younger age groups will also be recognized, and they will get the chance to visit Washington D.C. to learn more about space exploration. MakerBot will also donate a Replicator Mini+ 3D printer to the school, library or education organization of the top four finalists in each age category in recognition of their achievement.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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