Sep 7, 2017 | By David

3D printing’s global expansion is causing the technology to be advanced in many places outside the U.S, the Middle East, China, and other familiar areas of economic power and industrial innovation. Continuing this trend, three Nordic universities recently announced a new 3D printing project aimed at strengthening the manufacturing industry in the region. Sweden’s Luleå University of Technology and Norway’s University of Tromsø will be teaming up with The University of Oulu in Finland, as well as 15 small to medium sized local businesses, to develop a new 3D printing method for metal parts.

Located in the far north of the country, the Arctic city of Tromso is one of Norway’s most remote places, although it is still a cultural hub that enjoys considerable tourism during summer months due to its being a prime location for seeing the Aurora Borealis. Lulea and Oulu are a little further south, just a few miles apart across the Gulf of Bothnia that separates Sweden from Finland. Despite being quite removed from the more prosperous and well connected capitals in the south, their universities still contribute more than their fair share of research to the development of various state-of-the-art technologies, which are gradually being implemented more into the business infrastructure of Scandinavia and the Baltic.

While 3D printing with plastic materials has already taken off to some degree amongst various manufacturers around the region, metal 3D printing technology is still lagging behind. This new collaborative project should see this situation rectified, particularly as the University of Oulu has already made some considerable progress in the field.

A group of researchers at the University of Oulu known as the Future Production Technologies (FMT) group has been working to advance various cutting-edge manufacturing techniques, including 3D printing, for a while now. The group is part of the university’s Kerttu Saalasti Institute, as well as the territory’s universities Research Center (CASR). One of its major breakthroughs recently was a new metal 3D printer installed in the Nivalan ELME Studio, which has been used by various businesses as well as researchers.

Lulea University of Technology will be co-ordinating this collaborative project, which has been loosely titled the Arctic Platform to Create, 3D-Print, Test and Sell. The European Regional Development Fund will be backing the work of the researchers, in an effort to bring as many local areas on the continent as possible on board with the latest 3D printing breakthroughs. 927,000 Euros will be provided as part of the the Interreg North Program.

Metal 3D printing can include Laser Sintering techniques or stereolithography. These make use of a laser or strong beam of light to melt and then re-solidify specific areas of a metal powder bed, or to solidify specific areas of a resin tank. The beam is directed automatically by a virtual digital model of the final object. The bed or tank is then raised to carry out the same process a little higher up, and gradually a 3D object is built up, layer-by-layer.

This new Nordic 3D printing project is predicted to last around 2 and a half years, by which time the use of 3D printing in metal prototyping and final production runs should be an everyday occurrence in the area.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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