Nov 2, 2017 | By David

The world of 3D printing technology doesn't slow down for anyone or anything, and it's not difficult to find yourself lagging behind all the recent developments. So here's another helpful round-up of stories you might have missed recently, including the University of Suffolk getting its first 3D printer, a 3D printed rocket motor being successfully tested, and more besides.

1. University of Suffolk gets £245k to purchase its first 3D printer

The University of Suffolk in the UK has recently received funding to buy its first 3D printer. The funding was approved by Ipswich Borough Council's executive committee, for the University of Suffolk's Ipswich Waterfront Innovation Centre. The centre will be given £245, 000 towards the cost of a printer, as well as an additional £55,000 for associated equipment, to create a 3D productivity suite.

Stef Thorne, from the university, said: "The printer will be a huge asset and will be of benefit to research and innovation projects for our staff and students, for local schools and colleges and for local businesses, both small and large."

The 3D printing system will contribute to the production of prototypes in various departments and fields at the centre, including computer game design and jewellery manufacturing.


2. Techniplas partners with DWS to expand 3D printing capabilities

Automotive manufacturing service provider Techniplas has announced that it will be partnering with 3D printing company Digital Wax Systems (DWS). DWS will be bringing its portfolio of professional 3D printing products to the open innovation program at Techniplas' Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center in Ventura, California.

DWS is a pioneer of the stereolithography 3D printing technique, which involves the digitally programmed focusing of high-energy lasers or light rays on a resin substance in order to selectively harden particular areas, building up a three-dimensional object layer-by-layer. The Italian company’s technology is able to provide a high level of precision in manufacturing, which makes it suitable for some of the most demanding industrial applications. The automotive industry continues to adopt 3D printing for this improved accuracy in engineering along with the flexibility and reduced costs.

"With this DWS partnership, we are accelerating the momentum and strengthening our commitment to design and develop the best digital manufacturing tools together with like-minded, industry leaders," said Avi Reichental, Vice-Chairman, Techniplas and CEO, Techniplas Digital. "DWS brings to this collaboration a comprehensive suite of precision printers capable of delivering high-volume metal castings and performance rubber materials that are ideal for automotive applications."


3. Solukon to launch automated post-processing systems for metal 3D printing

Solukon Maschinenbau has chosen this year’s formnext trade show as the occasion to launch its new range of 3D printing products. The German company has developed automated post-processing systems that can be used to speed up the metal additive manufacturing process. Intended for use with laser melting techniques, they are capable of automating the process of removing excess powder through systematic rotation and controlled vibration to release unused powder trapped in complex metal 3D printed parts.

“Metal AM systems have grown in their capabilities and the breadth of application in recent years, but peripheral processes to speed up the industrialisation of these technologies has been lagging”, says Solukon Co-founder Andreas Hartmann. “Studies by leading users of AM indicate that more than 70% of the costs of producing metal parts is attributed to pre- and post processes. Solukon’s mission is to automate and simplify the additive process, and by so doing to expand the industrial viability of these technologies.”

The systems will be available in two sizes, each with two versions, according to the particular project or application. The large SFM-AT800 de-powdering system is designed for the processing of parts with maximum dimensions of 500 x 500 x 500 mm, and up to a weight of 300 kg. Coming next year, this system will be able to handle larger parts up to 800 x 400 x 500 mm. The smaller SFM-AT300 system is designed for parts of up to 300 x 300 x 350 mm weighing up to 60 kg. A 90 percent reduction in post-processing time is promised by Solukon with these new powder removal systems.


4. 3Diligent expands its range with addition of 3D printed silicone

3D printing service provider 3Diligent has announced that it will be adding 3D printed silicone to its range of additive manufacturing capabilities. The company, which makes use of data science to analyze customer requests for quote (RFQs) and identify optimal rapid manufacturing solutions across its network of qualified partners, has already started to process orders with the new material.

The medical industry is one from which 3Diligent is likely to find a large number of clients for its silicone service. All kinds of innovative 3D printed silicone applications are being seen across the medical field, including realistic silicone models for surgical training, 3D printed bandages that can be applied directly to human skin,  and realistic artificial hearts for research and training.

“Being able to 3D print silicone is an exciting innovation. At 3Diligent we strive to meet the 3D Printing needs of all designers and are pleased to expand our range of elastomeric materials with silicone,” said 3Diligent CEO Cullen Hilkene.


5. Department of Energy develops one-step method for 3D printing catalysts

The U.S. Department of Energy's 3D printing research has recently achieved a significant milestone. The DoE’s Ames Laboratory has developed a 3-D printing process that will enable the creation of a chemically active catalytic object in a single step. This opens the door to more efficient ways of producing catalysts, which will be useful for controlling complex chemical reactions in a wide range of industries.

3D printing in catalysis is a relatively new approach, and previous methods have tended to involve a multi-stage process, whereby the chemically active agents onto pre-printed structures. This new technique is able to use digital modelling and stereolithography 3D printing to produce product with intrinsic catalytic properties.

"We can control the shape of the structure itself, what we call the macroscale features; and the design of the catalyst, the nanoscale features, at the same time", said Igor Slowing, a scientist in heterogeneous catalysis at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory. "This opens up many possibilities to rapidly produce structures custom designed to perform a variety of chemical conversions."

This research is further discussed in the paper "Direct 3-D Printing of Catalytically Active Structures," authored by J. Sebastián Manzano, Zachary B. Weinstein, Aaron D. Sadow, and Igor I. Slowing.

6. Orbital ATK successfully tests first 3D printed rocket motor components

Global aerospace and defense leader Orbital ATK has announced the successful testing of a rocket motor that was built using 3D printed components. The prototype tactical solid rocket motor incorporates critical metal parts that were made through additive manufacturing, and its successful  completion of a series of static test firings marks an industry first.

The motor was developed in partnership with the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. It incorporates advanced materials technologies and it is designed to improve the performance and safety of a next generation anti-tank missile system. Assembly and testing of the prototype motors was conducted at Orbital ATK’s Tactical Propulsion and Ordnance facility in Rocket Center, West Virginia.

The rocket motor has an operational temperature range from -26 degrees to +145 degrees Fahrenheit, and it performed capably across this range, meeting all test objectives. The main 3D printed part was the rocket nozzle and closure structure, a single piece made from high strength steel. It is expected to improve affordability of the system by significantly reducing the parts count and manufacturing complexity. The perforated rocket motor igniter housing and nozzle weatherseal used in the prototype tests were also made using 3D printing technology.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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