Apr 16, 2018 | By David

A group of recent grads from Tennessee University are making use of 3D printing technology in order to develop new types of explosives, in collaboration with the U.S. Navy. The researchers are part of Chattanooga-based engineering consultancy firm E&G Associates, which provides services to companies involved with bulk solids processing, such as pharmaceuticals or other materials. The company's new explosives research will make use of one of HP’s powder bed fusion 3D printers. The project is being supported by a $150,000 federal grant, from the Small Business Innovation Research program.

(source: UTC)

E&G Associates was founded by Dr. Bryan Ennis, UTC associate professor of civil and chemical engineering. It employs Ennis’ two sons, Benjamin and Brandon, along with Naseem Jibrin and Michael Winn, all of whom are recent graduates of the UTC College of Computer Science and Engineering. One of E&G Associates’ biggest clients is a coffee manufacturer, who wanted to move coffee beans from huge 1,500 square-foot (139 sq.m) silos to individual coffee cans. Early success with this kind of large-scale industrial operation meant that a major contract with the Navy was not far behind.

The company will be using a commercially-available HP 3D printer in their research, making use of the tech giant’s groundbreaking Jet Fusion powder bed fusion technology, a process which is similar to SLS or other powder bed-based 3D printing systems. HP’s technique, however, offers significant improvements in terms of speed and affordability when compared to SLS, and better quality than FDM or SLA.

According to Jibrin, ''The 3D printer spreads the nylon powder and then prints on that flat layer of powder with the ink. Then the printer passes a heat lamp back and forth to make the dark areas melt. And that’s how you get your parts. The process is repeated in three steps. Spread a layer, ink the specific selected areas and fuse with heat lamps. You do that over and over again until you build a part.''

(credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The team will be trying out different shapes and sizes of 3D printed explosives to achieve optimal performance. They will also be experimenting with different chemical combinations, such as a nylon powder infused with an explosive material polymer additives and printer ink.

''It’s a lot of development effort to try to come up with a machine or printer. (The U.S Navy researchers) want to be able to take the technologies that are already available,'' said Ennis. ''Instead inserting a spool of nylon into the printer like with traditional 3D printing, they want to insert a spool of explosive material.''

(source: Missouri S&T)

To test out its explosives, E&G Associates has partnered with the explosives engineering department at the Missouri University of Science and Technology (MST), in order to make use of its facilities. MST’s Energetics Research Facility houses two blast chambers, safety and handling test equipment as well as several measurement devices. The blast chamber that will be used is basically a large metal tube, eight feet (2.4m) in height with walls that are about an inch (2.2cm) thick. High-speed cameras are also available to record the blast and allow the team to replay it and examine the finer details of the detonation process.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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