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3D Printing in September 2017

This month, as with any other, 3D printing tackled a tremendous variety of industries, around the world.  Let’s start with the motor industry in Britain.

Digital Trends has recently reported how a British Shop used the wonders of 3D printing to save the rarest of Jaguars.  The 1954 Pininfarina-bodied XK120 is a one-off, and probably the rarest Jaguar in the car company’s history.

Back in 1954, the XK120 was “delivered to a high-profile owner in New York City.  The one-of-a-kind car changed hands numerous times over the subsequent decades, and it ended up the worse for wear.  That’s when modern tech came to the rescue.”

More specifically, a British shop known as Classic Motor Cars “spent a whopping 6,725 hours restoring every single part of this car to like-new condition.”

The team began by stripping the car down to bare metal.  “Its one-off status complicated the task considerably because there are no blueprints or reference guides to rely on.”  So when it came to the challenge of finding the parts that were missing, 3D printing was the ideal tool.

“Using photographs taken over the course of the car’s life, Classic Motor Sport re-manufactured the front and rear bumpers, which are specific to this car, and made mock-ups of the lights using a 3D printer.  Some of the missing bits and pieces were also 3D printed.”

“This is clearly a technology that changes the way we restore cars; even big manufacturers are using it.  And while we can’t 3D print glass parts yet, 3D scanning technology was used to reproduce the rear window.”

And now, thanks to 3D printing, this Jaguar purrs like a kitten once more.

3D printing isn’t all about luxury vehicles, though, of course.

3Ders caught wind of the winners of Mercedes-Benz’s second annual ‘Hack My Van’ Competition in Australia.  Mindkits, based in New Zealand, has been awarded a brand-new van by the German automobile manufacturer.

Mindkits is run by Tim Carr and Fay Cobbett and has been running educational 3D printing workshops in New Zealand since 2008.  Their goal has been to teach “young people the basics of 3D printing technology in schools that have access to a 3D printer.  Cobbett has always recognized the limitations of this approach, however, as many schools in less socio-economically successful areas of the county lack the funds or resources to introduce 3D printing technology.”

By winning this ‘Hack My Van’ Competition, Mindkits can now expand its operations by using “the van to set up a mobile educational 3D printing workshop, bringing 3D printers to more under-privileged children.”  As Carr explains, “there are plenty of keen kids that are out there in lower socioeconomic areas without the resources and funds to participate, so this is a way we can take what we’ve been doing and totally democratize the technology and make it available for everyone.”

In order to win the competition (and the van), the Mindkits team had “to explain how the new van would add to the growth of its business…Carr and Cobbett overcame these obstacles and won the contest, impressing a panel of judges that included LaunchVic chief executive Kate Cornick, Blackbird Ventures partner Nick Crocker, award-winning chef Shane Delia, stylist Megan Morton, and Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Diane Tarr.”

Following their triumph, “the Mindkits team is now preparing to refurbish the van, ready to test out their concept for real.  They intend to start out back home in New Zealand before moving over to Australia, and perhaps even further afield.  Hopefully as many as 120 children a day will be able to participate in their new mobile 3D printing classes.”

Tarr concludes: “Mindkits…are already providing such a valuable service to school children in New Zealand by delivering hands-on STEM learning experiences.  We cannot wait to see them achieve their dreams of taking their workshops on the road to more kids and more schools.”

From kids dreaming, to the heights of the heavens, 3D printing knows no limits.  3D Printing Industry reports on the successful launch of Russia’s first 3D printed spacecraft.  This launch was carried out by cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin:

“During a spacewalk from the International Space Station with fellow Roscomos cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy, [Yurchikhin]” deployed the Tomsk-TPU-120 satellite by hand.  The 3D printed satellite will spend the next 5 months in the void of space.

The Tomsk-TPU-120 satellite “has no engines, and exposed to the gravitational pull of the Earth’s gravity, its orbit will decay, eventually burning up in the atmosphere.”  This nanosatellite, or “CubeSat, has a 3D printed hull, and numerous parts and components are 3D printed.  The satellite measures approximately 300 x 100 x 100 mm, and also uses an electric battery, which reportedly has made use of 3D printing with zirconium for the first time ever.”

“Alongside the temperature sensors and other monitoring equipment, the satellite is equipped with a transmitter that will broadcast a recorded message.  The greeting was recorded by students of Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU), where the satellite was designed and made.  The signal is repeated in 10 languages – including English – every minute at the frequency of 145.8 MHz and 437.025 MHz.”

As TPU Rector Petr Chubik explained following the launch: “I have unusual feelings because the world’s first 3D printed nanosatellite, [complete] with [a] Tomsk Polytechnic University label went into outer space.  The event we waited for a year and a half has just taken place…This is a truly historic event.”

Vladimir Solntsev, the Director General of RSC Energia, one of TPU’s partners on the project, concluded: “now Tomsk can call itself ‘a space land’.”

Never to be outdone by the Russians, America’s military is also getting in on the 3D printing action as well.

The U.S. Army has recently announced the development of an additive manufacturing roadmap.  As the press release for the roadmap explains, “additive manufacturing will allow Soldiers deployed in remote outposts around the world to ‘print’ virtually anything they need, from food to shelter to weapons or even the printing of new skin cells to repair burned skin.”

Military commitment to this industry illustrates just how valuable 3D printing can be.  The U.S. Army states that its Additive Manufacturing Technology Roadmap has been “merged into the overarching Department of Defense (DOD) Roadmap that comprises common requirements and technical objectives across all service branches.”

“The DOD roadmap also identifies current and future capabilities that are needed to enable additive manufacturing and areas for collaboration.  These common standards set out in the roadmap will enable the DOD, industry, and academia to effectively use additive manufacturing.”

Within this roadmap, “the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command is developing additive manufacturing in three phases: Phase One will use additive manufacturing to repair or replace existing parts, Phase Two will reduce multi-part assembly from a series of parts to one part, and Phase Three will use additive manufacturing to create new parts that do not already exist.”

As the U.S. Army concludes, 3D printing is important to their operations because it “has the ability to improve the performance of Army weapon systems on the battlefield.  Additionally, 3D printing gives the Army a tactical advantage by providing the ability to manufacture and produce items as close to the point of need as possible.  This will not only lighten the logistics burden but also improve the efficiency of the acquisition process.  By simplifying the process of repairing or producing spare parts, the Army will make critical gains in readiness.”

The world of 3D printing is always exciting and surprising – who knows what other innovations it will provide us with next month…

Image Courtesy of Digital Trends

Quotes Courtesy of Digital Trends, 3Ders, 3D Printing Industry, and the U.S. Army

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