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December 2019 in 3D Printing

We begin, this month, with a feature written by Slate. Slate reports on a fascinating topic concerning a 3,000-year-old Egyptian bust of Nefertiti, a handsy German museum, art thieves who turned out to be working for said museum, 3D printed scans, and copyright law.

Buckle up.

Berlin’s Neues Museum is famous for the Nefertiti bust in its collection. Indeed, this bust, which was created all the way back in 1345 B.C., is the museum’s biggest draw. So it came as an intense shock in 2016 when two “artists managed to smuggle an entire 3D scanning rig into the room with the bust and produce a perfect digital replica, which they subsequently shared with the entire world.”

Experts began to doubt this story almost immediately. “After examining the digital file, they concluded that the quality of the scan was simply too high to have been produced by the camera-under-a-trenchcoat operation described by the artists. In fact, they concluded, the scan could only have been produced by someone with prolonged access to the Nefertiti bust itself. In other words, this wasn’t a heist. This was a leak.”

Artist Cosmo Wenman was among these skeptics, so he aimed to get his own copy and make it public. This “kicked off a three-year legal odyssey,” but finally, last month, Wenman “released the files he received from the museum online for anyone to download.”

“The 3D digital version is a perfect replica of the original 3,000-year-old bust, with one exception. The Neues Museum etched a copyright license into the bottom of the bust itself, claiming the authority to restrict how people might use the file. The museum was trying to pretend it owned a copyright in the scan of a 3,000-year-old sculpture created 3,000 miles away.” Absurd, to the highest degree.

The Neues Museum does not have a legal leg to stand on here. The bust should (and is) in the public domain. “The Neues Museum does not have the ability, nor the right, to use a copyright license to prevent commercial uses of the scan.”

“When a large, well-lawyered institution carves legally meaningless lawyer language into the bottom of the scan of a 3,000-year-old bust to suggest some uses are illegitimate, it is getting dangerously close to committing copy fraud—that is, falsely claiming you have a copyright control over a work, which is, in fact, in the public domain.”

This attempt at copy fraud will have real-world consequences. As Slate points out: “these 3D scans could be used by people who want to 3D-print a replica for a classroom, integrate the 3D model into an art piece, or allow people to hold the piece in a virtual reality world. While some of these users may have lawyers to help them understand what the museum’s claims really mean, the majority will see the legal language as a giant ‘keep out’ sign and simply move on to something else.”

Slate claims this behavior by the staff at the Neues Museum “runs counter to the entire mission of museums. Museums do not hold our shared cultural heritage so they can become gatekeepers. They hold our shared cultural heritage as stewards in order to make sure we have access to our collective history. Etching scary legal words in the bottom of a work in your collection in the hopes of scaring people away from engaging with it is the opposite of this sacred mission.”

Elsewhere, The Smithsonian reports on a “promising new technique, which could lead to lasting skin grafts after burns or other injuries.” This new technique involves 3D printed skin which develops working blood vessels.

This technique, which was undertaken at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Yale University, “uses living human skin cells turned into a liquid ‘bio ink.’ The bio ink is used to print artificial skin, which then grows its own blood vessel system.”

As Professor Pankaj Karande of Chemical and Biological Engineering at RPI, who led the research, explains: “the vasculature is very important because this is how the host and the graft talk to each other. Communication between host and graft is critical if the skin substitute is not to be rejected by the body.”

The bio ink Karande’s team is using “contains cells from infant foreskin, human endothelial cells from umbilical cord blood, human endothelial colony forming cells, and human placental pericytes from placenta tissue, which are then all suspended in collagen from rat tails.”

This high tech witch’s brew “forms the inner layer of the skin, the dermis. A second bio ink, made from another type of human foreskin cell, keratinocytes, is printed on top to form the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis. Then, in the petri dish, endothelial cells and the placental pericytes begin to assemble themselves into tiny vascular networks.”

Following all this, “the team implanted the grafts on mice and found the blood vessels connected with the mice’s own vascular networks within four weeks. This means blood flowed between the mice and their skin grafts.” Karande adds: “we see the graft stays there longer, and the skin matures and becomes closer to what we would see in native human tissue.”

Of course, this does not means the team’s grafts are quite ready for human trials just yet. As Karande concludes: “we’re still at the basic research stage. We’re still figuring out basic problems and what the right answers may be.”

Finally, Design Boom reports on Cypriot-based designer Stelios Mousarris, who has recently “used images of terrain taken from Google Earth to create the ‘Plexus Ping Pong Table,’ with a mountain shaped wire base and net. The entire piece is 3D printed.”

This solid steel structure “provides the games table with a stable bottom, which will withstand even the strongest ping pong shots, while forming an intriguing and almost sculptural piece.” Mousarris designed this ping pong table so it “can be easily transformed into a regular table simply by removing the detachable wire print structure serving as the net. With a span of 274 x 152 x 76 cm, this minimal yet complex design provides plenty of table top surface.”

The table features “a solid walnut timber surface, which covers the steel 3D printed structure, creating a striking material contrast to the black metal and resulting in a contemporary and unique furniture piece.”

While this is undoubtedly a fascinating and quite beautiful 3D printed sculpture, we here at Replicator World are forced to wonder where people are supposed to put their legs when using this table as a dining room item, for example.

It is beautiful, but is it functional beyond its initial ping-pong-ing intention?

Tune in next month (next year!) for more 3D printing news!

Image Courtesy of Cosmo Wenman and Slate

Quotes Courtesy of Slate, The Smithsonian, and Design Boom

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3D Printing, Dentistry, and Formlabs

Venture Beat reports on Formlabs, which has just launched Formlabs Dental, “a new dental business division which will enable dentists to 3D print their own dental prosthetics such as crowns, bridges, and dentures.”

Formlabs Dental’s aim is “to strengthen ties between dentists and the labs creating these prosthetics, to encourage dentists to embrace the world of digital dentistry through 3D printing technology.”

Formlabs, which is based in Somerville, Massachusetts, “says its 3D printers are already the most-installed 3D printers at dental labs, according to a survey by Key Group. The company also says its new division has a team of dental professionals dedicated to providing the best 3D printing solutions.”

Simultaneously, Formlabs has announced the launch of the Form 3B Printer and Platform, “which will offer the next generation of dental materials, a dedicated service team, and software to help streamline workflows.” This process wouldn’t quite be a ‘same-day print situation,’ but according to a Formlabs spokesperson, Formlabs’ new platform will be “exponentially faster than current denture production processes, enabling patients to get their new teeth faster than ever before.”

Jay Burton, an orthodontist at SmileMaker Orthodontics, explains: “since [the launch of] the Form 2, 3D printing adoption within the dental industry has increased significantly. By bringing down the cost for entry, Formlabs revolutionized the dental market. Today’s announcement of the Form 3B will continue to grow the technology’s adoption and help to provide dental products you’d be proud to deliver. The incredibly accurate Form 3B produces crisp and consistent dental parts, and Dental Service Plan provides the confidence to go digital.”

Formlabs Co-Founder and CEO Max Lobovsky concludes: “when patients visit the dentist, they want a fast, customized solution for their teeth. Our new Form 3B printer is uniquely tailored to seamlessly digitize, streamline, and expedite workflow so dentists and technicians can focus on providing patients with the outcomes they expect and deserve. We have already touched the lives of over hundreds of thousands of patients, having printed 13 million dental parts on the Form 2 and, with the launch of Form 3B, aim to expand that reach even further to ensure all dental care providers can bring an exceptional level of attention to their patients.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Venture Beat

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3D Printed Bulletproof Plastic Cubes

Interesting Engineering reports on recent developments announced by a team operating out of Rice University in Houston. Apparently, this Rice University team have 3D printed bulletproof plastic layered cubes. “The material could withstand a bullet traveling at 5.8 kilometers per second with only minor damage to its second layer.”

These cubes were initially developed when “the researchers decided to test a theoretical structure called ‘tubulanes.’ This structure was predicted back in 1993 by chemist Ray Baughman of the University of Texas at Dallas and physicist Douglas Galvao of the State University of Campinas, Brazil.” Both these scientists are now also co-principal investigators on this new 3D printed bulletproof plastic cubes announcement.

“Tubulanes are theoretical microscopic structures comprised of crosslinked carbon nanotubes and the researchers sought to test if they would have the same properties when scaled up enough to be 3D printed.” They were successful.

The Rice University team was able to prove this “by shooting a bullet traveling at 5.8 kilometers per second through two cubes. One cube was made from a solid polymer and the other from a polymer printed with a tubulanes structure.”

The “solid polymer block was left with cracks propagating through the entire structure, while the tubulanes cube stopped the projectile by its second layer.” The team says “it was the 3D printing method, which allowed them to take advantage of tubulanes’ unique properties.”

As Rice Graduate Student and lead author of the announcement Seyed Mohammad Sajadi explains: “there are plenty of theoretical systems people cannot synthesize. They’ve remained impractical and elusive. But with 3D printing, we can still take advantage of the predicted mechanical properties because they’re the result of the topology, not the size.”

This means the new material has great potential in industries requiring tough but light materials.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Interesting Engineering

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3D Printed Scans and Copyright

Slate reports on a fascinating topic concerning a 3,000-year-old Egyptian bust of Nefertiti, a handsy German museum, art thieves who turned out to be working for said museum, 3D printed scans, and copyright law.

Buckle up.

Berlin’s Neues Museum is famous for the Nefertiti bust in its collection. Indeed, this bust, which was created all the way back in 1345 B.C., is the museum’s biggest draw. So it came as an intense shock in 2016 when two “artists managed to smuggle an entire 3D scanning rig into the room with the bust and produce a perfect digital replica, which they subsequently shared with the entire world.”

Experts began to doubt this story almost immediately. “After examining the digital file, they concluded that the quality of the scan was simply too high to have been produced by the camera-under-a-trenchcoat operation described by the artists. In fact, they concluded, the scan could only have been produced by someone with prolonged access to the Nefertiti bust itself. In other words, this wasn’t a heist. This was a leak.”

Artist Cosmo Wenman was among these skeptics, so he aimed to get his own copy and make it public. This “kicked off a three-year legal odyssey,” but finally, last month, Wenman “released the files he received from the museum online for anyone to download.”

“The 3D digital version is a perfect replica of the original 3,000-year-old bust, with one exception. The Neues Museum etched a copyright license into the bottom of the bust itself, claiming the authority to restrict how people might use the file. The museum was trying to pretend it owned a copyright in the scan of a 3,000-year-old sculpture created 3,000 miles away.” Absurd, to the highest degree.

The Neues Museum does not have a legal leg to stand on here. The bust should (and is) in the public domain. “The Neues Museum does not have the ability, nor the right, to use a copyright license to prevent commercial uses of the scan.”

“When a large, well-lawyered institution carves legally meaningless lawyer language into the bottom of the scan of a 3,000-year-old bust to suggest some uses are illegitimate, it is getting dangerously close to committing copy fraud—that is, falsely claiming you have a copyright control over a work, which is, in fact, in the public domain.”

This attempt at copy fraud will have real-world consequences. As Slate points out: “these 3D scans could be used by people who want to 3D-print a replica for a classroom, integrate the 3D model into an art piece, or allow people to hold the piece in a virtual reality world. While some of these users may have lawyers to help them understand what the museum’s claims really mean, the majority will see the legal language as a giant ‘keep out’ sign and simply move on to something else.”

Slate claims this behavior by the staff at the Neues Museum “runs counter to the entire mission of museums. Museums do not hold our shared cultural heritage so they can become gatekeepers. They hold our shared cultural heritage as stewards in order to make sure we have access to our collective history. Etching scary legal words in the bottom of a work in your collection in the hopes of scaring people away from engaging with it is the opposite of this sacred mission.”

Image Courtesy of Cosmo Wenman and Slate

Quotes Courtesy of Slate

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3D Printed Skin with Working Blood Vessels

The Smithsonian reports on a “promising new technique, which could lead to lasting skin grafts after burns or other injuries.” This new technique involves 3D printed skin which develops working blood vessels.

This technique, which was undertaken at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Yale University, “uses living human skin cells turned into a liquid ‘bio ink.’ The bio ink is used to print artificial skin, which then grows its own blood vessel system.”

As Professor Pankaj Karande of Chemical and Biological Engineering at RPI, who led the research, explains: “the vasculature is very important because this is how the host and the graft talk to each other. Communication between host and graft is critical if the skin substitute is not to be rejected by the body.”

The bio ink Karande’s team is using “contains cells from infant foreskin, human endothelial cells from umbilical cord blood, human endothelial colony forming cells, and human placental pericytes from placenta tissue, which are then all suspended in collagen from rat tails.”

This high tech witch’s brew “forms the inner layer of the skin, the dermis. A second bio ink, made from another type of human foreskin cell, keratinocytes, is printed on top to form the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis. Then, in the petri dish, endothelial cells and the placental pericytes begin to assemble themselves into tiny vascular networks.”

Following all this, “the team implanted the grafts on mice and found the blood vessels connected with the mice’s own vascular networks within four weeks. This means blood flowed between the mice and their skin grafts.” Karande adds: “we see the graft stays there longer, and the skin matures and becomes closer to what we would see in native human tissue.”

Of course, this does not means the team’s grafts are quite ready for human trials just yet. As Karande concludes: “we’re still at the basic research stage. We’re still figuring out basic problems and what the right answers may be.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of The Smithsonian

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3D Printed “Meat”

The Guardian reports on Redefine Meat, a firm based out of Israel, which is developing 3D printed synthetic “meat.” Redefine Meat claims “their product tastes like the real thing and could have huge ecological benefits.”

This “realistic beef and chicken” is 3D printed from plant protein or animal cells grown in a lab. “And, within a few years, Redefine Meat’s 3D printers are likely to be available to buy so consumers can produce their own “meat” at home.” The “meat’s” “raw ingredients come in a Nespresso-style cartridge.”

Additionally, as Redefine Meat’s Co-Founder and CEO Eschchar Ben-Shitrit elaborates, this “meat” could have ecological benefits. “The biggest reason for going to ‘alternative’ meat is because of the future of our planet. We love meat but we don’t have enough resources for it. Cows require a lot of water, a lot of food, and a lot of land, but we don’t have enough of any of these. We can recycle, drive electric cars, we can shower less, but these changes can’t compete with reducing consumption by one hamburger per week.”

Ben-Shitrit continues: “reducing beef production would result in a huge reduction in C02 emissions and far less clearance of wild countryside for grazing land. Other meats, such as pork and fish, will soon be added to the menu, reducing the need for pig-rearing or fishing.”

The health benefits are also a consideration. “If you eat meat, there are nutritional advantages and disadvantages. But definitely people consume too much. Plant-based products don’t contain cholesterol or the pathogens which exist in meat. They would therefore be attractive to many vegetarians who could gain the nutritional value without a moral dilemma. Poorer nations, where traditional meat is too expensive for most of the population, will also benefit in time.”

Redefine Meat will pilot its plant-based “meat” in restaurants throughout Europe in early 2020.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of The Guardian

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Joachim Froment Designs 3D Printed Furniture from Recycled Plastic Waste

Design Boom reports on Belgian designer and artist Joachim Froment, who has used recycled plastic waste to 3D print furniture designs.

This collection of sustainable furniture, which Froment has dubbed ‘Strat,’ “includes chairs, stools, tables, and other pieces of furniture.” The 3D printer he used was developed by Colosus. It is “portable and can be easily transported to areas which produce high quantities of plastic waste.”

“Froment designed the full scale objects so they could be printed by a specific 3D printer in less than two hours. By reusing the plastic granule from recycled areas in Belgium, the designer aims to create products made of local recycled materials destined to be sold on a local market and offering a service to recycle the products in order to offer furniture which operates entirely within a circular economy.”

Froment wanted to use additive manufacturing specifically because he realized this “technology could compete with current industrial processes offering a potential new form of industrialization. The adaptable custom-made products offer a new way to create sustainable objects, indeed, an entire sustainable ecosystem.”

As for the furniture’s design, “the closed loop shape of the chair adds mechanical strength to the structure, but it also follows a ‘vase-mode’ process in order to 3D print continuously without interruption, which of course saves time and energy. The organic, soft curves of the chair evoke lightness in order to manifest the importance attached to its materials. The curved splines also improve the mechanical properties and are essential to reinforce the structure of the chair.”

Froment also announced this furniture “will be available from November 2019 on the Benelux Market, and later on will extent its production further into Europe.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Design Boom

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3D Printed Mountain Shaped Ping Pong Table

Design Boom reports on Cypriot-based designer Stelios Mousarris, who has recently “used images of terrain taken from Google Earth to create the ‘Plexus Ping Pong Table,’ with a mountain shaped wire base and net. The entire piece is 3D printed.”

This solid steel structure “provides the games table with a stable bottom, which will withstand even the strongest ping pong shots, while forming an intriguing and almost sculptural piece.” Mousarris designed this ping pong table so it “can be easily transformed into a regular table simply by removing the detachable wire print structure serving as the net. With a span of 274 x 152 x 76 cm, this minimal yet complex design provides plenty of table top surface.”

The table features “a solid walnut timber surface, which covers the steel 3D printed structure, creating a striking material contrast to the black metal and resulting in a contemporary and unique furniture piece.”

While this is undoubtedly a fascinating and quite beautiful 3D printed sculpture, we here at Replicator World are forced to wonder where people are supposed to put their legs when using this table as a dining room item, for example.

It is beautiful, but is it functional beyond its initial ping-pong-ing intention?

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Design Boom

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SparkMaker: An Incredibly Cheap SLA 3D Printer

Mashable reports on the release of SparkMaker, an incredibly cheap SLA 3D printer.

Indeed, the SparkMaker Original SLA 3D Printer project “raised over $500K on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, thanks to 2K backers.” Finally, following many iterations and updates, the developers have solidified the SparkMaker’s design and have now launched it onto the market.

This 3D printer is “compact, user-friendly, and takes zero computer skills to create 3D models. All you have to do is insert an SD card with a pre-loaded design, press the print button, and wait patiently for you creation to take shape.”

Rather than filaments, the SparkMaker Original SLA 3D Printer is SLA, so it uses “a liquid resin and UV lights to print objects from the ground up.” As for specifications, the SparkMaker Original SLA 3D Printer’s “molding size is pretty small – 3.9 inches x 2.2 inches x 0.5 inches – but what it lacks in size, it makes up for with incredible detail and high resolution prints.”

Pricing-wise, the SparkMaker Original SLA 3D Printer comes in “the SparkMaker Original SLA 3D Printer Starter Bundle, which includes the 3D printer and three resins, which costs $396.”

While, of course, there have been cheaper 3D printers, the SparkMaker Original SLA 3D Printer is a highly accurate machine, featuring the SLA method of additive manufacturing.

We shall see if it can be effective and successful out there on the market, however.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Mashable

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3D Printed Mechanical Keyboard

Hackaday reports on “a rash of builds of FedorSosnin’s do-it-yourself 3D printed mechanical keyboard, the SiCK-68.”

The SiCK-68 is a fascinating 3D printed mechanical keyboard as “the cost is pretty low.” Indeed, even its acronym speaks to this ethos. “SiCK stands for Super, Inexpensive, Cheap, Keyboard.” According to its list of required materials, the SiCK-68 3D printed mechanical keyboard only costs about $50. Obviously, “this does not include the cost of the 3D printer and soldering gear.” But most makers will have these devices on hand anyway.

The brains behind the SiCK-68 3D printed mechanical keyboard “is a Teensy which scans the hand-wired key matrix. The only electronics within the entire system are the switches, each with a companion diode, and the Teensy. The EasyAVR software does all the logical work both as firmware and a configuration GUI.”

As Hackaday notes, each of these individual 3D prints of the SiCK-68 3D printed mechanical keyboard “have their own character. Yet they look overwhelmingly professional — like something you might buy at a store. This is the kind of project which would have been extremely difficult to pull off a decade ago. You could build the keyboard, of course, but making it look like a finished product was beyond most of us unless we were willing to make enough copies to justify having special tooling made to mold the cases.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Hackaday

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The World’s Fastest 3D Printer?

Tech Radar reports on a team of scientists working at Northwestern University. Apparently, this Northwestern University team have developed the ‘HARP 3D printer,’ which they claim is the world’s fastest 3D printer to date.

HARP is an acronym for ‘high-area rapid printing.’ The HARP 3D printer “has a print bed with a footprint of 2.5 square-feet and is 13-feet tall.” Additionally, “it can print an object the size of an adult human in a couple of hours.”

This is because the HARP 3D printer is “capable of printing objects vertically at a speed of half a yard (just under half a meter) per hour, which represents a record level of throughput in 3D printing.”

As one of the Northwestern researchers, David Walker, has observed: “obviously there are many types of 3D printers out there – you see printers making buildings, bridges and car bodies, and conversely you see printers making small parts at very high resolutions. We’re excited because this is the largest and highest throughput printer in its class.” The HARP 3D printer is “particularly useful for speedily printing large parts, or a whole bunch of different small parts simultaneously.”

To ensure this all works, the team at Northwestern University developed the HARP to be a 3D printer utilizing stereolithography. As we’re sure you’ll remember, stereolithography is a “3D printing process whereby liquid resin is cured and hardened into a solid object by projected ultraviolet light.”

The team had a problem though. Using conventional printing methods, “resin-based 3D printers generate a great deal of heat. The faster the device prints – and the bigger the object is – the more these struggles with temperatures becoming increasingly difficult to manage, leading to the printed object potentially ending up deformed or cracked.”

The team overcame this obstacle by “using a non-stick liquid, which has been dubbed ‘Liquid Teflon.’ Essentially, HARP projects ultraviolet light through a window to harden the resin on a vertically moving plate, and the Liquid Teflon flows over this window, removing heat and subsequently circulating it through a cooling unit.” The heat is thus removed.

As the team’s leader, Chad A. Mirkin, concludes: “when you can print fast and large, it can really change the way we think about manufacturing. With HARP, you can build anything you want without molds and without a warehouse full of parts. You can print anything you can imagine on-demand.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Tech Radar

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7A77 – World’s Strongest Additive Aluminum

3D Printing Industry reports on 7A77, apparently the world’s strongest additive aluminum.

Specifically, this “Aluminum 7A77.60L powder” was developed by California’s HRL Laboratories. According to HRL Laboratories’ Chief Metallurgist Hunter Martin, PhD, “HRL’s 7A77 is the first wrought equivalent high strength aluminum alloy available for additive manufacturing with strengths in excess of 600 MPa. This strength provides exceptional design freedom for high performance application not yet explored in additive.”

This 7A77 aluminum powder, which has been commercially available since October of 2019, is also being used in certain industrial applications. For example, “NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has begun applying the material to the production of large-scale aerospace components. Now, working with 3D design and engineering software company nTopology and aerospace manufacturing service provider Morf3D, HRL has built an application presenting 7A77’s potential in heat transfer and flow applications.”

HRL and its partners have “harnessed the innate thermal conductivity of 7A77’s aluminum content and have built a generatively designed fuel cooled oil cooler for aerospace applications. In this design, the strength of the alloy is used to meet critical burst pressure requirements while maximizing the exchange of heat with walls thinner than those achieved with conventional AlSiMg. The high yield strength of 7A77 allows heat exchanger designers to reduce wall thickness by 50%, effectively doubling the heat transfer performance of a heat exchanger simply by changing the material.”

“By coupling HRL’s high strength aluminum with generative design, nTopology was able to increase the heat transfer rate of the design by 300%.”

As Dr. Martin concludes: “HRL’s high strength aluminum alloy means flow structures like manifolds, or in this case a topological gyroid heat exchanger, can be manufactured with thinner walls producing lighter weight components and higher performance.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3D Printing Industry

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