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July 2018: 3D Printing Update

Every month, the world of 3D printing advances in a variety of ways.  July 2018 was, of course, no exception.  Let’s get right to it!

Stratasys and Audi recently announced a new partnership between their two companies.  The automotive and additive manufacturing companies have been working together since 2002, but now “the Audi Pre-Series Center with its Plastics 3D Printing Center in Ingolstadt, Germany, will leverage the world’s only full-color, multi-material 3D printer – the Stratasys J750.”

The J750 will be used to help reduce prototyping lead times for automotive tail light covers.  Audi foresees this 3D printer reducing these lead times by up to 50 percent.  Prototypes of these automobiles are created in order for Audi “to evaluate new designs and concepts thoroughly.”  Traditionally, methods such as molding and milling have been used in order to create such prototypes.  But not anymore.

3D printing speeds up the entire process: “the use of plastics 3D printing has become an integral part of the automotive design process at the Audi Pre-Series Center, enabling the team to overcome limitations of conventional processes and accelerate design verification.”

Stratasys’ J750 “will enable production of entirely transparent, multi-colored tail light covers in a single print, eliminating the need for its previous multi-step process.  With over 500,000 color combinations available, the team can 3D print transparent parts in multiple colors and textures that meet the stringent requirements of the Audi design approval process.”

As Head of the Audi Plastics 3D Printing Center Dr. Tim Spiering concludes: “Design is one of the most important buying decisions for Audi customers, therefore it’s crucial we adhere to supreme quality standards during the design and concept phase of vehicle development.  As a result, we need prototypes to have exact part geometries, no distortion and extremely high quality, as well as true-to-part color and transparency. The Stratasys J750 3D Printer will offer us a significant advantage, as it allows us to print the exact textures and colors our design defines. This is essential for getting design concepts approved for production. In terms of 3D printing transparent parts, I have not seen a comparable technology that meets our standards.  Using the J750 for the prototyping of tail light covers, we will be able to accelerate our design verification process.  We estimate time-savings of up to 50 percent by using this 3D print technique in our prototyping process of tail light covers.”

Elsewhere, Mother Nature Network reports on astounding news out of the Netherlands.  Eindhoven, which is the Netherlands’ fifth largest city, is the home of the world’s first 3D printed concrete bicycle bridge.  But now the city can etch itself even deeper into the legacy of additive manufacturing.  It is now to be the home of the world’s first concrete 3D printed commercial housing project.

This project, which is being dubbed Project Milestone, will consist of a cluster of five rental homes near Eindhoven Airport.  Project Milestone is being sold as “living in a sculpture garden…modern-day Stonehenge…Bedrock by way of Bauhaus.”  Project Milestone is spearheaded by the same team from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) which created the 3D printed concrete bicycle bridge.

These homes will be “excreted from a massive 3D concrete printer…concrete printing is relatively speedy compared to traditional building methods, is low-cost, and is environmentally friendly.”  The team believes that by the time Project Milestone has been completed in 5 years, 5 percent of homes in the Netherlands will be 3D printed using similar processes.  One of the great things about 3D printing livable spaces is that they can be customized to fit the needs of the people who want to live there.  Truly a democratization of living spaces.

Project Milestone’s press release concludes: “The 3D printing technique gives freedom of form, whereas traditional concrete is very rigid in shape. This freedom of form has been used here to make a design with which the houses naturally blend into their wooded surroundings, like boulders. As if the five buildings were abandoned and have always been in this wooded oasis.”

From large buildings to a much smaller scale, 3D printing can do it all:

3DPrint reports on an exciting new breakthrough concerning microscale multimaterial 3D printing.  A team of researchers from Virginia Tech University created a new additive manufacturing process and published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.

The team has dubbed their new process ‘method multimaterial programmable additive manufacturing with integrated resin delivery.’  In English, this means the team created a new process for mircoscale 3D printing “using in-situ resin mixing and robotics to 3D print multimaterial with programmed stiffness – without cross contaminating any of the properties.”

The researchers created this process to be used for a number of different “applications, such as actuation, aircraft wing structures, artificial muscles, energy absorption, flexible armor, microbotics, and protective coatings.”

This new process allows for “programmed morphing,” meaning it is now possible “to create specific modulus (flexibility) distributions in a build, which then allows for programmed shrinkage or expansion to take place throughout the material body.”

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Xiaoyu “Rayne” Zheng, who is also a member of the Macromolecules Innovation Institute, added: “this new microscale manufacturing system is also able to be up-scaled to centimeter levels…and levels above that.”

“We envision these programmable morphing material concepts will find applications in directional strain amplifications, actuations, flexible electronics, and the design of lightweight metamaterials with tailored stiffness and toughness. The new material design space offered by rapid fabrication of dissimilar material constituents distributed within a micro-lattice architecture opens up new dimensions of 3-D printing of multimaterials with a large degree of stiffness variance.”

Finally, Engadget recently caught wind of a new release by the company 3Doodler.  3Doodler is famous for their mobile 3D printing pens.  Now, 3Doodler has announced the launch of their latest pen, the Create+.

“The Create+ builds on the original Create with the first dual drive system in any 3D printer, promising ‘almost entirely jam-free’ drawing…this also allows it to work seamlessly with a greater range of plastics, including ABS, FLEXY, and PLA.”

Additionally, the Create+ will also come complete with “a new heating algorithm for better performance, auto-retraction to prevent plastic from oozing out and more distinctive fast and slow settings.”

3Doodler plans to ship this shiny new Create+ 3D Printer pens this summer, “starting at $80 in an Essential set that includes three plastic packs.  Other sets include the $100 Deluxe set with a nozzleset and a Mini DoodlePad, and a $150 Master Creator set that upgrades to a full DoodlePad while throwing in the new A-to-Z Bookends Canvas kid, a project book, and another three plastic packs.”

On top of all this, 3Doodler customers will also have the option to add new creative kits into the mix.  These new creative kits include “the Animal Heads Kit (for wall mounting), a Purse Kit, a Decorative Lights Kit, an Engine Kit, and even an Advanced Robotics Kit” allowing your 3D printed objects to move on their own.  Each of these kits are an additional $30.

What will occur next in the wonderful world of 3D printing?  Tune in to Replicator World to find out!

Image Courtesy of Mother Nature Network

Quotes Courtesy of Audi and Stratasys, Mother Nature Network, 3DPrint, and Engadget

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