Paste your Google Webmaster Tools verification code here

October 2018: 3D Printing Update

Let us begin our monthly roundup of additive manufacturing news with one of the largest technology companies out there: HP!

CNET was on hand when printing giant HP announced a revolutionary device in metal manufacturing: the Metal Jet 3D Printer.

The Metal Jet 3D Printer, which will cost $400,000, “is faster and therefore more economical than using a laser to create parts out of powdered metal.”  As HP’s Head of 3D Metal Printing explains: “we’re really going to enable mass production for mainstream metals, in particular steels.”

In fact, HP has also signed a number of “deals with experienced metal manufacturing partners and with customers including Volkswagen and Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices.”  This means it will be possible, in the not so distant future, many automotive parts may be “built partly from this new method of digital fabrication.”

The Metal Jet 3D Printer’s process begins with “a thin layer of powdered metal laid down on a bed.  Then a line of print heads traverses the layer, squirting tiny drops of a binding agent — glue, essentially — where solid metal is needed.  When one layer is done, a new layer of powder is laid down followed by another pass for the binding agent. It takes about four or five hours to create a product or group of products using the printer’s full volume of 430x320x200 millimeters, which is about 17x13x8 inches.  The printer works at very high resolution. Its smallest metal element — a voxel — measures just 20x20x50 microns, or millionths of a meter.”

Following printing, these parts are taken out and then undergo a sintering process.  On top of all this, according to Weber, the HP system is boosted by PageWide technology, which “moves a band of print heads across the entire bed in one swipe per layer instead of sending one print head traversing back and forth time after time.”  HP also develops and manufactures its own parts, so this lowers the costs even more.

Elsewhere, All3DP reports on the furniture company Steelcase, which has teamed up with Fast Radius and Carbon “in order to design and 3D print multiple iterations of a custom arm cap for its award winning SILQ office chair.”

The SILQ was designed “with minimal parts and provides custom comfort to anyone who decides to take a seat.”  Now, though, Steelcase has chosen to take that personalization one step further.  “They reached out to Fast Radius, a provider of additive manufacturing solutions, and Carbon, the Silicon Valley tech startup and digital manufacturer, to help improve the design.”

All three of these companies have now collaborated in order to create a custom arm cap.  They utilized Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis 3D printing technology.  As Steelcase’s Director of Global Design Bruce Smith explains: “ever since SILQ first debuted, we have continued to experiment with enhancements to the chair’s design, living up to our reputation of pursuing innovation… The additive manufacturing processes from Fast Radius and Carbon enabled us to streamline the already-unique aesthetics of the chair with a lattice structure that also condensed three parts into one.”

As with many other 3D printing-related innovations before it, “Carbon’s additive manufacturing technology provided numerous advantages to the product development process, such as reducing the time it takes to create a product while also reducing material waste.  Another benefit of using this fast resin-based 3D printing method is that it enables consumer-specific personalization for certain parts.”

Fast Radius CEO Lou Rassey expounds upon the ways in which 3D printing helped Steelcase’s product development process: “unlike traditional lengthy and expensive design cycles, the additive manufacturing process meant Steelcase could go through as many redesigns as needed to get it right. In this instance, we went from the initial idea with around 100 variables and produced over 12 unique designs in just eight weeks.”

Truly an innovative collaboration.

From gaming to the military, 3D printing is upending many spheres all at once:

New Atlas reports on a recent announcement made by the US military.  Apparently, the US Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) “constructed a prototype concrete barracks in under two days with what it calls the world’s largest 3D printer.”

The MCSC’s Additive Manufacturing Team collaborated with I Marine Expeditionary Force in order to build this prototype barracks.  The barracks is located at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Champaign, Illinois and measures 500 sq. ft. (46 sq. m.).  Astoundingly, it was 3D printed in just 40 hours.  “According to MCSC, it normally takes 10 marines five days to construct a similar hut out of wood.”  Talk about a streamlined process!

This 3D printing process “involved cement being extruded through a nozzle in layers to build up the undulating walls…the Marine Corps is now carrying out more research to see how the technology can be employed in the field and if the construction process can be refined further.”

As MCSC Capt. Matthew Friedell elaborates: “in active or simulated combat environments, we don’t want Marines out there swinging hammers and holding plywood up.  Having a concrete printer capable of creating buildings on demand is a huge advantage for marines operating down range…we can bring forward better structures, houses, and forward operating bases with less manpower and fewer marines in harm’s way.”

Finally, this month we end on speed…

3D Print reports on a recently announced collaboration between Penske and Stratasys.  Penske “is a leading Indy, Nascar, and IMSA racing team” who have won multiple championships over the last sixty years.

Now, though, Team Penske is utilizing 3D printing for its racing car teams.  As Team Penske’s Production Manager Matt Gimbel explains: “3D printing enables us to do things we can’t do as fast using other manufacturing methods.  [Among the parts Team Penske 3D prints are] wind tunnel model test components, composite tooling, manufacturing jigs and fixtures, engineering prototypes, and race car components.  The team turns to 3D printing because we can design and print manufacturing and composite tools faster than machining in metal and tooling board.  3D printed prototype components can also help avoid costly mistakes in the design process.”

Speed is obviously a critical factor for Team Penske, and 3D printing helps them out with speed exponentially.  This includes aiding the team in investigating the chemical makeup of their racing parts as well as the optimization of fuel flow for their vehicles.

As Stratasys VP of Manufacturing Solutions Scott Sevcik concludes: “the race track is an extreme environment where new technologies are put to the test in an effort to give the race team an edge.  As a result, it’s an incredible learning environment.  Race teams push the boundaries of automobile performance, and technologies who prove themselves on the track then tend to transition to the mass market to scale the same performance benefits highlighted by the race team.  So yes, Stratasys FDM is proving itself on the track and in the pit [and this] is a major step toward finding our place on the highway and on the production floor.  Transition takes time, so it’s not something we will see overnight, but Stratasys FDM is mature, has proven its value in these challenging environments, and is definitely making great strides into production today.”

Tune in next month for more 3D printing shenanigans!

Image Courtesy of All3DP

Quotes Courtesy of HP, CNET, All3DP, New Atlas, the US Marine Corps, and 3D Print

Share Button