The range of metals that can be 3D printed is increasing quickly. ExOne has added iron infiltrated with bronze (shown here) and bonded tungsten to the range of metal and ceramic powders that can be used with its multi-material M-Flex machines. (Source: ExOne)
Both metal and sand printing processes are described here http://exone.com/materialization/what-is-digital-part-materialization/explanation-technology The metal process uses a print head that distributes the binder into beds of specially formulated materials. It is then sintered in an oven. A secondary process may also be applied to reach near-100% density. This page also has videos demonstrating the process.
78RPM, one of ExOne's customers might be looking into a ceramic engine--or more likely, certain engine parts in ceramics, most likely ceramic matrix composites. GE Aviation is already doing this in turbine nozzles: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=264282&page_number=2
I wonder if the company is looking into the possibility of finally creating a ceramic engine. Internal combustion engines attain greater efficiency at high temperatures. But materials limit the temperature permitted. Is it possible that 3D printing could pemit creation of a practical ceramic engine?
Ann, this is interesting, but how does the strength of these printed metal parts compare with forged parts, or with polymers? The reason I ask is that in some manufacturing areas the introduction of Metal Injection Molding (MIM) parts has caused concern. Typically these parts are not as strong as forged or machined parts. They are used where that level of strength is not required. I would think that printed metal parts would fit into this range as well.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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