The key to a new Hewlett-Packard high speed printer is a very intricate injection molded ceramic part. As part of a $1.4 billion, five-year research project, HP design engineers approached a British ceramics company, called Morgan Advanced Ceramics, and asked if it could develop a piece that features 3,900 print nozzles. HP eyed ceramic because of its strength and hardness. Until recent years, ceramic was never a top choice for intricate, small parts because of the poor flowability of common ceramic compositions, and the expense of secondary machining. Morgan is now in full production of the component, which is part of a built-from-the-ground-up piece that rapidly distributes ink to paper, allowing full-color prints in 14 seconds.
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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