What do US military planners consider top materials research targets? Well according to the head of the Pentagon’s research arm (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA) low-cost titanium tops the list. Titanium is in increasing demand for light weight aircraft and stealth-seeking submarines, while its costs are rising and significant amounts of supply are controlled by Russia. One troubling indication is the recent huge supply agreement made between Boeing and Russia’s top titanium provider. DARPA has distributed more than $20 million in grants in efforts to develop lower-cost titanium, as well as material that would have improved fabrication capabilities. DuPont is teaming with a company called MER to explore a technology in which titanium dioxide can be converted into titanium power which can be easily shaped through molding or casting processes.
Airbus Defence and Space has 3D printed titanium brackets for communications satellites. The redesigned, one-piece 3D-printed brackets have better thermal resistance than conventionally manufactured parts, can be produced faster, cost 20% less, and save about 1 kg of weight per satellite.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
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