Increasingly novel materials applications are emerging to provide lightweight thermal management functions in aircraft (such as the Boeing Dreamliner) and oher applications. One example is a metal matrix composite developed by a company called CPS Technologies in Norton, MA. In a typical component, a silicon carbide structure is formed in a plunger-type, low-pressure injection molding machine that uses a carrier feedstock that freezes near zero C. The carrier is removed by a phase management sublimation in which the carrier never becomes a liquid. The product can then either be sintered or infiltrated with material such as aluminum.
CPS says that AlSiC produces hermetic packaging that is much lighter than CuMo and CuW, yet has similar thermal conductivity and expansion coefficient. It also costs less.
These new 3D-printing technologies and printers include some that are truly boundary-breaking: a sophisticated new sub-$10,000, 10-plus materials bioprinter, the first industrial-strength silicone 3D-printing service, and a clever twist on 3D printing and thermoforming for making high-quality realistic models.
Using simulation to guide the drafting process can speed up the design and production of 3D-printed nanostructures, reduce errors, and even make it possible to scale up the structures. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a model that does this.
Engineers need workhorse materials with beefy mechanical properties for industrial designs made with 3D printing. Very few have been designed from the ground up for additive manufacturing, but that picture is beginning to change.
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