A metal laser sintering system may be coming soon to a dental office near you. Dental applications for rapid manufacturing equipment are exploding. Up to 500 bridges and crowns can be manufactured in a day in a single build on an EOS direct metal laser sintering system. EOS expects to ship 20 machines for dental applications in the next 18 months. So far, Europe is ahead in implementing the technology, with about 25 installed machines and only three in the United States. The metal used is a cobalt chrome alloy.
Dental implants traditionally have been made out of metal through a time-consuming casting process. A technician can produce about 20 dental frames per day. In the new approach, a dental technician can concentrate on post-processing the metal structure and its aesthetic upgrade: ceramic veneering.
The technology will also come into play for other types of implants, Martin Bullemer, the EOS account specialist for medical, told me today in a walk through the EOS stand at Rapid 2009 in Schaumburg, IL. The best fit will be for custom implants for spines. Cobalt chrome is widely used for knee and hip replacements, but they are mass-produced stock sizes.
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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