Everywhere I explored at Rapid 2009, it was apparent there is a battle under way in materials technology in the fast-emerging rapid manufacturing industry. Some suppliers have “real” materials. Others are stiff and tough. Some are clear. Design engineers can be excused if they can’t keep it straight. You virtually need to keep a daily scorecard. And no matter what you pick, you are probably making some type of tradeoff. There may be some sacrifice in surface finish or accuracy in a laser sintering process. But you get real world metals and plastics that are actually used in functional applications. The range of materials’ qualities you can get with stereolithography systems is impressive. They are increasingly stiff and tough, and will be getting better in terms of thermal properties. Both systems offer the opportunity to create intricate internal shapes, though. And that’s something that’s expensive and difficult to achieve in the injection molding process.
This grab-bag of new fasteners and adhesives work with a range of materials they can attach to, as well as a wide variety of applications. Several are for use in consumer applications, such as wearables or other compact electronic assemblies, and some of the adhesives have extended service temperature ranges and cure at room temperature.
Several of the new and noteworthy 3D printers in this slideshow are breaking some boundaries in build volume, new metals printing techniques, or working with high-profile development partners to ensure very high-quality parts and controls.
United Launch Alliance will fly 3D-printed flight hardeware parts on its rockets starting next year with the Atlas V. The company's Vulcan next-gen launch vehicle will have more than 100 production parts made with 3D printing. The main driver? Parts consolidation and 57% lower production costs.
A new report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) makes a start on developing control schemes, process measurements, and modeling and simulation methods for powder bed fusion additive manufacturing.
Although bio-based polymers face challenges from petroleum-based polymers, in certain markets they can displace the petro-based incumbents. Here are six new bio-based and renewable plastics for a variety of applications.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.