Materials structure can at times have as profound an impact on properties as chemical composition.
PepsiCo is testing a new type of salt whose crystals are shaped in a manner that reduces the amount of sodium humans ingest. Duke researchers developed metamaterials that derive unique electromagnetic properties from their physical structures.
Now, a California startup company called EoPlex is manipulating tiny bricks of materials to enhance performance. EoPlex CEO Arthur Chait says that voxel deposition in the company’s patented High-Volume Print Forming can produce micron-level metastructures. Chait says a Voxel is like a tiny Lego brick. Little bricks made of a given material can be “woven” through the printing process with little bricks made of another material to create metastructures of multi materials that normally don’t bond. Chait says that metastructures made this way offer the potential to increase bandwidth in small antennas.
EoPlex illustration shows an example of a voxel metastructure
How 3D printing fits into the digital thread, and the relationship between its uses for prototyping and for manufacturing, was the subject of a talk by Proto Labs' Rich Baker at last week's Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis.
How can automakers, aerospace contractors, and other OEMs get new metal alloys that are stronger, harder, and can survive ever higher temperatures? One way is to redesign their crystalline structures at the nanoscale and microscale.
Although a lot of the excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing surrounds its ability to make end-products and functional prototypes, some often ignored applications are the big improvements that can come by using it for tooling, jigs, and fixtures.
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