Innovation in materials engineering is one of the keys to a U.S. turnaround in manufacturing. That’s according to Gerbrand Ceder, a professor of materials engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is conducting a “materials genome project”.
The goal of his group is to use computers to design high-quality functional materials by mapping the relationship between materials structures and their physical and chemical properties through a combined theoretical and experimental approach.
“We combine computational approaches in quantum mechanics, solid state physics and statistical mechanics, with selected experiments into a complimentary research strategy to investigate materials in the energy field,” according to a statement on the group’s Web page. Areas of interest are Li batteries, fuel cell electrodes, hydrogen storage, thermo electrics and solar cell materials.
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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