This morning’s newspapers are full of stories of deep budgets that are sure to affect funds for scientific research. And buried deep inside is a story of a call by leading American scientists to research and develop new sources for energy-critical materials, such as lithium and tellurium.
There are two issues. Demand is rising for these materials to produce lighter weight vehicles, batteries for electric cars, thin film solar cells, and a variety of other emerging energy-related applications. At the same time, the largest known source of these materials, China, is taking steps to shut off the spigot.
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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