This is the fourth blog in an occasional series on 3D printing and additive manufacturing (AM).
A lot has been going on since our last blog about advances in materials for 3D printing and additive manufacturing (AM). This time, we'll tell you about architects 3D printing with ice and marble, some firsts in 3D printing titanium, and a university R&D team with a faster way to print multimaterial objects.
3D printing with ice isn't as new as you might think. Researchers at Montreal's McGill University have been developing this technique for a few years, originally to discover methods for building small to large objects out of ice using computer-controlled techniques. One of the main ideas is to use a commercial and industrial prototyping and modeling material that, in the far north anyway, is plentiful, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly. The other is to build temporary inhabitable structures for use in the ice-tourism industry. The machine is called the Cobra 600 Rapid Freezing Prototyping (RFP) system.
Click the image below to start the slideshow.
Researchers at Montreal's McGill University have been developing 3D printing with ice for use as a commercial and industrial prototyping and modeling material, as well as for making temporary inhabitable structures. Shown here, the construction process for making a chain from ice. (Source: McGill University)
Making things out of recycled marble dust with 3D printing is the goal of Marble Eco Design. The group was formed by an architect and a graphic designer in Italy 's Corena Ausonio marble district as a research project. Their goal is to develop a novel 3D-printing technique that can use high-quality, recycled, waste marble dust from local quarries. This would eliminate the quarries' disposal costs and provide new materials that could be used in art and fashion, as well as architecture, by mixing the marble dust with UV light-sensitive resins. The group demonstrated some objects it had made with this technique at the 2013 Maker Faire in Rome.
It turns out that the first-ever 3D-printed metal bike frames we told you about from UK-based Renishaw, made of titanium, were preceded by the first-ever 3D-printed titanium car parts. These were also made using Renishaw machines, but by an R&D team at the UK's University of Sheffield. The team used titanium powder made by UK-based Metalysis. Unlike most titanium powder, this is created from sand, making it much less expensive, according to a press release.
An R&D team at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering have invented a faster 3D-printing process, which they've recently applied to printing multiple materials that cure at different rates. The team, led by associate professor of industrial and systems engineering Yong Chen, announced that they have decreased fabrication time to minutes instead of hours. Their process is based on mask image projection-based stereolithography (MIP-SL). Earlier, they had improved this process using a single material, which you can read about here, by developing a two-way movement design for bottom-up projection that spreads the resin much faster.
You can watch a video here of Chen describing the team's achievement and a test case combining hard and soft materials. In the video, he says:
Instead of using given material properties, we can have control of properties by combining two different materials together. We are expanding the material options available for the product designer, such that we can improve the product performance dramatically.
I think "additive" manufacturing is one of the fastest growing technologies in the scientific and manufacturing community today. The video was excellent and even though as a fairly simple "tweezer" design; it points to a multiple possibilities relative to additional components. I can think of several in the medical field. Let me ask a question: are the materials blended into rods or coils and then fed into the printer? Is this the way the material is distributed in the process? Thank you Ann for keeping us up to date on what's happening with rapid prototyping.
I was especially impressed by the ability to combine multiple 3D materials to create different physical properties. I truly believe that this is a significant breakthrough and that this technique will become more and more common as 3D printing technology continues to advance. This ability will be a very valuable option for the printing of future designs.
You're welcome, William. But the problem with comparing what we can do now to Star Trek replicators is, they created food and drink and tools and whatnot out of, well, we don't know. Presumably pure energy or something. But today, to get 3D-printed chocolate or other food output, you have to already have that food as a material for the machine.
It appears that we may actually be at only the beginning of the wave of game changing creations as far as the 3D printing concept goes. Now I am anticipating the creation of actual "replicators", like those on the Star Trek series. At this point it is difficult to imagine what may not happen, given the wide realm of new processes and equipments.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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