Airbus, aerostructure manufacturer Aerosud, and the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, are partnering to develop the biggest, fastest 3D printer possible for making titanium aircraft and satellite components. Shown here, the Airbus A380 demonstrator aircraft arrives at the 2012 Farnborough International Airport. (Source: Airbus)
My company Control Systems Technologies, LLC holds four patents in modular robotic technology. We basically form a multi degree of freedom configuration (synchronous 6 DOF) around an application and thus shape a work space according to a customer's need. Our path planning program is based on an API that is directly tied to SolidWorks thus enabling the user to form a 3D path within minutes (including cladding paths) to be executed on an existing part and/or slicing if the part needs to be built. I think that this technology can be applied readily in 3D printing applications. Please let me know who I may contact in order to see if there is a fit.
bobjengr, the number of AM techniques is actually pretty small. Basically, there's SLA, (S)LS, and FDM. Various forms of "3D printing" ("3DP" is a term invented by MIT), are simply doing AM with an inkjet-type nozzle that sprays material in all three directions (X, Y, Z) for creating layers. PolyJet, for instance, is not a separate method, but an SLA technique using inkjet methods. A caveat: the term "3D printing" is now used, confusingly, to refer to all types of additive manufacturing. You also listed Laminated Object Manufacturing, which (obviously) uses lamination. This is a rapid prototyping method that competes with SLA and SLS, but is not considered an AM technique. One of the best AM resources I've found is here: http://www.wohlersassociates.com
Excellent article Ann. I have followed "additive manufacturing" over the past few years and remain fascinated by the possibilities. Right now it appears the various types are as follows:
· (SLA) Stereolithography
· (SLS) Selective Laser Sintering
· (FDM) Fused Deposition Modeling
· (3DP) Three Dimensional Printing
· (Pjet) Poly-Jet
· Laminated Object Manufacturing
Stereolithography, of course, was the very first. There are two things that really amaze me about the processes: 1.) The size of manufactured product grows each year and 2.) The materials used for the each method expand and grow each year. I would not be surprised at all is the testing planned yield components that "make the grade" as far as specifications. I suspect they could exceed expectations. Again, great post.
Greg, I agree, and I thought Dave's comments were also to the point regarding vertical integration in South Africa all the way from raw materials to exported products. Looks like a very wise business move for the country overall.
I am also impressed with the forward thinking ability of this South African consortium to strategically invest in processes that produce net shape titanium rather than raw titanium, thus capitalizing on much higher profit margins. This vertical business integration will help both their organizations and their country.
Jim, so glad to give you info about something new that sparks your creative thinking. I think the potential of 3D printing technology can be applied in all kinds of ways we haven't thought about yet. I really enjoy doing that here at Design News. I don't expect everyone to agree or find what I write about interesting. But I'm glad that many enjoy the new and different technologies I find. Creativity has sometimes been defined as bringing together disparate elements in a new way.
,,,which opens a whole new paradigm for me. Very thought provoking and encouraging for new innovative methods for everyday things. (Too bad the associated comments under this linked story are so negative and narrow minded - it helps remind me that even break-thru progress has anchors to drag.)
Jim, the architectural apps are for buildings. If you google "3D printed buildings" you'll find several different versions. Unless you want to make airplanes out of sand and cement, there's no relationship in products. But figuring out to make larger build volumes is, to some extent, a generic 3D printing problem, which is why I mentioned the larger build volumes of the architectural apps.
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.
A fun and informative tour you can attend at the upcoming Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis, MD&M Minneapolis, and other events there, is the Materials Innovation Tour on Wednesday afternoon. I'll be leading it.
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