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Engineering Materials
3D Printing Flies High
10/15/2012

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Humans exploring Mars will probably get around in a Humvee-sized rover with a pressurized cabin like this one NASA is testing in the Arizona desert. It contains about 70 parts made with a Stratasys production-grade Fortus printer, including pod doors, camera mounts, vents, and housings.
Humans exploring Mars will probably get around in a Humvee-sized rover with a pressurized cabin like this one NASA is testing in the Arizona desert. It contains about 70 parts made with a Stratasys production-grade Fortus printer, including pod doors, camera mounts, vents, and housings.

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Beth Stackpole
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3D printing in the field
Beth Stackpole   10/15/2012 7:57:48 AM
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Nice indepth account of how 3D printing is really changing the game when it comes to creating production parts from a wide variety of materials and in a much shorter time span. Beyond the implications in the aerospace applications you mentioned, Ann, the experimentation going on to use less expensive and more portable 3D printers in army applications, in the field, as a means of helping troops with extra parts they need or more significantly medical care is really exciting.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: 3D printing in the field
Ann R. Thryft   10/15/2012 12:06:50 PM
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Thanks, Beth. The DoD's desire to make 3D printing accessible and useful for soldiers is apparently one of the main forces behind the formation of NAMII, the additive manufacturing initiative/consortium we covered: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=251513

Beth Stackpole
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Re: 3D printing in the field
Beth Stackpole   10/15/2012 12:53:13 PM
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Seems like the dual forces of interest from the DoD and the commercial business sector could do a lot to advance the cause of 3D printing and additive manufacturing well beyond where it is today. Couple that with all the activity on the consumer front and you've got the real makings of a market.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: 3D printing in the field
Ann R. Thryft   10/15/2012 1:04:44 PM
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I agree--the fact that 3D printing, in all its variety, is now on the radar of so many people and organizations bodes well, as does the spread of machines, and more and more materials, across the different market segments.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: 3D printing in the field
Rob Spiegel   10/15/2012 11:24:06 PM
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Nice article, Ann. I didn't realize that 3D printing had moved so far beyond creating prototypes and into finished parts. Quite impressive.

Cadman-LT
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Great article
Cadman-LT   10/15/2012 6:56:27 PM
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Another great article Ann. I like all of the new 3D methods and especially all of the new materials. It just keeps getting cooler!

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Great article
Ann R. Thryft   10/16/2012 12:00:05 PM
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Thanks, Cadman, glad you enjoy my blogs on this subject. I agree, the rate of advances has really sped up lately.

Cadman-LT
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Re: Great article
Cadman-LT   10/18/2012 10:20:12 PM
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You are certainly welcome Ann. Keep'em comin'!

Cadman-LT
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Re: Great article
Cadman-LT   10/18/2012 10:23:48 PM
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I really like the new materials. that's been my fascination with 3D printing thus far. The software advancements are good, but the materials determine what you can make. Wonder what's next?

Cadman-LT
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Re: Great article
Cadman-LT   10/18/2012 10:26:41 PM
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One more thought. One thing that comes to mind to me, being an ex-machinist is the precision i.e. tolerances they can hold. I am betting they get better at that. You can print something all day long with whatever material, but if you can't hold certain tolerances then it isn't good for precision work.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Great article
Ann R. Thryft   10/30/2012 7:53:12 PM
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I agree about tight tolerances. The fact that this technology is being used in commercial aircraft and medical applications speaks volumes about its success in achieving consistent, repeatable, very tight tolerances.

Cadman-LT
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Re: Great article
Cadman-LT   11/5/2012 12:55:33 PM
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I couldn't agree more. I'm a little worried for some machinists out there. I can see these printers taking their jobs. 

Cadman-LT
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Re: Great article
Cadman-LT   11/5/2012 12:59:57 PM
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Then again, it should also create jobs. Instead of running a CNC lathe or mill, you run a 3D printer. It's a little weird to even think about.

Cadman-LT
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Re: Great article
Cadman-LT   11/5/2012 1:03:51 PM
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That person would still need machining knowledge. At least knowledge of the measuring tools. I can see it as a trade school thing. Now instead of going for machining you go for 3D printing. I might be wrong, but it seems possible.

Cadman-LT
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Re: Great article
Cadman-LT   11/5/2012 1:08:12 PM
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Ann, I just wanted to say. I know I go on and on about this 3D printing, but it just fascinates me to no end. We talked just a few months ago about materials and they are already here. Like you said, it's progressing very fast. I'm just really interested in this.

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