How 3D printing could help save us from trade wars

Richard A. D'Aveni

While tariffs and trade wars from the White House may threaten our jobs, peace and prosperity, technology innovations from American business could save us. Just as new technology in energy production and extraction have reduced our dependence on the Middle East, a technology innovation of a very different sort — 3D printing — is already poised to reduce our dependence on Asian factories.

3D printing is a process whereby a specialized printer repeatedly deposits thin layers of material to form a product in three dimensions. These printers can make almost any kind of shape by simply adjusting the software file for the specific product. And in recent years, 3D printing has become cost-competitive with conventional manufacturing for many kinds of products.

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Daimler, partners launch 3D printing pilot

Daimler and two specialist partners have put into operation a pilot plant that uses 3D printing technology to make components for the automotive and aerospace industries.

The German premium car group worked on the project, which is called NextGenAM, with Premium Aerotec, which develops and produces metal and carbon fiber composite aircraft structures, and EOS, a 3D printing specialist.

The pilot plant, located at a Premium Aerotec facility in Varel in northern Germany, operates various machines for additive manufacturing, post-processing, and quality assurance. The production chain is fully automated, which is a key factor in lowering costs.

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3D printing offers new hope for war-wounded

Advances in medical technology are giving amputees more practical and adaptable options

After seven years of war, an estimated 86,000 Syrians are coping with losing a limb to amputation, according to the World Health Organisation and disability charity Handicap International. IRIN recently spent a day in neighbouring Jordan, exploring how 3D printing technology can produce a new generation of replacement limbs that are more comfortable and adaptable than traditional prosthetics.

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U.S. Marines 3D print F-35 part to save US$ 70,000

A team of U.S. Marines 3D printed a part for the F-35 stealth fighter saving $70,000 in costs for a whole new landing gear door.

The landing gear of F-35A Lightning II. Photo via the Eglin Air Force Base

The component is a small part mounted on the door pressing it into the latch. It was designed and 3D printed by Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 31 (CLB-31) in Carderock, Maryland.

Sam Pratt, a mechanical engineer at the Carderock’s Additive Manufacturing Project Office, provided further technical assistance to the team.

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Optimizing the properties of recycled 3D printing materials

In an attempt to mitigate the environmental impact of 3D printing, several organizations have taken to creating recycled filament, made not only from failed prints but from water bottles and other garbage. Inexpensive filament extruders are also available to allow makers to make their own filament from recyclable materials. Not only does recycled filament help the environment, but it also helps 3D printer users to save money and be more self-sufficient, making the technology more viable in remote communities.


Top: virgin PLA, bottom: recycled PLA

3D printer manufacturer re:3D has been working on making their Gigabot 3D printer capable of printing with recycled materials, for the purpose of helping those in remote communities to become more self-sufficient. In a paper entitled “Fused Particle Fabrication 3-D Printing: Recycled Materials’ Optimization and Mechanical Properties,” a team of researchers used an open source prototype Gigabot X 3D printer to test and optimize recycled 3D printing materials.

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Major 3D-printing breakthrough could keep design pirates at bay

Trying to prove who designed and built what in 3D printing was envisaged as costly to major manufacturers, until now.

The amazing aspect of 3D printing is that anyone, anywhere, with the right equipment, can print and build an object almost identical to an already existing one.

A clear 3D-printed dome containing a variety of dummy and real QR codes.

While this sounds great in theory, for major manufacturers it creates one major headache: how do you prove a design is yours?

Not only that, but what liability does a company have if someone steals its design, creates a poorly made copy and it leads to a major accident?

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3D printing poised to grow carbon fibre market

3D printing further reduces the cost of labor and machines for carbon fibre parts.

PROMORacetrack

With a growing demand for strong and lighter parts at an affordable cost, manufacturers look to carbon fiber. Unfortunately, the process takes time, manual labor, and might experience variations from part to part. There is a demand for automating carbon fiber processes. 3D printing has integrated carbon fiber, but like the traditional process, it took time and while it reduced cost by minimizing manual labor that was offset but expensive machines. Stratasys previewed at RAPID 2018 a new carbon fiber printer that reduces the barrier with an industrial quality system that is being offered at $70,000 USD. The 3D printer, Fortus 380 CFE, began shipping last week.

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Water bottles, other recycled 3D printing materials could avoid military supply snags

IMAGE

Soldiers on the battlefield or at remote bases often have to wait weeks for vital replacement parts. Now scientists report they have found a way to fabricate many of these parts within hours under combat conditions using water bottles, cardboard and other recyclable materials found on base as starting materials for 3D printing. They say this ‘game-changing’ advance could improve operational readiness, reduce dependence on outside supply chains and enhance safety.

The researchers are presenting their work today at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 10,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.

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10 things you don’t know about modern metal 3D printing

small-volume-parts-3deo

There’s a lot to like about the additive manufacturing of metal parts, but there’s a lot you need to know before getting started.

In a field that’s advancing as rapidly as metal 3D printing, it can be easy to fall behind. Some of the most recent developments across the industry have been game-changing, and it’s important for manufacturers to know what’s out there. For that reason, and without further ado, here’s the comprehensive list of the 10 most important things you don’t know about metal 3D printing.

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AP&C and National Research Council of Canada develop 3D imaging material quality inspection method

“The competitiveness of 3D printing relies heavily on the capability of machine users to recycle their powders.”

A new way of testing the quality of 3D printing powders has been developed by The National Research Council of Canada in collaboration with AP&C, a GE Additive company.

3D Printing

Using x-ray micro-computed tomography and 3D imaging analysis, very low concentrations of foreign particles can be detected in situations where cross contamination is a concern.

Each individual particle is visualised, with their size, brightness and concentration being measured. The partners say their method will lead to powdered materials being safer, cleaner, and able to produce stronger, more reliable components and believe the process will be particularly helpful in the qualification of recycled materials.

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