3D printing saves the world, Part 2

How one process may single-handedly solve some of society’s greatest problems.

3D printer

Our previous installment discussed how 3D printing is having a significant impact on education, healthcare, and humanitarian relief. Continuing on, let’s examine how the process is helping to reduce pollution, as well as to protect soldiers and civilians from explosives.

The Environment

Shipping and logistics

Part 1 detailed how 3D printing will reduce the shipping and logistics of pills and humanitarian relief, but this trend looks like it is going to become a lot bigger. Ing, the bank and financial service corporation, predicts that printing could cut trade between countries by 40%: “For now it has very little effect on cross-border trade. This will change once high speed 3D printing makes mass production with 3D printers economically viable. The first technical steps have already been taken…3D printers use far less labor, reducing the need to import intermediate and final goods from low wage countries.”

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LINK3D integrates blockchain technology and industrial 3D printing for the first time

We’ve been seeing increased interest in incorporating Blockchain technology into the 3D printing world over the last couple of years, from being used in a military testing capacity to storing data of 3D printed aircraft parts. Blockchain, the underlying technology of decentralized cryptocurrency Bitcoin, is a set of records (blocks), that hold transactional data. In a secure transfer, important financial information, like recipient details, are then stored within the data set. Innovative companies all over the world are sitting up and taking notice, including LINK3D, which develops industrial 3D printing software to help organizations working to adopt Industry 4.0.

This fall, the AM software company, headquartered in New York City, introduced Digital Factory, its flagship, cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) that allows engineering companies to automatically manage all of their 3D printing processes for increased efficiency. Now LINK3D is announcing the first integration of blockchain technology for industrial 3D printing.

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Nadcap certification of metal 3D printing in aerospace

Achieving the highest quality standards is crucial in the aviation industry, where even the smallest of defects can have serious consequences. Besides the expansion of e-mobility, one of the most important recent developments in this field is the ability to produce components using additive manufacturing.

Nadcap certification of metal 3D printing in aerospace

This is particularly beneficial in the aviation sector, where every single gram of weight saved can reduce flight operating costs. This is why toolcraft not only produces aircraft parts conventionally using CNC machining, but employs additive manufacturing processes as well. The company covers the complete process chain, from design and manufacture to quality assurance and testing. 3D metal printing has been an established manufacturing technique in its own right for many years, having successfully made the transition from being used for prototype production. Nadcap certification of the process is a further milestone in its development.

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ORNL advances 3D printing quality control

When you 3D print something, you expect that the image you see on your computer screen will be perfectly reproduced on the 3D printer. But that’s not always the case, especially when it comes to more complex industrial metal prints. It’s difficult to fully control the material properties that a 3D printed object will have.

“We wrongly assume that what you print will be identical to what was designed,” said Suresh Babu, who holds the Governor’s Chair for Advanced Manufacturing at the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). “Printing a material involves a very complex temperature profile for the material due to multiple heating, melting, and cooling events that are all interconnected and inherently dependent on one another.”

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3D printing saves the world

How one process may single-handedly solve some of society’s greatest problems.

3D printingWhat are some of the world’s biggest problems? Education, healthcare, natural disasters…the list goes on. One thing they all have in common is that many researchers, companies, non-profits, and everyday people are helping to solve them with 3D printing. Let’s walk through some of the ways this innovative process is saving the world.

Education

More and more people seem to be asking about what’s happening to jobs and industry in the United States. As of January 2015, the U.S. as a nation ranked 27th in math and 20th in science, according to a Pew Research Center study on education. How are we going to stay on the cutting edge while our education is not keeping up with the rest of the world? In order to fix a problem, we must first admit we have one. Second, we must ask, what are we going to do about it?

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HSBC exploring new solutions to finance trade of IoT data and 3D printing

New technologies such as the internet of things and 3D printing are not just transforming global supply chains – they are also changing the way trade is being financed, forcing trade finance providers to innovate their offerings.

In a conversation with GTR on the launch of a new report, Vinay Mendonca, HSBC’s global head of trade finance propositions, says the bank is currently exploring ways to finance the trade of data and design as 3D printing and the internet of things (IoT) gain momentum. It comes in response to a growing need from the bank’s customers for more innovative ways to finance modern supply chains.

The bank’s report Navigator: Now, next and how for business, released today, surveyed 6,033 firms of all sizes across 26 markets on their short-term outlook for global trade. It found a high degree of optimism: 77% of the companies expect their trade volumes to increase in the next 12 months.

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US Military researches water bottle recycling for 3D printing in the field

Every branch of the US military has been exploring 3D printing for a number of applications, finding it to be a useful technology for everything from day to day uses to battlefield operations.

Now the Marine Corps and the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) are working together to improve both self-reliance and sustainability through 3D printing. The research team is examining the recycling of waste plastic, such as that from water bottles, milk jugs and yogurt containers, to make 3D printer filament.

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Additive manufacturing and combustible dust hazards in 3D Printing

3D printing processes generate combustible dust, creating a set of risks EHS professionals should take into account.

3d printing

Over the last few years we have witnessed the expansion of additive manufacturing using 3D printers from utilization as a prototyping tool to increasing implementation on the plant floor. The rapid evolution of this technology and its applications has created new challenges for process safety. These challenges involve understanding powder combustibility properties and how best to implement reliable inverting measures to prevent fires and explosions during powder processing and handling.

An EHS professional or employee in charge of reviewing and approving use of a 3D printer in their facility should be aware of the hazards associated when it comes to combustible dust.

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An additive evolution

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is a growing market and one that is shifting away from traditional prototyping and into the world of direct manufacturing, as a range of industries begin to recognise its potential.

Andreas Saar, VP manufacturing engineering solutions and additive manufacturing programme lead at Siemens PLM Software, said: ‘Every industry can benefit from additive manufacturing. It is a disruptive technology that transforms every aspect of the design, simulation and the manufacturing of products. The complexity of additive manufacturing, not just over the entire lifecycle of a product but across the range of industries, is a challenge.’

A number of economic barriers must also be overcome, as Dr Jean Sreng, marketing business development manager for additive manufacturing at the ESI Group, explained: ‘Additive manufacturing is, today, a process which is cost effective at low volume and high complexity geometries. Even though we are all working to decrease this cost effectiveness ratio to achieve high volumes, more traditional manufacturing techniques such as stamping, welding, casting, will always have a complementary effectiveness with additive manufacturing.’

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Help share the future of Additive Manufacture in the UK

Wall of members at Coventry's MTC, including Rolls-Royce, Airbus, EOS and Autodesk. Photo by Beau JacksonAt the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry, Martin Dury, Learning Design Manager, and his team are working to address the manufacturing skills gap, encouraging UK businesses to be agile and adopt new technologies. Currently, Dury is mapping a number of Additive Manufacturing Competency Frameworks for all roles in AM.

The frameworks are intended to define the skills, knowledge and behaviour required for newly developed AM roles and identify appropriate training programs for every step of the process, from requirement capture, design, material selection and manufacture through to post-processing, inspection and verification.

To help form a comprehensive outline of the roles and skills needed in additive manufacturing in the UK, the MTC is seeking input and contributions from industry experts.

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