3D Hubs’ Q2 report shows what 3D printing processes and materials are being used and where.
In our previous coverage of 3D Hubs’ Digital Manufacturing Trends Q2/2018 report, we talked about the top-ranked 3D printers. However, the company kept tabs on more than just printers. By tracking all data on its platform, 3D Hubs has helped shine a light on the state of 3D printing itself. While powder bed technology is poised to grow, currently extruding standard black PLA is dominating this one online platform.
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.
3D printing further reduces the cost of labor and machines for carbon fibre parts.
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.
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.
A recent series of major developments and events has created a new impetus for 3D printing plastic recycling. 3D printing of recycled plastics has multiple benefits, including lower costs and control over the amount of materials that can be used by 3D printers. Currently, 3D printing filament is produced by melting down virgin plastic pellets and extruding the melted plastic through a circular die which is then rolled up into spools. Printing with pellets or recycled materials is more cost effective and energy efficient than printing with new plastic filaments. In addition, direct printing of plastic pellets eliminates the need for further processing and therefore makes them less expensive.
Plastic has always been one of the leading 3D printer material categories. Now there is an expanding global concern about the amount of plastic product waste and in particular its negative impact on oceans and waterways. Improved pellet 3D printing recycling technology can play an important part in helping solve this environmental problem. 3D printing product developers, engineers, designers and environmentalists working on pellet recycling projects have the opportunity to earn US R&D tax credits.
UK-based Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) is looking closely at an aspect of 3D printing that is critical but all too often swept under the rug in conversation: finishing. Optimization in design, speed and innovation in 3D printers, and strong, high-quality materials are only the beginning of the story of what constitutes a remarkable, useful print. Post-processing has long been heralded as the dirty little secret of the 3D printing world, and it’s easy to overlook what happens after a print job concludes in light of the technological achievements that led to that print job even starting in the first place.
AMT, though, is unafraid to confront post-processing — and its efforts have been rewarded by a receptive industry. Innovate UK awarded AMT as a recipient of a major grant early this year, and that influx of capital was just the jumpstart the company needed to advance its PostPro3D technology.
3D-printed parts of 316L steel can be made stronger and more ductile than the original steel alloy.
“Marine grade” stainless steel is valued for its ability to stave off corrosion and its high ductility (the ability to bend without breaking under stress), making it a preferred choice for oil pipelines, welding, ships, kitchen utensils, chemical equipment, medical implants, engine parts, and nuclear waste storage. However, conventional techniques for strengthening marine steel typically come at the expense of ductility.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers found a way to make marine steel via 3D printing. Their new method, already proven to work for one of the most common forms of marine grade stainless steel—low-carbon 316L—could lead to new combinations of high ductility and strength for the ubiquitous alloy.
New materials developed to expand 3D printing need published material properties, but there are layers of difficulty.
Designing functional engineered systems using 3D printing requires more data on material properties. A paper that helped add some of the necessary data on the “Thermal Properties of 3-D Printing Polylactic Acid–Metal Composites” was published. Researchers aimed the study at copperFill, bronzeFill, magnetic iron polylactic acid (PLA), and stainless-steel PLA composites and provide insight into the technical considerations of fused filament fabrication (FFF) composite 3-D printing. The following is taken from this study.
In a bid to strengthen its presence in the additive manufacturing industry, HP has officially opened its new 3D Open Materials and Applications Lab at its Corvallis, Oregon site this week.
The 3,500 square-foot lab will be used by HP and its partners to test new, powdered raw materials for use in HP’s 3D printers, and get real-time feedback from engineers.
“In order for 3D printing to go mainstream, you need the materials piece to take off with the technology, or the ecosystem won’t flourish,” said Tim Weber, global head of 3D Materials and Advanced Applications and general manager of the Corvallis site. “We want materials companies to work with their customers and drive innovation on our platform.”