What are the 3D Printing technologies for prototyping and production?

engineer looking into 3D Printer machineHow to leverage additive manufacturing to build better products

Architects don’t build without modelling. They create “blueprints,” produce renderings, and build 3D models. But while these planning tools may resemble the actual building in shape, there is no resemblance in size or materials. As a result, except in the case of manufactured or modular buildings, the finished product will be the first time that real building materials have come together in exactly that configuration. That is one of the reason that architecture tends to be conservative in its rate of change. Without real-world testing, big change is risky.

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The Difference Between: 3D Printing and CNC Machining

A useful reminder


With today’s increase in complexity for engineered products and the need for faster production of these products, manufacturers are having to choose between technologies. This paper will discuss and compare two of the methods used to produce parts, while recognizing that each has its place, and can complement each other in the design and manufacturing workflow. Download this paper to learn about the differences between 3D Printing and CNC Machining and when to choose each technique.

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3D Printing: Seven products to finish the job

GEFERTEC GmbHFrom beginning to end, take a look at all the components of 3D printing to ensure you are making the best possible products safely, quickly, and not wasting materials in the process.

3D printing is taking over the industrial world and new printers are always a source of excitement. But, what seems to rarely be a source for that same excitement, is all the components that actually go into completing the job. We’re talking about hazardous material clean-up, recycling old materials, software to get that precise cut, and cost-effective technology, to name a few.

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3D-printed liquid structures pave the way for flexible electronics

3d printed liquidA 3D printer has been adapted by a team at the US Department of Energy’s Berkeley Lab to print 3D structures composed entirely of liquids.

The modified printer injects threads of water into silicone oil – sculpting tubes made of one liquid within another liquid.

The printer could be used to construct liquid electronics that power flexible, stretchable devices, the researchers said.

The scientists also foresee chemically tuning the tubes and flowing molecules through them, leading to new ways to separate molecules or precisely deliver nanoscale building blocks to under-construction compounds.

3D printed lenses can turn iPhones into microscopes

contact lensLow-cost lenses can now be 3D printed and used for a number of purposes including customised contact lenses for correcting distorted vision or turning iPhones into microscopes for disease diagnosis.

Developed by a team at Northwestern University, the customised optical component is 5mm in height and 5mm in diameter and can be 3D printed in about four hours.

“Up until now, we relied heavily on the time-consuming and costly process of polishing lenses,” said Cheng Sun, who worked on the project. “With 3D printing, now you have the freedom to design and customise a lens quickly.”

The customised lens was attached to an iPhone 6s and was able to take high-quality detailed images of a sunset, a moth’s wing and a spot on a weevil’s elyta.

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Additive Manufacturing both ubiquitous and nascent

Hailey Lynne McKeefry

Four out of five manufacturers say that they are using 3D printing today. At the same time, prototyping claims the lion’s share of the activity. We are at a tipping point where, over the next few years, 3D printing will likely change manufacturing and its supply chain dramatically.

Add New“The reality is that he cost of printing has come down so much in the past few years that it is easy for anybody to be at least be dabbling in 3D printing,” John Dulchinos, vice president, Digital Manufacturing at contract manufacturer Jabil told EBN.  “A lot of it ends up being just that. However, anyone doing design work who isn’t using 3D printing is behind the curve.”

In short, the promise and complexities associated with 3D printing in manufacturing abound. “As one of the fundamental building blocks around 3D printing, additive manufacturing over time will have a profound impact on supply chain,” Dulchinos. “We were all starting at ground zero, though. There isn’t a lot of well-defined literature or history on using additive manufacturing for functional production parts.”

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All-in-One machine manufactures large metal parts

Hybrid manufacturingMoving from computer-aided design into production with advanced all-in-one machines will create great new opportunities for additive manufacturing.

  • The rise in data volumes, computational power, and connectivity;
  • The analytics and business-intelligence capabilities;
  • The human-machine interaction; and
  • The improvements in transferring digital instructions to the physical world.

Taken together, they will lay the foundation for a revolution more comprehensive and all-encompassing than anything we have ever seen.

One of the pillars of this revolution is additive manufacturing (AM), also referred to as 3D printing. AM is already used to make some niche items, such as medical implants, and to produce plastic prototypes for engineers and designers. While 3D printing for consumers and small entrepreneurs has received a great deal of publicity, it is within manufacturing that the technology could have its most significant and lasting commercial impact.

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3D printing makes stainless steel three times stronger

Researchers have developed a way to 3D print stainless steel that triples the strength of the material.

3D printing has been used in everything from printing meat substitutes to vehicle components and has also prompted entirely new business models based on blueprint sharing and outsourced printing services.

Companies including GE, Siemens, and HP are all placing their bets on the future of this manufacturing process, and while 3D printing is currently reserved most often for weaker materials such as paper or plastic, metal is also of interest.

HP recently hinted at the 2018 release of a platform designed to “transform [3D metal printing] into more mainstream, high-volume production,” and as a research team from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have now demonstrated, the future of our metal products can be improved no end by 3D printing methods.

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Is distributed manufacturing with flexible 3D printing filament worth it? Michigan Tech finds out

Researchers from Michigan Technological University have conducted a study into the cost of 3D printing consumer goods using flexible filament. The researchers 3D printed 20 flexible products in NinjaFlex filament, analyzing the overall cost and technical feasibility of the 3D printed items.

Flexible filaments have opened up a world of opportunities for 3D printer users. Once faced with the prospect of brittle and breakable 3D printed parts, makers can now easily make rubbery 3D printed items for a range of practical applications: mechanical parts, soft grips, and even the tires of an RC car.

But are objects made from flexible 3D printing filaments as good as their molded, off-the-shelf counterparts? Moreover, are they worth the cost? Those are two questions that intrigued Aubrey L. Woern and Joshua M. Pearce, two researchers at Michigan Technological University who recently carried out a study into the effectiveness of functional objects made from flexible filament.

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IT pro’s guide to 3D printing technologies (free PDF)

3D printing is a revolutionary advancement in the way industries design and manufacture products. For decades, 3D printing has been used for industrial purposes, to quickly produce parts for rapid prototyping before employing traditional manufacturing techniques. Now, with the increased precision of 3D printers and a dramatic increase in the lifetime durability of 3D-printed parts, many industries are adopting 3D printing as a form of just-in-time manufacturing to reduce design complexity and warehousing costs and to simplify supply chains.

For hobbyists, 3D printing allows the custom creation of parts to meet the needs of their projects, such as a plastic housing for a circuit board. Websites like Thingiverse feature crowd-sourced designs for replacement car parts to 3D printed art.

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