When you think of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing as it’s more commonly known, there is a tendency to immediately think of plastic products. However, increasingly metals are being used in additive manufacturing processes and in the last few years metal 3D printing has gone from strength to strength.
In powder form, a variety of metals can be used in 3D printing processes enabling a whole host of components to be made more easily. Consumer products, aerospace components and medical aids are now being routinely produced using metal additive manufacturing processes. Continue reading
Back at the end of 2014, the world was amazed to hear from NASA about the final test phase of a 3D printer in space. The printer, which had been used on the ground prior to its launch into space, went to the International Space Station on a resupply vessel in September of 2014. A ratchet wrench printed from a design file transmitted from the ground was completed in December. The wrench along with a number of other things printed was then sent back to earth in 2015 for rigorous testing.
In December 2015 another resupply vessel went up to the International Space Station and on board this time was the European contribution to 3D printing in space – a Portable on Board 3D printer. The printer, measuring 25cm on each side and weighing just 5,5kg prints objects made from polylactic acid (PLA). PLA is a plastic that is made from renewable resources and is also biocompatible and biodegradable. It was built by Altran Italia in partnership with Thales Alenia Space and the Italian Institute of Technology under the direction of the Italian Space Agency, ASI. Continue reading
Back in 2014 we were talking about the experimental 3D printed joints being tested by the Airbus Group. The Rotite Fastener, was being tested on bicycles before being progressed into aircraft, but it was hoped that the technology could be developed and progressed into the aero industry making the attachment of electrical and mechanical components easier.
Additive manufacturing (the process of building components layer by layer) started off being used just for building prototype parts, but has now moved on to producing in flight components in the aero industry.
In March this year 3D printed parts got the go ahead from the FAA to be used in flight and as a result Boeing have used additive manufacturing to install over 20,000 non metallic 3D printed parts in their planes. They are using 3D printed parts in military and commercial aircraft. Continue reading
Most engineers will tell you that 3D printing represents another significant development within the manufacturing industry.
How does 3D printing work?
Rather than making something by sticking lots of small parts together, a 3D printer can build complicated items in one piece. The printers use a variety of very different types of additive manufacturing technologies but they all share one core thing in common. They create a three dimensional object by building it layer by layer.
3D printing technology could now offer a new way for engineers to think about how to join and fasten components and the technology is moving away from its prototyping roots. Aerospace engineers are now hoping to prove its potential, one component at a time. Some experts claim 3D printing could even create new capabilities in the fasteners and joints that hold together an aircraft. Continue reading
If you talk to most engineering experts, they will tell you that 3D printing represents one of the most significant developments ever seen in the manufacturing industry.
For those who are still unsure about 3D printing or as it’s more professionally called, additive manufacturing, the following quote, perhaps, provides the best possible explanation.
“3D printing moves us away from the Henry Ford era mass production line and will bring us to a new reality of customizable, one-off production.” Continue reading