3D Printing: What you need to know

3D PrintingFuturologist Jeremy Rifkin claimed that 3D printing is the beginning of a third industrial revolution. This means it would subsequently succeed the production line assembly that dominated manufacturing which started in the late 19th century. What if he’s right? Imagine printing a new valve for a broken tap or a brake disc for your car. In contrast, perhaps something simpler like a new plate when your little ones drop the good dishes. The possibilities are essentially endless given the right materials and machines. Continue reading

Shot Blasting and Surface Preparation

What is Shot BlastingWhat is Shot Blasting?

Shot blasting can be described as a method used to clean, strengthen or polish metal surfaces getting it ready for the application of overlays or coatings. Industries using this method include automotive, aerospace, construction, rail and ship building among others. It removes rust or old layers of paint which is important when preparing surfaces for further processing like paint application, powder coating and welding work. Continue reading

Space Exploration: Where will we go?

Space-Exploration-Mars

Space Exploration – Beyond Imagination

We are in a race for space travel once again and through the imagination of movie producers and the real advancements in technology, we are all hooked. Movies like Star Trek, Star Wars and a few others did a great job at capturing our feelings and imagination. Even though it may have been science fiction, it’s the sheer possibility of space exploration that drives our love of astronomy and our desire to learn more.

Space is not infinite and somehow there must be an end to it. But if there is, nobody on Earth has figured out where it is, at least not yet. The only thing that has brought us to “the end of the universe” is our limited ability to see deeper into space.

We are getting closer though with advances in technology and propulsion like Continue reading

Metal Additive Manufacturing

metal additive manufacturingWhen 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

3D Printing in Space

£D prining in space NASA imageBack 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