3D printing & the environment: promises and limitations of AM (Authentise Weekly News-In-Review – Week 39)

There are a lot of manufacturing dynamics which 3D printing is upending. It goes beyond design freedom, AM technologies allow us to be a lot more conscious of our footprint on the environment. We are still testing new grounds and so far AM is revealing to be a less wasteful, smarter approach to manufacturing. Not only can we build structures that utilize the barest minimum in terms of material usage, entirely new materials and techniques allow us to tackle the problems of biodegradability and energy consumption. Nonetheless, AM still has a way to go before it can get to the level of manufacturing performance of traditional methods. Laser sintering still requires a great deal of electricity to fuse metal particles, most processes are imprecise by traditional standards and most groundbreaking AM applications are still very much R&D. This point reinforces the fact that AM should cover its role in a broader hybrid manufacturing system, in which the optimal outcome in terms of manufacturing footprint and item accuracy can be achieved. There is no holy grail solution in manufacturing, just an ever expanding toolset to give you the right means to get optimal ends.

3D Printhuset Lays Foundations For 3D Printed Office-Hotel in Copenhagen

A rendering of the finished BOD. Image via: 3D Printhuset.

Building on Demand (BOD), the latest venture of Danish firm 3D Printhuset, marks a major breakthrough for additive manufacturing in construction. The concrete office-hotel structure, occupying just under 50m of floor-space, is due to be 3D printed in Nordhaven, Copenhagen’s docklands area, and will be Western Europe’s first inhabitable 3D printed buildingJakob Jørgensen, Technical Manager at 3D Printhuset, explained in a press release that 3D printing the building over traditional construction meant that “complex forms can be entered at no additional cost”, while Michael Holm, the company’s development manager, emphasized the use of up-cycling and waste reduction in building materials.

Read the full article here.

3D Printed Biomaterials Degrade on Demand

Researchers 3D-printed intricate temporary microstructures that can be degraded on demand using a biocompatible chemical trigger. (Credit: Wong Lab / Brown University)

Biomaterials that can degrade on demand have been 3D printed by engineers at Brown University. The materials were fabricated by means of stereolithographic printing […]. The capacity of the materials to degrade is imparted by the development of reversible ionic bonds. Precursor solutions were prepared with sodium alginate, a compound derived from seaweed that is known to be capable of ionic crosslinking. Different combinations of ionic salts, including magnesium, barium and calcium, were then added to 3D print objects with varying stiffness levels, a factor which affected how quickly the structures dissolved.

“The idea is that the attachments between polymers should come apart when the ions are removed, which we can do by adding a chelating agent that grabs all the ions,” said assistant professor Ian Wong. “This way we can pattern transient structures that dissolve away when we want them to.”

Read the full at IEEE.

Research Breakthrough: Cold Sintering

Researchers in Penn State’s Materials Research Institute, led by Clive Randall, recently discovered a process that could revolutionize the manufacturing industry. Known as cold sintering, the process could be used for developing materials we use every day, such as bricks and glass, at a much lower energy cost than the process used today. The researchers have shown their new process can be used to make at least 50 materials, and they are continuing to expand their research to incorporate additional materials.

 

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