Do you think that metal AM is the apex of mechanical performance we can achieve? There are many cases in which the humble thermoplastics are poised to match, and surpass, the benefits of metal-based AM techniques. Consider this: metal AM is still mostly happening thanks to high-powered lasers shone onto a powder source. This technique, and the powder preparation, is very resource intensive operation. With thermoplastics, on the other hand, you’ll seldom go above the 300°C mark. That doesn’t mean that you’d have to sacrifice in terms of performance. Arevo has shown through a bicycle frame that materials like PEEK can rival titanium in mechanical strength, showing a lot of promise in various fields. Research is also ongoing for new materials that offer a more flexible range of features, depending on the use case. AM lets us control these materials to allow for designs that exploit their natural properties in new and exciting ways.
International Consortium Delivers New Microgravity 3D Printer Prototype to European Space Agency
Over two years ago, the European Space Agency (ESA), looking to further develop its ability to manufacture and prototype new technology in outer space, set up a small consortium of European companies to create an advanced Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) breadboard machine. The consortium was formed by the agency’s Manufacturing of Experimental Layer Technology (MELT) project, which aims to explore, design, build, and test a fully functional 3D printer that can work in the microgravity conditions of the ISS.
Read the full article here.
3D-printed thermoplastic bicycle shows promise to replace titanium
[The Arevo bicycle] is being hailed as the first truly 3D-printed bicycle. The bicycle frame was made in one piece and eventually, other parts of the bicycle could be printed, as well. It took about two weeks to build the bike — which is a lot quicker than the usual labor-intensive method of piecing together carbon fiber strips. [CEO Jim Miller] was also excited about the material that’s stronger than titanium and really hard to break. It’s also recyclable and made from non-toxic materials, which seemed like important points to Miller. He noted that the frame uses the same material, polyether ether ketone, known as a PEEK polymer, used in spinal replacements.
Keep reading at Mashable.
Biomimicry in 3D printing
Researchers at SEAS, Cambridge have come up with a new 3D printing method inspired by natural composites. The idea was to achieve the best arrangement of short fibers at each location of the part being printed.
“Being able to locally control fiber orientation within engineered composites has been a grand challenge,” says Jennifer A. Lewis, senior author of the study and Hansjorg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard SEAS. “We can now pattern materials in a hierarchical manner, akin to the way that nature builds.”
Read the full article here.
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