3D printing is enabling a new kind of space entrepreneurship (Authentise Weekly News-In-Review – #130)

3D printing is proving to be a transformational tool for the fresh players of the new space race. Iteration cycles for the aerospace industry are notoriously long: 3D printing enables the development of aerospace parts to be cut from months to just a few weeks. This is a boost for newcomers, shortening time to launch and enabling faster competitiveness in the global race. The rapid pace of technological change is forcing everyone to quickly adapt to new trends. These new companies are also the most pliable to changes to the supply chain, which will be stressed to accommodate new needs and technologies. It’s hard to predict future business opportunities, but new avenues of exploration are being researched through 3D printing. In-situ resource utilization is of great interest for any habitat, tool or even medical need future astronauts might have.

How additive manufacturing helped launch SpaceX

How additive manufacturing helped launch SpaceX

SpaceX has been using AM increasingly in its production to optimise processes and produce parts that aren’t possible with conventional manufacturing methods. SpaceX has been continuously evaluating the benefits of 3D printing and perfecting the techniques required to develop and manufacture flight hardware. With innovation and efficiency at the core of SpaceX, it’s no wonder its been one of the first companies in the sector to embrace AM as a major part of its production.

Read the full article at PES Media.

Supply chain expands to meet demand for 3D-printed space parts

It’s not clear whether the additive manufacturing supply chain will expand rapidly enough to meet growing demand for 3D-printed parts for spacecraft or launch vehicles. When companies are starting out, it’s easy for them to turn to additive manufacturing service providers for a few parts, said Scott Killian, aerospace business development manager for EOS North America.

“Once companies move into production, they’re going to have to figure out whether the supply chain can still meet their needs,” he added. “There’s a lot of ebb and flow right now on getting that supply chain to ramp up.”

Read more at Space News.

Scientists 3D-print human skin and bone for Mars astronauts

The European Space Agency’s 3D Printing of Living Tissue for Space Exploration project aims to print human tissue to help injured astronauts heal when they’re far, far away from Earth. Scientists from the University Hospital of Dresden Technical University in Germany bio-printed skin and bone samples upside down to help determine if the method could be used in a low-gravity environment. It worked. ESA released videos of the printing in action.

Read more at CNET.

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Production AM needs Post-Processing that is up to par (Authentise Weekly News-In-Review – #128)

As we gear towards a more diffused and wide-ranging production AM ecosystem, maintaining a post-processing workflow that is up to it will be equally important. Most 3D printed parts aren’t usable without a post-processing step, be that supports removal, polishing or thermal tempering. We’ve gotten quite good at it, and creative, designing machinery that is simple yet performant, to aid in the quest for a tight-knit AM pipeline. Software plays an equally important role. Authentise has recently announced our app to enable AM operators to digitize post-processing steps, enriching their workflow with data from the entire process.

Postprocessing gains importance as the number of parts in 3D-printed production runs increases

“There’s a real shift in the industry right now,” said Ed Graham, vice president of additive manufacturing at ProtoCAM. “Where it might be cost-effective using human labor to finish a prototype or even a couple dozen parts, we’re now seeing orders for 1,000 pieces or more. That’s why more efficient postprocessing methods are increasingly important now, because of all the emphasis recently on end-use materials, faster print times, larger build envelopes, and, ultimately, higher production volumes.”

Read the full article on The Fabricator.

Is Plasma The Missing Link In Assembling 3D Printed Parts?

Motorbike fairing glued together using piezobrush PZ2. Image via Relyon Plasma.

The [Relyon Plasma’s] piezobrush PZ2 uses plasma to activate surface particles of a substance which strengthens the adhesion between joined parts. With a strong bond between assembled 3D printed parts, it is possible to manufacture large-sized sturdy components on small sized 3D printers. According to the CEO of Creabis, Ralf Deuke, plasma-aided bonding will lead to more novel applications in 3D printing.

Read more about it at 3DPrint.com

Post-Processing Enabling Additive Manufacturing

Post processing, in one form or another, is an inevitability when using additive manufacturing (AM) technologies, but is particularly critical for serial production applications of AM — both in terms of the financial costs and the time it takes between a part leaving the AM system and being fit for purpose as an end-use product. In this article, Joseph Crabtree, the CEO at Additive Manufacturing Technologies Ltd, considers the importance of post-processing in the entire production process chain and highlights an emerging solution.

Read more here.

 

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AM for production is already here (Authentise Weekly News-In-Review – #119)

Production level AM seems a far cry for many in the manufacturing industry. However, we have many examples of how businesses are starting to put the technology to work on the factory floor. Leading the march is the aviation industry, with companies like Airbus 3D printing thousands of aircraft components today, shaving off weight and increasing reliability. Right up second is automotive, with companies like Bugatti and GM redesigning car parts through AM, and putting them in cars roaming the streets today. Also, the footwear industry has been keen to adopt AM as both a marketing strategy and a serious production boon. Improved customization and agility got the attention of companies like Nike, Adidas and Under Armour, creating both limited editions and mass-produced soles and shoe components.

 

Premium AEROTEC 3D Printing Serially Produced Parts For All Airbus A350 XWB Aircraft

A few years ago Airbus said that it would have over a 1000 3D printed components on each aircraft. Subsidiary Airbus Helicopters has for a few months now been serially producing metal door latch shafts for the A350. Now Premium Aerotec, itself also an Airbus subsidiary, will start serially producing metal 3D printed components for the A350 as well. These have now entered into serial production and have been delivered to Airbus.

Read the full article here.

 

Bugatti champions 3D-printed parts

The Divo supercar, with its $5.8 million starting price, was one of the stars of last summer’s Monterey Car Week. It achieved a 77-pound weight reduction from the Bugatti Chiron on which it is based, with some coming from more precisely made 3D printed taillights. Last year, it revealed that it has worked with tech suppliers Bionic Production and Fraunhofer IAPT to develop an eight-piston, titanium monobloc brake caliper via 3D printing. Bugatti says that part is being prepared for series production.

Read the rest here.

 

Five footwear industry leaders using 3D printing for production today

adidas concept shoe

Leading footwear AM companies – Adidas, Nike, Under Armour, New Balance, and Reebok – are targeting different footwear final parts and products, relying on different technologies and materials. However, there are some common trends which are based on the overall macro trend of advanced manufacturing: mass customization and digital mass production.

Read the full analysis at 3D Printing Media Network.

 

 

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Traditional design processes don’t work with AM, so it’s changing (Authentise Weekly News-In-Review – Week 81)

We’ve set up our design process to be efficient and reliable for the tools at our disposal, and with 3D printing, it’s about time to shake it up. 3D printing is inherently different from traditional manufacturing techniques and, to explore its true potential, we need to rely on design tools that help us explore new directions. Sandia Labs argues that this technology doesn’t plug easily into established production methodologies, both in terms of speed and how the variables involved impact the parts. The different features of a 3D printed part are a challenge for precision manufacturing lines. Apart from industrial compatibility issues, to see where we can push 3D printing we need to think outside the box. Concepts like 4D manufacturing help us envision what we can achieve with the technology, with parts that react to temperature, light or mechanical changes. This is nothing new in and of itself, but it’s been explored through 3D printing and it’s empowered design capabilities. We are already on the right track to reinvent the design process through smart digital tools, like generative design and quick iterative cycles, and the future looks exciting.

Sandia Labs Focused on Optimizing Design for 3D Printing

3D printing is capable of streamlining both design and production processes, but most designers (and many design tools) aren’t really prepared to take advantage of the design possibilities the technology presents. Traditional design methods applied to additive manufacturing don’t necessarily lead to fully optimized designs. Sandia National Laboratories’ Laboratory Directed Research and Development project hopes to point the industry in the right direction.

According to Sandia, the project focused on “how to put less precise 3D printed parts together with precise tools, taking advantage of the rapid prototyping, design and manufacturing possible with additive manufacturing.”

Read the full article here.

MIT engineers create 3D-printed magnetic shape-shifters

Engineers from MIT have designed soft, 3D-printed structures that can transform their shape “almost instantaneously” with the wave of a magnet. The magnetically manipulated objects are made using a type of 3D-printable ink developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which has been infused with tiny magnetic particles.

Read the rest here.

Autodesk University: How is Generative Design used Within Additive Manufacturing?

With a keenness to learn more about how design processes can affect AM end-production, 3D Printing Industry attended Autodesk University’s industrial talk entitled “Generative Design: Past, Present, and Future”. This lecture was led by Autodesk’s Principal Technical Consultant Andrew Harris and Allin Groom a Research Engineer at Autodesk.

Read more at 3D Printing Industry.

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War stories from the AM Battlefield

Despite its rapid growth in recent years, the Additive Manufacturing User Group is still just that: A user group of amazingly talented individuals with long experience with every aspect of the technology. It’s the reason we love being there.

So while we showed off our Manufacturing Execution System and 3Diax Modular Platforms in the Exhibits, we were keen to build on the ethos of AMUG during the sessions. The result was a roundtable on the challenges companies are experiencing while they seek to scale up their additive manufacturing operations. We act as organizers – the audience are the real star.

I do a lot of public speaking, and frankly – complete control via a prepared speech is a LOT less nerve-wracking than hoping that people participate. But we were not disappointed by the User Group; the collaborative nature of the event showed up in full force and thanks to the excellent moderation of Additive Manufacturing Media’s Editor-in-Chief, Pete Zelinski, came to highly productive uses.

Authentise AMUG roundtable on challenges in additive
Authentise AMUG roundtable on challenges in Additive Manufacturing

So what were some of the topics people came up with?

Multi-material Documentation

Challenge: Multi-material, for example ABS infused with carbon, is becoming more prevalent, but the file definitions remain a major barrier. Line drawings certainly don’t do the trick anymore, especially as the complexity grows with deviations, infill requirements, orientation and more.

Comments: One participant suggested using XML structures attached to the geometry, while others referred to Model Based Design efforts that help to go beyond simple geometries and address scalability issues with the first suggestion through NIST-sponsored standardization.

Managing Downtime

Challenge: Despite the digital nature of AM, there are still significant challenges even in basic operations: How do we know when something is down? How do we include expected, predicted or current downtime in our schedules? How do we maintain throughput in a failure scenario?

Comments: This one was close to our own heart, Authentise’s MES was mentioned not just once in this context. In addition, participants pointed out that solutions go beyond data-driven scheduling software – they include additional sensors, machine learning to better predict run times, standarizing machine data access, furthering the use of augmented reality for machine maintainance and more.

Part Certification

Challenge: Lack of fully documented testing knowledge means we might be spending too much time and money testing, documenting, standardizing and more. How much testing is really necessary to make sure a part can fly.

Comments: Naturally, answers here differ by industry. They range from dozens of successful builds to just two. Standard practice seems to be freezing particular machine and locking in orientation, build plate setting and support.
There was a vigorous exchange on these and other topics. Certainly, there were a lot of things we could have done better (like adding interactive voting tools, such as PollEverywhere), but the audience really took up the mantle; AMUG participants are collectively smarter than any speaker they could put up. Encouraging conversations about challenges and solutions is the best way to learn – for ourselves and for participants. We’ll certainly be back next year and build on this success.