Additive manufacturing enables much more than design freedom and improved performance. It is one of the first technologies that is capable of bringing unparalleled production capabilities in a unified package. Through it, manufacturing doesn’t have to rely solely on factories: it can move from a centralized to a decentralized model. We have all the premises to enable point-of-use production to more nimbly address the requirements at a micro scale. There are a variety of cases that would greatly benefit from this added agility. Think a medical emergency which can’t wait for the logistics of tool manufacturing and handling from a 3rd party a great distance away. Having an AM hub near a disaster situation can help first responders address the situation quickly and efficiently. Already the US Navy is experimenting by including AM equipment on ships at sea, capable of autonomously print spare parts and tools, on-demand.
3D printing and the rise of point-of-care medical manufacturing
As a rule, the healthcare infrastructure doesn’t dabble in manufacturing, but that is changing in dramatic ways, and that transformation is enabled by 3D printing. A white paper published by SME (Dearborn, MI), a nonprofit organization promoting manufacturing technology, explains how point-of-care (POC) manufacturing is reducing healthcare costs while improving patient experience.
Read more about POC manufacturing here.
Plant Inspires 3D Printed Material for Cleaning Up Oil Spills
Salvinia molesta is a floating fern native to South America. Its leaves are extremely hydrophobic and retain a surrounding pocket of air when submerged in water, thanks to tiny water-resistant hairs. On a microscopic level, the leaf hairs align in a structure that resembles an egg beater or whisk. Using a method called immersed surface accumulation 3D printing (ISA 3D printing), the researchers [at the University of Southern California] were able to recreate this egg beater microstructure, called the Salvinia effect, using plastic and carbon nanotubes. The result was a material that was both highly hydrophobic and oleophilic, or oil-absorbing. The combination allows oil and water to be efficiently separated.
Read more about it here.
Full Speed Ahead: Using Additive Manufacturing to Repair Ships at Sea
When a ship runs into trouble at sea, it can be time-consuming and disruptive to take it ashore to get it fixed. A team of UConn engineers has now developed a way for a ship’s crew to pinpoint the exact location of any mechanical trouble on board and, instead of taking the ship offline for maintenance, to repair or replace the part while the ship is still at sea. The researchers, led by associate professor of materials science and engineering Rainer Hebert, have created a device that uses ceramics on additively manufactured metals to obtain signals about degradation or certain other potential problems, such as overheating. They are also developing a field-deployable manufacturing process that could produce replacement parts from electronic files using a 3D printer on board ship after the metal-ceramic parts indicate failure or problems.
Read the full article here.
We are going to be at AMUG 2018, with a few sessions lined up on production AM! Check out this link for more information.
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