Did You Know?

3D Printed NASA Rocket Parts: From the Moon to Mars

Bigger, Cheaper, and Faster Manufacturing

NASA is preparing for the human exploration of Mars and 3D printing is going to play a huge role in it. Experts, engineers and academia are working to make this happen. An emerging technology by NASA, called Rapid Analysis and Manufacturing Propulsion Technology (or RAMPT) will be using metal powder and lasers to produce large, complex engine components like nozzles and combustion chambers never done before. The advantage is that the most difficult and expensive rocket engine parts can be produced for a lower price. Other companies in the aerospace industry can apply this manufacturing technology to the medical, transportation, and infrastructure industries.

Via the new technology, NASA has printed one of the largest engine nozzles for a rocket. It measures 40 inches in diameter and 38 inches tall with its own cooling channels. Blown powder directed energy deposition can produce these large structures, and it’s cheaper and quicker than traditional fabrication techniques. Compared to one year long production via traditional welding, this nozzle was done in just 30 days.

NASA’s Space Launch System (or SLS) rocket team and the Orion spacecraft, the exploration vehicle that will carry the human crew to space, are the backbone to NASA’s deep space exploration plans, including sending the first woman and next man to the Moon in 2024 and establish sustainable exploration by the end of 2030. SLS is investing in RAMPT to certify it for spaceflight. Together they will build and evaluate a nozzle that is up to 5 feet in diameter and 7 feet tall, all at reduced schedule and cost.

Entering into public-private partnerships, NASA is working with academia and industry to play an important role. With Auburn University in Alabama, RAMPT collaborates with specialty manufacturing companies already advancing the “state of the art” and making the developed technologies available to the private sector. It adds value to NASA missions as they share some development costs. The technology may also play critical roles in many other industries, including commercial space.

Source

Understanding The Fascinating World of 3D Printed Food

The Basics of 3D Printed Edibles

3D printed food is still a very young industry. It still needs a broader adaptation from professionals and regular consumers. In this year, however, there are already exclusive 3D printing restaurants and dozens of food printers available on the market. The foods that can be 3D printed are limited to the processes available. Material extrusion is still the most common process for 3D printing food, and like FDM printing, requires paste-like inputs like purées, mousses, and other viscous foods such as chocolate ganache. However, there are possible combinations between doughs, mashes, cheeses, frostings, and even raw meats.

How does a food 3D printer work?

It works like a regular FDM 3D printer where a viscous material is deposited onto a surface to create a final object. On the other hand, binder jetting and SLS work with powdered foodstuffs, though it’s still debatable if these are viable for food printing. With most machines the raw material is fed into a syringe-like container and extruded as the nozzle is moved around to trace shapes and form 2D layers one at a time.

Do food 3D printers cook the food?

They do not actually cook the ingredients, but are more for architecting intricate shapes and designs. Usually, the food is ready to eat or needs to be cooked in an oven or grill when the 3D printing is done. An exception is the PancakeBot which does everything but the flipping. Ingredients can be any paste or semi-liquid state that could be turned into the right consistency for 3D printing. This includes salty foods like puréed vegetables, batters, doughs, cheeses, and sweets such as jellies, frostings, sugar decorations, chocolate, and mashed fruits.

Food 3D printers are mostly used for gourmet dining like in molecular kitchens or fancy bakeries. Edible wedding cake decorations and pizzas have been 3D printed. Plant-based meat is being 3D printed, too. Actually, the best chances of finding 3D printed food are in 3D printing events or culinary conventions such as 3D food printing conferences, as this is still a new technology.

The benefits and drawbacks of 3D printed food may concern many. On the positive side, there’s the freedom to create complex, intricate shapes and geometries that are impossible to reproduce manually or would take an extraordinary long time. Edibles are safe to consume provided that the machine and environment are clean. Meals can be personalized or customized and can be easily reproducible.

Downsides of 3D printed food are its time-consuming facet if complex or detailed designs are involved, the cost of the machine and some consumables; also is the length of training time and the preparation time required in pre-cooking and pre-processing of materials.

Source

Design: What Sets Apart Metal 3D Printing Part Two

Read Part One

Applications and Companies

Traditional metal part fabrication has many constraints. Fortunately, there is 3D metal printing design to optimize a part’s functionality and reduce material, time, and cost. As metal 3D printing can create parts within parts, engineers can design a complex assembly in one piece. There are many metals and high-performance alloys available for 3D printing with some exclusive to 3D printing. From a wide range of stainless steels for hardness and strength to titaniums that are biocompatible and lightweight, the list includes cobalt cromes, alumiums, nickel-based alloys, gold, silver, platinum, copper, and more. Let us look at the top applications for metal 3D printing and which companies are 3D printing with metal.

Spare & Obsolete Parts

Metal 3D printing is extending the lifespan of discontinued equipment and expanding repair possibilities for many obsolete machines. 3D printing technology can not only produce a spare part when no part exists, but even improve upon the part, often reducing weight and the amount of material used. Companies that turned to metal 3D printing for spare parts: Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Deutsche Bahn, and the U.S. Marine Corp.

Surgical & Dental Implants

The medical device category of metal 3D printing applications is huge in scope and in volume. Metal 3D printing in healthcare is number one. In dental labs, 3D printing final metal stainless steel implants as tooth replacements is growing. The number of 3D printed metal parts that can be implanted into the human body is also huge. From bone replacements to cranial implants to vascular stents, the essential benefits of 3D printed body parts are customization and unique form.

Surgeons are helping drive a movement toward made-to-order implants customized for a patient’s unique needs. Companies that turned to metal 3D printing for implants: Swift Dental Group in the UK, Stryker, one of the world’s leading medical technology companies, Toughware Prosthetics, Colorado, USA, Graft3D Healthcare Solutions in Chennai, India, AK Medical orthopedic implants, China.

Jewelry & Decorative Arts

Jewelers turn to 3D printing with plastics for investment casting patterns, cheaper and faster to produce than traditional methods. 3D printing with precious metals is less popular. Competition is growing among online print-to-order service bureaus, and prices are going down. Artists and jewelers use the technology to print final pieces out of precious metals. Complex and delicate geometric designs, not possible through traditional methods, enable jewelers to offer unique and bespoke creations. Companies that turned to metal 3D printing for jewelry: Arlid Links, a cutting-edge boutique jewelry company, and Brazilian jewelry designer, Veronica Nunes with 3D printing service bureau Star Rapid.

Source

Design: What Sets Apart Metal 3D Printing Part One

Applications and Companies

Traditional metal part fabrication has many constraints. Fortunately, there is 3D metal printing design to optimize a part’s functionality and reduce material, time, and cost. As metal 3D printing can create parts within parts, engineers can design a complex assembly in one piece. There are many metals and high-performance alloys available for 3D printing with some exclusive to 3D printing. From a wide range of stainless steels for hardness and strength to titaniums that are biocompatible and lightweight, the list includes cobalt cromes, alumiums, nickel-based alloys, gold, silver, platinum, copper, and more. Let us look at the top applications for metal 3D printing and which companies are 3D printing with metal.

Low-Volume & Specialty Part

Low-volume and specialty part is the largest and broadest category of applications for metal 3D printing, everything from high-end bicycle frames to specialty robotic parts. Companies choose 3D printing where advanced engineering software provides a better, more efficient part design that can only be produced by 3D printing. Also, 3D printing is a faster and more efficient solution when a specialty metal part requires additional metal tools to create the part along with additional processes, like welding or assembly. Companies that turned to metal 3D printing for low-volume and specialty parts: NASA, Grohe, bathroom fixture company, Ulterra, an oil and gas industry parts manufacturer, Boeing, Porsche, Nik Huber Guitars, and tool maker Eisenhuth.

Functional Metal Prototypes

Examples are golf clubs to door hinges, printing a metal prototype that functions exactly like the final machined metal part. It is another top application of metal 3D printing.
They are strong metal prototypes 3D printed in their final metal material that goes beyond look and feel. The product can be tested for usability, ergonomics, and manufacturability. Metal 3D printing requires no tooling, little machine setup, and production is faster so engineers can explore more designs in a shorter period of time. mCompanies that turned to metal 3D printing for prototypes: Lumenium, a Virginia-based company developing innovative internal combustion engines, and global kitchen and bath fittings manufacturer, ExOne.

Source

3D Printing and High-Speed Train Parts

A Solution for Safety-Critical Parts

Deutsche Bahn AG or DB is a German railway company, jointly owned by the Federal Republic. It is the second-largest transport company in the world and is the largest railway operator and infrastructure owner in Europe. Their European system of high-speed trains is renowned for their comfort and reliability. With its annual carriage of about 2 billion passengers, from time to time the system requires repair.

Take for example, last year two rail carriages needed repair, requiring a new secondary roll stop, a heavy steel component bolted to the underside of each passenger car that limits lateral play on tight curves to ensure safe cornering. It’s a critical part for safety, though the engineers are hesitant to change it. The difficulty is that it is not a regular service item but an accident repair component that is not in stock normally. Needed urgently though, the usual suppliers said that the minimum order was for four castings, will take ten months to deliver, and still have them machined traditionally. On top of these, huge money is required for initial tooling. This just wouldn’t work. So they turned, instead, to 3D printing.

DB’s Head of Additive Manufacturing decided to 3D-print the components using the WAAM process, teaming up with Gefertec, which manufactured the parts at its headquarters near Berlin. The lead-time was reduced by five months and the overall cost was 30% lower. Gerfertec’s unique technology is that many kilograms of metal can be deposited in a relatively short time. DB’s secondary roll stops are perfect for the rapid production of high-value metal parts in small quantities at a reduced cost.

Before DB could realize the completed part there was a lot of investigation, development and design of processes with them at the outset, as this is a safety-critical component. Once the WAAM route was taken, the original 10-month lead-time for castings was down to half. In reality, during reconstruction the process can be condensed into a matter of days, and that despite having to work with Covid-19 restrictions.
This only goes to show that when it comes to a manufacturing process that involves a lengthy lead-time of hard-to-machine material – whether cast, forged or billet – an economical solution, such as Gerfertec’s, may be a viable commercial alternative to subtractive machining.

Source