Did You Know?

3D Printed Objects Can Now Have Gloss

Name Your Finish: With Gloss or Without

While 3D printers can reproduce objects of varying shapes, designs and colors, a glossy finish is still a challenge to be hurdled. 3D printing hardware cannot provide that shiny appearance as it isn’t designed to deal with the different viscosities of the varnishes that give surfaces a glossy or matte look.

MIT researchers provide the solution to this situation. They have developed a combined hardware and software printing system that uses ordinary varnishes to finish objects with realistic gloss patterns.

In what applications could this solution be useful? It might be used to faithfully reproduce fine art, and also help create more realistic-looking prosthetics. This is a step toward visually perfect 3D printing.

What gives a surface glossiness? Glossiness is a measure of how much light is reflected from a surface. For example, a mirror is very light reflective and has a high gloss surface. Varnishes that lend a glossy finish tend to be less viscous and to dry into a smooth surface. Concrete has a low gloss or matte surface which is unreflective. Varnishes that lend a matte look are more viscous, with large polymers that protrude randomly from the surface when dried and they absorb light. You may have a rough surface.

The problem is that the channels and nozzles of 3D printers are not designed for viscous fluids that can clog easily as they are small and narrow. To reproduce a surface with spatially varying gloss is labor-intensive. A realistic-looking 3D printed object will have high gloss areas and matt finish in others. A 3D printer cannot be instructed to produce a matte finish in one area, or a glossy finish in another. So the MIT team invented one.

They designed a printer with large nozzles that can deposit varnish droplets of varying sizes through a needle valve. A variety of droplet sizes is achieved by controlling the reservoir pressure and the speed of the needle valve’s movements. The more varnish released, the larger the droplet deposited; ditto with the speed of the droplet’s release. Halftoning is used to achieve spatially varying gloss. Discrete varnish droplets are arranged in patterns that appear like a continuous surface. The printer uses just three varnishes – glossy, matte, and one in between. The liquids have their preprogrammed halftoning pattern so the printer can yield continuous, spatially varying shades of glossiness across the printing surface.

The MIT team produced a software pipeline to control the printer’s output that depends on the user’s desired gloss pattern. The printer runs a calibration and based on the reflectance, it determines the proper halftoning pattern to use on the final print job. The team plans to continue developing the hardware for use on fully-3D objects.


New 3D Printing Alloy Has Great Potential for Aerospace Industry

Better Than Casting, No Cracking

When Alloyed, a UK-based digital design and manufacturing company, offered their high-temperature alloy ABD 900AM for aerospace applications, Honeywell decided to take notice. Honeywell is a leading aerospace manufacturer in Phoenix, Arizona that assessed the new alloy’s suitability for manufacturing and its mechanical properties, and determined that it had great potential for high-temperature applications. Even though that ABD 900AM could not yet be considered to replace traditional high-temperature materials made by casting, as traditional materials had better oxidation capabilities, the new alloy had other advantages.

ABD 900AM, in its ‘as printed’ and ‘post-weld’ conditions, showed no part cracking, and exhibited superior mechanical properties in tensile and low-fatigue cycle tests. It provides high performance and long-term stability in working temperature ranges up to 900°C. It welds and fuses extremely well, particularly when compared with other high-temperature nickel alloys.

Currently available metal additive manufacturing processes have not yet performed as well. So there is a need to be met and Alloyed seems to be at the forefront. For the aerospace industry, high- temperature applications are found in jet-propulsion systems, turbine discs, heat shields, heat exchangers, and engine components. It typically uses nickel (Ni) alloys such as IN738, IN713 and MarM247. However, due to their chemistry, these alloys are incompatible with welding techniques. They do not respond well to rapid thermal gradient changes and it is virtually impossible to control the amount of cracking during welding. Hence, casting with low cooling is used generally.

Honeywell was not the only aerospace firm that looked into Alloyed’s processes. There were also collaborations with NTT XAM in Japan, to advance metal-AM in that country, and with Germany-based Taniobis, a manufacturer of high performance tantalum and niobium powders, to develop titanium and refractory alloy powders for metal-am. Alloyed also offers nine different special alloys for aerospace applications using metal AM. This year, Alloyed’s Alloy-by-Design (ABD) platform and digital metal solutions had funding that raised £10.7million as equity.

The development of alloys in a new direction is set in motion by Alloyed’s unique ABD computational software platform. It allows for the identification, optimization, and development of high-performance, custom alloys for use in metal-AM solutions across industries and not just in aerospace, but also in automotive, energy, and biomedical.


Formlabs Launches New, High-Performance 3D Printing Materials

New Materials for Optimal 3D Printed Products

Formlabs is a 3D printing technology developer and manufacturer based in Somerville, Massachusetts. A decade in the business, Formlabs develops and manufactures 3D printers and related software and consumables. It continues to expand its portfolio by introducing new materials and recently launched two new versatile, proprietary materials for engineering and manufacturing applications. These are a reformulation of its existing Draft Resin, for quick design iterations and prototypes as well as dental products, and Rigid 10K Resin, which provides high resistance and stiffness for engineering and manufacturing purposes. They can print parts from initial design to the final, high-performance end product.

The new formulation Draft Resin comes in a new grey color. It can print parts up to four times faster than other available resins, while improving quality without losing accuracy. It can also 3D print eight models in an hour and a half, much faster than standard Formlabs Grey Resin, which does the same under 10 hours. It features a better surface finish with improved post-processing requirements, as support removal and wash and cure times. It’s good for fast design iterations, initial prototyping, high throughput jobs, and live 3D printing demos. It’s a great choice for product design, manufacturing, and engineering.

This Draft Resin can also be used for dental and orthodontic applications. In less than 20 minutes, it can print aligner and retainer models on site. It is best for orthodontic practices, like in chairside printing or same-day delivery. The large-format Form 3BL printer can be used to print over 95 dental models a day.

The new Rigid 10K Resin is the stiffest material in the Formlabs range, and can simulate glass or fiber-filled thermoplastics, featuring a smooth matte surface finish. Due to its high strength and resistance to chemicals, heat, and high pressure, it’s a good choice for precise industrial parts that can stand huge loads without bending or breaking, as well as fluid-exposed components, jigs, and fixtures, and molds. The material is strong and stiff, ideal for aerodynamic test models and short run injection mold masters and inserts.

Some companies that have utilized the Rigid 10K Resin vouched for its high level performance, that it can print complex forms accurately. It can also make the injection molding workflow more efficient, saving the companies manufacturing time and money.


Boeing Qualifies Startasys’ High-Performance Material for 3D Printing

Recognizing High-Performance Materials

It is well-known that Boeing, the aerospace manufacturer giant, has been aggressively using additive manufacturing in their craft designs and processes. Recently, the company has qualified 3D printer OEM Stratasys’ Antero 800NA thermoplastic filament for their flight parts. Hence, the filament can now be used to manufacture end use components aboard its planes.

What is the Antero 800NA filament?

The Antero 800NA is a high-performance PEKK-based polymer. It is designed specifically for Stratasys’s industrial-grade FDM 3D printers (ex. F900 and the Fortus 450mc). The combined excellent mechanical and low outgassing properties of PEKK with the design freedom of FDM 3D printing is a beneficial proposition.

A high-performance polymer is also called high-temperature plastic or high-performance thermoplastic. They are different from other types of plastic. They are distinguished by their temperature stability and their mechanical properties. They are often chosen for applications requiring good chemical resistance, performance at high temperatures, low coefficient of friction and high strength. They are used in many demanding applications across different industries such as oil and gas, nuclear, chemical, and aerospace. High-performance plastics include: PTFE, PCTFE, PEKK, PEEK, PFA, FEP, ETFE, ECTFE, PPS, and PES.

The Antero 800NA has a tensile strength of 93MPa and an elongation at break of 6%. The high strength, heat and chemical resistance, toughness, and wear resistance of the filament make it an excellent alternative to metals such as aluminum for aerospace applications.

Stratasys says that Boeing has recognized the beneficial use of the Antero polymer to meet applications that couldn’t have been 3D printed before. Additive manufacturing is ideal for simplifying aerospace supply chains both in original equipment and the maintenance, repair and operations (MRO). After extensive testing, Boeing has now added Antero 800NA to its Qualified Products List (QPL). It is the first of Stratasys’ materials to be qualified for its chemical and fatigue resistance capabilities.

Boeing has become increasingly involved with various additive manufacturing technologies and materials as a result of technological advancements in the industry. This is just one of the recent mutually beneficial partnerships that bodes well for the industry and the general public safety.


New 3D Printing Material That’s Tough and Water-Soluble

Reducing Post-Production Costs

AquaSys 180 is an innovation created by Infinite Material Solutions, itself an award-winning innovator of 3D printing materials and material design based out of Prescott, Wisconsin. The company’s aim is to build material solutions and processes that redefine the manufacturing industry. AquaSys is a filament family that is not a printing material itself but a printing material support. It has made its official launch just recently. It is a breakthrough product because this printing material support is water-soluble .

How will this unique product benefit the industry?

Did you know that much of the cost of a 3D printed part can come from post-processing tasks that can be time-wasting? Support materials can cut down most of the tasks involved.

There are traditional support filaments in the market but they don’t provide the optimal support manufacturers need. If you are producing complex geometries, there is the added difficulty when you break away the supports. There are a lot of water-soluble materials but they can’t stand up to the temperatures required to support engineering-grade build materials.

AquaSys filaments are designed to meet the rigorous demands of advanced additive manufacturing applications. They make 3D printing easier, faster, more cost-effective, and more viable as a method for creating end-use parts with desirable thermoplastics.

They have a high-performance stability, thriving in higher temperatures than any other water-soluble support material. That translates to high-quality, warp-free parts with more materials than ever before. They dissolve quickly, enable complex designs, and leave behind a smooth finish; thereby reducing post-processing time. All that is needed is tap water, no harsh chemicals are required. They’re also safe to use, and generally safe to discharge in most waste-water systems.

When the company introduced AquaSys 120 in 2018, it was the first water-soluble support compatible with popular build materials such as ABS. AquaSys 180 is poised to attract a larger audience, especially within the aerospace and automotive industries which produce end-use parts made from PEI or PEEK.

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