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Great Potential of 3D Printing in Renewable Energy

GE: Making A Difference in The Wind

To combat the ever increasing threat of the global climate crisis, reducing greenhouse emissions is one of the means that has long been considered. The wind energy sector plays a significant role towards this end. However, knowing how time-consuming in manufacturing and fund-heavy wind turbines can be, much research is being poured into making them more affordable and eco-friendly. This is where additive manufacturing (AM) comes into the fore.

GE Renewable Energy is seriously considering this task with its ongoing efforts to improve wind turbine efficiency and performance with 3D printing. It is well aware of the benefits of the technology to the wind energy sector.

First of all, turbine blade tips, fabricated using 3D printing and thermoplastic composites, are lighter than conventional counterparts. This allows for larger rotors on turbines to generate more power, reduce the strain on the entire turbine, the wear and tear on its gearboxes, drivetrains, bearings, and foundation, and as well as lower lifecycle costs for turbine operators. Also, 3D printed blade tips could be melted down and recycled when they have run their course. The company aims to increase the competitiveness of their onshore and offshore wind energy sites by leveraging 3D printing to reduce manufacturing costs and improve supply chain flexibility.

Using AM will maximize the total amount of clean, renewable energy that can be generated, at the same time, lower the project’s carbon footprint by simplifying the manufacturing assembly processes and logistics, improving the durability and reliability of its products, and reducing the number of parts needing to be manufactured and transported from long distances.

Other benefits include time-to-market, 3D printing of molds for castings, more resilient, local, and robust supply chains, and high-quality consistency due to the technology’s automated and digitized nature. 3D printing paves the way for more efficient designs that can be customized to specific locations and applications.

GE aims to step up the energy transition by using sustainable design to maximize the environmental benefits for all stakeholders.


Eco-Friendly 3d Printing Ideas

If you have a really eco-friendly 3D printing idea, contact 3D Composites and let’s turn your dream into a reality.

Introducing a New Generation of Better Filaments

Better Than PLA

Filaments have always been used in the 3D printing industry. A thermoplastic, it is fed into FDM 3D printers to create 3D models.

There are many types of filaments each with special properties and uses. They vary in strength, flexibility, density, durability, and ease of printing, as well as differing in heat temperatures used. Since filaments can leave waste products, it is important they are biodegradable; however not all of them are.

A Czech manufacturer of filaments, Fillamentum, in collaboration with the Slovak University of Technology, has recently developed and showcased its first filament that is made up of entirely bio-renewable sources.

NonOlien has the following features and advantages that give it an edge over other available filaments:

  • It is completely biodegradable in domestic composting units within just 90 days
  • It can be recycled several times without loss of functional properties
  • It is primarily characterized by its high strength, toughness, and hardness
  • It is made from a blend of PLA and PHB for improved toughness and temperature resistance
  • It offers a temperature resistance of up to 110°C
  • It is as easy to print as PLA
  • It addresses the issues of sustainability and recyclability
  • It is ecologically-friendly because it does not leave behind microplastics
  • It decomposes about three times as fast as PLA due to the PHB component
  • It has a natural silk look, safe for food contact applications and is washable

Fillamentum has showcased its new NonOilen filament at the Expo 2020 in Dubai. The company claimed that their new product is a whole new generation of materials developed with sustainability and eco- friendliness even at the start of its inception.


Different Filaments For Different Uses

3D Composites uses a wide variety of filaments depending on your needs and specifications. If you have an idea for a 3D model, we have the options that will meet your needs.


What 3D Printing Is All About: A Beginner’s Guide

3D Printing Industry

3D printing is also known as “additive manufacturing” because every finished 3D printed product (if opened up sliced) is found to have thin layers of the printing material layed one of top of the other. They were added as such from the bottom-up by the extrusion nozzle of a 3D printer. The object is created from a digital file from a 3D model of it. The computer model is sliced into hundreds or thousands of layers and fed to the 3D printer.

What is the benefit of this system?

Traditional manufacturing is the old or usual way of manufacturing products, using, in contrast, subtractive manufacturing – removing parts of a block of material in order to create the desired shape. For example cutting wood or other materials. Additive manufacturing sees to it that even complex shapes can be created much more easily, uses less materials, and reduces time and wastage significantly. Parts and products can be printed on-site, hence, limiting transport needs. One-off items can be printed quickly and easily eliminating the burden of economies of scale. Products can be customized and redesigned as often as needed. 3D printing uses a variety of printing materials that are readily available – such as plastic, metal, powder, concrete, liquid, and others.

3D printing has been used in many applications and has impacted many industries, notably, the automotive industry, medical and healthcare, aerospace and construction. Others are manufacturing, architecture, design, education, entertainment and fashion.

Some of the most common examples that have been 3D printed came from a wide range of applications and many manufacturing settings. These products are airplane and spacecraft parts, car parts and accessories, running sneaker soles, mannequins and apparel, jewelries, body part prosthesis, robotics, furniture, small houses and buildings, as well as boats and bridges.

On the other hand, here are some examples or amazing, unusual and thought-provoking products: bones and muscles, including ovaries, bionic eyes, blood vessel networks, skin grafts, among others. Likewise, there’s food stuff like pizza, pastries and chocolates. Others are artificial coral reefs, replicas of archeological finds, sculptures, and more. Some homes have their own personal 3D printer that can pretty much churn up common, everyday items.


3D Printing with Graphene

Graphene is one of the most revolutionary materials ever developed. This carbon allotrope has attracted a lot of attention in the scientific community by combining some of the most desirable mechanical properties, including thermal stability, electrical conductivity, high strength, and an incredibly low weight. In fact, graphene has been found to be about seven times lighter than air.

For a long time, these attributes could only be found in graphene’s 2D form. However, with the help of 3D printing technology, this is changing. A group of researchers from the University of California Santa Cruz and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory managed to produce 3D graphene without losing any of its impressive properties. They managed this with the use of DIW 3D printing, with which they have already successfully created 3D graphene supercapacitors. In the future, this process could be used to revolutionize the manufacture of many products.

Indeed, 3D printing offers a number of impressive materials to help you achieve your manufacturing vision. Talk to our Seattle rapid prototyping company to learn more.


Making Possible High-Temperature 3D-Printing in Space

Repairing In Zero Gravity

A joint effort of engineer-researchers from the University of Sydney and University of Science and Technology of China is proving that under simulated orbital conditions, high-temperature 3D printing is possible. There is a lack of heat transfer in space, and systems that use high-temperature will in themselves overheat. However, they proved that using a new 3D printer they developed with special controllers, it can be realized.

Did you know that more than 2,500 satellites have been orbiting the Earth in the last 70 years? These satellites are vital for navigation and communication with Earth, they guide space missions, and provide imaging, scientific surveying, and others. If they fail they can impede operations, throw it off-course, and do damage to other satellites or vehicles by the debris they may discharge. Hence, they need servicing from time to time or as needed. This is accomplished via on-orbiting manufacturing, which is less expensive than rocket missions being launched from Earth with all their repair equipment.

However, the cost of on-orbit manufacturing is becoming more costly, forecasted to reach $6.2 billion by 2030. The researchers aim to reduce the cost in this area by highlighting the success of their 3D printing experiments. Using FDM 3D printing, it’s possible to produce PEEK satellite spares in-orbit. PEEK plastic is one of the most utilized thermoplastic materials in aerospace. A newly developed 3D printer with Proportional Integral (PI) controllers is able to operate at up to 400°C in a vacuum, making it ideal for future orbital repair missions.

Thermal Control

Their prototype FDM 3D printer with an upgraded thermal control is complete with heat bar, block, sink, strap, extruder and radiator. With increased heat straps between the device’s heat sink and radiator, the temperature of its central tube is more effectively controlled, while preventing melted filament backflow during material feeding. They also introduced a PI control system that acts as a failsafe device designed to kick in at temperatures of 380°C, enhancing the precision of its thermal control features, but also preventing overheating and risking repair errors.

This is one of additive manufacturing’s ambitious space applications. In the future, if their prototype printer can be successful in end-use applications, the team believes it could help reduce the cost and time of space exploration by conducting repairs that do not need additional mission launches.


Serving Aerospace For Decades

We have been serving the aerospace community for the last three decades. For prototyping and other 3D printing requirements, come to your trusted 3D printing company, 3D Composites.