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Blast Off to the Future: RAPID 2014







By Sarah A. Webster
Editor in Chief

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, continues to revolutionize the manufacturing industry, and there are now more machines, technologies and materials on the market to support layer-by-layer building than ever before -- including for volume production.

That is according to several speakers who addressed a packed atrium at Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit on Monday afternoon as part of RAPID 2014, which is being held in conjunction with SME's inaugural THE BIG M show, which is focused on advanced manufacturing technologies that are shaping the future.

Todd Grimm, President of T.A. Grimm & Associates, reviewed a laundry list of new machines on the market, or expected to be soon, that perform additive manufacturing with an array of known and all-new techniques, sometimes in conjunction with other traditional manufacturing processes, such as milling.

Todd Grimm

In addition to new machines from well-known additive machine makers, such as 3D Systems, EOS, Materialise and Stratasys, for example, Grimm highlighted a hybrid additive-subtractive machine from DMG MORI, as well as a new machine called the Freeformer by Arbug. That German machine maker uses APK to build objects layer by layer. Essentially, the Freeformer machine uses standard plastic pellets used in injection molding, in a standard hopper, and extrudes them through a nozzle with multi-axis motion that taps the material into place. The workpiece uses no support structure, but rather is built on a table that moves in concert with the nozzle head in a way to build challenging angles and dimensions.

Grimm also highlighted a Markforg3d Mark One that sells for about $5,000 and builds with carbon fibers embedded in a thermoplastic matrix.

Another keynote speaker, Lonnie Love, Senior Research Scientist with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, championed all the developments with additive manufacturing, and while he noted the challenges that must be confronted as the additive manufacturing sector grows, he did so with the enthusiasm of a scientist faced with an intriguing  problem to solve. He said questions must be answered about the energy use of AM versus traditional techniques, porosity or density of AM products and the Z-strength of AM-built objects.
"Carbon fiber is important to the future," he noted while discussing the strength of AM-built objects.

Lonnie Love

For those who work to answer these important AM questions, he noted, "There's tremendous opportunity."

Love also took the audience on a virtual tour through a turbine blade built with AM techniques, showing the capabilities the government has to assist manufacturers interested in pursuing 3D technologies.

Finally, he promoted a contest, the 3D Printed Car Design Challenge, being hosted by Local Motors as part of IMTS 2014, calling the project "insane" and also noting: "I've got a really cool job."


Published Date : 6/10/2014

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