As inventive and imaginative as 3D printer technology is, so are the materials that R&D labs have come up with to build parts, including conductive thermoplastics.
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Daimler may be the first vehicle maker to offer 3D-printed replacement parts, but racing enthusiasts and car collectors like Jay Leno have been using additive manufacturing and 3D scanning for many years to replace worn-out parts or to enhance their rides.
Scientists at Rice University (Houston) are smashing tiny silver cubes into a hard target in order to make these metallic microcubes ultrastrong and tough by rearranging their nanostructures upon impact.
There’s an old saw that if bumblebees were aeronautical engineers they would know they can’t fly. Quite apart from the miracle of their flight, bees also happen to make a lightweight structure of surprising strength, just the sort of thing you’d want if you were building aircraft: honeycomb.
Sometimes succession of a family business from one generation to the next doesn’t always go as planned. Take, for example, Laser Specialists Inc. (Fraser, MI). Incorporated in 1986, the company was positioned at the forefront of laser cutting technology.
Sales of cars and light trucks plummeted during the Great Recession and General Motors Co. and Chrysler emerged from government-back bankruptcies in 2009. Since then, total industry deliveries have surged, hitting a record 17.47 million in 2015, according to Autodata Corp.
Even though it’s been around since the 1950s, when engineering-grade resins were first introduced, many manufacturers still are not familiar with the many benefits that metal-to-plastic conversion provides.
When you walk into the Redeye On Demand facility in Eden Prairie, MN, you enter into one version of the factory of the future. There you will see a bank of 100 high-end Fortus fused-deposition modeling (FDM) machines from Stratasys that provide the capacity to build real, functional parts with production-grade thermoplastics directly from CAD data.
Materials researcher Metalysis Ltd. (South Yorkshire, UK) recently announced that it has developed a new synthesized graphene material that holds potential for future industrial production. Metalysis, which is focused on commercializing its proprietary electrochemical metal-powder manufacturing technology, said its R&D successfully produced graphene using the company’s own process.
When Desktop Metal introduced its “office-friendly” Studio metal prototype printer earlier this year, the company renewed attention on the issue of safer materials for binder jetting, an additive manufacturing method.