3D printing hits another milestone

Additive manufacturing also known as 3D printing is really starting to get amazing.  Several applications have started to impact how I do my job at the military aerospace level.

Firstly, 3D printing with metal that can be heat treated to high strength aerospace grade parts.

NASA recently used a technique called selective metal melting (SLM) with great success to build rocket motor components out of steel. NASA’s engineers have been able to produce parts with complex geometry only previously imagined, and with dimensional accuracy beyond that possible with traditional fabrication methods. http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/143552-3d-printing-with-metal-the-final-frontier-of-additive-manufacturing

The SLM process uses a high powered laser to fuse fine metal powders together layer by layer direct from CAD data to create functional metal parts. After each layer a powder re-coater system deposits a fresh layer of powder in thicknesses ranging from 20 to 100 microns. The SLM system uses commercially available gas atomized metallic powders to produce fully dense metal parts in materials including Titanium, Stainless Steel, Cobalt Chrome and Tool Steel. http://production3dprinters.com/slm/direct-metal-slm

Secondly, printing large complex structural components for aircraft composite bonded assemblies.

honeycombSandwich composites are innovative advanced materials. Adding a core between two facing skins increases stiffness dramatically over composite laminates while adding only a minimal amount of weight. Increasing the thickness of a sandwich composite part by a factor of two typically raises the stiffness by a factor of 12 and bending strength by a factor of 6.  Traditionally these cores have been fabricated flat and then bent and crushed to meet the complex profiles.  Going forward companies are looking to 3D print the ores with the profile and the honey comb cross section. This eliminates the potential for core crush and cell deformation while increasing the overall strength of the bonded panel. http://www.stratasys.com/~/media/Main/Files/Case%20Studies/Commercial/APAviradyneBusinessIndustrialEndUsePartsDDM.ashx


Additive manufacturing is or will be impacting just about every industry.  Here is a cool example I stumbled upon this week.  They are using 3D printed bone to repair a man’s skull.  Way Cool. http://urly.de/2c709

3-D printed skull

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