Moving 3D Printing Platform could help cut Cost and Material Waste, opine researchers

3D printing can revolutionize product design is increasingly being accepted. The technology is potent to revolutionize the manufacture and design of products across a vast range of fields, including 3D printed dental products, customized consumer products, and bone and medical implants.

On the downside, 3D printing creates a large volume of expensive and unsustainable waste and is time-intensive, thus, making it difficult for the adoption of the technology on a large scale.

For example, for custom objects using 3D printer, especially unusually shaped ones, the technology needs to support printed stands to balance the object. This is because 3D printing involves layer-by-layer creation of the object that helps maintain its integrity. However, after printing, the supports need to be removed manually, which requires hand finishing that can result in surface roughness or shape inaccuracies. Moreover, the materials used to make the supports often cannot be reused, hence discarded, which contributes to the escalating problem of 3D printed waste material.

To address this, in a maiden attempt, researchers at the Viterbi Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, USC have fabricated a low-cost reusable support method. The effort carried out is to reduce the need for 3D printers for wasteful supports, thus, improving the cost-effectiveness and sustainability of 3D printing to a great extent.

Meanwhile, traditional 3D printing used Fused Deposition Modeling technique, which involves layer-by-layer printing directly on a static metal surface. Conversely, the new prototype of 3D printing uses a programmable, dynamically-controlled surface fabricated of moveable metal pins to replace the printed supports. In this arrangement, as the pins rise, the printer progressively constructs the product. The testing of the prototype revealed to have saved nearly 35% material to pint object, explained the lead researcher.

3D Printing yields advantages for Radar Technology, find researchers

In an effort to advance radar technology and enable its new applications for the U.S. naval forces, scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory, U.S. have developed and tested 3D printed antennas and arrays.

The newly developed 3D printed components make them attractive for a few features. Firstly, these are lightweight and their rapid production make them an attractive alternative to traditional manufacturing of antennas for radar technology. On top of this, traditional manufacturing of antennas for radar technology requires expensive materials and specialized equipment.

“In fact, 3D printing is useful in many ways. It allows to produce rapid prototypes and attain multiple design iterations very quickly and minimal cost,” said one of the research associates. Furthermore, the lightweight of 3D printed components also allow to take the technology for new applications, wherein heavy weight of solid metal parts was a restriction.

Meanwhile, radar systems perform critical functions for naval operations. For example, parts of antennas and arrays – which are multiple antennas connected to work together as one – may break unexpectedly or wear out to require replacement. Conventionally, broken or worn out parts are either ordered or machined intricately out of metal, which, sometimes may take several weeks to produce.

On the other hand, using 3D printing, components for radar technology such as cylindrical array  can be produced within hours that take several days using traditional methods. Importantly, cylindrical arrays produced using 3D provide a 360-degree visibility.

Besides production, 3D printing has other benefits too. The relatively low cost of 3D printing materials enables researchers to check multiple versions of components at minimal overhead. The improved prototypes can then be produced in machines using traditional methods.

Researchers Discovered a New Way of 3D Printing world’s strongest material Graphene

According to the new study, researchers have developed new ways to 3D print complex objects. These objects are used in battery and aerospace industries and are made of highest performing materials. Researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Virginia Tech have developed this innovative process. Prior to this research, the researchers could only print this material, known as graphene in 2D sheet or with basic structure. Now, the engineers from Virginia Tech are co-working on a project in which they use 3D print graphene objects. These objects are now used at a higher resolution and on greater magnitude that was never used before.

Graphene is one of the strongest material ever tested on Earth. It also possess high electricity and thermal conductivity, that is why it is highly desired in industries, including heat management, aerospace, batteries, separation, sensors, and catalysis.

Graphene is made up of single layer of carbon atom systematically arranged in a hexagonal grid. When graphene sheets are placed neatly on layered on each other and forms a three dimensional shape, it turns a graphite, most commonly used in pencils.

Director of the Advanced Manufacturing and Metamaterials Lab and an assistance professor of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering, Xiaoyu “Rayne” Zheng, said that designers could now design three-dimensional topology made up of graphene sheets.

He also added by saying, with the help of this novel design and manufacturing freedom will lead to optimization of conductivity, strength, mass transport, and weight density that aren’t attainable in graphene aerogel.

3D Printing Improves Healthcare in Drug Creation and Surgery Planning

A popular research firm has forecasted a 10.0% of the people living in the developed world to have 3D-printed items in or on their bodies by 2019. Furthermore, over a third of surgical procedures incorporating the use of implanted devices and prosthetics could involve 3D printing as a central tool. Another research company has estimated the 3D printing market to grow from a US$0.66 bn in 2016 to a US$1.21 bn by 2020. 3D printing in healthcare has been prognosticated to bear a transformative impact of the cloud or the World Wide Web. Besides organ models, 3D printers could be engaged in healthcare to produce human skin, drugs, prosthetics, hearing aids, and medical and dental implants.

3D Printing Now More Cost-efficient, Faster, and of Higher Quality

Mayo Clinic has arranged onsite printing laboratories in association with 3D printer makers such as Formlabs, 3D Systems, and Stratasys. Even Johnson & Johnson and General Electric Co. have dived into the trend of 3D printing. J&J has been focusing on a broad scope of materials that could be employed as an ink to print custom-made objects. GE, on the other hand, has been looking to translate images into 3D objects and focus on 3D printers.

Industrial 3D printers engaged by hospitals could be priced between a US$10,000 to US$400,000. Moreover, the hidden cost of operating 3D printers is prophesied to hinder the growth of the market. However, there could be valuable cost savings in other areas such as significant time reduction during surgeries, less waste and fewer middlemen in the supply chain, and no need for replacements due to the customized nature of implants created from 3D printers.