Top News from Leading Digital Manufacturing Solution Providers
January 15, 2013
A Brief History of 3D Printing
As we witness the rise of 3D printing, one particular application has proven exceptionally useful: metal printing. Most recently, we reported on NASA's selective metal melting (SLM) method for manufacturing complex rocket engine components, helping to unlock the doors to a future of interstellar travel.
But in order to appreciate the promise of 3D metal printing, we must consider the significant bounds made in 3D printing in the past year alone, as it represents one of the fastest growing technologies today.
Despite numerous recent innovations, metal printing can trace its origins back to the 1880s, when welders used carbon electrode arcs to lay down metal beads. Since then we've developed electron beams and vacuum chambers, but the most important breakthrough has arguably been the laser.
The first laser replaced the oxygen-acetylene torch for welding powdered metal, transforming a relatively crude technique for motor shaft reinforcement into a powerful and precise construction tool. Laser metal deposition welding is accomplished with a device that pipes a laser down through central bore that merges with a powdered metal feedstream at the device's tip. The laser then fuses the metal to the target surface. The process is illustrated in the following video, courtesy of Trumpf, the maker of one such device.
But the fastest metal printing process far and away is the deposition of a powder matrix containing binders. The binders melt to temporarily hold the metal powder before it is fused in a specialized oven.
One company that has jumped on the potential of this manufacturing process is Shapeways, which has allowed customers to implement custom designs, such as smartphone cases, at a relatively low cost. The only drawback is the weak magnetism of the stainless steel used by their process, which could be enough to damage certain electronics but not strong enough to offer additional utility. But if the direction of the additive manufacturing industry is any indicator, this roadblock too shall pass.
And what about the future? Two technologies could enable the production even higher resolution parts. Two-photon laser curing can pass through a material without reaction until it reaches a specially designed binder. Similarly, the femtosecond laser is transitioning from micromachining and corrective eye surgery to the additive manufacturing world, held back only by the expense of its sapphire crystal core.
But if we manage to 3D print the sapphire in question? Well, that could change everything.
Unlike traditional energy sources, wind is a trouble to tame, which has led GE to turn to advanced simulations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to put the technology on track to cover 12 percent of the world's energy production. Read more...
During today’s visit to Raleigh, North Carolina, President Obama came to North Carolina State University to announce the next manufacturing innovation institute. The “Next Generation Power Electronics Innovation Institute” will bring together six universities and 18 private-sector companies throughout the region to further drive research in next-generation power electronics. Read more...
As a part of President Obama's Material's Genome Initiative, many researchers have set their sights on developing materials the likes of which we've never seen. But engineers at Duke University are using supercomputers to back a materials project that aims to do just the opposite: find a metal that performs like platinum, but at a lower cost. Read more...
Jan 24, 2014 |
Local Motors, a vehicle innovator, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have announced a new partnership that they hope will bring change to the automotive industry. Read more...
Jan 22, 2014 |
A month ago, the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials (DRC) commenced. The main goal of the event was to aid in the development of robots that will someday respond to natural or even man-made disasters. At this year’s DRC, prototype robots from 16 teams were put through a series of trials in which they were to showcase their skills. Read more...
Jan 17, 2014 |
Engineers at the University of Texas at Arlington have developed a new technology that could come in handy when electronic devices run out of power. Their idea stems from a source of power generation that we are all familiar with; windmills. Read more...
Jan 15, 2014 |
With the NFL playoffs drawing to a close, the four final teams are willing to do whatever it takes to defeat their opponent and make it to the Super Bowl. While the players on these teams are some of the best athletes in the world, at some point they must... Read more...
Jan 09, 2014 |
At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada, NVIDIA announced that it’s Tegra K1 mobile processor will be used in autonomous cars of the future. Currently being utilized by the world’s top ten energy-efficient computers, the Tegra K1 has already gained attention in the HPC community. Read more...
07/30/2013 | IBM | This white paper examines various means of adapting technical computing tools to accelerate product and services innovation across a range of commercial industries such as manufacturing, financial services, energy, healthcare, entertainment and retail. No longer is technically advanced computing limited to the confines of big government labs and academic centers. Today it is available to a wide range of organizations seeking a competitive edge.
06/25/2013 | Intel | The UberCloud HPC Experiment has achieved the volunteer participation of 500 organizations and individuals from 48 countries with the aim of exploring the end-to-end process employed by digital manufacturing engineers to access and use remote computing resources in HPC centers and in the cloud. This Compendium of 25 case studies is an invaluable resource for engineers, managers and executives who believe in the strategic importance of applying advanced technologies to help drive their organization’s productivity to perceptible new levels.