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.
Less than a decade after the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) gave the greenlight on autonomous vehicle research, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has driven self-driving cars closer to reality, demonstrating that it’s not a question of if driverless cars will grace our highways and backroads, but when. Read more...
At this year’s Supercomputing conference, Ohio made its mark with a $6.4 million public-private initiative designed to bring high performance computing (HPC) to manufacturers of all sizes—particularly to those small-to-medium-sized companies for which the technologies are cost-prohibitive. Read more...
A consortium of 45 partners have assembled in Europe with the hope of fortifying the international manufacturing marketplace through modeling and simulation tools. After an initial phase of closed testing led by the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC), the new HPC cloud project is opening its doors. Read more...
Dec 05, 2013 |
Back in July, Curiosity, NASA’s Mars rover, began a 5.3 mile journey to Mount Sharp, a 3.4 mile-high mountain in the Gale Crater. However, in late October, the rover completed a two-day drive all on its own thanks to Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute and their autonomous navigation software. Read more...
Dec 04, 2013 |
On September 2, 2013, the EU project titled “LIAA” was set in motion. With the project, scientists will help to develop robotic systems and applications that will be used for assembly in manufacturing, and in doing so help humans and robots to better work together. Read more...
Nov 26, 2013 |
Siemens Industry Software India (SISW) has signed an agreement with the Government of Gujarat’s Ministry of Industries and Mines to launch five Centers of Excellence (COEs) in the state. These centers will specifically be aimed at skill development in higher education. 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.