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A closer look at the 12 biggest 3D printing tech innovations of the first half of 2016 – 3ders.org (blog)

by • August 16, 2016 • No Comments

Aug 17, 2016 | By Alec
Has 3D printing advancement matured, or are we just catching glimpses of what is possible? Depending on where you are standing inside the 3D printing community, it’s a question that may be harsh to answer. Desktop 3D printing has pretty been criticized for being too slow and too limited in what it can do, while a few market specialists are saying that computer desktop FDM 3D printing devices have may aleager ‘peaked’ a year ago. Metal 3D printing devices relying on laser processs, meanwhile, have been deemed too expensive and too limited for widespread use. So is this it?
The short answer is no. If the initially half of 2016 is anything to go by, 3D printing as whole is just just getting begined. Just over the past few months, researchers of all over the world have pioneered technological breakthroughs that are of to alter production as we understand it. 3D printing is rapidly becoming bargain-priceder, quicker, additional accurate and additional open to new materials and applications than at any time preceding. From sizeable-scale defense turn it intoing to 3D printed microscopic metal circuits, it’s all becoming possible. At this rate, 3D printing is heading towards a golden age of turn it intoing. To illustrate just how rapidly the advancement has been changing, 3ders.org appears back at twelve of the sizeablest tech advancements of 2016.
2016 3D printing breakthrough #1: microscopic mass-production through 3D screen printing
To begin off this list, we are in fact going back in time to 1993, when the yett for 3D screen printing was initially patented. But this advancement by the Dresden-based Fraunhofer IFAM institute was just eager for primetime earlier this year, and takes 3D printing to an unprecedented tiny scale. Capable-bodied of mass turn it intoing micrometer geometries of a wide range of materials, 3D screen printing can be utilized to turn it into microprocesss for sectors such as energy and heat management, mechanical engineering, bioadvancement, electronics, and of course the car and aerospace industries. Fuel cell components, catalyst carriers, micromechanics, electrodes, implants, jewelry and other tiny light mass constructions are all on the agenda.


Most importantly, this 3D printing tech can be combined with a quite wide range of materials, of metals, ceramics, to glass and actually multi-materials, and it reaches insane speeds: up to 1.500.000 parts per year, with 7 million as a target goal. This harsh 3D screen printing tech relies on an opening between two sheets, through that materials are extruded. This can be stacked into layers just as any 3D printed material, and is sintered afterwards. But the big difference is that this screen movement allows for for quite exact structures (down to a possible structure dimensions of 60 µm), and does not require assist structures. Wall thickness can easily go down to the 50 micron range, turn it intoing this a quite potent advancement indeed. Once commercialized, 3D screen printing may lead the way towards microscopic mass production.
2016 3D printing breakthrough #2: ceramic 3D printing with SLA tech
Of course there’s nothing new of ceramic 3D printing, but at the beginning of the year Malibu-based HRL Laboratories revealed a technique that we had nat any time seen preceding: via a additional exact stereolithography technique to turn it into amazingly more detailed, sturdy and heat-resistant ceramic 3D prints. “We have a pre-ceramic resin that you can print like a polymer, and so you fire the polymer and it converts to a ceramic,” senior scientist Tobias Schaedler said at the time. “There is a few shrinkage involved, but it is actually quite uniform so you can predict it.”


This is a massive breakthrough for the reason ceramic has many attractive properties – actually yet these are in no way accomplished by FDM 3D printing. In fact, the material becomes quite susceptible to cracks and fractures as well, while just oxide ceramic materials with low melting points are already on the market. But through this SLA advancement, ceramic suddenly becomes a quite attractive engineering material with rad toughness and more detail levels. Even electron microscopy is utilized to ensure the final outcomes. Crucial components for airplanes, spacecraft and a wide range electromechanical processs can now thus be 3D printed in ceramic – perfect for the defense industry.
2016 3D printing breakthrough #3: Continuous Scaled Manufacturing at 90 inches per minute
But if Star Trek’s replicator advancement is your guide for 3D printing revolutions, appear no additional than Continuous Scaled Manufacturing (CSM) by Idaho-based beginup Continuous Composites. This groundbreaking technique can rapidly 3D print and cure various types of fibers, metals and plastics simultaneously to form conclude, functional parts at a moment’s notice. Aleager open to carbon fiber, Kevlar, fiberglass, fiber optics, and copper while via up to 16 various extruders at once, this advancement already 3D prints with speeds of up to 90 inches a minute in free space. In the next, the company is actually aiming at 1,200 inches a minute.



Most importantly, the molecular bonds turn it intod with through their curing processs ensure that each part is insanely sturdy. This paves the way for a wide range of new 3D printing applications, of intelligent IoT devices with embedded copper wires to aerospace and car parts and actually custom-woven ballistics armor. Continuous Composites is already validating their advancement and is appearing at commercialization options.
2016 3D printing breakthrough #4: 3D printed membranes for water purification
But not all of 2016’s advancements are rock solid. For Penn State researchers have turn it intoed a custom 3D photolithographic process much like to stereolithography to 3D print micro-patterned anion exchange membranes. The membranes, patterned for improved performance, may be utilized in fuel cells and batteries and for water purification, desalination, and heavy metal particle removal. This astonishing breakthrough was published in a paper in the ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces journal.

Of course such membranes may aleager exist, yet these are usually flat and smooth. But through 3D printing, ion import qualities can be improved and a variety of functions can be inyeted into the membranes. Whilst may aleager possible with laborious etching processes, 3D printing is much quicker and yields great outcomes. According to tests carried out on the 3D printed membranes, the patterns in addition helped to increase conductivity by a factor of two to three. The Penn State team is already working to optimize the 3D geometries while in addition experimenting with new materials. If good outcomesful, a whole new engineering avenue may be opened up.
2016 3D printing breakthrough #5: NASA’s circuit boards turn it intod with aerosol jet 3D printing
Of course NASA can nat any time be absent of such a list and their aerosol jet 3D printing (direct-write turn it intoing) breakthrough for circuit boards and detector assemblies is unquestionably groundbreaking. As it can be a massive challenge to pack all necessary electronic components onto a circuit board, it can be better to print the board pretty than piece its individual components together. That, in a nutshell, is what NASA engineers of the Goddard Space Flight Center are already working on.

Their answer? Aerosol jet 3D printing, that turn it intos these electronic board assemblies in as little as two days and that can be much additional harsh and consistent than conventional assemblies. Instead of extruding plastic, this 3D printing tech fundamentally uses carrier gas and print heads to deposit a exactly regulated aerosol turn it intod of metal particles, which include silver, gold, platinum, or aluminum. With droplets of just 10 microns wide, it’s amazingly accurate and can turn it into quite tiny, dense and seemingly not easy geometries on just of at any timey surface. Whilst yet in an investigative phase, NASA is confident that they can be able-bodied to print antennas, wiring harnesses, and other hardware directly onto spacecraft in the near next.
2016 3D printing breakthrough #6: The all-in-one casting and forging metal 3D printing device
But industrial 3D printing is not just of the tiny scale, as a team of Chinese researchers of the Huazhong University of Science proved earlier this year with the Micro Forging & Casting Sync Composite Device. This groundbreaking all-in-one casting and forging metal 3D printing device combines metal 3D printing, casting and forging in a single massive device (5.5 × 4.2 × 1.5 m turn it into platform), and turn it intos high high end parts while eliminating excess material waste and reducing equipment costs. What’s additional, it does so with a range of standard metals which include titanium alloy (for defense applications) and steel (for use in nuclear power stations).

This truly astonishing 3D printing device, masterminded by professor Zhang Haiou, thus offers an alternative to both laser 3D printing and conventional turn it intoing techniques. What’s additional, the outcomes are great: the finished parts showcase great durablity and toughness properties, an improved product lifecycle, and higher reliability. According to its turn it intoers, the advancement can actually be utilized to turn it into thin-walled metal structures with a surface roughness of 0.02 mm—the level of general machining processing. It is in no way surprising that the Chinese defense industry may aleager adopted the Micro Forging & Casting Sync Composite Device for airplane part turn it intoment.
2016 3D printing breakthrough #7: Mars-bound SSS 3D printing by USC professor Behrokh Khoshnevis
But so far 2016 has not just been of our planet, as numerous 3D printing advancements that can assist NASA’s Mission to Mars have in addition been turn it intoed. Head and shoulders above the rest is Selective Separation Sintering (SSS) by aerospace engineering specialist and University of Southern California professor Behrokh Khoshnevis. This breakthrough 3D printing process relies on materials readily discovered on the surface of Mars, and is a affordable and widely applicable-bodied solution that brings Mars so much nearer to home.


In a nutshell, SSS 3D printing is a powder-based method for turn it intoing tinyer objects, such as bricks or interlocking tiles, but can in addition be utilized for additional functional objects such as metallic components. Featuring a robotic fabrication process that uses high melting-point ceramics, such as magnesium oxide (quite common on Mars and the moon), and planetary soil, it is perfect for objects with high heat and pressure resistance properties. “SSS is the just powder-based process that can effectively work in zero gravity condition and as such it is yettl for use in the ISS for fabrication of spare parts and tools,” Khoshnevis said.
But aside of being open to conditions in space, SSS is just a quite great 3D printing advancement too. It functions at a quite high speed, does not require any expensive laser or electron beam technologies, and pretty rivals (or exceeds) existing technologies in terms of accuracy. Most importantly, it’s far bargain-priceder than launching existing parts to Mars, turn it intoing this a crucial advancement for the new renaissance of space exploration.
2016 3D printing breakthrough #8: FJIRSM’s new resin 3D printing speed record of 600mm/h
Despite these game-changing advancements, the initially half of 2016 has remained comparable-bodied to 2015 in at very least one respect: speed is yet the name of the game. Whilst 2015 saw a new 500mm/h. record being set by Carbon3D’s CLIP resin 3D printing tech, Chinese researchers of the Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter (FJIRSM, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences) may aleager broke that record earlier this year. Building on CLIP’s 3D printing advancement, a team led by Ling WenXiong set a new record of 600mm/h – allowing them to ‘pull’ 60mm high 3D objects of a resin tank in just six minutes. In contrast, many conventional SLA 3D printing devices require at very least 10 hours to do so.


To set this new record, the Chinese team fundamentally improved on CLIP’s approach, that relies on a resin tank with a window for UV light and a ‘dead zone’ that confirms that the rest of the resin wont solidify. In contrast, the FJIRSM researchers introduced a semi-permeable-bodied transparent element to the bottom of the resin tank that is fixed to the illumination path of the light source. This semi-permeable-bodied transparent element has a higher-than-average oxygen transmittance rate, and therefore allows for additional oxygen or air to be utilized as a curing inhibitor, widening the ‘dead zone’ and practuallyting the 3D object of attaching to the window.
Through this improved tank create, this high-speed, continuous additive turn it intoing method can reach printing speeds of up to 600mm per hour (1 cm per minute) or additional. As time is money, it’s a breakthrough that can manufacture resin 3D printing as a whole additional efficient and cost-effective.
2016 3D printing breakthrough #9: the taming of glass with 6-axis glass-printing
This 6-axis glass-printing was in fact revealed in late December 2015. But for its good outcomes at turn it intoing glass 3D printable-bodied, this advancement unquestionably merited an inclusion on this list. Developed by Virginia Tech, the Rhode Island School of Design and the Collaborative Glass Robotics Laboratory, it is fundamentally a quite roboticized 3D printing device setup that concludely integrates the odd properties of molten glass by learning of the age-old craft of glass blowing.


So how does it work? Whilst many 3D printing setups move the extruder in specific patterns, 6-axis glass-printing in fact uses computational create and robotics to move the turn it into plate in specific patterns to catch the long strands of molten glass. Objects are thus created by stacking the strands as they solidify. Whilst the outcomes are bit crude, it turn it intos hitherto not easy geometries turn it intod of glass. Whilst not yet eager for commercial use due to a low resolution, it pretty paves the way towards the industrial 3D printing of a quite widely utilized construction material.
2016 3D printing breakthrough #10: 3D printable-bodied inks turn it intod of metals and affordable rust
At times, it actually appears as yet 2016 is the year in that all 3D printing conventions are thrown out of the window. This is perfectly illustrated by a team of Northwestern engineers, who removed all lasers and electron beams of the metal 3D printing equation. Instead, they chose a easy syringe-extrusion technique – much like an FDM 3D printing device. But unlike a computer desktop contraption, they are 3D printing inks turn it intod of metal particles and are turn it intoing harsh and additional uniform architectures than previously possible with metal. Most importantly, it’s bargain-priceder and faster than conventional metal 3D printing.


At its core, this ink-bed 3D printing approach uncouples the two-step process of printing the structure and and so fvia its layers. Instead, they are rapidly extruding room-temperature inks turn it intod of (a mixture of) metal powders, solvents and a binder. It actually works with metal oxides, or rust – quite bargain-priced, lightmass and stable-bodied. Once extruded, the liquid inks solidify instantaneously as each layer fuses with the last, allowing sizeable objects to be rapidly turn it intod and, since they haven’t yet been heated, immediately handled. A furnace is finally utilized for sintering, creating quite sturdy bonds that are perfect for industrial applications, such as 3D printed batteries, solid-oxide fuel cells, medical implants and a whole lot additional. Who requires a laser?
2016 3D printing breakthrough #11: freeform microscopic metal laser-DIW3D printing
But lasers are not concludely outdated, as a team of Harvard researchers proved with their freeform microscopic metal 3D printing solution, that is perfect for turn it intoing harsh electronics for the customizable-bodied electronics of in the future. This rad technique was turn it intoed by researchers led by Professor Jennifer A. Lewis, and relies on modified
direct ink writing (DIW) 3D printing techniques. It fundamentally combines the patterning and annealing processes of metal production in a single step, via an extruder and laser process that can move along the x, y and z axes. Combined with a rotary turn it into platform, it allows for for ‘on-the-fly’ free-form creation of microscopic metal structures.


Not just are the outcomeant structures far additional harsh than other tiny-dimensions 3D printed metal designs, but they are in addition inexpensive to turn it into thanks to the high annealing speed. Hemispherical shapes, spiral motifs and a lot additional harsh geometries are easily accomplished – actually decorative butterflies turn it intod of wires narrower than a hair’s width (anywhere of <1 µm to 20 µm in dimensions) are possible. Furtheradditional, the patterned structures are great conductors, rivaling the properties of bulk silver. This paves the way for a massive amount of commercial turn it intoing possibilities, especially when it comes to customizable-bodied electronic wearable-bodieds.
2016 3D printing breakthrough #12: FluidFM 3D printingfor microscopic assist-free metal objects
But Harvard is not the just institute working on microscopic 3D printing, as a new Swiss advancement called FluidFM micro 3D printing takes metal turn it intoing to an actually tinyer scale. This patent-pending advancement is the brainchild of ETH Zurich, and is already being expanded upon by spin-off beginup Cytosurge. In a nutshell, FluidFM allows for for the 3D printing of quite harsh microscopic geometries without the require of assist structures. And here tiny quite means tiny; the aperture of the print-head alone is just 300 nanometres in dimensions (500 times tinyer than the diameter of a human hair).


Whereas existing 3D microprinting processes on such a scale require pre-turn it intod assist structures, FluidFM does not require any at all. With this technique, the forces acting on the tip of the 3D printing pipette can be measured via the deflection of the leaf spring on that the micropipette is mounted. These measurements can and so be utilized as signal feedback and as project turn it intoer Luca Hirt suggests, “unlike other 3D printing processs, ours can detect that areas of the object have may aleager been printed. This can manufacture it simpler to additional automatize
and scale the printing process.”
As a outcome, assist-free and quite harsh metal geometries can be turn it intod relatively rapidly. Today focvia on 3D printable-bodied copper sulphate, the Swiss specialists say that the same principle can be applied to other metals and probably actually polymers and composite materials. Whilst yet under turn it intoment, FluidFM 3D printing is expected to become a massive hit in the semiconductor and medical industries, one of others. If 2016 has proved anything, it’s that microscopic 3D printing has finally become a turn it intoing reality.

Posted in 3D Printing Technology

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