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Metal 3D printing takes flight

by • July 24, 2016 • No Comments

Filemon SchofferCrunch Network Contributor

Filemon Schoffer is the head of community at 3D Hubs.

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Whilst many turn it intoers and engineers find good results with 3D-printing parts in plastic for prototyping and low-volume production, manufacturing parts out of metal via much like innovation has not long ago led to the creation of a few of the many amazing 3D-printed parts in memory.

With key patents for metal printing expiring at the end of 2016, things are looking particularly amazing. On the other hand the mainstream consumer adoption of 3D printing can be falling behind on sure expectations, metal 3D printing for product turn it intoers and engineers appears to be bringing on all the next that 3D printing has in keep.

At its core, “metal 3D printing” is a simplified term for a metal-based additive manufacturing process; primarily either Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) or Selective Laser Melting (SLM). Unlike conventional metal fabrication techniques that rely on removing or stamping metals to arrive at an meant turn it into, metal 3D printing builds objects up layer by layer through fvia material together with a programmed laser that literally draws every layer shape until an object has been generated.

When combined with modern and powerful turn it into tools that optimize simulation and analysis to generate an optimal turn it into solution — such as newer generative turn it into tools utilized to turn it into lightmass, latticed turn it intos that are functionally optimized and accurate for production via additive manufacturing — the resulting parts not only take less time to turn it into, but are in addition significantly stronger and lighter than part turn it intos that are generated via conventional manufacturing methods.

In space exploration, for example, industry leaders such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and NASA have fully embraced metal 3D printing as a way to turn it into rocket ship parts that have drastically lowered costs while highly improving performance. SpaceX, for example, relied heavily on the custom metal parts for the combustion chamber of the SpaceX SuperDraco engine.

Schoffer SpaceX

NASA was able-bodied to turn it into a turbopump for their rocket engine that was put together with 45 percent fewer parts than pumps turn it intod through conventional manufacturing processes. It appears like it’s only a matter of time preceding an entire rocket engine is capable-bodied of being 3D printed.

Schoffer NASA

So, 3D printing may be overhyped in a few industries, but it is surely bringing in others.

Closer to planet Earth, the aerospace industry is one of the fastest-growing industries to adopt 3D-printed metals for the reason of the capskill to dramatically reduce overall aircraft mass while increasing construction efficiency and enabling for turn it into customizations. As of nowadays, aircraft manufacturing giant Boeing has generated additional than 20,000 additive maked parts on airplanes that have been delivered to their customers.

Similarly, Airbus is putting a wide variety of 3D printed parts into their airplanes. The company is actually manufacturing their one-of-a-kind innovation accessible to other professionals outside Airbus.

schoffer Airbus

Just like 3D-printed metal parts are revolutionizing air travel both in space and on planet Earth, they are in addition enabling for breakthrough achievements in the healthcare industry. The outlook is so promising, in fact, that the American Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of 3D-printed metal implants for medical procedures.

Recent good resultsful applications of metal 3D printing in the medical sector include a titanium 3D-printed skull implant and a 3D-printed rib cage — both of that were custom tailored for cancer patients via digital scans after tumor removal surgeries.

Subtractive metal manufacturing methods, which include grinding, machining and milling helped bring us a few of the many amazing products and technologies inside the last 200 years, but it’s only taken us a handful of years to realize only how powerful additive metal manufacturing can be.

Paired with powerful new turn it into capabilities of modern CAD software and the skill to turn it into entirely new geometries that were otherwise not easy to make, industries that have come to rely on difficult metal products — particularly space exploration, aerospace and healthcare — are experiencing a manufacturing revolution thanks to the capabilities of 3D printing.

At its core, it appears that these industries of highly customizable-bodied, difficult metal parts, generated in relatively limited amounts, are the ideal market fit for 3D printing. With new metal 3D printing equipment and materials popping up left and right, it appears only fair that the hype for metal 3D printing continues to thrive.

Featured Image: ILeysen/Shutterstock

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