In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, polySpectra and Keyland Polymer announced a strategic partnership and KAERI has developed a 3D printer to manufacture larger nuclear components. Researchers in Singapore have developed a low-cost imaging system to check the quality of 3D-printed metal parts. In terms of interesting 3D printed objects, UMaine says his new 3D printed USMC ship is the largest of its kind. Oeschler 3D printed more comfortable ski goggles. Finally, Versarien has launched its lifestyle pods, 3D printed from graphene-enriched cement.
polySpectra & Keyland polymer 3D printing of consumer products in any color
First, advanced materials company polySpectra and Keyland Polymer, which develops, manufactures and sells UV-curable powder coatings, have announced a strategic partnership. Together, the two will work to provide engineering-grade UVMax powder coatings from Keyland for polySpectras COR Alpha 3D printed parts to enable 3D printing of consumer polymer end-use products in any color and shape for any application. Keyland’s color matching capabilities and the texture and surface color of its UVMax coating can be specifically adjusted to make parts 3D printed from polySpectra’s COR family of materials appear identical to parts made using traditional manufacturing.
“The promise of 3D printing has always been to help innovators realize their ideas quickly and efficiently. For 3D printing to make the transition to true, production-quality additive manufacturing, designers, inventors, and engineers must be confident that their printed parts will have the accuracy, aesthetics, and durability required for their application. We are now delivering on that promise,” said polySpectra Founder and CEO Raymond Weitekamp.
“We have spent years looking for a scalable and durable coating solution that would allow our customers to apply their preferred branded colors to COR Alpha parts. With UVMax® we finally found the solution.”
KAERI 3D printers for large nuclear components
The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) has announced the development of a new powder bed fusion (PBF) 3D printer that can produce a large-area component up to one meter in size. The institute says the laser scanner’s maximum spread is about 50 cm, and while it’s “virtually impossible” to build a scanner larger, they took a different approach. KAERI developed a parallel extension connecting two separate laser source scanner sets and was able to print five different nickel alloy based prototypes with its new system. Applications include small modular reactor design, reverse engineering, space powder reactor component design and more.
“A laser source fixed in one position transmits light with uniformity to cover 0.5m by 0.5m through a reflectance scanner. In our development, two laser sources are used together with two scanners to cover 1m by 1m, and additional 0.5m connections can be repeated, and the part size is expected to increase to several meters,” said KAERI.
NTU Singapore develops low-cost imaging technology for metal 3D printing
Researchers at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed a fast, low-cost imaging system that can analyze the structure and quality of 3D-printed metal parts. Engineers typically use scanning electron microscopes to study the size, shape, and atomic lattice orientation of microscopic crystal networks in 3D-printed metal alloys to see how strong and tough they are, but this method is costly and time-consuming. The new system from the NTU team in Singapore provides the same information, but at a lower cost and in just minutes.
The system consists of a flashlight, an optical camera, and a notebook computer running proprietary machine learning software developed by the team. Once the surface of the printed item has been chemically treated to reveal its microstructure, the flashlight illuminates it from different angles and the camera captures many optical images. Then the software analyzes the patterns created by the light reflected off the surface of the metal crystals to determine their size, shape and orientation. The whole thing only takes 15 minutes and could be very useful in industries like aerospace and defense.
UMaine’s large 3D printed USMC ship
In 2019, the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center unveiled what it called the world’s largest 3D printer, which has both additive and subtractive capabilities. It was used to print a non-functional 25-foot boat, which was the world’s largest 3D-printed object at the time. Now, UMaine has unveiled two new prototype ships 3D printed on its giant printer, the longer of which is now believed to be the largest 3D printed object in the world, according to the university. The ships, 3D printed from a polymer composite for the US Department of Defense, can carry two shipping containers and a naval gun squad with three days’ worth of supplies. They can be mated to maximize portability and are tested by the US Marine Corps. This project was part of a collaboration between the center and the Marine Corps Systems Command’s Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell, which conducts testing and analysis to leverage advanced manufacturing.
“Two years ago we showed that it is possible to 3D print a 25-foot patrol vessel in three days. Since then, we’ve worked with the DOD to improve material properties, speed up the printing process, and connect our printer to high-performance computers that can monitor the print,” said Habib Dagher, executive director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center.
Oeschler’s 3D printed ski goggles
The plastics technology supplier OECHSLER AG recently used 3D printing to set new and improved standards in the sporting goods sector by making the frame of a ski goggle more comfortable and functional and reducing the number of components from 13 to one. The case study explains that OECHSLER redesigned ski goggles and decided to eliminate all assembly steps. This meant having foams reconstructed through lattices (instead of gluing them together), reducing the design to a single frame, and incorporating rotating parts into the 3D printed frame. The team also had to ensure that the grid was neither too thick nor too thin.
CT was used to scan all the parts for reverse engineering and the components were then reconstructed in a vector based program to create a print file for both the mesh and solid parts. Everything was 3D printed from TPU material. On the first try, the frame was too stiff due to a lot of post-processing, which made the grips less flexible. OECHSLER therefore optimized the print file and adjusted the post-processing to increase the flexibility of the grid structure, which was no easy task. But they were able to complete the project – from product design to production – in a week, and the new frame for the ski goggles is now more comfortable and flexible and consists of only one component. By eliminating the assembly steps, the company was able to reduce the use of materials and production costs.
Versarien launches Lunar 3D printed lifestyle pods
Finally, advanced engineering materials group Versarien plc announced the launch of its Lunar Lifestyle pod, the company’s first 3D printed concrete product made from its graphene-reinforced cement material Cementene. The pods are designed with innovation and sustainability in mind, which is more important than ever as the construction industry is responsible for around 8% of global CO2 emissions. The first of these Lunar Pods was unveiled at Versarien’s manufacturing facilities in Longhope, Gloucestershire and can be used as a leisure room, gym, studio or office. The pods feature full-height glazed windows and doors, showing just how precise, detailed and flexible concrete 3D printing can be. In addition, the company says that incorporating graphene into concrete allows buildings to be completed faster because fewer materials are required to achieve similar structural performance to regular concrete.
“This launch represents the first application of a technology that has the potential to transform the way the world views real estate construction and renovation. Not only does Lunar offer convenience for homeowners, it’s also a ray of hope for those who don’t have access to basic amenities like housing. Our 3D printed concrete can build shells for people in need while creating a circular economy for homes, giving people in developed countries the ability to hack and transform and “lift and move” their homes, he said Neill Ricketts, CEO of Versaria. “Versarien is driving this innovation and we look forward to seeing the impact this technology can have on the world around us.”
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