nTopology helps organisations unlock the full potential of additive manufacturing by building the next generation of engineering design tools
Amid supply chain disruptions, economic uncertainty, and decarbonisation initiatives, industrial hardware companies increasingly rely on digital technologies to adapt.
One such digital technology, additive manufacturing (AM), commonly known as 3D printing, is vital in developing the next generation of advanced industrial products, enabling engineers to produce parts with complex geometry and better performance, accelerating the product development process and simplifying supply chains.
A team from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) has developed a high-precision 3D printing method that can produce new polarisation-encoded 3D anticounterfeiting labels.
According to the team, led by Dr Ji Tae Kim from HKU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, the new 3D label can encrypt more digital information than a traditional 2D label. The work has been published in Nano Letters.
Diphenylalanine (FF), a species of dipeptides, was chosen as a material for data encryption due to its unique optical properties, the team said.
United Utilities and ChangeMaker3D have achieved a UK first by building a concrete wastewater chamber using 3D printing.
Over 12-months, ChangeMaker3D worked with United Utilities to design, 3D-print and install a wastewater chamber at one of the utility company’s test facilities in Cheshire. With testing complete, the partners said it proves the potential of so-called ‘printfrastructure’, where 3D printing is used in construction.
According to the partners, ‘printfrastructure’ can deliver a 25 per cent reduction in carbon, 20 per cent in cost savings and a 55 per cent reduction in labour versus traditional methods.
In a statement, Lisa Mansell, United Utilities’ chief engineer (Innovation), said: “We have a huge capital programme to deliver under tight deadlines. Digital technologies such as 3D construction printing can drive efficient construction and help us meet our Net Zero goals for carbon.”
In the 30-plus years since the introduction of the first additive manufacturing (AM) machines, 3D printers have gotten faster, materials superior, applications bigger, acceptance greater, and the ambition to deploy AM for production all the closer.
From Carbon’s 3D printed adidas midsoles to Chanel’s laser sintered mascara brushes, examples of production are all around but challenges remain that prevent the technology from excelling as a true production process.
“There are new consumer demands at play— heightened by the impact of the pandemic—and they are completely reshaping the way we design, manufacture and mass produce goods that are not only highly personalised but built with sustainability in mind,” Wayne Davey, Global Head of 3D Printing Solutions Go-to-Market for HP shared with TCT. “There is a lot of opportunity for disruption not limited to any one industry in particular. Brands across automotive, health and wellness, sports, and more are seeing the benefits of making the switch from traditional manufacturing methods in favour of additive technology. And they want to do it quickly, economically, and most importantly, at a mass scale.”
Supply chain disruptions continue to rock the world of manufacturing, presenting real threats to productivity and having a huge impact on the bottom line of many businesses. From semiconductors and medical supply shortages to the surging costs of building materials and consumer goods – logistical issues and fluctuating, unpredictable prices are causing massive disruption to businesses of all types and sizes around the world.
Compounding the problem is the fact that the traditional manufacturing model of build, ship, and receive is no longer fit for purpose in the current climate, which experts agree isn’t going away any time soon. Add to this the well-documented global labour and skills shortages and you have the perfect storm.
And their method is faster, cheaper, and more sustainable.
Recently, many projects have been carried out using recyclable materials for sustainability. One of these projects was implemented by the Los Angeles-based architectural startup Azure.
Azure is using recycled plastic to 3D print prefab homes. The startup is now selling many house models ranging from a backyard studio to a two-bedroom ADU.
“The construction sector is the largest global consumer of raw materials, responsible for approximately 11 percent of the world’s total carbon emissions. Our responsibility to our customers and future generations is to use the most sustainable practices imaginable,” said Ross Maguire, the CEO of Azure, in April.
The manufacturing industry has established practices for product development, production and supply chain management. Organizations that develop new products carefully follow these well-known processes and rarely take risks. However, new opportunities that arise from additive manufacturing may challenge the way things are done today.
Recent events have highlighted the rigidity of traditional manufacturing and supply chain processes. For instance, the shocking economic gridlock at the port of Los Angeles includes ships unable to unload cargo and shipping containers unable to move to their destinations. Supply chain chaos continues to unfold due to increased consumer demand and widespread warehouse staffing shortages, among other factors, leaving many people waiting for basic goods.
Sakuu, a California-based manufacturing company, has opened its new Silicon Valley engineering hub. The opening advances Sakuu’s plans for a “3D printing platform gigafactory, dubbed Sakuu G-One”.
But how and why would 3D print a battery? I asked Arwed Niestroj’s, Sakuu’s General Manager Battery Business Unit, to answer a few questions.
The new building spans 79,000 square feet and serves as an engineering hub where teams are dedicated to battery, engineering, material science, R&D, and additive manufacturing work. The facility will contain the scaled-up 3D printing operations for battery production and additional manufacturing platforms for medical devices, IoT sensors, and other electrical devices. Sakuu says all manufacturing is conducted in a sustainable manner.
As more companies continue to innovate their product ideas, especially those requiring urgency and customization, 3D printing is poised to transform how game-changing product ideas are brought to life.
Global supply chains continue to face massive disruptions caused by a growing number of unforeseen events—from a traffic jam at the Suez Canal to myriad natural disasters and a more-than-a-year-long pandemic that upended sourcing, procurement and production worldwide.
Through all these unforeseen events, digital manufacturing has stepped to the forefront as an invaluable solution to meeting the escalating demands for supply chain resilience. In particular, localization and customization—as well as innovations in 3D printing materials, technologies and processes—are closing supply chain holes while speeding the delivery of quality products globally.
Below are five ways that digital manufacturing is elevating supply chain resiliency.
Recent articles on 3D printing in construction have sparked a lively debate. Igniting that conversation was a paper on the potential benefits of concrete 3D printing. The co-author of that paper is Mustafa Batikha, an Assistant Professor at Heriot-Watt University.
Published last year, the study found that if a two-story structure built via precast concrete in the UAE had been 3D printed using a three-leaf printed cavity wall instead, the contractors’ material costs would’ve actually risen 44%.
This was due primarily to the expensive concrete needed for the build, as it was estimated that the proposed 3D printing method would be cheaper to carry out. Contrary to the often-cited eco-friendly benefits of the technology, the paper also showed that adopting it would only yield marginal sustainability gains.