Beginning in 2022, NASA will place unmanned Orion spacecraft into lunar orbit, followed by crewed landings, construction of lunar habitats and supporting infrastructure, and ultimately, preparation for a visit to Mars.
Additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, is one of the technologies that enables such ambitious plans. “As with any complex endeavour, the more affordable you can make it, the greater the chance that you will ensure its completion, and the Moon is no different,” said James Horton, Aerospace Engineer and Mission Architect at Aerojet Rocketdyne. “Metal AM plays a key role in achieving these goals.”
How 3D printing can help mitigate PPE supply shortages in future pandemics.
Some of the most indelible images of the early pandemic were of the personal protective equipment (PPE) crisis in our hospitals — photos of doctors and nurses wearing repurposed garbage bags, swim goggles, and snorkeling masks as the supply of PPE dwindled in the face of Covid-19’s assault.
Those images underscored just how unprepared we were to deal with a fast-moving pandemic. US hospitals relied heavily on overseas suppliers, especially in China, for PPE, and there are no regulations requiring hospitals or states to keep a certain level of stock in case of a crisis. Most didn’t; US health care operates under tight financial pressures, and just-in-time sourcing is — in normal times — more cost-effective. The result was a supply crunch that hampered our response against the pandemic.
Agemaspark has developed a new technique for 3D metal printing that reduces the energy required to produce mould tools.
The conformal cooling technique, developed and tested by Doncaster-based Agemaspark over several years, is said to reduce cycle times for multi-impression mould tools, increasing the efficiency of the overall mould creation process by as much as 20 per cent. Agemaspark believes the advance should help reduce its own carbon footprint and that of its customers.
“At a time when we should all be looking at our environmental impact, we are thrilled to offer customers a more efficient, greener technology,” Paul Stockhill, MD at Agemaspark said in a statement.
Manufacturing system provider Ingersoll Machine Tools has partnered with aviation company Bell to 3D print a 22 foot-long vacuum trim tool – a mold used for the production of helicopter rotor blades.
The project, which resulted in major lead time savings, was completed using Ingersoll’s own large-format hybrid MasterPrint system, a gantry-based 3D printer with integrated 5-axis milling functionality. According to Ingersoll, the MasterPrint is the largest polymer 3D printer in the world. Designed specifically for the production of extra-large production parts, the system can be found at Ingersoll’s headquarters in Rockford, IL.
“We are continuously testing and advancing MasterPrint in our Development Center” said Chip Storie, CEO at Ingersoll. “Among Ingersoll’s short-term objectives is for MasterPrint to 3D print molds for aerospace that preserve the geometrical properties and tolerances, vacuum integrity and autoclave resilience normally obtained with traditional technology, but with the cost and time reduction only additive manufacturing can offer. The relentless progress our MasterPrint process has made in 2020 has finally made this target attainable.”
Angel Trains, Stratasys, DB ESG and Chiltern Railways joined forces to trial the first 3D printed parts ever deployed within an in-service passenger train in the UK.
These parts include four passenger armrests and seven grab handles, which have been installed on Chiltern Railways trains. The trial’s success to date demonstrates how 3D printing can help train operators accelerate the replacement of obsolete parts, enabling them to get vehicles back into service quicker and better maintain their trains – improving the quality of service for passengers.
The cross-industry collaboration between Angel Trains, DB ESG and Stratasys aims to leverage 3D printing to help overcome issues around the replacement of obsolete parts across the UK rail industry. Unlike the automotive industry, where vehicles from household brands are mass produced in their millions each year, the number of fleets in the rail industry are comparatively very small and, in some cases, over 30 years old. This combination presents several challenges for train operators, especially when it comes to vehicle maintenance and part replacement.
3D printing has been a buzzword for many years, with exciting developments cropping up in many sectors, including medicine, where the first 3D printed heart recently made headlines, construction and automotive.
But what about the packaging industry? Elisabeth Skoda examines three very different 3D print applications in the industry – ranging from reverse engineering more durable parts for packaging machines, creating more sustainable coffee cups and enabling creative uses for packaging waste.
Reverse engineering against wear and tear
A sweets producer in the Netherlands uses additive manufacturing to replace fast-wearing machine parts more efficiently. The Chocolate Factory in Rotterdam faced the problem that high-speed applications in the chocolate packaging process resulted in high wear on individual parts and was looking for solutions to make part replacement easier and faster. How could 3D printing reduce machine damage, downtime and material costs?
Latécoère is deploying Stratasys FDM additive manufacturing throughout its design and production process.
French aircraft design and manufacturing group Latécoère is deploying Stratasys FDM additive manufacturing throughout its design and production process. Latécoère – which services aerospace giants including Airbus, Bombardier and Dassault – is using its Stratasys Fortus 450mc Production 3D Printer for both rapid prototyping and production tooling. According to Simon Rieu, composite and additive manufacturing manager at Latécoère’s R&D and Innovation Center, the adoption of this technology has been transformational for both design and manufacturing.
“Additive manufacturing has integrated seamlessly into our design and production process, and has seen us enjoy improved lead-times, reduced costs and enhanced operational efficiency,” he says. “As the requirements of the aerospace industry become more demanding, we’re also mindful of the need to maintain our competitive edge, and Stratasys additive manufacturing enables us to meet that objective.”
FDM 3D printing proves better than traditional manufacturing in this latest case study from Moog Aircraft Group (NYSE:MOG.A) and leading Stratsys reseller SYS Systems.
As a solution for spare parts and tooling, fused deposition modeling (FDM) is the 3D printing technology of choice for cutting costs and lead times at factories around the world. In recent news, Ricoh opted to switch out metal for FDM 3D printed plasticsat an assembly factory in Japan. And Spain’s Indaero won a lucrative Airbus contract on the back of its FDM part production.
The Moog Aircraft Group is already a key part of the supply chain for many aerospace/defence companies including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Airbus and Northrop Grumman. In collaboration with SYS Systems, Moog identified FDM 3D printing as the best solution for producing bespoke fixtures, used in the machines that qualify aerospace-grade parts.
3D printing for ships is gaining steam. In the U.S., the navy is holding a number of trials for both offshore and yard-based tooling and also investigating 3D printing spare parts. And wire-arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) has become increasingly used in the Netherlands for producing large, sea-faring and rig components.
Now, Spanish ship builder Navantia has launched a 3D printed parts trial aboard the Monte Udala Suezmax oil tanker.
The unlimited ship
Suezmax tankers are built to the largest ship measurements capable of transiting Egypt’s Suez Canal. While not constrained by length, Suezmax tankers are typically 50 meters wide, and can be up to 68 meters tall.
In 2015, Navantia was commissioned by Ondimar to build four of these supertankers to specifications of 274 m by 48 m (L x W). Looking for ways to innovate the process, Navantia is collaborating with the INNANOMAT (Materials and Nanotechnology Innovation) lab at the University of Cádiz (UCA).
US Nuclear Energy company Westinghouse has announced that it will be installing an additively manufactured fuel component by 2018. In doing so, it hopes to be the first company to do so for a commercial reactor.
The part in question will be a thimble plugging device, and its manufacturing and eventual installation will follow muliple simultaneous research and development into reducing costs for 3D printing obsolete components, fuel structural devices and prototypes.
The R&D projects include both internal research into 3D printed parts and two projects funded by the US Department of Energy.