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3D printing with metal: The final frontier of additive manufacturing

3D printing with metal: The final frontier of additive manufacturing
The holidays are a great time to sit back, relax, and watch the world happen around you. Few areas of technology have seen as much development in one year as that of 3D printing. Undoubtedly, the most dramatic and challenging has been printing with metal. For your enjoyment, we have assembled a few incredible videos that showcase the power and flexibility of 3D printing with metal — to not be amazed is to be numb to the technology of our day. The first attempts to print with metal can be traced back to the 1880s when the first welders used carbon electrode arcs to fuse two pieces of metal. It was later found that if a third sacrificial stick of material was used a metal bead could be laid down. The real breakthrough that has enabled 3D printing for the masses has been the laser. NASA recently used a technique called selective metal melting (SLM) with great success to build rocket motor components out of steel. The future of 3D printing with metal Now read: What is 3D printing?

Related:  3D futureAdditive Manufacturing Technologies

What is 3D printing? 3D printing is a method of manufacturing everything from shoes to jewelery, to guns and aerospace parts, using a computer-controlled printer. The fundamental rule of 3D printing is that it’s an additive manufacturing technique, unlike machining, turning, milling, and sawing which are subtractive. While there are different kinds of 3D printing, all 3D objects are generally built out of layers. A 3D printer starts with the bottom layer, waits for it to dry or solidify, and then works its way up. This layering process differs depending on the printer and the material it works with — metal, plaster, polymer, resin — but it also depends on whether it’s an industrial or commercial 3D printer. Industrial vs. commercial A brief review of the 3D printers of 2012 - Design World The avalanche of popular news stories has propelled 3D printing into the minds of consumers. However, the major manufacturers of 3D printers have released a number of systems for professional uses. Here’s a quick look at what became available this year.

A Simple, Low-Cost Conductive Composite Material for 3D Printing of Electronic Sensors 3D printing technology can produce complex objects directly from computer aided digital designs. The technology has traditionally been used by large companies to produce fit and form concept prototypes (‘rapid prototyping’) before production. In recent years however there has been a move to adopt the technology as full-scale manufacturing solution. The advent of low-cost, desktop 3D printers such as the RepRap and Fab@Home has meant a wider user base are now able to have access to desktop manufacturing platforms enabling them to produce highly customised products for personal use and sale. This uptake in usage has been coupled with a demand for printing technology and materials able to print functional elements such as electronic sensors.

MiniMetalMaker - A small 3D printer that fabricates with precious metal clay. Please stay tuned as we make progress in the development of the Mini Metal Maker-David Hartkop The Mini Metal Maker is very exciting to me because it is a unique combination of an artistic material with the field of 3D printing. The Mini Metal Maker prints 3D objects from digital files directly in metal clay, rather than in plastic.

Cubify Wants To Domesticate The 3-D Printer Amongst other surprises at CES this year, young 3-D printing company Cubify took home the Best Emerging Tech award for their second-generation printer, the CubeX. Launched only a year after their first machine, the CubeX and its little brother, the Cube, sell at a significantly lower cost than competitors and are geared toward kids, artists, and other consumers who might not have a ton of experience with the technology. They’re your mother’s 3-D printer--and I mean that in a very good way. The irony behind their friendly, primary-colored marketing materials is that Cubify is actually the consumer brand of the first 3-D printing company ever: 3D Systems, a 30-year-old company founded by inventor Chuck Hull. Hull patented the first 3-D printer (he called it a stereolithography apparatus) in 1983. He was responsible for everything from developing the .STL file format to engineering the chemical makeup of the material.

The first 3D-printed human stem cells The shortage of transplantable organs has spawned a fascinating science and market. A liver, for example, is often split among two recipients, while for a cystic fibrosis patient in need of two lungs, it is technically preferable to just swap out both the heart and lungs as a combo unit. The extra heart can then be domino donated to a third party. Bioprinting complete organs en masse is a tough proposition because the identity expressed by each component cell must be individually programmed. Then the cells need to be knitted together in a developmentally sound fashion. Researchers in Scotland, land of Dolly, the first cloned mammal, have recently demonstrated the ability to print human embryonic stem cells.

Africa: Climate Conversations - Could 3D Printing Be a Climate Revolution? Dissertation student Jan Torgersen of Vienna University of Technology tries to make a laser beam visible on a newly developed 3D laser printer, in Vienna March 29, 2012. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer Humanity has lived through many ages and transformations. But as we stare at our computer screens, a new age is sneaking up on us quite unexpectedly - one that combines the durability and strength of the industrial age with the flexibility and adaptability of the virtual age. New plastic could revolutionise 3D printing of electronic products News: engineers at a UK university have printed working electronic devices for the first time using a standard 3D printer fitted with a new type of plastic that conducts electricity. The team used the material, called "Carbomorph", to print a simple computer game controller (top), a glove containing flexible sensors and a mug that knows how full it is. "This technology could revolutionalise the way we produce the world around us," said Dr Simon Leigh (above), who led the research team at the School of Engineering at the University of Warwick. Carbomorph is a carbon-rich composite material that can be used in existing 3D printers to print electronic circuits.

New low cost affordable 3D printer unveiled A step towards making 3D printing affordable has been made at Michigan Technological University, which presented an open-source 3D metal printer for only $1,500. Detailed plans and software are all open-source and freely available, too. So far affordable 3D printing has been more about using polymers. Yet we all know that the ‘real thing’ must be made of metal. But the price of 3D metal printers has been the major stumbling block towards making the use of this truly 21st century technology an everyday routine. That is why only wealthy scientific organizations, such as NASA, or the military can afford metal 3D printers that cost well over $500,000.

New Zealand Man is 3D-Printing a Fully-Functional 1961 Aston Martin Replica New Zealander Ivan Sentch is 3D printing an entire 1961 Aston Martin DB4 replica! Using a CAD rendering from TurboSquid, which he modified to suit his design goals, Sentch has so far produced 2,500 fiberglass molds and four four-inch sections that he has mounted on a wooden frame and glued into place. He spent about $2,000 on plastics for the 3D printing, and now plans to build a mold for a fiberglass exterior shell. There are only 1,200 existing models of the 1961 Aston Martin DB4 in the world, each costing between several hundred thousand to $1 million on the auction circuit. Because of its limited availability, software engineers can’t get a hold of detailed designs, which eventually forced Sentch to crib a CAD rendering from TurboSquid to get his car built. It may not look like it, but Sentch has been using the 3D printing technology only since last December.

3D Printing: What You Need to Know They're not your granddad's daisy wheel printer, or your mom's dot matrix. In fact, they bear little resemblance to today's document or photo printers, which can only print in boring old two dimension. As their name suggests, 3D printers can build objects from scratch out of a variety of materials. They're going mainstream, showing up at retailers such as Staples, Best Buy, and Home Depot, and you can buy numerous 3D printers and their supplies on and through other online outlets.

3D Printing Pioneer Joins Harvard Faculty A leader in 3D printing and bio-inspired materials, Jennifer Lewis’ research explores microscale 3D printing for engineering and translational biology. CAMBRIDGE/BOSTON, MA– Jennifer A. Lewis,an internationally recognized leader in the fields of 3D printing and biomimetic materials, has been appointed as the first Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and a Core Faculty Member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Will 3D printers make food sustainable? Before the end of the year, if Professor Mark Post of Maastricht University gets his way, the world's first test-tube burger will be flame-grilled by Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck in Bray and served to a celebrity guest. Meals at this restaurant don't come cheap, but this one will be the climax of a €250,000 research project – and a milestone in Post's quest to find new ways of feeding the world, without destroying the planet. His petri-dish patty will be made from a mixture of fat and cow muscle grown from stem cells in a culture of foetal calf serum (that's blood plasma without the clotting agents) – a technology trialled in February. It may sound less appetising than a Big Mac – but it could bring huge environmental benefits. Producing beef this way results in a 96% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to rearing animals, and uses 45% of the energy, 1% of the land and 4% of the water associated with conventional beef production.