3D Printed Visions 5 Trend-Setting Projects in Additive Manufacturing
Additive design and manufacturing processes are catalysts for technical innovations or even revolutions. The spread of additive manufacturing will have significant and disruptive effects on some industries. We have put together five cases that show where the journey might go.
1) Relativity - Rockets, Engines and the World's Largest Metal 3D Printer
California-based company Relativity has developed a self-learning 3D printer that can print entire rockets, including its engines, within 60 days. The goal is to bring the first fully 3D printed rocket into orbit by 2020.
According to Relativity, they are the first and only ones to use additive manufacturing at every stage of production. Compared to a conventional rocket, which takes about 18 months to build, the Terran rocket is ready for launch in just 60 days. Fast production is also facilitated by the fact that the Terran requires hundreds of components less than comparable rockets that are produced in a conventional way. The rockets are manufactured on Stargate, the largest metal 3D printer, the company says. Stargate is not only big, but also intelligent. During and after production, the printer independently evaluates the collected data and optimizes its processes accordingly. If Relativity successfully launches its first rocket in 2020 and maintains its forecasts for faster and cheaper rocket production, 3D-printed rockets could become the new industry standard.
2) Siemens and Hackrod - Individual Dream Cars
Siemens and the American start-up company Hackrod are working on customized dream cars that the customer configures using an app and then creates directly on the 3D printer. "La Bandita" is the first result of this cooperation. The concept presented in 2018 was designed with software from Siemens and largely produced on a garage-sized 3D printer. With this project, the two companies want to convey a vision of future design and manufacturing processes. "Hackrod offers a completely new model of industrial manufacturing," says Tom Tengan, director of Siemens Digital Enterprise based in California. "In the future, this will enable especially medium-sized companies to launch innovative products tailored to their customers' needs without the need for large production lines.”
For this project, Hackrod relies on a new digital platform from Siemens. This platform includes the software used to create the "La Bandita" chassis. The software is only equipped with basic values, such as the dimensions of the sleeve, and uses it to generate the best possible design. The more time the algorithm has for calculating the support structure, the more organic the struts become.
3) Bioprinting - Printed Organs and Tissues
Researchers at Tel Aviv University printed a human heart from a patient's cells in just 3 hours. The heart, however, is only 2.5 cm long, about the size of a rabbit's heart.
Although the heart is too small for a human patient, it illustrates the potential of additive manufacturing processes in organ production. It is the first 3D-printed heart with all essential components, i.e. chambers, atria and blood vessels. Since the printed heart consists entirely of its own cells, it needs no donor and form and function can be customized.
In the long term, researchers hope to use 3D-printed organs to meet the demand for organ donations. It will probably be a few years before this will become a reality. However, the enormous potential of bioprinting in its various forms is already apparent. A team from the Frauenhofer Institute and the University of Stuttgart has succeeded, for example, in producing bone ink that is capable of forming new bone tissue in the skeleton where the bone has been damaged.
4) Aviation - Additive Manufacturing Makes Planes More Economical
Airbus Group EADS and EOS wanted to investigate how the additive manufacturing of a component would change the overall energy consumption for this part for the A320. Conventionally manufactured landing flap hinges were compared with those manufactured with the DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) additive process.
First, the steel-cast hinges were compared with the additively manufactured parts using a new titanium design. The new hinges are lighter, reducing energy consumption and environmental impact. The optimized design allows the aircraft weight to be reduced by approximately 10 kg. For the entire manufacturing and operating phase, the energy consumption of the component was reduced by 40 %. In addition, the consumption of raw materials was reduced by 25 % compared to the investment casting process.
This project shows that every kilo counts in the aviation industry and that even small changes can have a big impact. An A320 can weigh up to 73,500 kg, so there is still a lot of potential for savings. Future aircraft generations could benefit even more from the advantages of additive manufacturing if 3D printing is used at an early stage. Only when 3D printing is already taken into account as a possible manufacturing process in the brainstorming process does a change in thinking take place among designers and developers. Only then can the full potential of this technology be exploited.
5) Food - Pizza and Co. from the 3D Printer
Researchers at Columbia University's Creative Machines Labs are working on developing a printer specifically for food production. They can imagine using the technology for edible pastes, gels, powders and liquid ingredients (e.g. eggs, butter and protein). Currently, the printed foods, such as a pizza, are still being heated by a separate laser. In the future, both printing and heating could be carried out with a specialized device.
If you want to bake a personal birthday cake in the future, it could look something like this: You boot your 3D printer in the kitchen, fill the containers for the ingredients with chocolate, marzipan, flour, etc., select size, shape and color and off you go. You could adapt each piece individually to possible allergies, preferences or intolerances of your guests.
With this technology, food can be produced that can be perfectly adapted to the needs of the consumers. For professional athletes or chronically ill people who need a special diet, 3D food printers could be an alternative in the near future.
This article was first published by Mission Additive.
Original by Stefan Guggenberger / Translation by Alexander Stark