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3D printing; mainstreaming additive manufacturing and more.

They Could Print a Car. But They Made a Seat, Instead.

 

Last year, voxeljet technology GmbH (voxeljet.de) CEO Dr. Ingo Ederer introduced the company’s VX4000 3D printing system, saying it could “generate molds the size of a sports car.” A demonstration of the printer produced—no, not a car body—an intricate designer chair mimicking the contours of a gliding stingray.



At voxeljet's service center in Augsburg, Germany, the company showcased the VX4000’s capabilities by producing a “Batoidea” (or stingray) chair, envisioned by Belgian designer Peter Donders.

With the ability to produce molds with a potential volume of 8-m3, VX4000 has a lot of ground to cover and moves at three times the speed of voxeljet’s standard printers. The chair, which was modeled using Rhino3D CAD software (rhino3d.com), required five smaller sand molds, the largest of which measured 1.105 x 713 x 382 millimeters.

With a thin-walled cast aluminum structure, the design was taxing to both the 3D printing process as well as the casting. The molds were created without set-ups and in an automated process based on the CAD designs. They were produced in 300-µm thick quartz sand layers that were selectively glued. After the printing process was complete, the molds were unpacked and the sand removed.

voxeljet also recently introduced a continuous 3D printing concept study that literally takes a different angle on conventional 3D printing and unpacking.

In the VX Concept, models are constructed at the entrance of the belt conveyor, while the unpacking takes place at the exit. The 600 dpi print head is positioned at a 35° angle, creating molds and models with layers between 150 to 400 µ. A conveyor belt system moves the sandbed with the parts onto the unpacking area. With build space of 800 x 500 mm, the length of the molds and models is “virtually unlimited” on the machine, which voxeljet says can run autonomously.

”At the present time we are working flat out on refining the system for series production. Customers should be taking delivery of the first machines by the end of next year at the latest,” Ederer said of the concept.

So maybe sometime car bodies and car parts.

The VX Concept is a continuously printing concept study, which is slated for release in 2013.

 

3D Systems Unveils New Machines, Materials


3D Systems (printin3d.com) has launched its next-generation ProJet 3500 professional series 3D printers in eight configurations available with nine new tailored VisiJet print materials. The new materials address a variety of customer-functional prototyping needs, from producing functional plastic parts and wax patterns, to cast-ready for foundry production to medical implants and dental prosthesis applications.

Mojo’s Desktop Flow


While people have long talked “desktop” 3D printers, a little “Mojo” seems to have helped Stratasys (stratasys.com) deliver. Its new Mojo 3D Printer is 25 x 18 x 21 in.; it weighs in at 60 lb. The $9,900 Mojo uses the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). To produce a model, Mojo differs from standard FDM. Its ABS material spool and the print head are integrated in a single package called the “QuickPack” print engine. Material loading is akin to popping in a new inkjet cartridge in paper printer. The printer’s build size is 5 x 5 x 5 in.

 

Color Printing on Paper—In 3D


One of the most clever 3D printer companies out there is Mcor Technologies (mcortechnologies.com). While there are a numerous 3D systems producing parts with a variety of resins and powders, the Mcor Matrix 300 printer produces models with paper. That’s right, the very same product that you can pick up at your local office supply store.

The company has announced that later this year it is going to be offering the Mcor Iris, a full-color 3D printer. Again, the medium is paper. Regular computer printer paper.

Said company chairman John Ryan of the Iris, “It is the only printer than can make 3D objects in full high-resolution color, offering the same extensive color pallet found in top-of-the-line 2D printers. That, combined with its use of off-the-shelf computer paper as the primary source material, makes the Iris printer the perfect choice for applications where life-like full-color prints, low material cost and clean eco-friendly operation are required.”
 

Mainstreaming Additive Manufacturing
 

3D printer manufacturer Stratasys (stratasys.com) has entered into a joint initiative with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop fused deposition modeling (FDM) additive manufacturing for full-scale production.

With the overall goal of transitioning FDM additive manufacturing into a “mainstream manufacturing process” the linkup has two specific objectives: creating an inspection system during production that monitors part quality and creating lightweight components built with carbon fiber-reinforced feedstock materials.

The testing, which is taking place at ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, is part of a DOE push to cut energy consumption at plants and increase U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, particularly in the aerospace and automotive industries.

 

Drivven, Without Hardware


Drivven (drivven.com), a National Instruments (ni.com) company, has unveiled six new C Series modules designed to give powertrain control system developers the ability to rapidly prototype their engine sensor and actuator interfaces using the NI LabVIEW FPGA Module.

The C Series modular hardware offers plug-and-play I/O flexibility to change engine interfaces in seconds. The LabVIEW system design software also provides researchers increased flexibility with engine parameters, particularly for spark and fuel injection timing. The new interfaces will help engineers rapidly prototype engine control algorithms without having to create custom hardware.

“The Direct Injector Module from Drivven enabled us to get the piezoelectric injector working well in a very short time,” said Jason King, chief engineer of gasoline engines at Ricardo. “We also created novel injection strategies because Drivven programmed the control aspects easily and quickly."

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