The Areion, an electric vehicle, went from 0 to 62 mph in 4 seconds. Perhaps more impressively, the electric racer went from initial shell design to a finished 3D printed car body in just three weeks.
Designed by a team of 16 Belgian engineering students making up “Group T,” the Areion was born via “mammoth” stereolithography machines at custom fabrication company Materialise (materialise.com). The machines’ build envelope of 2100 x 680 x 800-mm gave engineers a wide berth to print Areion’s entire body, which was produced using bio-composite materials.
A 50-volt lithium polymer battery pack powers Areion’s 85-kW motor. The shell is supported with a double-A carbon composite wishbone suspension system and titanium uprights. The one-seater weighs 280 kg (617 lb).
Designed and printed with cooling channels, the left- and right-side pods, respectively, help distribute air to the radiator, while filtering water and dirt from reaching the engine compartment. Finally, printed onto Areion’s nose is a course, shark skin-like texture, designed to cut through the air, much like Olympic swim suits slice through the water, according to Materialise.
The Areion’s first demonstration was in August on the Hockenheim race circuit at the Formula Student 2012 challenge, where budding engineers are charged with building production-capable autocross or sprint race prototypes. The racer maxed out at 88 mph.
The shell of this race car was printed in three weeks.
The ProJet 5000 large format professional 3D printer from 3D Systems (3dsystems.com) generates functional prototypes and parts up to 21 in., or 550 mm. The machine also is said to offer double the speed and higher print resolution compared with other printers in its class.
The ProJet 5000 prints high-definition VisiJet MX plastic parts, offered in eight materials, for product development, testing, rapid tooling, and casting applications. It requires no babysitting, as it can run unattended for 80 hours or more.
In one of the case studies accompanying the rollout of the ProJet 500, heavy- and medium-duty truck manufacturer Daimler Trucks North America said it uses the machine to print truck components and quality assurance no-go gauges during the pre-production mock-up phases to verify clearances in the assembled vehicles.
When Ford went looking for a 3D material to print parts and prototypes at its Dunton Technical Centre near London, it had a few prerequisites: easy material burn-off properties, few cooling storage needs, and minimal odor during production.
The automaker seems to have satisfied each one when it picked a voxeljet’s (voxeljet.com) new Polypor C material that’s used to build parts via a voxeljet VX800 3D machine, for its advanced manufacturing facility.
“Polypor Type C is by far the best material we have ever used with a voxeljet system,” said Trevor Bentley, application engineer at Ford. “The parts we have printed are very impressive, and our foundry men are very happy with the burn-off properties of the new material. The cast parts are of the highest quality with a very professional appearance.”
Polypor Type C doesn’t require low-temperature storage, it’s also free of aromatic compounds, What differentiates the C material from Polypor Type A or B is finished plastic models are formed completely in white, improving the look and feel and making it a strong option for architectural or other presentation models, says voxeljet.
Creaform (creaform.com) makes hardware like the Handyscan 3D portable scanner that can be used in the design and development of complex mechanical aluminum pipe systems. As things like liquid, air, and heat often travel through those pipes, the people at Creaform have decided to up their offerings in this area by adding computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis to structural simulation services portfolio. In addition to liquid and gas flow, Creaform will model turbulence, heat transfer and thermal modeling, and simulations from CAD or 3D scanned files. Creaform says the offer is part of a celebration for 10 years in business.
Vienna University of Technology (tuwien.ac.at/tuwien_home/EN) scientists may have come up with the ultimate in small-scale, functional 3D printing.
They call it “photografting,” or the process of fixing molecules together to grow biological tissue or to create micro sensors. The scientists began with a “hydrogel” or a meshwork consisting of macromolecules. Other molecules are introduced, fitting in between the pores of the macromolecules. Once irradiated with a laser at certain bonding points, the structure photochemically bonds.
“Much like an artist, placing colors at certain points of the canvas, we can place molecules in the hydrogel—but in three dimensions and with high precision,” says scientist Aleksandr Ovsianikov.
Different molecules can be swapped out depending on the application. 3D photografting may also find utility in photovoltaics or sensor technology, according to the scientists. The molecules can
be positioned to attach to specific chemical substances, making a 3D “lab on a chip” possible.
Lest you dismiss this as interesting biotechnology experi-ment, but ultimately without a manufacturing tie in, consider that in March 2012 the same lab scientists announced they had produced a 285-nanometer long race car, in four minutes. Fabricated with a laser, the car has 100 liquid resin layers, at about 200 lines each.
“The printing speed used to be measured in millimeters per second—our device can do five meters in one second,” Jügen Stampfl, a materials scientist at the university, said at the time.