Archive for the ‘Aerospace’ Category

The Daily 3D Detail: 3D printing in space now on grand scale

Posted by Editor On August - 12 - 2017

3D printing in space now on grand scale

The Made in Space team working on Archinaut

Made in Space, the NASA approved company responsible for printing tools aboard the International Space Station, has been able to prove printing in space is possible on a grand scale by 3D printing a beam structure 30 meters in length in a vacuum chamber under zero gravity.

The unprecedented achievement means NASA and other space programs can begin planning large-scale production in the unforgiving circumstances of the space environment. In fact, it is proving to be a simpler task than 3D printing under the conditions of the environment and gravity on Earth.

When printing in zero gravity, for instance, support structures are not needed to prevent the collapse of overhangs beyond the usual 45 degree angle commonly accounted for in normal 3D printing operations. Also, the vacuum conditions of space are ideal for the 3D printing of some metals, which would otherwise be an expensive operation.

The experiments were conducted by using a thermal vacuum chamber (TVAC) at NASA Ames Research Center’s Engineering Evaluation Laboratory (EEL). To accomplish the task, Made in Space created an Extended Structure Additive Manufacturing Machine (ESAMM) to simulate the conditions of space.

According to Andrew Rush, Made in Space President & CEO, “These successful demonstrations mean that on-demand, adaptable manufacturing of complex structures in space has been significantly derisked.”

More tests are ensuing as Made in Space develops their large scale in-space assembly module called Archinaut. For more information regarding this story, see the article published by 3DPrintingIndustry.com.

The Daily 3D Detail: Additive manufacturing and space agriculture

Posted by Franka Schoening On August - 12 - 2017

As we all know, 3D printing has increasingly gained importance in space exploration due to its versatility and adaptability. To facilitate a permanently staffed space station by 2022, the Chinese have started exploring options to improve astronauts diet. Nutrition is crucial to functioning in a highly demanding environment like a space station.

Astronauts farming in micro-gravity environment

With the help of 3D printed plant boxes, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong cultivated lettuce in the micro-gravity environment. The 30-days spent on board were considered a huge success, and likely to inspire major agricultural opportunities for future long-term space exploration.

Growing lettuce in 3D printed flower boxes in space

Before anyone can taste the space-grown lettuce, bio-testing is necessary to ensure safety for human consumption. Bon Appetit, Chewbacca! Read more here at 3ders.org.

 

Vector Space Systems is a privately-held commercial company providing satellite deployment for the space exploration industry. Funded in part by capital investiture in June of this year by a $21M Series A funding campaign led by Sequoia Capital, and with participation from Shasta Ventures and Lightspeed, Venture seeks to be a major player in the micro-satellite business. Their successful test launch of a 3D-printed engine injector this week has made a name for the company in both the space and 3D printing industries, paving the way to broader space exploration and use of 3D printing in space.

The key development in this launch test had to do with the entire engine injector being 3D-printed in one piece, as opposed to being previously assembled from multiple parts. The development of the 3D-printed engine injector was made possible through a grant from NASA’s Science, Technology and Mission Directorate (STMD) Flight Opportunities program.

According to Jim Cantrell, CEO and co-Founder of Vector Space Systems, “Our historic launch today is a testament to the hard work of the Vector team, as well as support from NASA and Spaceport Camden. Together, we’re on the fast-track to get to an orbital capability in 2018 and look forward to continuing momentum and unprecedented growth through the course of this year.”

For more on this successful test launch, see this article at 3DPrint.com

Boeing Inks $1B Contract with Dassault Systemes

Screen shot of Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE

With the battle for commercial aviation dominance down to only two major players, every decision to give their companies the edge is a big deal worthy of attention. Such is the case for Boeing’s $1 billion contract with Dassault Systèmes for use of their 3DEXPERIENCE software.

The story first appeared in the French newspaper Le Figaro about how the contract is to span 30 years and is intended to allow Boeing to to improve operations across the company for both commercial and defense projects.

Boeing’s CIO and SVP of Information Technology & Data Analytics Ted Colbert had this to say about the contract: “This digital enabler provides global design and manufacturing capabilities that will fuel our second century. The value of this extended strategic partnership is a mutual desire to transform how Boeing connects, protects, explores and inspires the world.”

For the full story in English, visit this page at 3DPrintingIndustry.com

The SES-15

As reported yesterday, Airbus is including 3D printing in the construction of their A350 XWB aircraft. It should come as no surprise that Airbus’ main competitor, Boeing, is no stranger to using additive manufacturing for their operations. More specifically, the company is applying 3D printing to make the production of Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites more efficient. The SES-15, which was launched in May to provide WIFI access on flights across North and Central America, contains 50 3D printed metal parts. This technique facilitates cost and time savings and increases Boeing’s flexibility in meeting changing customer preferences. According to Mark Spiwak, Boeing Satellite Systems International President, additive manufacturing has become part of the standard design process and enabled the SES-15 to be launched ahead of schedule. Read the full article at 3dprintingindustry.com.

The Daily 3D Detail: Stratasys awarded contract for Airbus

Posted by Franka Schoening On July - 18 - 2017

Airbus announced today that it will cooperate with Stratasys to 3D print polymer parts for installation on the new A350 XWB aircraft. The non-structural parts will be printed on Stratasys’ FDM printer out of a heat-resistant thermoplastic resin, called ULTEM™ 9085. Airbus expects this collaboration to enhance supply chain flexibility and achieve significant reduction of production waste and cost.

After recording a $77m loss last year, Stratasys has put a focus on commercial 3D printing, due to higher earning potential than selling personal printers. The company announced three new aerospace partnerships last month alone.

Read more here.

ULTEM™ 9085 Photo Credit: Stratasys

 

 

The Daily 3D Detail: Will 3D printing enable life on Mars?

Posted by Franka Schoening On July - 10 - 2017

While Matt Damon made living on Mars look like fun, assuming you have the right soundtrack and degrees, reality is still very far from the movie The Martian.

NASA's 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge

NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge

NASA is trying to change this by launching its 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, which encourages inventors to create habitats for Mars explorers out of recyclable materials and simulated Martian soil. The ability to have robots fly to Mars and build habitats on location, as supposed to transporting houses from Earth, will allow for larger sizes and a reduction in transportation cost. Space explorers would arrive to established housing, hence have immediate shelter from the harsh conditions present on the red planet.

Read the whole story here.

The Daily 3D Detail: The development of the first electric commuter plane

Posted by Franka Schoening On June - 30 - 2017

 

Oh glorious holiday weekend! Traffic jams, traffic jams and even more traffic jams. Soon, there might be a more convenient and sustainable way to visit the family.

 

 

Eviation Aircraft, an Israeli manufacturer of electronic planes, is currently developing a commuter plane to fit nine passengers and two crewmembers for regional traffic. The company is relying on 3D technology from Stratasys. Using 3D printing in the development does not only save money, but time. Find the whole article here.

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Posted by Editor On May - 30 - 2017

Companies looking to be in space include GoEngineering, THK, Additec, Proto Labs, Purple Platypus, Airwolf3D, Splunk>, and more

By Gregory van Zuyen

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

The talking robot at the THK booth was an international hit

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Next year’s event only promises to be more engaging

The most important thing you need to do right now is book travel and lodging to be in Pasadena, California between the dates of May 22-24, 2018. That is when SpaceTech Expo is happening at the Pasadena Convention Center and you will not want to miss it. Bring the kids. This event deserves the Governor’s Award for STEM Development. It’s the closest thing anyone can get to hanging out with astronauts themselves. All the people there are all qualified geniuses. And they are developing technology you want to discover. It’s nothing short of awe-inspiring.

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

The show had something for everyone at any age

Why Pasadena? Because that’s where Caltech resides. And anyone who knows will tell you that you have a satellite’s chance in the sun of getting into JPL without having graduated from Caltech with honors. Space exploration lives here.

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Every aspect of space exploration was displayed for people to experience first-hand

SpaceTech Expo is expanding like the universe. The vast number of booths and offerings of this year’s expo were too numerous to mention in full. We had to limit this article to 3D printing specifically. We begin with GoEngineering.

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

GoEngineering’s 3D printing specialist Glen Chancellor demonstrates the Creaform’s ease of use

GoEngineering displayed their HandyScan Creaform scanner integrated with their editing software VX Elements to maximize their position in the scanning market, and frankly, they may be succeeding. Their device is barely over a pound and scans an object to within 30 microns of accuracy. Perfect for reverse engineering any spacecraft. It’s like waving around a baggie ziplocked with air. It’s LASER beams are precise, producing 480,000 measurements a second which is harmless to human exposure, and amazingly accurate. Patching the holes in the VX Elements software was a piece of cake. If I was running a city crime lab looking for the best means of recording forensic evidence, I would snag two for busy days. Price? $35,000.

The scanner market is huge. Huger than huge and few have grasped the importance of it’s impact on the future economy. Read driverless cars. Companies that get that will succeed for sure. SpaceTech taught us that this year.

Contributing Editor Fred Kaplan on scanning: “3D scanners produce point clouds of positional data. The point clouds are geometric samples of the object being scanned and often contain billions of points which require software to optimize the data and to export the data to a solid model such as a .STL file. 3D scanner software can smartly interpolate the point cloud to fill holes, merge meshes, optimize meshes, decimate meshes and create water-tight models ready to be 3D printed.

“3D scanners divide into two types of technologies. Laser Scanners that use a laser source that defines space by emitting laser light from two sources and recorded on camera in a process called triangulation and Touch probes or contact scanners recording positional data in 3D space by touching the surface of the object and clicking the device. Another technology that is used to record the surface imagery and the geometry of an object is call photogrammetry. Photogrammetry used an array of still cameras all pointed at an object or person. Software aligns the images, creates a visual reproduction of the surface and interpolates the geometry. Photogrammetry is used to create human reproductions because the process is recorded the duration of still camera shutter. There are also a variety of medical applications such as CT scans that are scans based upon the volume of an object.”

To be specific, understanding the scanning market takes foresight:
3D scanning is used in:
1) Inspection: to measure the size of an actual part to compare to the CAD that was original designed to increase the accuracy of the part and quality control.
2) Engineering: Creating CAD from an existing part to re-create something no longer being produced or to adapt something new from something old or replace old parts
3) Product Development: Feet and faces are commonly scanned for sizing shoes or eye glasses
4) Medical applications
5) GIS, mapping
6) LIDAR in autonomous cars

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

GoEngineering’s William Huertas shows how their software makes Creaform so effective

Kaplan went on: “Creaform scanners are hand-held that are fast and easy to use. The HandyScan scanner is made to scan the interior or the space stations as well as the auto, healthcare and manufacturing applications. The company originated as a scanner service provider but the HandyScan and GoScan packages have set the standard as the highest quality handheld scanners on the market. Creaform’s robotic mounted optical system is MetraScan which are 3D scanners that have been seamlessly integrated into automobile and other manufacturing assembly line operations.”

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Additec — one of the many companies present at this year’s show

Technical Editor Tsion Asmamaw had this to say about the show: “Proto Labs was the company to visit at the show. This company provides injection molding, CNC machining, and 3D printing for customers who wish to budget themselves conservatively. They can see the proto type design before going ahead with any production or large scale manufacturing. I think the flexibility of this company will quickly create a good stream of customers exploring their vision in no time.”

Asmamaw also pointed out that GoEngineering wasn’t the only company sponsoring Stratasys products: “The second company I was interested in was PurplePlatypus. They displayed the impressive machines from Stratasys. The preciseness of the prints displayed at the booth were handheld examples of accuracy. One example was a human hand displayed with all the blood vessels in true color — all done with injection polyjetting by these incredible machines — the level of detail and realism can only help the medical education industry beyond measure.”

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Julie from Airwolf3D in a brief moment between speaking with the many aerospace engineers who visited the booth in the busy three days of the expo

Airwolf3D also presented at the show and, as has been written previously, is a company worthy of taking into space. Their Axiom made a hit with engineers, who although celebrated in their mechanics, have yet to experience 3D printing. Credit goes to Airwolf3D for speaking to this awe-inspiring level of genius it takes to do rocket science. This company is closer than most to being in space. That’s all I go to say.

Lastly, I want to bring your attention to a company that, by all aspects, is not 3D printing related. It is my hope 3D printing companies will seize upon this aspect of technological innovation to improve their products at exponential rate. That company is called Splunk>.

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Devon Bolton, account manager for aerospace & defense for Splunk>

Splunk> does data-mining and analytical feedback on levels that make one ponder what cannot be done. Their team has grown steadily in their application of brilliance in what they are achieving. Keep in mind, this is SpaceTech Expo. This is NASA-grade data-mining analysis. Talking to the team at Splunk> is like trying to have a conversation with a genius cousin on scholarship to MIT. These guys see data in ways that make the notion of cosmic-shift likely. Their story on developing better subway braking systems makes me proud to have met them. Remember you heard of them here first.

Plan now for next year’s SpaceTech. Make a family trip of it and develop a love of science in even the youngest of keen investors.


Gregory van Zuyen is managing editor of 3D Printr Magazine and an instructor is 3D printing at Santa Monica College.

RAPID + TCT 2017 Event Report

Posted by Fred Kaplan On May - 21 - 2017

Confessions of a 3D printing nerd at 3D printing’s biggest show of the year

By Fred Kaplan

RAPID + TCT 2017 Event Report

I admit it, I have an unhealthy obsession with 3D-printer tradeshows but the 2017 Rapid + TCT show, held May 8-11 in Pittsburgh, signaled the next iteration of 3D printing. All right, so what’s the big deal? How about a seemingly endless supply of new functional end-use 3D-printing technologies, and materials that had to be seen to be believed.

Carbon 3D
The best example of 3D-printing end-use parts was at the Carbon 3D booth. Carbon 3D burst onto the 3D-printing scene with a 2015 TED talk that has been viewed more than 700,000 times. After two years of anticipation and speculation during which Kodak announced that it would be providing materials for the printer, Carbon 3D is now leasing printers to end users.

Carbon3D Shoe Lattice

Carbon 3D recently partnered with Adidas to develop the first  3D-printed part that will be mass produced for consumer use; the midsoles of Futurecraft 4D shoes. Midsoles of shoes traditionally can’t be injection or compression molded in one piece with variable flexibility in a single piece. Carbon 3D experimented with a variety of lattices that were printed with a variety of production grade elastomers that don’t require support or excess materials — which reduce the manual post-processing steps of traditional 3D-printing. Adidas will have 5,000 pairs available in the fall/winter of 2017.

Carbon3D Shoe

Desktop Metal
All the buzz at Rapid + TCT 2017 was about the Desktop Metal printers whose booth was at the geographic center of the David L. Lawrence Convention Hall. Desktop Metals used some of the $97 million funding it received from Google, BMW, Saudi Aramico, GE, and others to sponsor the nametag lanyards, the convention hall wireless, and everything else that held still long enough to be branded. The anticipation for a desktop printer capable of printing in metal materials has hit an all-time frenzy.

Desktop Metals announced two systems the Studio and the Production systems. The Studio printer will be available in the fall of 2017, is designed to print individual metal parts. The Production system, designed for large-scale production, will be available in 2018.

Along with the announcement of the Studio Printer, Desktop Metals has announced an office-friendly sinter oven that reaches a peak temperature of 1400 celsius to post-process printed parts. With a price tag more than $120K, the printers promise to safely and easily print many metal alloys at a fraction of the cost of previous metal 3D printers. Among the advantages, Desktop Metals offers the raw material encased in a rod of metal and binder, instead of powdered metals that are possibly flammable — and definitely dangerous — and the ability to affordably and easily print a wide variety of different alloys. I was excited to see sample parts in all three stages of the process.

The first step in the process is the extrusion of metal and binder that is printed larger than the final product. The next step is the binder is removed, and the third step is the part is sintered in a sintering oven which shrinks the printed part to the expected size. The temperature of the sintering will vary depending on the metal alloy,but the temperature could be as high as 1400 C. Markforged also offers a similar product, the Metal X which has been said will be available in the fall of 2017.

HP
The HP booth featured their Jet Fusion 3200 and 4200 printers which leverage HP’s history of jetting inks and fluids in traditional 2D desktop printers. The build area of the HP printers is 2,440 cubic inches (15″ x 11.2″ x 14.6″) and its ability to print on a voxel by voxel basis (the 3D equivalent of a screen pixel) simultaneously on the X and Y axis which yields high-quality printed parts ten times faster than a traditional FDM 3D-printer. HP have used the advantages of printing in powder (speed plus printing with no attached support structure) to create a profitable return on investment on 3D-printing projects similar to mid-size injection molded runs.

The HP Jet Fusion printers use a new series of processes developed by HP which include thermal control, fusing, and detailing agents printed in the X-Y axis on a layer of the printing material which is currently a low-cost nylon, PA12 powder. Future material developments will include full color parts and a variety of materials including ceramics.

UnionTech
The theme of producing functional end-use part has expanded and the UnionTech booth showed all four of their SLA printers. The largest build size is the RSPro 800 which has a build platform of 31.5″ x 31.5″ x 19.7″.

What I find most interesting about the UnionTech printers is that they offer the highest quality SLA printing with open source materials — which means that there is an almost endless selection of material options, including DSM materials, BASF and any other SLA printing materials on the market. The printers are assembled in China with globally-sourced parts. By increasing their laser power, UnionTech is able to increase the print speed of their 3D printers by 100% over competitive printers.

XJET
What makes a trade show like Rapid + TCT 2017 so great is the opportunity to see a technology, and feel the sample part of that technology that hitherto seems to be internet lore. XJET is an Israeli company whose CEO was the CTO of Objet Geometries — the original PolyJET 3D printer. XJET uses the concept of jetting microscopic particles of material to form an object, replacing thermoplastics with solid metal nanoparticles, suspended in a liquid ink, in a process called “NanoParticle Jetting.” The sample parts I felt were completely smooth with no visible or tactile evidence of layer lines on the sample parts.

Roboze
I was pleased to see technological surprises in every row of vendors at the show. I have been anxious to see the Roboze 3D printer that prints in Ultem/PEI and PEEK, as well as 14 other industrial grade materials with more to come. Printing in PEEK and Utem requires extremely high temperatures which triggered my expectation of seeing a 3D printer reminiscent of a Soviet-era monstrosity, but instead, I found the Robooze printers to be sleek and elegantly designed. They are office-friendly printers that emit no heat on the exterior surface of the printer despite internal temperatures. Roboze is a completely gear-driven FDM printer that is accurate to within 25 microns across the print bed.

Admaflex
Do you think the world of additive manufacturing materials is limited to thermoplastics and metals? Wrong! Admatec, a Dutch company has combined DLP (digital light projection) 3D-printing with ceramics in their new Admaflex 130. The materials that the Amdaflex print are alumina, zirconia and fused silica. The advantages of ceramics include extreme hardness and excellent electrical insulation. They are also lightweight parts that are functional in high temperature, and under high pressures.

After walking the Rapid + TCT 2017 show, my head was exploding with the brilliance of the technological and material options at all price points of 3D printing. The fall of 2017 promises to be an amazing time, in which we will see the amazing new printers hit the streets. The original technology of the SLA system that Chuck Hull developed 30 years ago is being adapted to be perhaps the most functional technology yet.

I left Pittsburgh knowing that rate of innovation is not slowing down and looking forward to next trade show with enthusiasm.


Fred Kaplan is a 3D-printing material specialist, who has worked with SLA, SLS, FDM, ColorJet, ADAM, DLP, LOM, FFF, MultiJet, Polyjet, and SDL 3D printers. Specializing in matching the best technology to a particular 3D printing application, he has also worked with many brands of 3D scanners and many CAD packages.

Prior to his work in additive manufacturing, Fred received a Los Angeles-area Emmy and other awards for documentary filmmaking.