NASA and DARPA “next generation” hypersonic project moving forward with 3D printing

A new hypersonic engine made for NASA and DoD advanced tech division DARPA has undergone successful testing according to manufacturing partner Aerojet Rocketdyne of California.

Additive manufacturing is a key enabling technology for hypersonic flight, an area the U.S. Department of Defense describes as ‘highest technical priority’ for the country.

The testing performed by Aerojet Rocketdyne relates to a  “new dual-mode ramjet/scramjet (DMRJ) engine.” In combination with a gas turbine engine – forming a turbine-based combined cycle propulsion (TBCC) system –  the DMRJ engine “may provide the capability to propel a vehicle from a standstill into the hypersonic flight regime of Mach 5 or higher and back again.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake said, “Aerojet Rocketdyne is well positioned to support this call to action as we have been developing hypersonic propulsion technologies for more than 30 years. Our scramjet engine powered the record-setting test flights of the X-51A WaveRider, and we have accelerated our development efforts since then. That progress, when combined with the advances we’ve made in additive manufacturing has enabled this next generation of hypersonic propulsion systems.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s new dual-mode ramjet/scramjet undergoes testing in the 8-foot high temperature tunnel at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Photo via Aerojet Rocketdyne.
Aerojet Rocketdyne’s new dual-mode ramjet/scramjet undergoes testing in the 8-foot high temperature tunnel at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Photo via Aerojet Rocketdyne.

DoD Digital Factory vision

Hypersonic flight is the subject of substantial attention from world superpowers. Sometimes referred to as single use hypersonic, a nation possessing such a capability could potentially deliver military payloads across the globe before an adequate response was possible. Reusable hypersonic vehicles are also under development, including UK based Reaction Engines’ AM enabled SABRE propulsion system.

Understandably this means advances in the field are unlikely to be revealed in detail. An Aerojet Rocketdyne spokesperson contacted by 3D Printing industry declined to provide additional information.

What is known is that additive manufacturing, using a range of materials including ceramics is increasing finding application within hypersonic projects. For example, creating ceramic shields using 3D printing technology for the US Air Force Research Laboratory.

Working with DARPA and Boeing, Aerojet Rocketdyne has previously tackled projects including a  hypersonic spaceplane and a 3D printed pogo accumulator as part of the  RS-25 program supporting a manned mission to Mars.

An Aerojet Rocketdyne technician inspects the 3D printed pogo accumulator assembly on an RS-25 development engine. Photo via Aerojet Rocketdyne
An Aerojet Rocketdyne technician inspects the 3D printed pogo accumulator assembly on an RS-25 development engine. Photo via Aerojet Rocketdyne

A report delivered by the DoD to congress earlier this year describes the importance of additive manufacturing and its role within a digitally based manufacturing environment, also referred to as the Digital Factory vision. According to the report, “Additive manufacturing (3D printing) and fully digital-capable equipment are creating new and more efficient manufacturing capabilities that in some cases lower operation costs by 50% and reduce cycle times by margins greater than 70%.”

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Featured image shows Aerojet Rocketdyne’s new dual-mode ramjet/scramjet undergoes testing in the 8-foot high temperature tunnel at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Photo via Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Researchers 3D print objects that can communicate without electronics

Scientists at the University of Washington (UW), have developed self-tracking 3D printed devices that can provide analytics without using batteries or electronics.

Jennifer Mankoff, Engineering Professor at the UW and part of the engineering team, said, “We’re interested in making accessible assistive technology with 3-D printing, but we have no easy way to know how people are using it.” Mankoff continued, “Could we come up with a circuitless solution that could be printed on consumer-grade, off-the-shelf printers and allow the device itself to collect information? That’s what we showed was possible in this paper.”

To develop these devices, the engineering team used a method called ambient backscatter. This method uses antennas and radio signals for data transmission without battery or power.

Self-tracking 3D printed devices

The engineering team had previously worked on developing 3D printed objects that can communicate via Wi-Fi without electronics. An example device is one which orders detergent online if the detergent bottle runs low. But such a device only monitored data in one direction.

This time the researchers wanted something more sophisticated. A device that could support bidirectional motion, and storage and retrieval of data outside wireless coverage.  

A challenge was to figure out a method to monitor movement in both directions, such as the opening and closing of a pill bottle. How did the team solve the problem?

Engineering student and co-author of the paper, Vikram Iyer, explained, “this time we have two antennas, one on top and one on the bottom, that can be contacted by a switch attached to a gear. So opening a pill bottle cap moves the gear in one direction, which pushes the switch to contact one of the two antennas. And then closing the pill bottle cap turns the gear in the opposite direction, and the switch hits the other antenna.”

To decode the direction of the bottle cap, the teeth of the gears have a morse code like sequencing code. Forward motion sends a different message than backward motion.

According to the researchers, the same concepts can work with 3D printed prosthetics such as e-NABLE arms. To show this, the team integrated the bi-directional backscatter designs within existing CAD models, in particular, with a 3D printed e-NABLE prosthetic arm. The backscatter system developed by the team was able to record the opening and closing of the arm at 15° angle.

Currently, these devices are only prototypes to show that 3D printed objects can sense bidirectional movement and store data. The challenge is to shrink the system and embed them within fully developed usable 3D printed devices.

Professor Mankoff said, “this system will give us a higher-fidelity picture of what is going on,” she said. “For example, right now we don’t have a way of tracking if and how people are using e-NABLE hands.”

“Ultimately what I’d like to do with these data is predict whether or not people are going to abandon a device based on how they’re using it.”

The engineering team at the University of Washington. Back row (left to right): Vikram Iyer, Jennifer Mankoff, Ian Culhane; Front row: Shyam Gollakota, Justin Chan. Image via Mark Stone/University of Washington
The engineering team at the University of Washington. Back row (left to right): Vikram Iyer, Jennifer Mankoff, Ian Culhane; Front row: Shyam Gollakota, Justin Chan. Image via Mark Stone/University of Washington

e-NABLING with 3D printing

e-NABLE, an open source 3D prosthetic community has been very active globally. The organization received a $600,000 grant from Google to develop 6,000 3D printed prosthetics in 2 years.

The organization has worked to provide low-cost 3D printed prosthetics to amputees in war zones and earthquake-affected areas, such as Haiti.

As previously reported, e-NABLE also collaborated with Simplify3D, a 3D printing software developer. The collaboration provided 3D printed prosthetics to children.

The University of Washington research brings hopeful news for the e-NABLE community and the wearers of the e-NABLE prosthetics. The recent innovation may lead to better open source prosthetics.

The research paper is titled, Wireless Analytics for 3D Printed Objects, co-authored by Vikram Iyer, Justin Chan, Ian Culhane, Jennifer Mankoff, and Shyamnath Gollakota. The research findings will be presented on October 15 at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, Berlin.

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Featured image shows a 3D printed e-NABLE prosthetic hand. Image via Mark Stone/University of Washington

Watch: Thermwood 3D prints 12 ft craft (generic term) implement (generic term) for Boeing 777X

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Q&A: RMIT’s Dr. Kate Fox adding nanodiamonds to 3D written implants

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Fraunhofer’s TwoCure engineering accomplished in industry-ready 3D pressman

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NUST MISiS doubles the strength of 3D printed aluminum

3D printed titanium components are favored in aerospace, medical and automotive industries for their high strength to weight ratio. However, a new metal powder composition from the Russian National University of Science and Technology (NUST) MISiS aims to match these properties with components made from aluminum.

In a recent study, published online in the journal Sustainable Materials and Technologies, NUST MISiS researchers detail the production of an ultrahigh-purity alumina (UHPA), that doubles the strength of 3D printed aluminum composites.

A knot sample 3D printed prom UHPA powder. Photo via NUST MISiS
A knot sample 3D printed prom UHPA powder. Photo via NUST MISiS

Additive manufacturing using ultrahigh-purity alumina

The NUST MISiS team’s research uses aluminum granules with a purity of 99.7%. Via oxidation, alkali and acid treatment and thermal calcination at 1450 °C, the granules are turned into an aluminum hydroxide.

At each stage of the process, researchers take a reading of the oxide’s impurities, particularly iron and potassium impurities which proved to be the most problematic. With this data, the team then modify chemical treatments, washing and calcination, resulting in a UHPA with purity 99.99% and 99.999%.

Aluminum powder burning in the purification process. Photo via NUST MISiS
Aluminum powder burning in the purification process. Photo via NUST MISiS.

Double the strength

While optimal processing conditions are still to be determined for the powder, the NUST MISiS team is already using the material to develop 3D printed prototypes using selective laser melting.

“We have developed a technology to strengthen the aluminum-matrix composites obtained by 3D printing, and we have obtained innovative precursor-modifiers by burning aluminum powders,” explains Professor Alexander Gromov, research team led from the NUST MISiS Department for Non-Ferrous Metals and Gold.

“It is the special properties and structure of the surface that allows the particles to be firmly attached to the aluminum matrix and, as a result, [doubles]the strength of the obtained composites.”

Titanium is roughly 6 times stronger than aluminum, so this process produces composite a third of the superior metal’s strength.

Other samples 3D printed using UHPA. Photov ia NUST MISiS
Other samples 3D printed using UHPA. Photo via NUST MISiS

Low-cost metal 3D printing

One of the main advantages of this UHPA powder production method is that it is low cost, maintaining a great deal of profitability when applying the material. While material cost is not the primary concern around the industrialization of AM – this is not to say reduced input costs are not worthy of attention.

Metalysis’ patented Fray, Farthing, Chen (FFC) process is one approach to reducing the cost of titanium/aluminum alloys, also in development is scandium processing. And, covering materials, processes, automation and the process chain, Germany’s Fraunhofer Society has launched the futureAM project “to significantly accelerate” and reduce the cost of metal 3D printing.

Advanced manufacturing process of ultrahigh-purity α-Al2O3” as discussed in this article, is published online in Sustainable Materials and Technologies. It is co-authored by G.N. Ambaryan, M.S. Vlaskin, O. A. Buryakovskaya, S.A. Kislenko, A. Z. Zhuk, E.I. Shkolnikov, A. N. Arnautov, S.V. Zmanovsky. A.A. Osipenkova, V.P. Tarasov and A.A. Gromov.

As a footnote the NUST MISiS website has this to say about the use of Titanium in additive manufacturing, “Titanium is the optimal metal for manufacturing products for the aerospace industry, however it cannot be used in 3D printing because of the fire and explosion hazards of powders.” Surely some mistake?

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Featured image shows a knot sample 3D printed prom UHPA powder. Photo via NUST MISiS.

3D printing news Sliced: United Nations, Mini, Rocket Lab, Sciaky and more

Today Sliced, our regular 3D printing news digest, features the latest educational innovations from the National Institute of Technology, Trichy, I-Form, the Advanced Forming Research Centre, the Beijing Institute of Technology and more.

From industry, we see how cutting edge 3D printing applications are underway at MINI, Rocket Labs and Kleos Space. There is also an update on the drones getting the attention of the United States Army.

Read on for this and other news including the U.N.’s perspective on additive and recent developments in 3D printed food.

Cooking up new ideas

A series of educational partnerships are boosting 3D printing innovation this week.

The National Institute of Technology, Trichy (NIT-T) in India is to become the site of a Siemens Centre of Excellence, complete with automation, robotics and additive manufacturing hardware.

Ireland’s newly opened I-Form Advanced Manufacturing Research Center for 3D printing and digital technologies has confirmed the Waterford Institute of Technology in South-East Ireland as a partner.

The Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, has enhanced its additive manufacturing capabilities in a CAD-for-CAM software supply partnership with Open Mind Technologies.

Research from Beijing Institute of Technology discusses the potential of 3D printed chiral metamaterials. The results of the study are available to read online in Scientific Reports journal. The paper is co-authored by Wenwang Wu, Dexing Qi, Haitao Liao, Guian Qian, Luchao Geng, Yinghao Niu & Jun Liang.

A school in Canning Town, London, is 3D printing dinners to encourage more students to get involved in STEM-related subjects.

And, in an extension of 3D printing’s culinary flair, Elzelinde van Doleweerd, a graduate of Eindhoven University of Technology (TUe) has partnered with Beijing’s 3D Food Company in an inventive way to make use of waste produce.

3D printed food by Elzelinde van Doleweerd. Photo via Elzelinde van Doleweerd/
3D printed food by Elzelinde van Doleweerd. Photo via Elzelinde van Doleweerd

3D printing in the wider manufacturing industry 

As the 3D printing industry awaits the main event of the second half of the year, formnext 2018, a number of relevant cross-industry shows are taking place throughout October.

From from October 9th to October 11th advanced manufacturing service provider CRP USA is showcasing the potential of Windform 3D printing materials for aerospace at Satellite Innovation 2018 in California.

And, across the same dates in Düsseldorf, SLM Solutions will be exhibiting additive manufacturing’s capabilities at the ALUMINIUM world trade fair.

In addition, 3D printed drones from sport utility aircraft company AXIX GP feature at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference this week in Washington DC.

Taking off in automotive and aerospace

3D Printing Industry Awards 2018 nominee Mini has launched a limited edition Cooper S GT Edition that incorporates 3D printed accents. Making use of the company’s MINI Yours Customised facility the car is available in a limited run of 150 cars.

Made using flexible 3D printed materials Avicrobot, a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, has launched a rehabilitative robot to help people walk again.

And U.S. aerospace company Rocket Lab, after successfully reaching orbit with its 3D printed rocket engine in January 2018, has signed a contract with Luxembourgian satellite company Kleos Space. With Rocket Lab, Kleos Space aims to launch Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites on scouting missions for defense.

Hot fire testing of Rocket's Lab Rutherford engine. Photo via Rocket Lab
Hot fire testing of Rocket’s Lab 3D printed Rutherford engine. Photo via Rocket Lab

3D printing on the U.N. agenda

The United Nations recently published the World Economic and Social Survey 2018 focusing on technology’s ability to meet the organization’s goals for the next 12 years. In response the report Antonio Guterres, U.N. Secretary-General, said:

“frontier technologies — from DNA sequencing to 3D-printing, from renewable energy technologies to biodegradable plastics, from machine learning to artificial intelligence — present immense potential for the 2030 agenda.”

In other business news, Canadian 3D scanner provider Creaform has opened a new 3,000 square-foot premises in California. Jarrod Schmidt, National Sales Manager for Creaform USA, comments, “California is a global hub for technological innovation,”

“Our new location offers great customer outreach opportunities for our team across the United States, while complementing our corporate headquarters eastern presence.”

And finally, Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) company Sciaky has confirmed a machine order by additive manufacturing supplier Burloak Technologies.

Sciaky EBAM 110 system
A Sciaky EBAM 110 system as ordered by Burloak Technologies. Photo via Sciaky.

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Featured image shows Sliced logo over a photo of Rocket Lab’s successful launch of the Electron. Original photo via Rocket Lab

Historic Russian fountain restored with concrete 3D Printing

AMT-SPECVIA, a European manufacturer of construction 3D printers, has aided in the restoration of a historic water fountain in the Russian city of Palekh.

With a diameter of 26 meters and depth of 2.2 meters, the Sheaf fountain is claimed to be the first 3D printed landmark in Russia as well as the first large-scale concrete 3D printed water fountain in the world.

The 3D printed Sheaf fountain in the Russian city of Palekh. Photo via SPETSVIA.
The 3D printed Sheaf fountain in the Russian city of Palekh. Photo via SPETSVIA.

The Sheaf fountain

Located in Holy cross Cathedral park in Palekh, a world-famous Russian center of folk arts and crafts, the Sheaf fountain was created in the middle of the last century by the famous sculptor Nikolai Vasilyevich Dydykin, a contributor of the Grand Cascade, a grandiose fountain in Peterhof, Russia.

The restoration of the Sheaf fountain was lead by construction companies IvStroyIndustriya and IvStroyGarant, using the AMT S-6044 LONG 3D printer (COP-printer, Construction Objects Printing). This medium-sized concrete 3D printer is capable of manufacturing concrete structures up to 55 sq.m.

The 3D printed structures of the Sheaf fountain in the Russian city of Palekh. Photo via SPETSVIA.
The 3D printed structures of the Sheaf fountain in the Russian city of Palekh. Photo via SPETSVIA.

Fountain restoration with additive manufacturing

During this project, the restoration team, as well as the residents of Palekh, decided to change Sheaf fountain’s original shape from rectangular to round. Furthermore, the fountain is mounted underwater lights in the colors of Palekh lacquer miniatures –  a Russian handicraft.

The parapets, which are barriers extended around the fountain base, were 3D printed using structural and geopolymer concretes, gypsum, clay, use mixtures with mineral additives and fiberglass. Before the Sheaf fountain restoration, the AMT S-6044 LONG 3D printer was used to create the first inhabitable 3D printed house in Yaroslavl, Russia.

The 3D printed parapets of the Sheaf fountain in the Russian city of Palekh. Photo via SPETSVIA.
The 3D printed parapets of the Sheaf fountain in the Russian city of Palekh. Photo via SPETSVIA.

Construction 3D printing

In 2017, the machine-building company SPETSVIA, a manufacturer of professional CNC equipment, established the subsidiary company Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) to develop and produce 3D construction printers. SPETSVIA stated, “we noticed a growing market interest in the subject of construction 3D printing.”

Following this, construction 3D printing has demonstrated its ability to restore landmarks around the world. Earlier this year, Cintec, an international structural engineering firm based in Wales, helped in the restoration of the historical Trinidadian Government building, the Red House, using additive manufacturing. In addition, last month, Sismaitalia, an Italian service bureau, employed Massivit 3D printing to restore a palace, renovated as a hotel, located in the city Ferrara, Northern Italy.

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Featured image shows the 3D printed Sheaf fountain in the Russian city of Palekh. Photo via SPETSVIA.

NIST probes SLA 3D printing to improve quality by the voxel

High resolution 3D printing is reaching new levels of quality thanks to a technique developed at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Using a very-high-resolution scanning probe, the NIST researchers were able to measure the exact moment when material cures in an SLA 3D printer. Using data gathered in this process, 3D printing conditions can then be modified to achieve optimal material properties in a printed part.

Results of a study concerning NIST SLA probe methodology have recently been published in Small Methods journal.

Innovation and competitiveness in additive manufacturing

In its mission to promote innovation and the industrial competitiveness of the U.S., NIST has demonstrated a great deal of interest in additive manufacturing as an emerging technology.

In May 2014, the institute launched its Consortium for Additive Manufacturing Materials (CAMM) to focus on the development “metals, polymers, and ceramics for additive manufacturing uses in the aerospace, biomedical, energy, and electronics industries.”

Following this, speaking broadly about the institute’s aims with additive, Shawn Moylan, NIST mechanical engineer and project leader, told 3D Printing Industry that NIST wanted to “Get in at the ground level” to “let us do a lot of high impact work in a relatively short amount of time.”

Over the years, NIST has published countless studies relating to its developments in 3D printing including, but not limited to, research relating to the quality of parts made using laser powder bed fusion, and powder recycling.

This latest method of measuring SLA 3D printing to be developed by NIST is termed Sample‐Coupled‐Resonance Photorheology (SCRP).

SLA measured by the voxel

Seeking ways to improve the photocuring process in SLA 3D printers, SCRP measures material solidification at the volumetric-pixel (voxel) level. To do so, researchers introduce an atomic force microscopy (AFM) probe to the material vat of an SLA 3D printer.

Experimental set up of the AFM probe in a photopolymeric material. Image via NIST
Experimental set up of the AFM probe in a photopolymeric material. Image via NIST

In constant contact with the transforming media, the AFM rapidly senses changes (i.e. solidification) in the surface of a photopolymer.

Throughout the 3D printing process, the AFM constantly tracks resonance frequency (the frequency of maximum vibration) and quality factor (an indicator of energy dissipation) of the cured material.

By analyzing these data points, NIST scientists then determine the exact material properties of a 3D printed voxel, including any surface variations due to light intensity or diffusion.

A 3D topogrA 3D topographic image of a single voxel of polymerized resin, surrounded by liquid resin measured by sample-coupled-resonance photo-rheology (SCRPR). Image via NISTaphic image of a single voxel of polymerized resin, surrounded by liquid resin measured by sample-coupled-resonance photo-rheology (SCRPR). Image via NIST
A 3D topographic image of a single voxel of polymerized resin, surrounded by liquid resin as measured by AFM. Image via NIST

Probing experimentation 

In one NIST experiment, a commercial 3D printing resin is measured transforming from a liquid to a solid at a rate of 12 milliseconds.

Though cured under teh same conditions, some of the cured resin voxels exhibited high elasticity than others. According to AFM readings, these voxels experienced a rise in resonance frequency when 3D printed, which seemed to signal polymerization and increase elasticity.

In another example, exposure power and time influenced a polymer’s transformation from a rubber into a glass.

The next step for SCRP is to work with the information to get the most out of photopolymers, and tune the SLA process to instill greater stiffness or flexibility in 3D printed parts.

Since publishing the method, the team have also received a surprising amount of commercial interest in the method from companies in additive manufacturing and wider industry, such as coatings and optics.

Monitoring Fast, Voxel‐Scale Cure Kinetics via Sample‐Coupled‐Resonance Photorheology” is published online in Small Methods journal. It is co-authored by Callie I. Fiedler‐Higgins, Lewis M. Cox, Frank W. DelRio and Jason P. Killgore.

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Featured image shows a 3D topographic image of a single voxel of polymerized resin, surrounded by liquid resin as measured in the NIST study. Image via NIST

Ease-Link’s electric vehicle charger gears up with igus’ help

Easelink, the Austrian developers of an electric vehicle charging system, is working with igus, an international advanced polymer supplier. The Austrian company is the developer of an automated conductive charging technology they call Matrix Charging.

Easelink needed an inexpensive and efficient method to test a wide variety of cogwheels to be used in the Matrix Charging system. Igus provided Easelink with its 3D printing expertise to 3D print various cogs to test for reliability and durability.

The Matrix charging system and igus’ 3D printed gears. Image via igus
The Matrix charging system and igus’ 3D printed gears. Image via igus

Cordless charging for electric cars

Easelink’s electric vehicle charging system has two parts: a charging connector and a charging pad.

The Matrix pad is mounted to the floor power grid and the charging connector is attached underneath the electric vehicle.  

When a vehicle is parked over the Matrix Charging pad, the charging connector under the vehicle lowers to attach itself to the power supplying pad. The communication between the pad and the connector is carried out through a secured wireless connection.

Hermann Stockinger, the founder of Easelink, said, “with Matrix Charging, electric vehicles are charged automatically and without cables – this smart technology operates itself without user intervention.”

“From parking garages or drive-ins to private parking spaces or railway crossings – any time spent standing still can be used for charging the electric vehicle.”

The Matrix Charging system uses conduction method to charge vehicles, providing 43 kW (DC) or 22 kW (AC) of power.

3D printed gear wheels

igus has an online configurator which automatically generates CAD models once the user specifies the size, number of teeth and torque value of the gear wheel. The whole process of designing the cogs can be completed within seconds.

The development team at Easelink tested a wide variety of gears for the connector prototype using the igus’ configurator.

The gears were printed with SLS 3D printers and igus’ proprietary iglidur I6-PL polymer in print runs ranging between 24-72 hours. The polymer powder developed by igus for SLS 3D printing,  is resistant to extreme temperatures (-40 to +80 C). iglidur I6 is also more durable than standard plastics, such as polyoxymethylene (POM) and has a bend strength of 49/38 MPa.

During testing, the prototype gears were rotated at 12 RPM, with an applied force of 5Nm torque.

The 3D printed gears made with iglidur I6-PL showed no noticeable signs of wear after a million cycles. In contrast, the milled gear wheels made from Polyoxymethylene (POM) were worn after 321,000 cycles, and completely broke down after 621,000 cycles.

3D printing in the automotive industry

While, the automotive industry is finding application for 3D printing in a relatively small number of end use components. However, prototyping and the production of tooling using additive manufacturing are both areas where the technology has proven benefits.

For example, Volkswagen recently produced 2,000 individual 3D printed parts for the prototype electric race car Volkswagen I.D. R. The 1:2 scale prototype for wind tunnel testing helped the automaker build a car with better aerodynamics and reduced weight. 

GM’s Lansing Delta Township plant uses a 3D printed tool to align placement of the vehicle identification number on engines. The tool costs $3 to 3D print, versus $3,000 from the previous source. The Lansing plant has saved over $300,000 in three years by using AM.

The 3D printed gears made by igus demonstrate the importance of materials in additive manufacturing. While mass production in the automotive industry using AM is still on the distant horizon, applications that result in an improved component will continue to earn 3D printing a place in vehicles.

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Featured image shows the Matrix Charging system by Easelink. Image via Electrive