Latest Developments in Additive Manufacturing: December03 January 2024
Report by Danny Weller
With the arrival of 2024 and the promise of another exciting year in additive manufacturing, let us look back at what the last month of 2023 had to offer. From 3D-printed bridges and surgical cutting guides to carbon transformation systems and groundbreaking research into fixing 3D printing defects, December was full of interesting developments.
Read on to find out more.
Stratasys Improves Head and Neck Cancer Surgery with 3D Printing
The UK’s University Hospital Birmingham (UHB) embraces the Stratasys J5 MediJet 3D printer, slashing surgery durations by up to three hours. This innovative technology crafts exact, patient-specific cutting guides, replacing the former laborious manual process of crafting metal guides during surgeries.
The integration of Stratasys’ 3D printer empowers UHB to fabricate precise cutting guides tailored to patients from scan data, ensuring surgical accuracy at resolutions within 150 microns. These guides, crafted from Biocompatible Clear MED610 resin, bolster surgical planning and execution, significantly enhancing patient outcomes.
Stefan Edmondson, consultant clinical scientist at UHB, emphasizes the game-changing role of 3D printing in surgical planning, generating anatomical models, and crafting guides. The technology’s precision proves crucial, especially in intricate procedures like shaping and transplanting a patient’s fibula into the head or neck, ensuring an impeccable fit while preserving bone tissue.
Holcim’s Groundbreaking 3D Printed Concrete Bridge Sets New Sustainability Standards
Holcim, a leader in concrete 3D printing, alongside partners ETH Zurich’s Block Research Group, Zaha Hadid Architects Computation and Design Group, and Incremental3D, recently completed the ‘Phoenix’ 3D printed concrete bridge. Utilizing recycled aggregates from earlier projects, this bridge represents a milestone in sustainable infrastructure, cutting its carbon footprint by 25%.
Holcim’s circular ECOCycle® technology, blending recycled materials from building demolitions with ECOPlanet cement, paved the way for a greener mix in the Phoenix Bridge. This innovative approach, integrating computer-aided design and 3D printing, reduces material usage by up to 50% while maintaining structural integrity.
Experts emphasize the bridge’s sustainable design and circular construction principles, enabling easier recycling and deconstruction. Philippe Block from ETH Zurich highlights the importance of 3D printing in using materials precisely, ensuring a sustainable and circular concrete construction approach.
ReCarbon Revolutionizes Carbon Transformation
ReCarbon, founded by physicist Jay Kim in 2011, pioneers a transformative solution converting plasma carbon into clean energy. Their Plasma Carbon Conversion Unit (PCCU) harnesses proprietary microwave plasma technology, breaking down CO2 and CH4 into clean fuels and products. AM plays a crucial role in ReCarbon’s R&D, aiding in agile development and testing, enabling rapid prototyping and novel designs.
The PCCU, a scalable system producing hydrogen and syngas, serves various industries, offering low-carbon products like ethanol and hydrogen. AM allows quick-turn, iterative testing, significantly reducing R&D timelines. ReCarbon optimized reactor designs and consolidated critical components, achieving robust designs and cost savings through metal AM.
ReCarbon’s PCCU tech aims to revolutionize carbon emissions in industries like steel and chemical manufacturing. The company has initiated pilot projects, partnering with entities like Woodside Energy. Their goal is to deploy verified carbon-reduction solutions worldwide, collaborating with US, Japan, and South Korea-based companies to decarbonize various processes and waste sources.
Universities Unveil Solute Trapping Insights
Despite its many benefits and advances, additive manufacturing still faces challenges. Foremost among these challenges are defects compromising part performance. In a collaborative effort, researchers from Queen Mary University of London, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and the University of Leicester unveil insights into solute trapping during rapid solidification in additive manufacturing (AM). Their computational model, detailed in Nature Communications, delves into solute transport mechanisms, offering prospects for enhanced 3D printing materials and processes.
Solute trapping, concentrating solute elements during solidification, leads to non-equilibrium microstructures affecting AM part properties. Dr. Chinnapat Panwisawas, the study’s corresponding author, likens solute trapping to a secret ingredient in a recipe, aiming to harness this understanding for stronger, more reliable 3D-printed components.
The team’s model highlights melt convection’s role in promoting solute trapping and diluting solute at the solidification front. Understanding these mechanisms opens possibilities to minimize crack susceptibility and facilitates future designs for ‘hard-to-print’ superalloys, enhancing 3D printability.
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