21 August 2017 12:33
In our recent blog post on the development of additive manufacturing for space exploration, we touched on Made in Space’s announcement of a new technology that would allow for 3D printing plastic in space. While the International Space Station has already been making use of an onboard SLS printer, this new approach will actually allow astronauts to print parts in the vacuum of space. This will provide an extra level of flexibility when it comes to conducting repairs on the exterior of the space station. This was something existing technologies ...
16 August 2017 10:23
When it comes to finishing 3D printed parts, there are more options available than ever before. In today’s tutorial, we’ll be looking at a highly effective, hands-free method of achieving a smooth finish for your plastic parts: vapor polishing.   What is vapor polishing? Vapor polishing is a technique for polishing plastics that utilises vapor from solvents to gently melt the surface of a part, causing it to subtly ‘flow’. The printed part is suspended above a chemical bath in an enclosed space, so every area is exposed to the fumes for just ...
27 July 2017 12:56
One of the most effective applications of 3D printing in the industrial world has been injection moulding, where the use of printed moulds has helped reduce materials cost, streamline workflows, and maintain consistent quality. However, it’s not the only manufacturing technology where 3D printing offers opportunities for new improvements and enhancements. As part of an ongoing drive to streamline and improve their production processes, forward-thinking foundries are combining 3D printing with sand casting.   What is sand casting? Sand casting is the process of casting molten metal using sand-based moulds. To begin with, ...
26 July 2017 11:10
One of the ongoing challenges with any sort of 3D printing is how designs that exceed printers’ build spaces can be successfully printed. As 3D printing has been successfully utilised, forward-thinking manufacturers and research have begun pushing the limits in terms of what can be printed with the available technology. While this has led to a number of fascinating research projects, such as the ESA’s in-house printing platform, for the vast majority of 3D printing operations, the most practical solution for designs that exceed the available printer capacity is to ...
21 June 2017 8:30
3Dprint.com recently reported on current research at Texas A&M University, Essentium Materials and Texas Tech into strengthening plastic parts printed with FDM technology. This involves printing with special CNT-coated filaments, then welding the resulting parts using precisely applied microwave irradiation. The result is stronger parts that are suitable for a range of industrial applications -- effectively mitigating one of the key disadvantages of FDM printing. At the same time, Michigan Technology University is conducting research into a more energy-efficient recycling material waste from plastic 3D printing. The goal is to allow ...
19 May 2017 15:10
While many people still think of plain-coloured plastic when it comes to 3D printing, it is not only possible, but more straightforward than ever before to achieve vivid, full-colour results for both prototypes and production parts. In this week’s tutorial we’ll look at some of the available options for achieving great results with coloured SLS prints. There are a few options for adding colour to your SLS parts during the post-processing stage. The best choice for your part will depend on its intended purpose (i.e. is it intended for demonstration purposes, ...
04 May 2017 15:28
Ever since Chuck Hull printed his first prototype at home more than 30 years ago, plastics have been the material type most associated with the field of additive manufacturing. 3D printing with plastics allows for the quick creation of quality prototypes, but with recent advances in printing materials and technology, also offers opportunities for the creation of functional parts, suitable for mass production. In this short tutorial, we will look closely at some of the options currently available for printing with plastics, their respective advantages/disadvantages, and some of the key ...