3D Printing News Briefs: August 24, 2018

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We’re sharing some business news in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, followed by some interesting research and a cool 3D printed statue. Meld was listed as a finalist in the R&D 100 Awards, and Renishaw has introduced 3D printed versions to its styli range, while there’s an ongoing Digital Construction Grant competition happening in the UK. A researcher from Seoul Tech published a paper about in situ hydrogel in the field of click chemistry, while researchers in Canada focused on the Al10SiMg alloy for their study. Finally, an Arcam technician tested the Q20plus EBM 3D printer by making a unique titanium statue of Thomas Edison.

Meld is R&D 100 Awards Finalist

The global R&D 100 Awards have gone on for 56 years, highlighting the top 100 innovations each year in categories including Process/Prototyping, IT/Electrical, Mechanical Devices/Materials, Analytical/Test, and Software/Services, in addition to Special Recognition Awards for things like Green Tech and Market Disruptor Products. This year, over 50 judges from various industries selected finalists for the awards, one of which is MELD Manufacturing, an already award-winning company with a unique, patented no-melt process for altering, coating, joining, repairing, and 3D printing metal.

“Our mission with MELD is to revolutionize manufacturing and enable the design and manufacture of products not previously possible. MELD is a whole new category of additive manufacturing,” said MELD Manufacturing Corporation CEO Nanci Hardwick. “For example, we’re able to work with unweldable materials, operate our equipment in open-atmosphere, produce much larger parts that other additive processes, and avoid the many issues associated with melt-based technologies.”

The winners will be announced during a ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando on November 16th.

Renishaw Introduces 3D Printed Styli

This month, Renishaw introduced a 3D printed stylus version to its already wide range of available styli. The company uses its metal powder bed fusion technology to provide customers with complex, turnkey styli solutions in-house, with the ability to access part features that other styli can’t reach. 3D printing helps to decrease the lead time for custom styli, and can manufacture strong but lightweight titanium styli with complex structures and shapes. Female titanium threads (M2/M3/M4/M5) can be added to fit any additional stylus from Renishaw’s range, and adding a curved 3D printed stylus to its REVO 5-axis inspection system provides flexibility when accessing a component’s critical features. Components with larger features need a larger stylus tip, which Renishaw can now provide in a 3D printed version.

“For precision metrology, there is no substitute for touching the critical features of a component to gather precise surface data,” Renishaw wrote. “Complex parts often demand custom styli to inspect difficult-to-access features. AM styli can access features of parts that other styli cannot reach, providing a flexible, high-performance solution to complex inspection challenges.”

Digital Construction Grant Competition

Recently, a competition opened up in the UK for organizations in need of funding to help increase productivity, performance, and quality in the construction sector. As part of UK Research and Innovation, the organization Innovate UK – a fan of 3D printing – will invest up to £12.5 million on innovative projects meant to help improve and transform construction in the UK. Projects must be led by a for-profit business in the UK, begin this December and end up December of 2020, and address the objectives of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund on Transforming Construction. The competition is looking specifically for projects that can improve the construction lifecycle’s three main stages:

  • Designing and managing buildings through digitally-enabled performance management
  • Constructing quality buildings using a manufacturing approach
  • Powering buildings with active energy components and improving build quality

Projects that demonstrate scalable solutions and cross-sector collaboration will be prioritized, and results should lead to a more streamlined process that decreases delays, saves on costs, and improves outputs, productivity, and collaborations. The competition closes at noon on Wednesday, September 19. You can find more information here.

Click Bioprinting Research

Researcher Janarthanan Gopinathan with the Seoul University of Science Technology (Seoul Tech) published a study about click chemistry, which can be used to create multifunctional hydrogel biomaterials for bioprinting ink and tissue engineering applications. These materials can form 3D printable hydrogels that are able to retain live cells, even under a swollen state, without losing their mechanical integrity. In the paper, titled “Click Chemistry-Based Injectable Hydrogels and Bioprinting Inks for Tissue Engineering Applications,” Gopinathan says that regenerative medicine and tissue engineering applications need biomaterials that can be quickly and easily reproduced, are able to generate complex 3D structures that mimic native tissue, and be biodegradable and biocompatible.

“In this review, we present the recent developments of in situ hydrogel in the field of click chemistry reported for the tissue engineering and 3D bioinks applications, by mainly covering the diverse types of click chemistry methods such as Diels–Alder reaction, strain-promoted azide-alkyne cycloaddition reactions, thiol-ene reactions, oxime reactions and other interrelated reactions, excluding enzyme-based reactions,” the paper states.

“Interestingly, the emergence of click chemistry reactions in bioink synthesis for 3D bioprinting have shown the massive potential of these reaction methods in creating 3D tissue constructs. However, the limitations and challenges involved in the click chemistry reactions should be analyzed and bettered to be applied to tissue engineering and 3D bioinks. The future scope of these materials is promising, including their applications in in situ 3D bioprinting for tissue or organ regeneration.”

Analysis of Solidification Patterns and Microstructural Developments for Al10SiMg Alloy

a) Secondary SEM surface shot of Al10SiMg powder starting stock, (b) optical micrograph and (c) high-magnification secondary SEM image of the cross-sectional view of the internal microstructure with the corresponding inset shown in (ci); (d) the printed sample and schematic representation of scanning strategy; The bi-directional scan vectors in Layer n+1 are rotated by 67° counter clockwise with respect to those at Layer n.

A group of researchers from Queen’s University and McGill University, both in Canada, explain the complex solidification pattern that occurs during laser powder bed fusion 3D printing of the Al10SiMg alloy in a new paper, titled “Solidification pattern, microstructure and texture development in Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) of Al10SiMg alloy.”

The paper also characterizes the evolution of the α-Al cellular network, grain structure and texture development, and brought to light many interesting facts, including that the grains’ orientation will align with that of the α-Al cells.

The abstract reads, “A comprehensive analysis of solidification patterns and microstructural development is presented for an Al10SiMg sample produced by Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF). Utilizing a novel scanning strategy that involves counter-clockwise rotation of the scan vector by 67° upon completion of each layer, a relatively randomized cusp-like pattern of protruding/overlapping scan tracks has been produced along the build direction. We show that such a distribution of scan tracks, as well as enhancing densification during LPBF, reduces the overall crystallographic texture in the sample, as opposed to those normally achieved by commonly-used bidirectional or island-based scanning regimes with 90° rotation. It is shown that, under directional solidification conditions present in LPBF, the grain structure is strictly columnar throughout the sample and that the grains’ orientation aligns well with that of the α-Al cells. The size evolution of cells and grains within the melt pools, however, is shown to follow opposite patterns. The cells’/grains’ size distribution and texture in the sample are explained via use of analytical models of cellular solidification as well as the overall heat flow direction and local solidification conditions in relation to the LPBF processing conditions. Such a knowledge of the mechanisms upon which microstructural features evolve throughout a complex solidification process is critical for process optimization and control of mechanical properties in LPBF.”

Co-authors include Hong Qin, Vahid Fallah, Qingshan Dong, Mathieu Brochu, Mark R. Daymond, and Mark Gallerneault.

3D Printed Titanium Thomas Edison Statue

Thomas Edison statue, stacked and time lapse build

Oskar Zielinski, a research and development technician at Arcam EBM, a GE Additive company, is responsible for maintaining, repairing, and modifying the company’s electron beam melting (EBM) 3D printers. Zielinski decided that he wanted to test out the Arcam EBM Q20plus 3D printer, but not with just any old benchmark test. Instead, he decided to create and 3D print a titanium (Ti64) statue of Thomas Edison, the founder of GE. He created 25 pieces and different free-floating net structures inside each of the layers, in order to test out the 3D printer’s capabilities. All 4,300 of the statue’s 90-micron layers were 3D printed in one build over a total of 90 hours, with just minimal support between the slices’ outer skins.

The statue stands 387 mm tall, and its interior net structures show off the kind of complicated filigree work that EBM 3D printing is capable of producing. In addition, Zielinski also captured a time lapse, using an Arcam LayerQam, from inside the 3D printer of the statue being printed.

“I am really happy with the result; this final piece is huge,” Zielinski said. “I keep wondering though what Thomas Edison would have thought if someone would have told him during the 19th century about the technology that exists today.”

Discuss these stories and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below.

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