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3D Printing News Briefs, July 31, 2021: Student Racing and More

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We’re covering a software release and new composite materials in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, followed by 3D printing used in Formula Student racing, to make metrology components, and to make bollards. Read on for all the details!

CAD Exchanger 3.10 Released

Solid Edge import

CAD Exchanger announced that it has released CAD Exchanger 3.10, the latest and greatest toolset for 3D CAD end-users and software developers. Some of the new features in this release include a Solid Edge import, which means that the software now supports Solid Edge files from versions 17-21, and a mesh colors import in SOLIDWORKS to improve the usability of scenarios where standalone SOLIDWORKS assemblies that have missing components are converted to mesh. Additionally, there are some new features for CAD application developers, such as a universal reader and writer API and Unity integration enhancement. Other features include broader versions coverage for CATIA, Parasolid, JT, and SOLIDWORKS, read and write PMI options for STEP and JT, and more.

“Our only regret in this CAD Exchanger version is that being released during the low season, it competes for your attention with such a stronghold as summer vacations. But when it comes to two new native formats and an all-formats reader and writer, none of the sunny routines can beat us,” the website states.

3D Printable PCM Composites Regulating Temperature

New phase-change material composites can regulate ambient temperatures inside buildings. Image courtesy of Dharmesh Patel.

Moving on to research out of Texas A&M University, a team there published a study on their work creating novel, cost-effective 3D printable phase-change material (PCM) composites that can actually regulate ambient temperatures inside a building; the study was funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Materials Research Career Award. HVAC systems are often used to regulate interior temperatures, but they’re not very energy-efficient, and also use greenhouse materials. Depending on the temperature of the surrounding environment, PCMs can change their physical state, and regulate temperature without any external electricity required. These composite materials can also be added to building materials like paint, and even fabricated as decorative accents, using the team’s new method to combine light-sensitive liquid resins with a phase-changing paraffin wax powder to create a 3D printable ink composite.

“We’re excited about the potential of our material to keep buildings comfortable while reducing energy consumption. We can combine multiple PCMs with different melting temperatures and precisely distribute them into various areas of a single printed object to function throughout all four seasons and across the globe,” explained Dr. Peiran Wei, research scientist in the university’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Soft Matter Facility.

3DPRINTUK Sponsors Formula Student Team in Competition 

London-based 3D printing service 3DPRINTUK is a big supporter of next-generation automotive designers and engineers, and as such is a sponsor of the Team Bath Racing (TBR) Formula Student team, which recently raced at the Silverstone Race Circuit to compete for the title of Formula Student 2021. The company has been working with the team to 3D print final car parts for them; each of the 25 core team members is involved in the design and manufacture of the car, as well as working with the sponsors. 3DPRINTUK used MJF technology to print the plenum—a performance part that ensures the engine is taking in air efficiently—out of Nylon 12 material, and used SLS printing to create several Nylon 12 components for the front wing of the racecar, such as aerofoil sections.

“Being part of TBR is an incredible opportunity. There is real value in being involved in this competition because it provides us with real-world skills and experience of high-end engineering — an essential requirement for potential employers. These days automotive / F1 team employers actively look for ‘Formula Student’ among graduate candidates,” said Conor Smith, the Outboard Suspension Designer & Sponsorship Coordinator TBR21, who is in his fifth and final year as an Undergraduate in Mechanical with Automotive Engineering (MEng) at the University of Bath.

“3D Printing really is the most cost- and time-effective way of manufacturing complex parts. Other processes cost an order of magnitude more, and there are some parts on our car that we just wouldn’t be able to manufacture any other way (they are designed specifically for 3D printing). Also, for certain applications — particularly for prototyping — the speed of 3D printing means that we can turn things around in a few days, which really speeds up our design process.”

MCE Metrology Using BCN3D’s 3D Printing

French company MCE Metrology, a dimensional metrology manufacturer, has upped its productivity and creativity, and savings, by using in-house 3D printing from BCN3D Technologies to create customized measurement machines for its customers. Specifically, the company installed a Epsilon W27 printer and a Smart Cabinet on-site, which is now helping MCE Metrology save €10,000 annually. These types of metrology machines offer exact precision and quality control to the customers using them, and MCE Technology provides training, consulting, maintenance, service programming, and more to customize the experience for each client’s particular needs. The company needed a better prototyping method that offered reliable materials, like PLA and carbon fiber, and quick productions, and chose 3D printing due to its ease of use, cost-effectiveness, and ability to shorten the production timeline. BCN3D in particular was chosen because of its IDEX technology, large print volume, filament runout sensor, and auto-cleaning nozzle, among other features.

“Upon acceptance, we launch the product by means of prototyping for assurance. After we validate it is working to its full potential, then we proceed with working on the final product,” explained Claire Teulier, the Marketing Manager at MCE Metrology.

“A big print volume combined with the Independent Dual Extruder (IDEX), means we can fulfill all types of requests, totally on-demand. 3D printing offers us more creativity, reactivity and the ability to test all prototypes quickly and efficiently.”

3D Printed Bollards in Port of Rotterdam

Recently, the Port of Rotterdam Authority announced that it was installing the “world’s first” 3D printed steel bollards on a new quay in the Sleepboothaven at Rotterdam Heijplaat, which is an incubator for the manufacturing industry. The typical bollards at the port are made from cast steel to a set design, but by using Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) instead, the bollards, which will be used to moor vessels for Broekman Project Services, can be fabricated more quickly and sustainably. These six bollards, part of a series of twelve, were co-developed by the Port Authority and RAMLAB as part of an infrastructure innovation program to improve and increase sustainability in manufacturing and using hardware on the quay, and testing shows that the 3D printed bollards match the quality of the cast steel ones.

“3D printing allows us to produce parts locally and on demand. For example, in 2017 RAMLAB produced the first 3D-printed and certified marine propeller,” explained RAMLAB’s Managing Director, Vincent Wegener. “This year we are printing the first bollards, which is a useful test case that shows that you can produce small series relatively quickly when compared to casting and importing the parts from China.”

Next steps involve investigating the possibility of using 3D printing for hydraulic engineering applications, and possibly setting up on-site 3D printing for repairs on nautical objects like mooring posts and bollards.

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