3D Printing News Briefs, October 29, 2022: Software Release, Smooth Parts, & More


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We’re starting with product launches and updates in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs. Artec 3D launched its Metrology Kit, and VoxelDance released the latest version of its All-in-One build prep software. Chromatic announced a new Smooth-Mode technology. Moving on, a CSEM project is focused on 3D printing pipes with embedded sensors. Finally, these drones are able to 3D print structures in flight.

Artec 3D Launches Metrology Kit for More Accurate 3D Scanning

Artec 3D has announced the release of its new Metrology Kit, which allows for deformation analysis and greater accuracy in measuring objects and areas in all sizes. The 3D optical coordinate measuring system is available in both an Entry and a Professional version, and offers a versatile, easy to use photogrammetry solution for high-precision inspection in the aerospace and defense, automotive, and oil & gas industries. The kit is compatible with inspection software solutions like PolyWorks and Geomagic Control X, and includes the Metrology Kit plugin, scale bars, adapters, measurement targets, and a camera with a resolution of up to 30.3 megapixels and a 28 mm wide angle lens.

Both DaaKS- and VDI-certified, the Artec Metrology Kit is completely portable, so it can operate as a standalone optical measurement solution, as well as a referencing tool for better 3D scanning performance over distance. It offers precise measurements in less than 15 minutes, can capture objects in motion, and provides point-based accuracy (RMS) up to 0.002 mm + 0.005 mm/m and length measurement accuracy up to 0.015 mm + 0.015 mm/m.

VoxelDance Releases Latest Version of All-in-One AM Build Prep Software

This month, AM software provider VoxelDance released Voxeldance Additive 4.0, which is the latest version of its All-in-One AM build preparation software. This release, with over 30 new features and optimizations, will enable users to boost industrial 3D printing productivity. Some highlights of the VDA 4.0 release are a new shrink wrap feature, which can accurately calculate and wrap a layer around the part while ignoring the inner details; border reinforcement for stronger support restraint; web support and tree support; a mesh smooth feature that removes sharp details to ensure a more appealing geometry, and more.

After listening to the needs of clients from 9+ verticals, including aerospace, medical, automotive, mold, footwear, dental, education, jewelry, prototype, etc., we introduced more exciting new features and further optimized the algorithm. VDA 4.0 fully supports SLM, SLA, SLS printing technologies and is a milestone for industrial applications,” said Chaoxin Zhang, CEO at VoxelDance.

Chromatic Develops Smooth-Mode Technology for Rubber Parts

Chromatic’s RX-AM™ materials and technology platform is shown here 3D printing smooth polyurethane grommets with Smooth-Mode.

3D printing technology provider Chromatic 3D Materials recently introduced its new Smooth-Mode technology in order to 3D print durable rubber parts with ultra-smooth surfaces at commercial volumes. The company’s team of AM experts fine-tuned the viscosity and surface tension of Chromatic’s 3D printable thermoset polyurethane materials, and Smooth-Mode actually uses chemistry to create smooth, ultra-bonded parts. Industrial manufacturers can now use Smooth-Mode with Chromatic’s RX-AM materials to print smooth, high-quality polyurethane parts, like gaskets, seals, and grommets, that have superior aesthetics, finer dimensional accuracy, and no necessary post-processing or surface finishing.

“Sealing requires a smooth surface, but 3D-printed parts have always had layer lines or roughness,” explained Dr. Cora Leibig, the Founder and CEO of Chromatic 3D Materials. “We have developed a way to easily and cost-effectively 3D print products that are ultra-smooth without additional steps. It’s a breakthrough for 3D printing those professional applications that must be airtight and watertight.”

CSEM 3D Printing Pipes with Embedded Sensors

CSEM’s AHEAD project is developing additively manufactured pipes with embedded sensors.

Centre Suisse d’ Electronique et de Microtechnique (CSEM) is coordinating the EU-funded Advanced Heat Exchange Devices (AHEAD) project, which means to improve the performance of thermal control systems by 3D printing pipes with embedded sensors. These systems are critical components in many high-performance devices, such as space rockets and satellites, but most current thermal control systems are bulky and need many connection cables. The goal of the AHEAD project, which is expected to last two years, is to use AM to develop systems that are wireless, compact, and less expensive in order to improve efficiency and enable real-time data collection. The AHEAD consortium partners are currently targeting space modules and the new particle detectors at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) as applications, though they hope to bring the technology to the pre-industrial stage so it can be used for a variety of applications, including machine tooling, irrigation mechanisms, industrial heating and cooling systems, automotive parts, and more.

“Broadly speaking, we aim to develop technology bricks that can be used to integrate electronic components like cables, connectors and sensors into many different kinds of 3D-printed objects. The ability to embed sensors into process equipment will be an important feature of Industry 4.0. The data collected by these sensors can be used to feed artificial intelligence algorithms for process control, process optimisation and predictive maintenance,” said Hervé Saudan, a project coordinator at CSEM.

UK Researchers Develop Drone Swarm for Aerial 3D Printing

Credit: University College London, Department of Computer Science/Dr. Vijay M. Pawar & Robert Stuart-Smith, Autonomous Manufacturing Lab

Finally, a research team from Imperial College London, the University of Bath, and University College London took inspiration from bee swarms engineering their hives to create a fleet of drones that can autonomously 3D print structures while flying in the air. The drones act independently, but work as a team, and the researchers hope the platform, called Aerial-AM, could one day be used to rapidly build bridges, shelters, or even houses, in areas that are difficult to access in order to help during weather emergencies like wildfires and hurricanes. In several proof of concept tests, which are outlined in a research paper, the self-organizing drone swarm was able to print structures with minimal human supervision using materials like foam and a cementitious mix.

The team developed a software framework for their swarm that was able to tap into natural precedents and previous engineering ideas to get each drone to work in tandem with the others while extruding material, but not flying into each other. Aerial-AM combines AI and physics to create two types of flying robot platforms: the BuilDrone, which autonomously deposits material based on its program, and the ScanDrone, which uses computer vision to scan ongoing construction for quality control purposes, and then provides feedback with each deposited layer. The only part human supervisors are part of is running a simulation before printing to generate a virtual job using three or more drones, in order to determine the best way to print a material.

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