3D Printing News Briefs, April 27, 2023: ChatGPT, Heat Exchangers, & More

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We’re kicking things off in 3D Printing News Briefs today with the hiring of a new regulatory consultant to support RadTech and PAMA. Then, Ivaldi has released a ChatGPT-enabled digital assistant. In metal AM news, Dyndrite has joined NMIS to advance metal 3D printing research, and Conflux is working with Rocket Factory Augsburg to develop heat exchangers for aerospace applications. We’ll finish with construction, as Alquist 3D broke ground on the first 3D printed home in Iowa, and sales for a 3D printed community in Texas will begin on June 10th.

RadTech Hires New Regulatory Consultant

Dr. Gregory Pace

Nonprofit trade association RadTech—The Association for UV+EB Technologies works to support the advancement of UV+EB technologies, which are used in many applications, including electronics, packaging, and additive manufacturing. The association announced that it has hired analytical scientist Dr. Gregory Pace as a new regulatory consultant to help with RadTech member regulatory needs and work with members of the Photopolymer Additive Manufacturing Alliance (PAMA), a RadTech collaboration with NIST. Dr. Pace has held corporate, scientific, and divisional scientific and management positions in product quality assurance, global regulatory affairs, analytical chemical and polymer characterization, and more. His experience will definitely make him an asset to RadTech and PAMA members.

“With the growing demands of regulatory compliance, we are pleased to welcome Greg as part of our team. We look forward to engaging Greg’s experience with our membership as we work to better address regulations, and also educate regulators about our technologies,” said Michael President of RadTech and Technical Key Account Manager, RAHN USA.

Ivaldi Group Unveils ChatGPT Digital Assistant

Distributed manufacturing leader Ivaldi Group, which specializes in the additive manufacturing heavy industry aftermarket, has launched a new digital assistant that can help with troubleshooting and on-demand ordering. Most interesting-it’s enabled by ChatGPT, which allows for the indexing and accessing of secure equipment data and maintenance documentation. Basically, maintenance crews can engage with the AI assistant for information, which simplifies operations in that the need for physical manuals or online document searches for spare parts is gone. Additionally, the platform allows users to order replacement components right through the interface, and if a part isn’t in the virtual library, users can just submit sketches or 2D drawings. These will be converted to models, and Ivaldi creates a 3D printable version, working its partner network of 15,000 local manufacturers to ensure production and delivery.

“Over eleven billion dollars were lost last year due to spare parts shortages. Providing maintenance crews with better information and faster spare parts access will save companies time and money, reducing risk, improving safety and extending the useful life of equipment,” said Espen Sivertsen, CEO of Ivaldi Group.

The new ChatGPT solution is in Alpha and will be available to select customers; join the waitlist here.

Dyndrite Joins NMIS for Metal 3D Printer Manufacturing Research

3D software company Dyndrite has joined the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) as a member to help accelerate metal 3D printer manufacturing research. Members enjoy access to technical capability, leading expertise, and innovation opportunities, and Dyndrite will collaborate with researchers from NMIS Digital Factory, which develops laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) process materials. Together, they will work on several R&D projects, including finding the top material properties for parts in the energy sector and assessing corrosion resistance and fatigue strength for biomedical applications. In turn, NMIS will use Dyndrite to help develop build recipes and “shareable knowledge” in materials process development across the important LPBF OEM file formats.

“We are delighted to join forces with NMIS and members to develop AM metals materials and explore production automation of LPBF using repeatable build recipes. By removing variation in the print process we showcase how additive manufacturing scales to allow users to make more parts with greater consistency at a lower price. This is the key to unlocking new markets in 3D metal printing,” explained Stephen Anderson, Head of Strategic Relationships at Dyndrite. “This effort will drive metal AM into a mainstream production process and enable simpler traceability from powder to part.”

Developing Heat Exchangers for Aerospace Applications

Conflux Technology product group shot and liquid-liquid heat exchanger

Australian metal AM company Conflux Technology is partnering with Germany-based Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA) to develop 3D printed heat exchangers as part of the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars Initiative. RFA wants to democratize access to space and reduce launch costs, while Conflux Technology’s 3D printed microstructures and internal geometries enable maximized heat transfer and optimized turbulence and pressure drop in its heat exchangers. $1 million AUD in funding from the initiative’s Supply Chain Capability Improvement Grant Program will be used to develop and manufacture the Conflux Technology 3D printed heat exchanger, which the pair will work to embed into an orbital rocket’s gas duct. Together, they will undergo materials qualification and testing of Conflux’s Monel 500K nickel-copper alloy, out of which the Gas Duct Heat Exchanger will be 3D printed on the EOS M300-4.

“Conflux is partnering with RFA to embed next generation heat exchange technology into a rocket engine,” said Dan Woodford, Chief Commercial Officer, Conflux Technology. “At Conflux we are establishing ourselves as leaders in the development and commercialization of 3D printed thermal solutions and relevant materials for extreme applications. With support from the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars Grant Supply Chain Capability Improvement grant, we are now applying it to the rapidly expanding space industry.”

Alquist 3D & Iowa City Break Ground on 3D Printed Neighborhood

Muscatine 3D printing homes. © Provided by Davenport-R Island-Moline KWQC

In January of 2023, Iowa City additive construction company Alquist 3D announced that it was working with the city of Muscatine, local nonprofit and housing organizations, and Muscatine Community College to 3D print 10 homes there. Now, the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine announced that after months of planning, it’s broken ground for what will be the first 3D printed neighborhood in the state. Local general contractor Hagerty Earthworks is managing the home development, and Alquist 3D will 3D print the exterior walls of the 1,300-square-foot homes out of an enhanced concrete mix; interior walls will be built with traditional wood framing. The foundations will be laid sequentially, and then the 3D printer will arrive, moving from foundation to foundation until all the walls are printed. Construction is expected to be finished in the fall of 2023.

“The outside walls are the important walls, that’s where you gain the efficiencies,” explained Zachary Mannheimer, Founder and CEO of Alquist 3D. “We believe these homes will be in the neighborhood of probably 50 percent more efficient than traditional-built homes. I think later on, there’s a potential of building some of these houses with the interior walls printed also, but our initial builds will be traditionally built on the inside.”

Sales Begin June 10 for 3D Printed Wolf Ranch Neighborhood

Speaking of 3D printed homes, Austin-based additive construction (AC) startup ICON and Lennar Corporation, one of the largest construction firms in the U.S., began an ambitious project in 2022: building a community of 100 3D printed homes in Texas. Now, the two have announced that sales of homes in the neighborhood, dubbed Wolf Ranch, will begin on June 10th, 2023 with Lennar, which anticipates that the first homeowners will be able to move in later this year. The homes were co-designed by renowned architectural/urban planning firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), and each one will be between 1,600 and 2,100 square feet, with solar panels and eight different floor plans. While ICON has dealt with some difficulties in the last several months, they don’t seem to have slowed the AC startup down.

“Blending contemporary Texas ranch style aesthetics, the community of 3D-printed homes features elevated architectural and energy-efficient designs that highlight the benefits of resiliency and sustainability with the digital possibilities of additive construction,” the Lennar website states. “Delivered at speed and at scale using a fleet of ICON’s Vulcan robotic construction systems, software and advanced materials, each home’s full wall system – including interior and exterior walls – are produced with creating less waste in mind and with more design freedom.”

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