3D Printing News Briefs, July 29, 2023: Sales Partner, Metallic Gels, & More

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In 3D Printing News Briefs, Meltio welcomes a sales partner for the metal AM market of the DACH region, the Drone Logistics Ecosystem is partnering with Sedaxis, and Missouri S&T is bringing a WarpSPEE3D to students and the community. Finally, a collaborative team of researchers developed metallic conductive 4D printing ink.

Meltio Announces Alphacam as DACH Sales Partner

Laser metal deposition manufacturer Meltio has been busily adding sales partners all over the world, from Brazil and South Korea to Africa and more. Now, the company has announced that alphacam is its first official sales partner in the DACH region of Germany (D), Austria (A), and Switzerland (CH). In this role, the industrial 3D printing services provider, which covers the entire AM workflow from 3D data generation to consulting, sales, and customer service, will help boost Meltio’s growth in the DACH metal AM market through distribution and support. Meltio’s metal 3D printing solution is built around welding wire, which is the cleanest, safest, and least expensive metal feedstock, and alphacam will work to build an ecosystem for the technology throughout the DACH region.

We are thrilled to be working with companies like alphacam as their expertise as well as customer-centric approach are exactly what we are looking for when incorporating partners in the Meltio partner ecosystem,” said Francisco González, Sales Manager for EMEA at Meltio. “Together, we will be able to cater to the ever-growing needs of the DACH market for, and ease the adoption of metal additive manufacturing.”

Drone Logistics Ecosystem Partnering with Indian Composites Company

The Drone Logistics Ecosystem (DLE) is a virtual, global network of universities, investors, companies, public institutions, and government organizations that operate in the drone logistics industry. The goal is to bring stakeholders together to share their expertise in order to stimulate standardization in the fast-growing industry by co-developing services and products and acquiring cross-border market access together. The DLE has nearly 50 distinguished members, including composites and continuous fiber 3D printing startup Anisoprint and now Sedaxis Advanced Materials, one of India’s fastest growing companies in composites 3D printing, equipment, and materials. Through this new partnership, other DLE members can benefit from the latest developments in composites and 3D printing, which could then lead to collaborations with the universities, research institutes, and companies involved in the AM Centre of Excellence jointly launched by Sedaxis and India’s Vellore Institute of Technology, which features FDM, SLS, and continuous fiber co-extrusion technologies.

“The global drone industry has important ramifications for border security, food security, near-mile and last-mile deliveries, healthcare supply chains and more. As with any aerial vehicle, weight reduction is a critical aspect to improve both range and payloads. Composites have been proven to do just that and it’s time the drone industry adopts this as a standard for most of their products,” said Vishwanath Godavarty, Business Head for Sedaxis 3D Printing. “DLE is an excellent global initiative for members to collaborate on product development, market access, consulting and contract manufacturing and we at Sedaxis are thrilled to be able to contribute to these objectives and help grow the safe and sustainable adoption of drones across industries.”

Missouri S&T Purchases WarpSPEE3D for Large-Scale Metal 3D Printing

Metal AM company SPEE3D has been partnering with universities recently, and the latest is the Missouri University of Science and Technology (S&T). In order to address industry supply chain needs and research manufacturing, and offer workforce development training to students, the university purchased the WarpSPEE3D printer, which will be housed in the Center for Aerospace Manufacturing Technologies (CAMT) and allow academia and community businesses to quickly print large-scale parts. Missouri S&T wants to gain a deeper understanding of the company’s proprietary metal cold spray technology, and chose this specific printer—which builds parts up to 40 kg with a diameter up to 1 m by 700 mm in just days—to address immediate industry needs on a larger scale. The university has future plans to showcase the WarpSPEE3D at the new Missouri Protoplex, which will open in 2025 to merge the manufacturing needs of local academia and businesses. The facility will serve as a hub for researching new methods and materials, develop workforce competencies, prototype and test new manufacturing processes, and more.

“The manufacturing academia community is quickly adopting new technologies such as additive manufacturing to train the future of the workforce and address real-world supply chain business needs. Understanding the capabilities of SPEE3D’s WarpSPEE3D printer will help us address different use cases for industry needs such as castings and forgings, which will help drive lower lead times, and drive domestic US manufacturing, including locally here in Missouri,” said Bradley Deuser, Assistant Research Professor and Manufacturing Engineer for Missouri S&T’s Kummer Institute Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

Research Team Develops Metallic Gels for Conductive 3D & 4D Printing

4D printing means 3D printed structures that can change shape over time in response to external stimuli, such as light and humidity. Typically, electrically insulating materials like polymers have been used for this, but the functionality of printed parts could improve by adding conductive fillers to these polymers. However, as a collaborative research team explained, “the high loadings necessary to achieve conductivity represent a trade-off with printability.” The researchers, from North Carolina State University, China’s Northwestern Polytechnical University, Tianjin University, Xi’an University of Science and Technology, Taiyuan University of Technology, and the National University of Singapore, collaborated to develop metallic gels for conductive 3D and 4D printing. To form the conductive ink, they connected copper (Cu) particles with soft eutectic gallium indium alloy (EGaIn) bridges, which resulted in a metallic material with gel-like properties that “are well suited for printing.” The gels are 3D printable at room temperature “over a wide compositional window,” and even without a sintering step, the resulting printed parts have a metallic conductivity of 1.05 × 105 S/m. This development could open new opportunities for composite, electronic, and thermal devices.

“This paper reports printable metallic gels (pendular suspensions) consisting of an aqueous suspension of copper particles connected by bridges of liquid eutectic gallium indium alloy (EGaIn). Pendular suspensions rely on capillary forces to form networks between solid particles with a composition-dependent rheology, but prior studies have focused on insulating suspensions,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “Here, the rheology of a conductive solid-liquid-liquid suspension is tuned for 3D printing by varying the composition and the pH; the latter promotes metallic wetting. The dry printed parts have metallic electrical conductivity (1.05×105 S/m) without requiring a sintering step. Drying at elevated temperatures can accelerate the removal of water while creating stress that drives shape change (i.e., 4D printing). As a demonstration, we print a conductive spider that lifts and assembles its own body from an initially flat shape. Such conductive inks are promising for printing metallic structures under ambient conditions.”

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