3D Printing News Briefs, September 2, 2023: Alloy Testing, Modular Buildings, & More


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Today’s 3D Printing News Briefs run the gamut from defense 3D printing and research to 3D printed modular buildings and more. Read on for all of the details!

AML3D Receives US Defense Testing Contract Extension

Australian metal 3D printer OEM AML3D announced that it’s received a contract extension to continue alloy characterization and strength testing of Nickel-Aluminum-Bronze (NAB) 3D printing alloys for the US Navy’s submarine industrial base. The extension of this contract, signed with nonprofit BlueForge Alliance, builds on the positive results already received for the initial NAB testing contract signed this March. The contract extension is roughly A$0.37 million, (US$0.28 million) and allows AML3D to demonstrate that its proprietary ARCEMY metal AM technology meets US defense AM qualification thresholds, as well as advance the strategy to embed this technology in the US Navy’s submarine program. The work will take place at AML3D’s Adelaide facility in South Australia over the next 8-10 weeks and demonstrates the continued growth in AML3D’s US scale up strategy.

We are excited to continue NAB alloy characterization and strength testing to support adoption of  AML3D’s ARCEMY metal 3D Printing technology within the US Defence sector. This contract is further evidence of delivery against and our US scale up strategy and the ongoing development of a long-term, strategic partnership with the US Navy’s submarine industrial base,” stated AML3D Interim CEO Sean Ebert. “This second NAB alloy testing contract comes at a time of heightened interest in the potential of advanced manufacturing technologies to help meet increasing demand driven by the AUKUS alliance. AML3D’s continuing success in the US means we are increasingly well positioned to access the opportunities that will be created, as a result of the AUKUS Alliance, in the Defence markets of the US and its partners, Australia and Britain.”

Shapeways Expands Software Service Offerings with MFG Materials Launch

Digital manufacturing leader Shapeways Holdings, Inc. announced the launch of MFG Materials to expand its software service offerings. The new feature, immediately available to current premium subscribers, offers a variety of raw materials to manufacturers at discounted rates—based on material and quantity ordered—thanks to strategic partnerships and negotiations with top-tier raw materials vendors. As such, MFG Materials has the potential to offer 100% ROI for customers, which is good news, as the vast global market for industrial raw materials like plastics, aluminum, and iron/steel is exhibiting strong growth trends. So the value proposition of the new MFG Materials platform is great, and Shapeways is also introducing a low-cost monthly membership option, which is a good choice for manufacturers who only want access to this new service.

“We’re committed to supporting our manufacturers. With the launch of MFG Materials, we’re taking a practical step toward helping them save on raw material costs. Depending on the volume, suppliers can realize a sound return on investment by purchasing their raw material inventory through us,” said Greg Rothman, GM of Software for Shapeways.

“The growth trajectory of the industrial materials market is impressive. This presents immense opportunities, and MFG Materials is designed to help our customers tap into this opportunistic market. We are not only making these markets more accessible, but also enabling significant cost savings through our economies of scale. This boosts competitiveness and profitability for manufacturers, fueling growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector.”

AMGTA-Commissioned Survey Highlights Binder Jet Sustainability

The Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA) has announced the preliminary results of a study, “Comparative Life-Cycle Assessment: Comparison of Casting vs Binder Jetting for an Industrial Part,” conducted by the Yale School of the Environment (YSE) in partnership with Desktop Metal and Trane Technologies. In comparison to traditional metal casting, the two-year study confirmed a 38% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with binder jetting, mainly due to reduced energy demand during printing. In the study, researchers analyzed the cradle-to-gate manufacturing life cycle of a steel scroll chiller, 3D printed by Trane for use in its HVAC system, to find the comparative manufacturing impact of binder jetting compared to casting. Some other important takeaways include the importance of the manufacturing facility’s energy mix to the impact on GHG emissions, and that a redesign for lightweighting the scroll chiller via a lattice-type structure wouldn’t necessarily lead to further emissions reductions.

“We’re delighted to have another piece of independent, third-party research that validates how binder jetting is a greener approach to metal part production. Harmful emissions from traditional metal manufacturing need to be lowered with innovative technology approaches, but manufacturers need sound data—not greenwashing—to make good choices about how they produce their metal products,” said Jonah Myerberg, Chief Technology Officer at Desktop Metal. “This new study from Yale, Trane Technologies and AMGTA demonstrates what our team at Desktop Metal has long believed based on our hands-on experience: binder jetting is a greener way to manufacture metal parts.”

Following a peer review process, the full results of the survey are expected to be published in early 2024.

Fraunhofer IAPT’s AM Density Determination Benchmark Study

Speaking of studies, Fraunhofer IAPT commissioned an independent benchmark study, “Analysis of measurement methods for density determination in additive manufacturing,” about the available AM density determination technologies—a critically important property because of its impact on a 3D printed component’s performance and structural integrity. By measuring density accurately, manufacturers can determine the reliability and quality of parts, identify porosity or defects within the material, and ensure that the AM process is executed optimally. The study reviewed the use of micrographs, computed tomography (CT), and the manual Archimedes method, and determined that the automated, cost-effective density determination from Dimensionics Density is a valuable method, particularly when a statement on density needs to be made often or fast. Micrographs destroy the 3D printed part and require a lot of manual work, while CT needs expensive equipment and expert operators and the 3D image it provides is restricted in the pore size it can detect. The Archimedes method, while easier to use than the others, can be negatively impacted by environmental conditions, precision of the experimental procedure, and more, so it’s less accurate. The study reports that Dimensionics Density’s solution is the only one that’s traceable to a recognized standard, has a much higher repeatability, lower fluctuations, shorter measurement time, and more, all of which proves its value.

“We are extremely encouraged that the Fraunhofer IAPT report recognised the advantages of the automated density determination process that we produce. Our process uses the Archimedes method mentioned above, but in combination with modern automation technology. The samples to be measured are placed in a special component carrier, which is provided with openings on the underside. These component carriers are transported through the system by an axis robot and thus lowered centrally and precisely onto the scales. On the scales themselves, a lift-out rack with pins is placed, which lifts the component over the openings in the component carrier and thus lifts the component out of the carrier. The automated handling eliminates human influence on the measurement, as the parts are always placed identically onto the scales. The scales are designed to be insulated from vibration. In addition, all ambient conditions such as temperature, air pressure, and water temperature, are recorded via climate sensors, and their influence on the measurement result is taken into account directly in the evaluation algorithm when determining the density,” said Philipp Pruesse, Head of Sales at Dimensionics Density.

3D Printed Modular Building in North Rhine-Westphalia

Additive construction optimizes production processes and allows for the fabrication of individual concrete components and geometries that conventional formwork can’t achieve. But it can also use more sustainable building materials, like a 3D printed modular building recently constructed in Beckum, North Rhine-Westphalia. Located near a “biker railway,” with a large storage room and open, covered entrance, the structure offers enough space to store tools and sports equipment, and features an elliptical façade that curves out and runs into the inner shell’s vertical structure; a design only possible with 3D printing. Planning office MENSE KORTE partnered with Röser GmbH, which specializes in 3D printed prefabricated parts, and MC-Bauchemie, an international developer and manufacturer of construction chemical products, to successfully complete the project in 18 months.

They wanted to print a building that has the required properties (i.e. material with thixotropic behavior), but also majorly reduces CO₂ emissions. The team conducted many material tests to find the right material composition, and used MENSE KORTE’s special 3D dry mortar MC-PowerPrint GeCO₂, with blast furnace slag and fly ash as a binding agent instead of cement; alternative binders made of industrial by-products can save around 70% of CO₂ emissions in comparison to cement. The individual prefab parts were printed at Röser’s site and then transported over 500 kilometers on a closed inboard loader, which negates the reduction of CO₂ emissions but was necessary to stress test the parts. Once the pieces were at the construction site, they were simply placed on a precast concrete slab and connected with anchors within hours.

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