3D Printing News Briefs, June 8, 2024: Flame-Retardancy, Scanner Upgrade, & More

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We’re starting with a new flame-retardant plastic powder by Siemens Mobility and the LEHVOSS Group, and then moving on to an Artec 3D 3D scanner upgrade and an automated quality control technique out of North Carolina State University. Then, Meltio has a new sales partner in Latin America, and researchers from Sweden are 3D printing very tiny glass sensors. Finally, a 3D printed data storage device will be sent to the moon.

Siemens Mobility Cooperates with LEHVOSS Group on Flame-Retardancy

LUVOSINT® PPS 9268 BK, powder and laser sintered parts.

There are various risk classes for fire protection standard EN 45545 when it comes to the flame retardancy of plastic railway components, and the highest one is for underground trains. It’s already difficult to find safe enough plastics, and if these components are 3D printed, the only option so far has been expensive high-performance polymers, like PEEK, PEI, and PEKK, which are flame-retardant already due to their chemical structure. The cost goes up even more if laser sintering is used, as the necessary high temperatures up to 390°C inside the machines strains the powder. According to the LEHVOSS Group, which develops, produces, and sells specialty chemical and mineral products, inexpensive but very flame-retardant plastic powders with low smoke toxicity that are able to be safely processed with laser sintering are what’s needed. SIEMENS Mobility developed the basics for this idea, and then cooperated with LEHVOSS to transfer them to a new laser sintering material: LUVOSINT PPS 9268 BK.

This material is based on a Polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), which, while inherently flame-resistant, doesn’t meet the requirements of the EN 45545 standard’s highest hazard classes. But, PPS powder has a high flowability, which is helpful when used in laser sintering AM, and the material is also chemically and thermally stable, which means that used powder can be recycled. With a little modification of the original material, Siemens Mobility and LEHVOSS were able to create LUVOSINT PPS 9268 BK, which can be processed with both fiber and CO2 lasers, and has a price level corresponding to conventional polyamide powder for laser sintering. Siemens Mobility completed a declaration of conformity showing that EN 45545-compliant components 3D printed with this material meet the requirement sets R1HL3, R7HL3 and R17HL3 according to DIN EN 45545-2. Plus, LUVOSINT PPS 9268 BK also meets flame retardancy requirements for aircraft and bus components as well.

Artec 3D Launches Upgrade Offer for Eva Lite Scanners

International 3D scanning hardware and software company Artec 3D is helping users of the Artec Eva Lite 3D scanner increase their capabilities by launching a special offer: the chance, for a limited time, to upgrade to an Artec Eva for €4,000, which is a major discount on the standard price of €7,000. They won’t even have to get rid of their existing scanner, buy more hardware, or pay to ship a new Eva scanner, as the product transform is done remotely. The offer applies to any Eva Lite purchased before March of 2024, and interested users should reach out to Artec 3D to request their upgrade today. But the promotion only runs until August 31st, 2024, so don’t delay!

This upgrade will help Artec Eva lite users capture even more detailed 3D models, as they’ll get access to all of the Artec Eva’s advanced features. This includes HD Mode, an AI algorithm that enables clean, detail-rich scans, even if it’s of a hard-to-reach area. This pairs well with upgraded texture capture capabilities, which makes it easier to scan featureless surfaces without texture aids, and improves tracking and thus global registration, so you can spend less time processing data. Plus, those who choose to upgrade to the Artec Eva will also be able to augment scans with photo data in order to achieve more photorealistic results. All of this means you can achieve 3D models that are incredibly lifelike. You can learn more about the benefits of upgrading from the Artec Eva Lite to the Artec Eva by watching this webinar.

NC State Researchers Improve Finishing for 3D Printed Machine Parts

Example of a 3D printed part mounted in the CNC machine after finishing work; the touch probe is preparing to take automated measurements. Credit: Brandon McConnell, NC State University

A new technique by researchers at North Carolina State University can help those who 3D print metal machine parts improve the finishing process. Once one of these parts is printed, additional finishing is needed, and then it has to be measured to make sure it meets critical tolerances; if not, it then requires adjustment. So the team’s work enables manufacturers to conduct automated quality control of parts during finishing, so possible flaws can be identified earlier in the process—making the process much more efficient. How does it work? The researchers integrated 3D printing, automated machining, laser scanning, and touch-sensitive measurement technologies with related software to create the mostly automated system. Then, the system fabricates metal machine components that meet critical tolerances, without having to finish the part, remove it, and possibly machine it again. The team reported a successful test of their new method.

“We were able to finish the part in 200 minutes using conventional techniques; we were able to finish the same part in 133 minutes using our new technique. Depending on the situation, saving 67 minutes could be incredibly important. Time is money in most professional settings. And in emergency response contexts, for example, it could be the difference between life and death,” explained Brandon McConnell, an assistant research professor in NC State’s Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and a co-corresponding author of the team’s research paper.

“All of the hardware we used in this technique is commercially available, and we outline the necessary software clearly in the paper—so we feel that this new approach could be adopted and put into use almost immediately. And we are certainly open to working with partners who are interested in making use of this technique in their operations,” he concluded.

Meltio Releasing M600 in Latin America with New Sales Partner

Meltio will bring its new M600 wire-laser metal 3D printer to Latin America for the first time thanks to new sales partners. MAS Metrology & Solutions and Molinari, part of South America’s MOLGROUP, have a strong commercial presence in Brazil and Argentina, respectively, and will help Meltio drive industrial sales of its patented process, which is built around safe, clean, and affordable welding wire. By working with industry, academia, technology centers, tooling machine companies, and robotic integrators, these new partners will help Meltio boost growth in the region.

“We are thrilled to be working with companies like MOLGROUP 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 Antonio Antonaya, APAC & LATAM Sales Manager at Meltio. “With this partnership with MAS in Brazil, we are responding to the increasing demand of many industries there about our unique wire-laser metal 3D printing solutions in this enormous market. Together, we will be able to cater to the ever-growing needs of the MAS Metrology and Solutions customer base for, and ease the adoption of metal Additive Manufacturing.”

3D Printing Silica Glass Sensors on Optical Fibers

Microscopic image of a printed glass demonstration structure on tip of optical fiber. (Image: KTH Royal Institute of Technology)

Researchers from KTH Royal Institute of Technology recently published a paper about their work integrating silica glass optical devices with optical fibers, which could enable better remote sensors for healthcare and environmental applications. Usually, high-temperature treatments are needed when structuring optical fiber tips with silica glass, which can cause issues with temperature-sensitive fiber coatings. But this new method starts with a base material without carbon, which means high temperatures aren’t necessary to make the glass structure transparent. Using their technique, the research team 3D printed a tiny silica glass sensor that they claim is more resilient than a standard plastic-based one, even after several measurements. The team also demonstrated a method for 3D printing ultra-small patterns etched onto surfaces at the nanometer scale, called nanogratings, which are used to manipulate light and could be helpful in quantum communication.

“By bridging the gap between 3D printing and photonics, the implications of this research are far-reaching, with potential applications in microfluidic devices, MEMS accelerometers and fiber-integrated quantum emitters,” said KTH Professor Kristinn Gylfason.

3D Printed Data Storage Device Going to the Moon

BIG has created a data center for the Moon. Render by BIG.

Danish architecture studio Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) partnered with Florida-based technology company Lonestar Data Holdings Inc to create a 1 kg 3D printed data storage device called Freedom Payload, which will be sent to the moon to store data from enterprise businesses, governments, and leading NGOs. The device was 3D printed in the shape of the silhouettes of NASA astronauts Charles Duke—representing the success of NASA’s Apollo program—and Nicole Stott, a symbol of the ongoing Artemis lunar program. It’s part of a larger initiative by Lonestar and others, including University of Wisconsin and Harvard University researchers, to protect humanity’s data in case of a catastrophic event on Earth. The Freedom Payload will be launched later this year during a NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) mission, and will function similarly to a hard drive. The 3D printed device, which Lonestar says will be the first of its kind in space, will host eight terabytes of data, be naturally cooled, and fully solar-powered.

Lonestar said, “Utilizing advanced 3D printing technology, BIG has seamlessly merged form and function to conceive a structure capable of withstanding the Moon’s harsh conditions, all while promoting sustainable practices in extraterrestrial environments.

“As humanity transitions to a digital society with never-ending data needs, the expansion of data centers to the Moon provide an environmentally friendly means to simultaneously meet the needs of Earth while protecting the planet from carbon-heavy data centres.”

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