Tag Archives: 3d printing

World record for largest 3D printed object

Oak Ridge National Laboratory has entered the Guinness record books with the successful printing of the world’s largest 3D printed object.

Made from carbon fiber and ABS thermoplastic composite materials, the new tool measures 17.5 x 5.5 x 1.5 ft (5.3 x 1.7 x 0.5 m) and weighs around 1,650 lb (748 kg). To meet the requirements of the record, the item needed to be one solid piece of 10.6 cubic ft (0.3 cubic m), which a Guinness World Records judge confirmed at a ceremony. “The recognition by Guinness World Records draws attention to the advances we’re making in large-scale additive manufacturing composites research,” says Vlastimil Kunc, leader of [Oak Ridge] team. “Using 3D printing, we could design the tool with less material and without compromising its function.”

Of course, the tool wasn’t designed just for world record glory: printable in just 30 hours, it’s an impressive time and cost saver, considering the existing metal version currently takes about three months to manufacture. [emphasis mine]

The highlighted text illustrates in one sentence why there is a push toward 3D printing. It is cheaper, faster, and will eventually provide much greater flexibility.

A toy replicator for kids!

Mattel is bringing back an old toy, Thingmaker, but the new version will be a 3D printer for kids.

After wirelessly linking the 3D printer to a mobile device running the ThingMaker Design App for iOS or Android, users decide whether they want to create a toy figure or jewelry, with the option to print ready-designed toys, or mix and match from hundreds of parts which can be popped together after printing thanks to ball and socket joints. After designing their creation, users simply push a button to start printing.

Features of the ThingMaker 3D printer which make it more suitable for children than your typical 3D printer include it being simple to use, and having an auto-locking door. This will stay shut until your toy is at a safe temperature and the hot print head has retracted into a recess, so that it can’t burn eager little fingers.

Simplicity is applicable to adults as well. This gives us a hint where all 3D printing is heading.

And though the article describes as a negative the fact that it will routinely take 12 hours for each toy to print, I consider this irrelevant. I would have loved to have this thing as a kid, and would have gladly tried out a new design each day, just for fun. The toys themselves are what is irrelevant, not the creation process.

The UK launches a 3D printed airplane drone

A University of Southampton team, under a project for the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, have built and launched an entirely 3D printed unmanned air vehicle (UAV) from a navy ship.

Produced under the institution’s Project Triangle, the Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft (SULSA) UAV was launched via catapult from the patrol vessel HMS Mersey, and flew over the Wyke Regis training facility near Weymouth in the south of the country to land on Chesil beach. The 5min sortie covered a range of some 500m, with the UAV carrying a small video payload to record the mission so that operators could monitor it during the flight.

SULSA measures 150cm (59in) and weighs 3kg (6.6lb), and is made via 3D printing using laser sintered nylon. The university claims that SULSA is the world’s first UAV made entirely via the technique. It consists of four separately manufactured main parts that are assembled without the need for any additional tools.

The specific achievement here is interesting, but its significance in illustrating the growing use of unmanned drones and 3D printing is more important. Very soon, a large percentage of everything we own will be built with 3D printing technology, lowering the cost while making construction easier. As for drones, they carry both positive and negative possibilities.

3D printed items made in space come back to Earth

NASA today released a video of engineers unpacking a box of 3D parts that had been printed on ISS and then returned to Earth for testing.

Some more details here.

The goal, Bean continued, is for NASA to develop a database of mechanical properties to see if there’s any difference in mechanical strength between identical items made in space and on Earth. During the interview last month, Bean said that while NASA didn’t yet have any hard data, there had been initial indications from videos made on the space station, that the plastics used in the 3D printing there had “adhered differently” than those in the terrestrial test. “The astronauts trying to get the parts off the plate,” Bean said, found that the plastic “seemed to be a little more stuck than on the ground.” He said that while it was too early to tell if that was actually true, his guess was that if so, “it may be due to a lack of convection in zero-gravity.”

Understanding the engineering issues of 3D printing in space will make it possible for crews to carry far less cargo on long interplanetary journeys. Instead, they would carry a much smaller amount of raw material, which they could use to manufacture items as needed, then recycled.

Emailing a wrench to ISS

Having overheard an ISS astronaut mention the need for a particular type of wrench, the company that made the 3D printer on the station immediately worked up a design and emailed that to him, allowing him to print it up.

No word on whether the astronaut actually printed it, but it seems to me that he should do so immediately, then test its use.

Seven surgeries made possible by 3D printing

Link here. In all but one case, 3D printing was used to replace bones of the human body with 3D produced parts. The last surgery, however, illustrated the vast potential of this technology, where engineers used it to produce a duplicate of a child’s heart so that surgeons could plan the complex surgery required to fix it.

First 3D part manufactured in space

Astronauts on ISS have used a 3D printer, shipped to the station on the last Dragon flight, to print the first item ever manufactured in space.

“Everything worked exactly as planned, maybe a little better than planned,” Kemmer told NBC News. He said only two calibration passes were needed in advance of the first honest-to-goodness print job, which finished up at 4:28 p.m. ET Monday and was pulled out of the box early Tuesday. “It’s not only the first part printed in space, it’s really the first object truly manufactured off planet Earth,” Kemmer said. “Where there was not an object before, we essentially ‘teleported’ an object by sending the bits and having it made on the printer. It’s a big milestone, not only for NASA and Made In Space, but for humanity as a whole.”

The part made was a faceplate for the printer itself. This printer is a demonstration project, launched to test the engineering and to see how 3D printing operates in weightlessness. Eventually the goal is to have most of the spare parts on a interplanetary vehicle manufactured in space in this manner, using a supply of standard material, called feedstock, that would be much cheaper to ship from Earth.

Amazon’s 3D printshop opens

The competition heats up: Amazon has opened its first 3D-print shop, where customers can buy 3D printed products.

The store has launched with more than 200 print-on-demand designs. Users can customize items like earrings, pendants, rings and bobble head dolls using a special widget, before having the item 3D-printed and delivered. …

Although users of the store cannot upload and print their own designs, it is, as mentioned, possible to customize some of the available designs. Amazon has built a customization engine into the store, allowing for very simple changes to an item’s design, or more wholesale changes. Interactive 3D preview functionality is also provided, with which users can rotate an object and view it from any angle.

What does this story have to do with space exploration? Well, it marks the beginning of a major revolution in manufacturing that will change everything. And since 3D printing is going to be an essential need for future space explorers, having this new industry prosper and grow can only speed up the exploration and settlement of the solar system.

A Texas-based company has printed the first 3D-printed metal pistol, a 45 caliber Model 1911.

A Texas-based company has printed the first 3D-printed metal pistol, a 45 caliber Model 1911.

Video below the fold. The gun clearly functions, though I noticed that in the video they never loaded more three rounds in a magazine, and that the gun seems to cycle weakly. I suspect that they had some feeding problems when they tried to fire a full loaded five round magazine.

Nonetheless, this achievement further illustrates that 3D printing is about to become a major method of manufacture.
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A 3D printer intended for installation on ISS in 2014 has successfully proven it can work in weightlessness.

A 3D printer intended for installation on ISS in 2014 has successfully proven it can work in weightlessness.

Three prototype versions of space manufacturing startup Made in Space’s 3D printer showed their stuff during four airplane flights that achieved brief periods of microgravity via parabolic maneuvers, company officials announced today (June 19).

Then there’s this:

“The 3D printer we’re developing for the ISS is all about enabling astronauts today to be less dependent on Earth,” Noah Paul-Gin, Made in Space’s microgravity experiment lead, said in a statement. “The version that will arrive on the ISS next year has the capability of building an estimated 30 percent of the spare parts on the station, as well as various objects such as specialty tools and experiment upgrades.” [emphasis mine]

If this claim is true, this printer will do a lot to make interplanetary space travel far more likely. It will mean that travelers far from home will be able to manufacture the spare parts they need, on demand, should something break. This will save a lot of weight, compared to carrying pre-made spare parts.

Video of a successful test firing of Liberator, the first working 3D printed gun.

Video of a successful test firing of Liberator, the first working 3D printed gun.

Not surprisingly, the Democrats in Congress are rushing to outlaw this weapon, as is their typical approach to anything they don’t like: outlaw it, ban it, prohibit it, control it, restrict it.

In other related news, a news paper editor in Colorado has decided that the only fair way to debate the NRA is to send every member of the organization to prison.

No more due process in the clear-cut case of insidious terrorism. When the facts are so clearly before all Americans, for the whole world to see, why bother with this country’s odious and cumbersome system of justice? Send the guilty monsters directly to Guantanamo Bay for all eternity and let them rot in their own mental squalor.

No, no, no. Not the wannabe sick kid who blew up the Boston marathon or the freak that’s mailing ricin-laced letters to the president. I’m talking about the real terrorist threat here in America: the National Rifle Association. [emphasis mine]

Our modern liberal community: Restrict freedom, dump due process, imprison your opponents.

The plans and proposed launch schedule of the new asteroid mining company, Deep Space Industries.

The plans and proposed launch schedule of the new asteroid mining company, Deep Space Industries.

They aim to do their work using cubesats, which will keep everything cheap and simple, with the first launches by 2015, and the first sample return missions by 2016. Their new manufacturing technology appears to be a variation of 3D printing, though the descriptions so far released remain vague on details.

We should have even more information later today, after their press conference, aired live on youtube here at 1 pm (eastern).

A toy company has designed building blocks that make it possible to combine multiple brands, from Legos to Tinkertoys.

A toy company has designed building blocks that make it possible to combine multiple building block brands, from Legos to Tinkertoys.

By downloading free designs and using a 3D printer, you could have your very own pieces to connect ten different brands of building toys to each other and construct even more elaborate contraptions and structures.

As the first commenter on the webpage noted, “This is the next singularity.”

The 3D printer that can build a house

The 3D printer that can build a house.

The D-Shape is potentially capable of printing a two story building – complete with stairs, partition walls, columns, domes, and piping cavities – using only ordinary sand and an inorganic binder. The resulting material is said to be indistinguishable from marble, and exhibits the same physical properties, with durability highly superior to that of masonry and reinforced concrete.

The building process is very close to what we’d expect of a huge 3D printer. A nozzle moves along a pre-programmed path, extruding a liquid adhesive compound on a bed of sand with a solid catalyst mixed in. The binding agent reacts with the catalyst, and the solidifying process begins. Meanwhile, the remaining sand serves to support the structure. Then, another layer of sand is added and the whole process is repeated. Since it’s computer assisted, no specialist knowledge is required to use the printer. All that’s needed is a CAD design file.