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ESA 'Amaze' Project Aims To Take 3D Printing 'Into the Metal Age' 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-we-have-star-trek-replicators-yet dept.
dryriver sends this BBC report: "The European Space Agency has unveiled plans to 'take 3D printing into the metal age' by building parts for jets, spacecraft and fusion projects. The Amaze project brings together 28 institutions to develop new metal components which are lighter, stronger and cheaper than conventional parts. Additive manufacturing (or '3D printing') has already revolutionized the design of plastic products. Printing metal parts for rockets and planes would cut waste and save money. The layered method of assembly also allows intricate designs — geometries which are impossible to achieve with conventional metal casting. Parts for cars and satellites can be optimized to be lighter and — simultaneously — incredibly robust. Tungsten alloy components that can withstand temperatures of 3,000C were unveiled at Amaze's launch on Tuesday at London Science Museum. At such extreme temperatures they can survive inside nuclear fusion reactors and on the nozzles of rockets. 'We want to build the best quality metal products ever made. Objects you can't possibly manufacture any other way,' said David Jarvis, ESA's head of new materials and energy research."
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ESA 'Amaze' Project Aims To Take 3D Printing 'Into the Metal Age'

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  • Amaze is a loose acronym for Additive Manufacturing Aiming Towards Zero Waste and Efficient Production of High-Tech Metal Products

    I got AMATZWAEPOHTMP ... not even close. Sounds like someone just really wanted to spell a word from all that

  • by MatthiasF (1853064) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @06:00PM (#45137159)
    Laser sintering is an awesome field but it has been around awhile.

    Here's a "How it's Made" about the process from almost 3 years ago.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6Px6RSL9Ac [youtube.com]
    • Nice!

      Thanks for the vid.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, but it's gonna go big soon. Some important patents expire next year.

    • ... but I don't know when numerical control was first done for it? My father worked on a system to put metal on the bottom of ceramic cookware to improve heat conductivity at METCO in the 1980s, although even then that was done by hand for tests. Flame spray was commonly used then to build up worn metal shafts for repairs. From:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_spraying [wikipedia.org]
      "In classical (developed between 1910 and 1920) but still widely used processes such as flame spraying and wire arc spraying, the particl

      • by kermidge (2221646)

        Holy... wow. This and a handful of other posts were eye-openers for me. Thanks, all. Sheesh, I gotta get out more. I mean, I can sort of forgive my ignorance because of not having need for exposure in this area, but to be that ignorant of it...

        My limit was wood working. People who do stuff in metals have always amazed me. Even straight-forward mill work is neat; then add in 'tuned' forging, heat treating, all that, it's half-magic to me, let alone the ways to forecast and arrive at particular crystall

        • Yeah, it is amazing what is possible technologically compared to politically/socially. I wrote a related essay here:
          "Getting to 100 social-technical points"
          https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/openmanufacturing/BByqMARHqOw [google.com]
          "One can think of it this simplified way. Imagine abundance for all takes a society earning 100 "social-technical" points. :-) These points come from the multiplication of the "social" points times the "technical" points.
          So, 50 * 2 = 100.
          Or, 2 * 50 = 100.
          or, 10 * 10 = 100.

          • by kermidge (2221646)

            First of all is the really important question, "Does this guy ever sleep?" The answer, of course, is yes. He's cloned himself several times and has learned how to do effective, conflict-free, brain copying.

            I like the soc-tech points, never seen it laid out like that, and it makes easy sense and calc, once one arrives at how to go about assigning those points to begin with. Actually, back of the envelope WAG calculation is neat, it allows for slop and helps show the shapes of things (which is not a shabby

  • by Dishwasha (125561) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @06:02PM (#45137181)

    Um....people have already been doing this for some time now [wikipedia.org]. News that would be interesting to me would be to make 3d metal printing semi-affordable for the common hacker since most of these machines cost around $1,000,000. Right now 3d printing molds for metal casting is the only practical solution.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      Yeah, I could have sworn I remember reading about 3D printed aluminum parts in aircraft already. Like, a few years ago. That's great they want to advance it, but "taking it into the metal age"? Please.
    • http://reprap.org/wiki/MetalicaRap [reprap.org] They're using an triode electron gun to melt the powder. Trouble is that most of the items needed aren't in wide use. They have made great progress though.
  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @06:29PM (#45137427)

    There seems to be a contradiction between this illustration [bbcimg.co.uk] and the following quote, both which appeared in the article;

    "One common problem is porosity - small air bubbles in the product. Rough surface finishing is an issue too," he said.

    It would seem that a rough porous ball bearing would not be that effective.

    • Especially in bearings porous can be a feature, not a bug. In ball bearings I'd guess it's always a bug though.
      Slide bearings are customary made sintered, since you can push oil through the bearing bush itself to lubricate the works.
      One of the disadvantages is that you can't widen them with a simple lathe because that closes the pores.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've been waiting for car vending machines for a year now.

  • Parts destined for aerospace are subject to rigorous testing and the first dozen or more prototype parts usually are sacrificed for testing. Exact dimensions, strength, creep and fatigue resistance must all be determined and the statistical lower bounds must be established before any part can be certified as airworthy. For wrought alloys this stuff is old hat. Things like welding are more of a problem and fabricated parts have fallen out of favor due to the rigorous QA needed. Look also at the use of as-HIP
  • Most readers looked at the headline and thought "Cool, 3D printed Metallica logos!"
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Whenever they talk about strength they talk about using strong materials like tungsten. But most strong parts in the real world are made by forging weak (and cheap) materials like iron, to fix the crystal structure for the desired properties. I don't see how 3D printing will address this. If strength is only available via strong materials then applications will be severely limited.

  • I don't know, 3d printing obviously shows a lot of promise, but I find it hard to countenance it's even in the Stone Age as of yet ..
  • This is my favorite line from the article:

    "If we can get 3D metal printing to work, we are well on the way to commercial nuclear fusion."

    Right. That's all we need.

  • Hmm... isn't this already being employed by SpaceX? Just look at the 3D design video and at the 3 minute mark Elon describes how they send the design straight to laser-metal printer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNqs_S-zEBY [youtube.com]

    So ... what else is new?

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