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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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  • by Verdatum (1257828) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @06:25PM (#45137393)
    Yes. For the low investment cost of, say, $250,000, you can own a machine that laser-sinters metal into something that will allow you to make most parts of a gun with the possible exception of the springs. Or, you could ya know, buy a gun on the black market for a couple hundred.
  • Re:Oh yes yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peragrin (659227) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @06:28PM (#45137419)

    And yet everyday we are using alloys, materials, and medicines that 40 years ago were all but a dream.

    Hybrid synthetic fibers, hell the metal alloy's used in your cell phone, and laptop didn't have mass production status 40 years ago. 40 years ago building things at sub 100nm processing was considered all but impossible.

    The real trick isn't when it is first possible to do something or even when it is available to a select few, but when any idiot can do it. The microwave oven took 15 years to go from proof of concept to an affordable counter appliance. and another 10 years for decent ideas on how to use it practically.

    Metal 3D printing is a good 20+ years from everyday use. but it starts today.

  • Nothing new there. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Valdrax (32670) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @06:43PM (#45137541)

    You know, if you want to just automatically churn out metal gun parts, you could do it with a CNC mill for a fraction of the cost. It's not like automated metalworking is a new thing. The plastic gun was mostly a stunt -- a dangerous one at that.

    Or if you were willing to put in the time and elbow grease yourself, you could mill your own parts by hand for a fraction of that with power tools bought from Home Depot. It's not like there isn't a wealth of material at your fingertips on the internet from a devoted community of paranoid "gotta be able to make this myself once the gubbermint takes mah gun away" people to get you started. As a bonus, many of these people are smart and meticulous (despite my teasing), and it's all legal with the right licenses, so the material's more trustworthy than your average Anarchists's Cookbook nonsense.

    And if you really don't care about having a polished, reusable model to show off, zip guns can be made with entirely off the shelf parts found in your local tool store too.

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