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NASA Build

NASA's JPL Develops Multi-Metal 3D Printing Process 32

Posted by timothy
from the just-use-a-photoshop-gradient dept.
yyzmcleod (1534129) writes The technology to 3D print a single part from multiple materials has been around for years, but only for polymer-based additive manufacturing processes. For metals, jobs are typically confined to a single powdered base metal or alloy per object. However, researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory say they have developed a 3D printing technique that allows for print jobs to transition from one metal to another in a single object. From the article: In JPL’s technique, the build material’s composition is gradually transitioned as the print progresses. For example, the powdered build material might contain 97 percent titanium alloy and 3 percent stainless steel at the beginning of the transition. Then, in 1 percent increments between layers, the gradient progresses to 97 percent stainless steel and 3 percent Ti alloy by some defined point in the overall 3D printing process.
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NASA's JPL Develops Multi-Metal 3D Printing Process

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  • by Joe Gillian (3683399) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @12:10PM (#47574891)

    It's not about being able to magically colonize space, it's about saving money and improving shuttle fuel economy. I forget what the cost per pound to send something into space is, but I remember it being in the range of thousands of dollars per pound in fuel. If you could use this to reduce the weight of a vessel by even a few kilograms, you would be saving tens of thousands per launch on fuel costs. Alternatively, that's a few kilograms that can be devoted to experiments rather than the weight of the shuttle.

    The same thing goes for any other type of fuel-burning vehicle.

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @12:18PM (#47574933) Homepage
    And not just for "gradient" bonding. You can use non-gradient, sharp boundaries to create parts that touch but are NOT bonded. Want to create a machine with two interlocking gears? Make one gear out of steel and the other out of titanium. They won't bond even though they are touching each other.

    Right now, you basically can't build a machine that can build itself, because almost all machines need multiple metals AND needs parts that touch but are not bonded. A simple motor for example needs metals that are magnetic and non-magnetic and also needs something that can spin.

    With this technology, a machine may actually be able to create a copy of itself that does not need any other parts added, nor will it need human assembly.

  • by Prune (557140) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @12:58PM (#47575261)
    Many of those problems will not be resolved. The most important one, and one that will always be worse in the case of 3D printing compared to traditional mass manufacturing methods, is the extreme energy inefficiency. For example, when printing with plastic, a 3D printer uses 50-100 times more electricity than an injection molding machine making the same part, not to mention that it wastes a lot of material left in the print bed that's not recyclable as feed for the printer because its properties have been corrupted. Home and office use should also be discouraged because of the emittance of ultrafine particles. Want your place of living/work's air even more polluted? Source for these: []

    There are other problems as well, including cultural ones. From the article:
    3D printing might someday encourage a new kind of pollution: rapid garbage generation. Engineers being trained to respect their raw materials are taught "Think twice, cut once." When people get ahold of easy production tools, however, it’s easy to not heed that wise old adage.
    Like we don't have enough of a throw-away culture as it is.
    3D printing should only be used to manufacture objects which cannot be made by other methods.
  • by fullmetal55 (698310) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @03:14PM (#47576381)

    That's actually my biggest complaint about 3d printing...

    It's never going to replace injection molding for manufacturing. That will always be cheaper. where this comes in handy, is prototyping. which is what they were intended for from the beginning. you need to make a part, a one-off... it's great for that. if you need to make more than one... then other options are available. but to be honest making a SINGLE one-off part through injection molding? that'll take you more than 50-100 times more electricity of the 3d printer, because you'll need to make the mold, and then you get to throw it away because its not needed anymore.

    but for prototyping and one-offs... thats where 3d printing's niche is. prove it can work with a 3d printer, then mass produce it.

    now since this article is about METAL 3d printing, that's an entirely different beast altogether... injection molding (Casting) of metal components of course will be cheaper, but can you cast multiple alloys together like this? that's kinda cool... even you gotta admit that.

Dynamically binding, you realize the magic. Statically binding, you see only the hierarchy.