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

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 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. []
  • Re:You mean DMLS? (Score:4, Informative)

    by kaiser423 ( 828989 ) on Tuesday October 15, 2013 @06:36PM (#45137485)
    Already can do. Look at Cold Spray - []

    We have/had a Cold Spray machine here at work. Not a lot of business for it, so it's not active right now. You could just mix in various titaniums, steels, aluminum and make all types of fun semi-alloys. You could even mix plastic or other materials in there to get some really interesting and crazy materials, but none of them really exhibited true alloy-like characteristics. The most practical thing I saw it do was a local machine shop botched the job on the final pass of this hugely expensive large precision titanium piece that would require them to junk it and start over. We cold-sprayed the gouge back in and then they re-machined it correctly, saving tons of time, money and effort.

    Problem is that alloys or unique materials nearly always get their unique properties due to the unique circumstances with which they were formed. There's always interesting steps to ensure that the bonds are as expected, like extreme pressure or heat, being under various gas blankets or fluids when combining, etc.

    This is just melty where Cold Spray was deformative.

    I mean this is cool. You can make some really neat things, but exotic alloys or new materials is definitely not one of them.Yea, you could stack materials or "thread" them together, but we're already pretty good at that using massive presses.

"In matrimony, to hesitate is sometimes to be saved." -- Butler