3-D-printed robots with shock-absorbing skins

Adam Conner-Simons for MIT News:  Anyone who’s watched drone videos or an episode of “BattleBots” knows that robots can break — and often it’s because they don’t have the proper padding to protect themselves. But this week researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory(CSAIL) will present a new method for 3-D printing soft materials that make robots safer and more precise in their movements — and that could be used to improve the durability of drones, phones, shoes, helmets, and more. The team’s “programmable viscoelastic material” (PVM) technique allows users to program every single part of a 3D-printed object to the exact levels of stiffness and elasticity they want, depending on the task they need for it.   Cont'd...

Metamaterial Mechanisms

From the Hasso Plattner Institute: Recently, researchers started to engineer not only the outer shape of objects, but also their internal microstructure. Such objects, typically based on 3D cell grids, are also known as metamaterials. Metamaterials have been used, for example, to create materials with soft and hard regions.  So far, metamaterials were understood as materials—we want to think of them as machines. We demonstrate metamaterial objects that perform a mechanical function. Such metamaterial mechanisms consist of a single block of material the cells of which play together in a well-defined way in order to achieve macroscopic movement. Our metamaterial door latch, for example, transforms the rotary movement of its handle into a linear motion of the latch. Our metamaterial Jansen walker consists of a single block of cells—that can walk. The key element behind our metamaterial mechanisms is a specialized type of cell, the only ability of which is to shear.  In order to allow users to create metamaterial mechanisms efficiently we implemented a specialized 3D editor. It allows users to place different types of cells, including the shear cell, thereby allowing users to add mechanical functionality to their objects. To help users verify their designs during editing, our editor allows users to apply forces and simulates how the object deforms in response... (project homepage)

How to Attract Millennials to Advanced Manufacturing Jobs

Tony Oran for Quality Digest:  In an age where popular technology careers are only seen as attractive if they are based in Silicon Valley or offered by the latest and greatest startup companies, the manufacturing industry must make changes to attract bright and talented Millennials. The numbers clearly illustrate this need. Baby Boomers currently make up a large part of the manufacturing workforce. With many workers expected to retire in the coming decade, there will be nearly 3.5 million jobs to fill, according to Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute. Millennials have now overtaken Baby Boomers as the most populous generation, making them one of the largest pools of talent for employers. Quantity, however, does not always translate to quality. Employers are struggling to find qualified workers to fill available openings, and it’s a trend companies are seeing regardless of sector.   Cont'd...

Home 3D Printing 'Just Not There Yet' Admits MakerBot

Alex Cranz for Gizmodo:  MakerBot was going to change the world. It was going to bring 3D-printing, long a product limited to designer offices and workshops, into the home (or at least the garage). But earlier today, under a veil of marketing speak and glitzy videos, the company announced a new focus on commercial—not consumer—products, and in so doing, finally admitted what we’ve all known for a while. No one really wants a 3D printer in their house. CEO Jonathan Jaglom called MakerBot’s event an “an overall repositioning” for the brand. That’s a market savvy way of saying MakerBot is abandoning the home and hobbyist and embracing offices and schools. Later, when I asked about MakerBot’s former dream of getting 3D printers into people’s homes Jaglom’s answer seemed to come easily, the consumer market’s “just not there yet.”   Cont'd...

New modular AM 'smart factory' from Concept Laser decouples pre-production and production

Benedict for 3Ders.org: ¬ German metal 3D printing specialist Concept Laser has unveiled its new "smart factory" approach to additive manufacturing. The idea behind the Industry 4.0 "smart factory" is to decouple process stages, allowing tasks to be carried out in parallel and physically separate from one another. The¬ AM Factory of Tomorrow, Concept Laser's modular additive manufacturing factory-building kit, has been designed to allow manufacturers to seamlessly incorporate additive manufacturing technologies into existing production lines or to develop new and efficient AM production spaces. The Lichtenfels-based company has now revealed new aspects of its advanced manufacturing concept, detailing how a move from the¬ sequential¬ to the¬ parallel¬ could maximize production speed, cost-efficiency, and scalability. ¬ Cont'd... ¬

Peugeot Teams Up With 3D Printing Startup for Parts and Possibly Full Cars

Daniel Bentley for Fortune:  French carmaker PSA said on Thursday a partnership with a U.S. 3D printing startup would lead to cheaper production of whole vehicle structures as well as parts for its models. The maker of Peugeot, Citroen and DS cars said it had agreed with Los Angeles-based Divergent 3D to develop metal printing processes for PSA production lines. Carlos Tavares, PSA’s chief executive, said this could “dramatically scale down the size and scope of our manufacturing footprint” and yield lighter, more profitable vehicles. The carmaker did not quantify any impact on production jobs. Industries from aerospace to healthcare use 3D printing for the production of metal and plastic components, while elaborate assemblies with moving parts often prove more difficult. Ford is among other carmakers exploring the technology.   Cont'd...

3D printed designs easily stolen by nearby smartphone

Jack Loughran for E&T:  3D printers have been shown to be vulnerable to attack by smartphones that can steal designs by being within close proximity during the printing process. A study from the University at Buffalo, USA explored security vulnerabilities in 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, which analysts say will become a multibillion-dollar industry employed to build everything from rocket engines to heart valves. "Many companies are betting on 3D printing to revolutionise their businesses, but there are still security unknowns associated with these machines that leave intellectual property vulnerable," said assistant professor Wenyao Xu, who worked on the project.   Cont'd...

GE speeds up 3D printing push with bids for SLM, Arcam

Johannes Hellstrom and Maria Sheahan  for Reuters:  General Electric launched bids on Tuesday to buy two of the world's top makers of machines for metal-based 3D printing - Sweden's Arcam and Germany's SLM Solutions - for a total $1.4 billion to bolster its position in the fast-growing technology. 3D printing has been used to build prototypes for decades but has become more widespread for industrial mass production in recent years, with uses including the production of dental crowns, medical implants and light aircraft parts. GE has long been one of the main proponents of industrial 3D printing, using it to make fuel nozzles for its new LEAP jet engine in what marked a big step in using the technology in mass production.   Cont'd...

This new 3D-printing pen draws with wood, copper, and bronze

James Vincent for The Verge:  3Doodler's 3D-printing pens have always had a lot of potential (who doesn't want a souped-up glue gun that can draw 3D structures in midair?), but in our hands-on with the pens, their rough build quality means they come across more as toys than serious design tools. The company's latest model, the 3Doodler Pro, wants to shake up this perception, offering professional users more control, faster-setting plastics, and a whole new range of materials to work with. Some of the new filaments on offer are pretty wild, too. 3Doodler says the Pro supports materials including wood, copper, bronze, nylon, and polycarbonate. Obviously, this doesn't mean you'll be sticking a length of dowel in the back of the Pro to draw tiny pieces of wooden furniture — instead, these new materials blend elements of their namesake into the plastic standard filament.   Cont'd...

Oak Ridge tool takes world record for largest 3D-printed object

Michael Irving for New Atlas:  Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is no stranger to impressive 3D printing feats, with a replica 1965 Shelby Cobra and a dwelling and vehicle which can power each other, already under its belt. Now a new plane wing trim-and-drill tool developed and 3D printed by ORNL has been certified by Guinness World Records as the largest solid 3D printed item. 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.   Cont'd...

Going Beyond 3D Printing to Add a New Dimension for Additive Manufacturing

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory:  A team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers has demonstrated the 3D printing of shape-shifting structures that can fold or unfold to reshape themselves when exposed to heat or electricity. The micro-architected structures were fabricated from a conductive, environmentally responsive polymer ink developed at the Lab. In an article published recently by the journal Scientific Reports (link is external), lab scientists and engineers revealed a strategy for creating boxes, spirals and spheres from shape memory polymers (SMPs), bio-based "smart" materials that exhibit shape-changes when resistively heated or when exposed to the appropriate temperature. Lab researcher Jennifer Rodriguez examines a 3D printed box that was "programmed" to fold and unfold when heated While the approach of using responsive materials in 3D printing, often known as "4D printing," is not new, LLNL researchers are the first to combine the process of 3D printing and subsequent folding (via origami methods) with conductive smart materials to build complex structures.   Cont'd...

A New Effort to Teach Low-Income Students Marketable Skills

Mikahail Zinshteyn for The Atlantic:  The Obama administration is rolling out an experimental plan that will allow employers and training programs to partner with accredited universities to teach students work-related skills. This pilot will enable students to receive federal financial aid for programs that are typically ineligible for these funds, like coding boot camps. By pairing traditional universities with companies that train workers for in-demand fields like computer coding and advanced manufacturing, the U.S. Department of Education hopes to create a new model for delivering high-quality academic credentials to workers in a shorter period of time.  Cont'd...

Brookings Report - America's advanced industries: New trends

Brookings Report: ¬ Leaders in cities, metropolitan areas, and states across the country continue to seek ways to reenergize the American economy in a way that works better for more people. To support those efforts, this report provides an update on the changing momentum and geography of America's advanced industries sector-a group of 50 R&D- and STEM (science-technology-engineering-mathematics)-worker intensive industries the vitality of which will be essential for supporting any broadly shared prosperity in U.S. regions. What emerges from the update is a mixed picture of progress and drift that registers continued momentum in the manufacturing sub-sector; a major slump in energy; and strong, widely distributed growth in high-tech services- all of which adds up to a somewhat narrowed map of growth overall. ¬ Cont'd.. .

How 3D Printing Streamlines the Engineering Workflow

Michael Molitch-Hou for Engineering.com:  The desktop 3D printing space has become an interesting one in the last year or so, as manufacturers shift the focus away from consumers and towards professional and industrial users. The technology has proven that it may not quite be ready to produce consumer goods for every household—or perhaps households aren't quite ready for 3D printing at home. Those in the industry know, however, that low-cost 3D printing is still a powerful technology, if not for fabricating home goods, then as an early design tool and, in some cases, even for short-run manufacturing.   Cont'd...

Metal additive manufacturing software 'Amphyon' uses simulations to offset printing distortions

Benedict for 3Ders.org:  German startup Additive Works is developing a simulation-based preprocessing software for metal additive manufacturing. The “Amphyon” software package, currently in beta, uses a four-step approach which enables manufacturers to predict and avoid potential deformations in their printed parts. As the metal additive manufacturing industry expands its collective wealth of knowledge and experience, users of SLM 3D printers are becoming less likely to create faulty printed parts. While a complete amateur might make the mistake of printing an unsupported or weak structure which exhibits radical contortions before it has even left the print bed, most makers now know a few things about stress points, deformations, and how to avoid bad prints. Despite these advancements, problems still persist even for the most advanced users of laser-based 3D printers. Problems such as residual stresses, deformations, and insufficient part density can occur frequently and, due to various design, material, and hardware factors, can often be hard to predict.   Cont'd...

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