Are You Getting The Most Out Of Them 3d Printing Industrial Parts?
Industrial 3d printers make steel parts with a tensile strength comparable to cast iron and a density of 92% of wrought iron. The process is faster and cheaper than hot forming, reduces weight in car parts by 70%, and these days the raw material comes from scrap. In the future, it may be possible to 3d printing industrial parts as metal structures that could replace or repair bone or cartilage in the human body. What has been learned from making toy drones and prosthetic limbs may lead to printing metal structures that could replace or repair bone or cartilage in the human body.
Design for 3d printing parts
If one owns a 3D printer, one can probably build something with it. But there are a lot of people out there who can’t. They have the material, but they don’t have the design for 3d printing industrial parts. The software has other uses, too. For example, it can produce instructions for a manufacturing robot: what shape of plastic it should extrude, in what order, at what temperature. But it also has uses that don’t involve printing. The software does one thing very well: it translates drawings into instructions. Designers have a hard time drawing. Programming, on the other hand, is second nature to designers.
Makers who are used to designing in CAD programs, for example, SolidWorks, AutoCAD, and Auto Cad LT, may be surprised, then, by the limitations and quirks of 3d printing software. The software’s creators, on the other hand, may be surprised, too. The limitations of 3d printing software are a consequence of the software’s origins in graphic design, which was designed to output printed forms. The quirks of 3d printing software are a consequence of the peculiarities of 3d printing technology.
Select the material wisely
The two main materials are plastics and metals. The plastics we use today are mostly made of petroleum, but petroleum is scarce and expensive in most of the world. So in the future, the way we make plastics is likely to depend largely on chemistry.
Metals are widely available, but they are much more expensive. So making metal parts by 3d printing is still more expensive.
Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have recently made such a material using 3d printing. It’s called “metal foam,” and it’s made from liquid metal.
Metal foams are made of tiny cylinders of metal, hollow on the inside, separated by pores. Liquid metal is poured in, and it spreads to fill the space. The liquid metal solidifies as it spreads, leaving hollow cylinders of metal separated by pores, just like the metal foam.
Metal foams can be more like plastics or more like metals. Metal foams can be made to be rigid, like plastics, or soft, like metals. They can be as strong or as flexible as plastics.
And metal foams are cheap. Once they’re made, metal foams cost less than plastic. They have the same strength as metals, can be easily worked, and are hard to damage. Metal foams can be made in almost any shape — and one can make them in almost any color.