Latest 3D Printing Updates: FDM, LPBF, Underwater 3D Printing, Racing, and More – January 20, 2024


Starting off our 3D Printing News segment today, we discuss the certification process, followed by research on solute trapping, laser powder bed fusion and a partnership aimed at advancing 3D printed healthcare solutions. We conclude with an interesting look at underwater 3D printing and Formula Student racing.

NOCTI Validation for FDM Process Certification Received by Stratasys

The Manufacturing Leadership Council (MLC) states that 1% of today’s manufacturing is occupied by additive manufacturing. It is also predicted that by 2030, there will be a significant increase in skilled AM workers up to 2.1 million unfilled positions. Stratasys, recently announced the receipt of its initial Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Process Certification validation from the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) – NOCTI. The validation signifies an important step towards the enhancement of education and creation of skilled workforces within the AM field. This means that those pursuing a career in AM will have access to quality training for the field. Those who participate in the certification programme will gain industry-accepted skills while schools awarded with the FDM certification have the possibility to easily apply for funding to create more learning opportunities. A general FDM certification exam is also being introduced by NOCTI as part of this collaboration.

“Stratasys endeavors to promote the additive manufacturing industry, not only through providing state-of-the-art technology, but also via ensuring students and professionals acquire industry-recognized skills. Our partnership with NOCTI exemplifies a deep dedication towards education and workforce enhancement, empowering individuals to excel in the 3D printing universe,” said Rich Garrity, Chief Industrial Business Unit Officer at Stratasys.

Solute Transport & Solidification Mechanisms in AM

A phenomenon in AM referred to as solute trapping occurs when solute elements (components of a substance dissolved in a solution) are concentrated in specific areas of a solidification front, potentially leading to unstable microstructures and defects such as cracks and porosity. A team of researchers from Queen Mary University of London, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China’s Centre of Excellence, and the University of Leicester designed a computational model illustrating how solute trapping takes place during AM’s swift solidification process. Their research provides fresh perspectives on solute transport. They utilized their model to explore the solute transport that occurs amid the technology’s swift and repeated thermal cycles, and discovered that it is enhanced by melt convection, diluting the partitioned solute at the solidification front. According to the scientists, these findings may help reduce 3D printed parts’ crack susceptibility by quickening solidification and facilitating the creation of superalloys with improved printability.

“Solute trapping is akin to mixing in a secret ingredient into a recipe. By comprehending how solute trapping operates, we can formulate new materials and processes leading to stronger, more trustworthy, and more intricate 3D printed components,” explained Dr. Chinnapat Panwisawas, the study’s corresponding author and a Senior Lecturer in Materials and Solid Mechanics at Queen Mary University of London.

EPFL Researchers Settle Long-Running LPBF 3D Printing Dispute

Speaking of AM defects, in a new study, a team of researchers from EPFL School of Engineering’s Laboratory of Thermomechanical Metallurgy (LMTM), the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa), have finally settled a long-time dispute over laser powder bed fusion 3D printing—using a novel technique that combines X-ray imaging and acoustic monitoring to detect defects and flaws.

Typical monitoring techniques, like machine learning and thermal imaging, often don’t see the defects, or don’t understand them, and acoustic monitoring—comparing the sounds produced by the printer when a print is perfect vs. when it has anomalies—was thought to be unreliable. But the researchers and their experimental design, which combines synchrotron X-ray imaging with acoustic emission measurements, have proven this theory incorrect. The approach offers deeper insights into the physics of melting regimes, and is also a more affordable way to monitor printing.

“There’s been an ongoing debate regarding the viability and effectiveness of acoustic monitoring for laser-based additive manufacturing,” said Roland Logé, Professor and Head, Laboratory of Thermomechanical Metallurgy, EPFL. “Our research not only confirms its relevance but also underscores its advantage over traditional methods.”

NTU Singapore & SGH Establish Joint R&D Lab for Medical 3D Printing

A partnership between Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) will establish a joint research and development laboratory to advance medical 3D printing applications, such as personalized devices and implants. The facilities and combined expertise of NTU’s Singapore Centre for 3D Printing (SC3DP) and the 3D Printing Centre at SGH will be used to research and create relevant technologies for clinical applications at the point-of-care. The Joint R&D Lab will focus on four areas of research, starting with developing modeling and AM approaches for prosthetics and orthotics; one of the main goals is creating design standards and specifications for these devices. The second is bioprinting for regenerative medicine, and the third is 3D printed implants at point-of-care out of both metal and PEEK. The final area is examining and improving the state of AM for the healthcare industry by finding and creating possible clinical applications, like flexible electronics and food 3D printing.

“Through the combined medical expertise from SGH and the extensive knowledge of additive manufacturing and advanced materials of NTU’s faculty, our collaboration aims to forge innovative solutions in the development of personalized prosthetic and orthotic devices and explore new pathways for regenerative medicine,” said Professor Lam Khin Yong, Vice President (Industry) of NTU Singapore. “This collaboration also greatly benefits the next generation of clinicians, academics, and engineers, through its upcoming shared educational programs, shared resources, and joint initiatives. NTU and SGH are committed to nurturing new talent that possesses the skills and knowledge needed to navigate the ever-evolving medical landscape.”

CPSdrone Makers Build an Underwater 3D Printer

Between 2018 and 2022, the creators at CPSdrone have constructed about 15 prototypes of underwater drones. They now aim to share the knowledge they’ve gained with others. Remarkably, one of their latest projects wasn’t an underwater drone, but a 3D printer capable of functioning underwater. Underwater 3D printing has some advantages, such as eliminating the need for cooling fans to dissipate heat. This could potentially enhance print quality, and there could be industrial uses for underwater 3D printers, such as the mending of seabed pipelines. The CPSdrone team undertook several modifications to their custom printer — which appears to be based on a Prusa i3 — to make it suitable for underwater use. They kept the display and power supply out of water, waterproofed various parts with different epoxies to prevent short-circuiting, and replaced some of the metal parts, which would rust quickly, with plastic ones. The printer functioned excellently during tests in an aquarium tank but began to falter due to severe rusting during pool testing.

“The most important insight is that 3D printing underwater indeed does work, although even the top 3D printers would have to be significantly altered. However, it doesn’t completely live up to the hype of the video thumbnail (which shows a print inside a swimming pool). Regrettably, that achievement is actually beyond what CPSdrone could accomplish with this project, despite their efforts,” Christopher Harper wrote for Tom’s Hardware.

You can watch the 17-minute video breakdown of this project here:

Munich Formula Student Racing Team Uses Sintratec for Prototyping

The Munichmotorsport team is always on the go in the garages preparing the vehicle for dynamic disciplines. Photo credits go to Sintratec.

Every year, munichmotorsport, which is the 40-member diversified SAE Racing Team from Munich University of Applied Sciences, develops and builds a homemade race car for the Formula Student race series. Approximately 100 squads engage on the track, with others competing in other sectors like marketing and general business, in one of the major global engineering matches. This team,similar to countless others, leverages 3D printing for creating race car parts, and munichmotorsport collaborated with Sintratec for quick prototyping of these components using its SLS technology. Engineering scholar Niklas Rösler supervised the electric racing car’s high-voltage system this year, and he needed to ensure the system was well-cooled, in addition to a safe storage space for the battery cells. To control the airflow and reduce the system’s temperature, he 3D printed separators from PA12 using the Sintratec S3, and adopted the same system and substance to print casings to stabilize individual battery cells at the car’s rear.

“SLS 3D printing is the most suitable prototyping technology for our racing team. We can use it in almost every situation around the car,” said Rösler.

“The PA12 material from Sintratec covers most areas of application in the race car. It offers the best mechanical properties for our purposes and high dielectric strength.”

While there were some technical issues initially, munichmotorsport overcame them and placed 20th out of 71 participating teams in its class.

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