This functioning ice scraper was printed in 3D using capabilities developed at the University of Dayton Research Institute.
Imagine being able
to design a new aircraft engine part on a computer, and then being able to
print it. Not the design—the actual part. And not just a lightweight,
nonfunctional model, but an actual working part to be installed in an engine.
The University of
Dayton Research Institute was awarded $3 million from the Ohio Third Frontier
today to provide specialized materials for use in additive manufacturing—the
science of using computer printers to create 3D, functional objects. The
University of Dayton Research Institute will work with program partners,
Stratasys of Eden Prairie, Minn., and PolyOne and Rapid Prototype Plus
Manufacturing Inc. (RP+M) of Avon Lake, Ohio, to develop aircraft-engine
components for GE Aviation—who also collaborated on the program proposal—as
well as parts and components for ATK Aerospace Structures, Boeing, Goodrich,
Honda, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.
paper printers use a moving toner cartridge head to form lines of text, adding
row upon row of toner as the paper moves through the printer, 3D printing works
much the same way. Instead of toner, however, a free-moving printer head
precisely deposits layer upon layer of plastic or other material to create a
solid object from the bottom up.
technology has existed for about 20 years, but additive manufacturing in its
current form is only about five years old, said Brian Rice, head of the
Research Institute’s Multi-Scale Composites and Polymers Division and program
lead for the Third Frontier-funded Advanced Materials for Additive
Manufacturing Maturation program.
difference is that 3D printing is known in the industry as being used for
nonfunctional prototypes or models, while additive manufacturing is being used
to create usable parts for industries such as aerospace, energy, medical, and
consumer products,” Rice said.
manufacturing, which made headlines in the Wall
Street Journal and USA
Today and was named number one in Aviation Week & Space Technology
magazine’s May list of “Top Technologies to Watch,” is a rapidly
growing manufacturing technology being touted for its cost savings and waste
reduction. By 2015, the sale of additive manufacturing products and services
worldwide is expected to grow to $3.7 billion from $1.71 billion in 2011,
according to independent consultants Wohlers Associates.
There are a number
of advantages to additive manufacturing over traditional manufacturing, such as
injection molding or machining, Rice said.
is a major benefit, because there are no molds or tooling needed to fabricate
parts. With traditional manufacturing, every time you want to make even a
slight change to the design of what you are making, you have to retool or make
an entirely new mold, and that gets very expensive. With additive
manufacturing, you can change your design as often as you want simply by
changing the design on your computer file. “You can’t make complex parts
with injection molding,” Rice added. “And because you can print an
entire part in one piece with additive manufacturing, instead of welding or
attaching separate components together as in traditional manufacturing, the
finished part is stronger.”
manufacturing holds additional benefits, said Jeff DeGrange, vice-president of
Stratasys, which owns an industrial line of additive manufacturing machines
that will be used to print components for end users.
for the environment because it reduces waste,” DeGrange said. “With
additive manufacturing, you only use as much material as you need for the part
you’re printing. But with machining, you’re shaping objects by removing
material from a larger block until you have the desired form, so there is a
good bit of wasted material.”
manufacturing eliminates the need for bolts, screws and welding and, in some
cases, reinforced polymers can be used to replace heavier materials, DeGrange
parts mean greater fuel efficiency in vehicles and aircraft that use them.
Another advantage is the cost savings that comes from a print-as-needed
process, because you don’t need to ship parts or find a place to warehouse
them,” he said.
3D printers can
use polymer, metal or ceramic feedstock, but our focus will be on polymers,
which is already a major manufacturing industry in Ohio, according to Rice.
developed a highly specialized nanomaterial that will reinforce the polymer
feedstock, giving the finished product greater strength and stiffness than
nonreinforced polymer. It will also make the polymer electrically
conductive,” he said.
scale-up the polymer feedstock needed for mass manufacturing, Stratasys will
support the inclusion of new materials in their additive manufacturing systems,
and RP+M will use its expertise in additive parts manufacturing to work with
Stratasys to print and supply parts to end users, Rice said.
created an entire supply chain designed to create Ohio jobs,” Rice said.
“We expect this program to result in the creation of 30 high-tech jobs in
Ohio during the first three years and 85 jobs after five years.”
Institute will use part of the Third Frontier award to purchase a 3D printer to
demonstrate the technology, and the University of Dayton School of Engineering,
which recently purchased a similar machine, will provide hands-on opportunities
for engineering students to become involved.
focus on research into new materials and innovation in additive
manufacturing,” Rice said. “It’s a boost for our program, and it will
also provide those students with skills that will help them secure high-tech
manufacturing jobs after graduation.”