3DP Turns the Automobile into DIY

A Do-It-Yourself (DIY) automobile is the fantasy of millions, yet one heretofore unachieved. That might be about to change as big-ticket and startup car companies increasingly turn to additive manufacturing. Could 3D printing be the catalyst that DIY carmakers have been waiting for? History’s littered with failed DIY cars, some by charlatans and others by wannabe-visionaries. They’ve come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and styles, targeting every demographic of every segment of society. (Just lookup up the 1910s’ “Lad’s Car,” a DIY automobile that targeted early adolescents.) There is one thing all these efforts share: Utter and complete failure. This “Second Industrial Revolution,” as enthusiasts have proclaimed it, has reinvigorated the imaginations of carmakers, established and aspiring alike. Big-dollar manufacturers have taken an inviting attitude, with Porsche and Honda both offering Computer-Aided Design (CAD) blueprints of their vehicles for 3D-printing. Ford engineers are using MakerBot 3D printers to create vehicle parts for pre-production testing. Aston-Martin printed scale-models of its vehicles for use in Skyfall. But it’s on the other end of the spectrum that one sees more creative forays being made in the field.   Rally Fighter Body (LocalMotors) / CC BY 3.0   Arizona’s fledgling Local Motors, founded in 2007, announced that it would 3D-print an electric variant of its “Rally Fighter,” making it available by fall of this year. The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) contracted Local Motors to develop the vehicle, which it hopes will showcase the maturing potential of additive production.   By 3dilla (Urbee 3D printed car | 3d Print Show | 3dilla.com) [CC-BY-2.0], via Flickr – Photo Sharing!   Canada’s Jim Kor is leading another 3DP auto effort. Kor, an engineer, has been on a crusade to 3D-print an ultra-light, ultra-compact vehicle called the “Urbee.” This ovular, three-wheeled car has its interior and exterior composed of 3DP material. Powered by bio-fuel, Kor aims to have the Urbee run across the United States on just 10 gal. of fuel.   By Sicnag (1961 Aston Martin DB4Uploaded by OSX) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons   In a true DIY-fashion, Ivan Sentch of New Zealand garnered international press when he started work on a 3D-printed replica of an Aston-Martin DB4, a vintage touring coupe. Sentch is using a Nissan as the basis for the replica, but he is printing interior components and exterior body-work for assembly in his humble little garage.   By Racingjeff (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons   The next stage in automotive development is approaching. MakeForge’s Mark 1 appears to be the first 3D printer to produce carbon-fiber. The relatively small, industrial-grade machine specializes in lightweight, high-strength composites as seen on exotic and premium automobiles, such as the $239,000 McLaren MP4-12C and $136,000 BMW i8. Composites appear to be an inevitable direction in automotive design: Rising fuel-efficiency standards have pushed automakers to build leaner and less consumptive vehicles. Carbon fiber, a material made of melded threads, is becoming common on automotive body-panels. High cost and labor-intensive production are the material’s setbacks, but the notion of an additive, low-labor alternative may be a breakthrough… Composites appear to be an inevitable direction in automotive design: Rising fuel-efficiency standards have pushed automakers to build leaner and less consumptive vehicles. Carbon fiber, a material made of melded threads, is becoming common on automotive body-panels. High cost and labor-intensive production are the material’s setbacks, but the notion of an additive, low-labor alternative may be a breakthrough… … or, at least, the start of...

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Beginner’s Guide to 3D Printing

If you’ve been tuning into the latest news, odds are that you’ve heard about 3D printing. Paul Markillie of The Economist declared it the “third industrial revolution.” Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN referred to it as “game-changing technology.” Even Pres. Barack Obama celebrated 3D printing, christening it as the “next revolution in manufacturing” during his State of the Union address. There’s no denying it: 3D printing is having a major impact–one that consumers are increasingly able to enjoy. Here’s Linkyo Insights’ brief, simple explanation to the ins and outs of 3D printing. —– 3D printing is an “additive” process, meaning that it creates a product by adding layers of material until those layers make up a solid whole. This contrasts with a subtractive process, notably milling, that creates a product by cutting layers of material from a larger mass. An additive process is seen as the more efficient and less wasteful of the two–crucial in an era of greater energy conservation. The process of 3D printing can be broken down into four steps: Model Slice Fixup Print The model stage has the user 3D modeling the object he wants to print. The user does this with a computer-aided design (CAD) program. He or she can develop the model by scratch or by downloading a pre-developed blueprint from a website, such as Thingiverse. This model is then converted into an STL (stereolithography) file. With the slice stage, a program called a slicer remodels the STL file by dividing the object into layers (“slices”). Remember that a printer works by producing layer upon layer until those layers become a complete object. The higher the resolution, the smaller the layer and the more precise the overall object. After the STL model has been sliced, a fixup program checks the model and corrects it of any errors. Once that’s done, the print phase begins. —– Next up–the printer. The printer itself is made up of four key parts: Filament Extruder Hot-End Print Bed The filament is to a 3D printer what ink and toner are to 2D printers. Filament is commonly made of a plastic thread wrapped around a spool, but it can also be made up of other materials. The extruder is the component that delivers (“extrudes”) the filament to the hot-end, the nozzle section. (The extruder and hot-end are often combined.) The filament is then produced in layers on the print bed. There are four types of filament: metal, ceramic, composite, and plastic. Plastic, the most common type, can be subdivided into five categories: Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) Polylactic Acid (PLA) Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) Polycarbonate (PC) High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) ABS is the most common type of plastic filament. PLA is a runner-up, being both biodegradable and available in soft or hard form. PVA, a dissolvable substance found in lubricants and adhesives, has a small, but growing, niche. PC, used in media discs and bullet-resistant glass, is still in the developmental stage. HDPE, a type of moisture-resistant cheap plastic found in bottles and pipes, has little use because of its proneness to warping and shrinkage. —– 3D printers measure resolution by tenths to hundredths of a millimeter (mm). The more minute the resolution, the longer the printing process. A small object set at 0.3 mm resolution may take 15 min., while the same object may take 3 hrs. to print when set at a 0.1 mm resolution. Of course, it takes a capable printer to put out such a precise resolution–in other words, it costs more money. The good news is that the cost of 3D printers has come down considerably, ranging...

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Types of 3D Printing Materials

There is a wide range of 3D printing materials that are currently available in the industrial market and that is being developed for the consumer market. Here is an overview of 3D printing materials that are available across all 3D printing technologies, which include plastics, metals, ceramics and various other 3D materials. Plastics / Polymers 3D Materials Plastics or polymers are the most common type of 3D material used, especially for desktop 3D printers. Plastics are used by both industrial and consumer markets. In the consumer market, a desktop 3D printer heats the plastic filament to a temperature range of 320-482°F. The heated plastic is then extruded onto a print bed layer by layer until the 3D object is completed. Here is a image of plastic 3d material below. PROFI3DMaker 3D printer For industrial users, plastics can be heated by UV lasers and then used to form the printed object in a similar manner, layer by layer. Types of plastic filaments include ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), PLA (Polylactic Acid), PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol), PC (Polycarbonate) and HDPE (High Density Poly Ethylene). The two most common types of plastics that are currently being used for desktop 3D printers are ABS and PLA. ABS and PLA have unique properties that provide advantages and disadvantages. ABS, petroleum based plastic, is known to be a more durable and heat resistant plastic but gives off strong fumes when heated. On the contrary, PLA, plant based plastic, gives off less irritable fumes but has a lower melting and breaking point. Metal 3D Materials Other type of 3D materials is metal. Using metal for 3D printing is relatively new and is gaining traction in many industries, including automotive and aerospace. To fabricate a metal 3D printed object, metal is typically heated by a laser and placed layer by layer. Here is an image of a 3D printed metal part below. Army Researchers Use 3D Printers for Rapid Prototypes / Types of metals available include steel, aluminum and titanium. Precious metals are also being used as 3D materials, such as gold and silver. Ceramic 3D Materials Ceramics is another type of 3D material. Ceramic 3D printed objects are using droplets of liquid binder on top of a thin layer of ceramic powder, followed by another layer of ceramic powder. To finish a ceramic 3D printed object, series of heat treatments are required to dry, fire, and glaze the 3D printed object. Other 3D Materials As 3D printing technology continues to expand and mature, more 3D materials will be available, including composites, paper, plaster, wood, organic (tissue/cells), nylon, food, and concrete. This list is sure to grow to include many more materials that can contribute to useful 3D printed objects. No Banner to...

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