3D printing

April 1, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
An automatic 3D printer creates a small robot figure on an additive manufacturing platform. The technology is ideally suited for custom manufacture of small parts and items.  Shutterstock/Kyrylo Glivin

Additive manufacturing, also described as 3D printing, is opening up new pathways to production. While many of these are dead ends as economics and logistics limit some of the hoped-for applications, others offer the potential to be game changers in the manufacturing arena.

Printed body parts are taking shape in laboratories, but printed industrial parts may not always fit the bill. Issues such as reliability, integrity and longevity must be determined on a case-by-case basis as custom parts are devised and built.

April 1, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Researchers generated a 3D surface using an artificial intelligence algorithm. The ribs in the different layers of the lattice are programmed to grow and shrink in response to a change in temperature, mapping the facial features of mathematician and scientist Carl Friedrich Gauss.  Illustration combines an image by Lori Sanders/Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science with a portrait of Carl Friedrich Gauss painted by Christian Albrecht Jensen in 1840. Edited by Chris D’Elia

Researchers recently announced that they can use a groundbreaking 4D-printing process to create material capable of morphing into the likeness of a human face, the most complex shape-shifting structure ever. The research may one day lead to advances in dynamic communications, soft electronics, smart fabrics, tissue engineering for medical purposes, robotics and an array of commercial applications.

October 17, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Soldiers travel in an M113 armored personnel carrier during a combat support training exercise. The Army keeps purchases and stores for long periods components of major systems, such as transmissions for M113s, but advances in manufacturing could help the service, and the industrial base, find new ways of sustaining heavy equipment. Credit: Master Sgt. Michel Sauret

Advanced manufacturing techniques could inject innovation into the defense industry, suggested Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.

“We have a problem with the industrial base, particularly for the defense industry,” Jette told the audience at the Association of the United States Army annual conference in Washington, D.C. He added that the industrial base still conjures images of “large, smoking cauldrons of steel” because “that’s what we drove them to.”

Jette further noted that the industrial base “has some gaps in it because we haven’t been producing large equipment systems in a long time.”

October 4, 2019
Posted by George I. Seffers
A new policy approved by the secretary of the Army requires the use of advanced manufacturing techniques, which included 3D printing, for new and existing systems. Credit: Pixabay/mebner1

Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy has approved a new policy on advanced manufacturing designed to help the Army secure a competitive edge against near-peer adversaries.