3D Printing in Manufacturing: Boeing

3D Printing in Manufacturing: Boeing

Boeing and 3D Printing in Manufacturing The First 20,000 If you want a true testimony that 3D printing in manufacturing is here to stay, all you have to do is look at the growing importance of 3D printing at Boeing. In the early days of 3D printing, Boeing began using the technology for rapid prototyping and creating parts that would be difficult to produce with traditional manufacturing processes, especially parts that have intricate grooves or openings embedded in the interior. By June of 2013, Boeing’s use of 3D printing had become so widespread that they had installed more than 20,000 printed parts in their aircraft. These 20,000 parts were all non-mechanical and were used in ten different commercial and military planes. The Dreamliner, one of Boeing’s prized luxury planes, included 30 different 3D printed parts. The Next Steps – Jet Engines and Earth’s Orbit In April of 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the first 3D printed part to actually be used in the jet engine itself. Designed by GE Aviation, the part houses an engine sensor. Boeing and GE will now be working together to retrofit engines for the 777 to include the 3D printed parts. While this is the first part to make its way into the engine, GE indicates that it will not be the last. In fact, GE has detailed a plan to use 3D printed fuel nozzles in the LEAP engine for the Boeing 737MAX and Airbus A320neo. There will also be 3D printed nozzles in the GE9X for the Boeing 777X, which will be the largest jet engine in history. In October,...
3D Printing Basics: Printer Build Volumes and Tolerances

3D Printing Basics: Printer Build Volumes and Tolerances

How big do you want to print? Last week in our 3D printing basics series we discussed the history of 3D printing. Today, we are going to explore the wide variety of printer build volumes and tolerances that allow you to create prints ranging from very tiny to quite massive. While all printers work by building a part layer by layer, the machines can vary significantly in terms of quality and functionality. When searching for a 3D printer for your home or office, you can really distinguish one printer from another based upon the printer build volumes and tolerances. Printer Build Volumes The build volume, quite simply, determines how big your machine allows you to print. For years, analysts believed that limited build volumes were the biggest obstacle standing in the way of widespread adoption of 3D printing technology. Today, we are starting to see the design of 3D printers re-imagined in ways that allow them to build full-scale structures, effectively eliminating this critique. Starting at the true desktop level, the printer build volumes for a 3D printer can be quite limited. Many of the entry level printers, especially those around or below the $1,000 mark, have rather small build volumes, mostly less than four inches by four inches by four inches. This means that you can only print something that would fit inside of a four inch cube. While this is enough space to play around with the technology and build little trinkets, if you want to make actual, usable parts, you will find a four-inch limitation to be rather cumbersome. Moving into the next level of printers,...
3D Printing Basics: The History of 3D Printing

3D Printing Basics: The History of 3D Printing

The History of 3D Printing Do you think of 3D printing as a brand new, cutting edge technology? Well, you are half right. While it is true that 3D printing is cutting edge and has only entered the mainstream in recent years, the history of 3D printing actually dates back more than three decades. In fact, the first recorded design for rapid prototyping (RP), the technology that 3D printing is built upon, was developed by a Japanese lawyer, Dr. Hideo Kodama, in 1980. Rapid prototyping is simply any technique that uses computer aided design (CAD) programs to quickly develop a 3D model. The term rapid prototyping is often used interchangeably with additive manufacturing. Unlike traditional prototyping techniques that could take many weeks to complete, rapid prototyping technologies allow businesses to receive their prototype within hours of creating the design. The Breakthrough and the Rise of 3D Systems The first big breakthrough in 3D printing took place in 1983 when Charles “Chuck” Hull invented the first stereolithography apparatus. Hull would go on to found 3D Systems, one of the highest grossing 3D printing companies in operation and a company that we are proud to be a re-seller for. Hull came up with the idea for his machine while he was working on lamps for UV-curable resins and realized that the process could be used to create bonds in the resin that would build objects layer by layer. Remarkably, the first inkjet printer had just been invented in 1976. There was only a period of eight years separating the invention of the first machine capable of printing in 2D and the...
Gizmodo Highlights Things That Couldn’t Exist without 3D Printing

Gizmodo Highlights Things That Couldn’t Exist without 3D Printing

Recently, Gizmodo put out a great article highlighting things that couldn’t exist without 3D printing. While you should definitely check out the full article for yourself, here are some of the highlights: When Airbus announced that it was getting in on the 3D printing game last year, they explained that 3D printed parts could reduce the weight of their planes by as much as 55%. If you have ever had braces or a retainer, you know that one of the most unpleasant parts of the experience is suffering through the impressions of your teeth. Today, dentists can use CAD files to create detailed 3D prints of your teeth and gums. Doctors have been using 3D printing to assist with the placement of stents in two ways. In some cases, they have used a 3D printed model of the patient’s organs to properly place the device. In other cases, the doctors have 3D printed the stents themselves so that they perfectly fit the patient’s individual anatomy. Speaking of cool medical advancements. Doctors have rigged a printer to print living cells that form collagen and cartilage. With this printer, doctors were able to create a living trachea replacement. In fact, the potential for more advanced medical applications is so exciting that they may someday even be able to weld together organic molecules to print organic compounds, which, among other things, could make it much easier to quickly test drugs. 3D printing is truly revolutionizing the way that things are made. Learn more about the amazing advancements in 3D technology by signing up for our newsletter.  ...
Benefit from a 3D Printer at Home, no Experience Required

Benefit from a 3D Printer at Home, no Experience Required

When we bring our 3D printers to an event, we always have a great time meeting new people and talking about the potential of 3D printing. While most people are really excited to see the printers in action, one of the observations we hear most often is, “it’s neat, but I don’t think that I have any use for it,” or “it doesn’t seem very practical.” While I can certainly understand why this is often a first reaction, here is why I truly believe that everybody can benefit from having a 3D printer at home For beginners When you skim through the hundreds of thousands of downloadable files available online, you will definitely see a bunch of knick-knacks and things that most homes just don’t need. But you will also find a whole lot of items that are extremely practical. Do you need new organizers for your drawers? How about a wrench for a project? Just download the files and hit print. Not only are these items fully customizable to your own unique space or project, but you also get to avoid a trip to the store. Some of those knick-knacks are actually really cool. There are some true artists at work on these sites who create beautiful vases that make fantastic centerpieces, one-of-a-kind pencil holders, Thor statues that your little ones are sure to love, and much more. When your kids are bored, you can print out a brand new board game, or open up one of the customizable files and let them have a great time tweaking their own ornament or action figure. If you are in...
New Patent Filing by Stratasys Possibly Shows Next Steps

New Patent Filing by Stratasys Possibly Shows Next Steps

FDM with Invisible Seams While there are a huge number of variations on the basic design of 3D printers, most printers either use an extruder to distribute the material onto a build plate, which is known as Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or use a high-powered device to fuse together liquid particles of material in a build tank, called stereolithography (SLA). Regardless of the method of production, both types of printers produce pieces layer by layer. While layers are clearly visible with FDM, however, you get a much smoother finished product with printers that use SLA technologies. If the recent patent filing by Stratasys comes to fruition, this might be about to change. The Debate Since nearly the beginning, 3D printers have chosen their side in the debate between FDM and SLA. FDM fans love that the machines produce less mess and SLA advocates believe that the process makes stronger parts without the visible seams found in FDM. If, however, an FDM process was able to produce the solid exterior found in SLA prints, this could upend the entire debate. The Patent Filing by Stratasys In Stratasys’ recent patent filing, the company proposes technology that would hide the seams of an FDM printer. According to 3dprint.com, the filing explains,”The method includes generating a contour tool path that defines an interior region of a layer of the 3D model, where the contour path comprises a start point and a stop point, and where at least one of the start point and the stop point is located within the interior region of the layer.” Essentially, this means that the printer would print...