The lasers in today’s 3D printers will soon cut out the cumbersome labor of assembling components and soldering connections at various stages of small satellite production — and even disintegrate the myriad considerations forced upon their design as a necessity to survive the harshness of being launched into orbit, according to the visions of some of the industry’s leading innovators.
Who says that you can’t make anything useful on a desktop 3D printer? Sure, there are plenty of designs that you can find on 3D printing repository websites which make you question the motive of the designers — but at the same time, there are engineers and designers creating things that make you just stop and say, “WOW!”
Collaborative demonstration dispels doubt about 3D printing’s disruptive potential for direct-to-digital manufacturing of just about anything BIG.
Within the 3D printing space, materials really are everything. If we were only able to print using thermoplastics, the industry would never have taken off. Although thermoplastics and thermoplastic composites rule the consumer side of the market, it’s resins, metals, and metal alloys that are spawning the growth seen within the industrial side of the market.
It has been reported that Rolls-Royce plans to flight-test later this year a Trent XWB-97 engine fitted with what it claims is the largest component ever built using Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM). The titanium structure is a 15O cm diameter x 50 cm depth front bearing housing containing 48 aerofoils, manufactured using the ALM technique.
Unquestionably, 3D printing is one of the most transformative technologies to have emerged in several decades. Already, a wide variety of predictions are being made with regard to this innovation. There are seemingly endless fields in which 3D printing can be utilized, but one in which efforts are already being made with existing technology is that of architecture, design and construction.