The University of Dayton Research Institute have been awarded $3 millon from the Ohio Third Frontier to provide specialised materials for using computer printers to create three-dimensional, functional objects.
3D printing technology has been around for about 20 years while additive manufacturing in its current form is about 5 years old. The difference between the two processes is 3D printing is being used for making non-functioning prototypes or models while additive manufacturing is being used to create usable parts for aerospace,energy, medical and other consumer products.
It’s expected that 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, Brian Rice, head of UDRI’s Multi-Scale Composites and Polymers Division said;
Cost savings is a major benefit, because there are no moulds 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 mould, 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
The University 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.
UDRI will use part of the Third Frontier award to purchase a 3-D printer to demonstrate the technology, and UD’s School of Engineering, which recently purchase a similar machine, will provide hands-on opportunities for engineering students to become involved.[connections id=’134′]