As 2015 draws to a close, let’s take a look back at some of the incredible 3D printing stories and videos that we have featured on the Stratasys Blog this year. We’re highlighting 12 posts that were the most popular among the Blog’s visitors and believe these stories illustrate 3D printing’s progress and possibilities this year. How many do you remember?
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Stratasys Additive Manufacturing Chosen by Airbus to Produce 3D Printed Flight Parts for its A350 XWB Aircraft
More than 1000 flight parts were 3D printed on Stratasys FDM Production Systems for the Airbus A350 XWB Program.
Airbus has produced more than 1,000 flight parts on Stratasys FDM 3D Production Systems for use on A350 XWB aircraft, which began delivery a year ago. The 3D printed parts were used in place of traditionally manufactured parts, enabling Airbus to meet its delivery commitment on time. The parts were 3D printed using ULTEM 9085 resin, which provides high strength-to-weight ratio and is FST (flame, smoke and toxicity) compliant for aircraft interior applications. This enabled the manufacturing of strong, light-weight parts while substantially reducing production time and manufacturing costs.
The world of 3D printing extends well beyond the boundaries of our planet. The United Launch Alliance (ULA) changed the game of aerospace exploration earlier this year when they announced a shift from traditional metallic applications to additive manufacturing using Stratasys Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printing technology. The result? ULA “saves over $1M a year by 3D printing rocket components from plastic,” according to an International Business Times’ (IBT) exclusive interview with ULA’s program manager for additive manufacturing, Greg Arend. “In addition, ULA is saving over 50%, and in some cases 95%, by 3D printing rocket components over traditional methods.”
Aurora’s UAV, the darling of November’s 3D PrintShow in Dubai, demonstrates FDM’s ability to build a completely closed, hollow structure which, unlike other manufacturing methods, allows large – yet less dense – objects to be produced. Stratasys and Aurora used additional technologies, provided by Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, to fabricate other components, including a laser sintered nylon fuel tank and a 3D printed metal vectoring exhaust nozzle.
Stratasys 3D printing is great on Earth, but is it qualified for space? A NASA-JPL project was proof positive that it’s all systems go! Stratasys Direct Manufacturing built custom-designed parts for 30 antenna array supports for the FORMOSAT-7 Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC-2) satellite mission. NASA chose durable ULTEM 9085 material, a thermoplastic that has similar strength to metals like aluminum but weighs much less, and the parts were printed on a Stratasys Fortus 900mc 3D Printer.
Additive Manufacturing for Aerospace: FAA-Approved Air Duct for ‘Flying Eye Hospital’ Produced in Just Days
Orbis is an organization with a dual mission: to bring top-quality ophthalmological care to the corners of the world, and to train local physicians to perform eye surgeries in their home communities. Orbis relies on a “Flying Eye Hospital,” a converted MD 10-30 airplane. Stratasys technology assisted with retrofitting this new airborne hospital. Orbis reached out to Structural Integrity Engineering (SIE), an aerospace company that re-designs, re-builds and re-claims old and unused aircraft.
3D Printed Thermoplastics versus Metal: Why Volvo Trucks Chose Additive Manufacturing for 30 Engine Assembly Tools
Volvo Trucks purchased a Stratasys Fortus 3D Production System from Stratasys’ reseller CADvision, and, within a three-month period, had already 3D printed more than 30 different production tools, including a range of lightweight clamps, jigs, supports and even ergonomically-designed tool holders that ensure a more organized working environment for operators. Previously these tools were produced in metal using traditional manufacturing methods. The time required to design and manufacture these tools was slashed from over a month to just two days by using Stratasys Fortus 3D Production System and ABSplus thermoplastic material.
Opel, Europe’s third-largest automotive manufacturer, is slashing manufacturing tool production costs by up to 90% using its Stratasys 3D Printers. Opel also creates 3D printing assembly tools in less than 24 hours. With efficient production crucial to its success, Opel’s International Technical Development Center is 3D printing a range of manufacturing and assembly tools to advance the production of its iconic ‘Adam’ hatchback car. These assembly tools are used to precisely attach different components to the car, such as the rocker molding and roof spoilers; align the iconic ‘Adam’ lettering on the rear-side window; and assemble the glass and retractable roofs.
Lamborghini Accelerates and Perfects Automotive Engineering with Stratasys 3D Printed Prototypes and Track-Ready Parts
One of the world’s most luxurious sports car brands relies on Stratasys Fortus Production Systems to create models and parts for functional prototypes, both for exterior and interior parts including: section bumpers, grills, engine bay frames, door panels, seat covers and steering wheels, as well as aerodynamic components such as conveyors and air heaters. “We aim to use materials that mimic the material properties of the final product as far as possible,” explained Fabio Serrazanetti, of Lamborghini’s car body technical department. “FDM eliminates tooling, which keeps costs down and allows rapid iteration on new designs without manufacturing constraints.”
Innovation in Manufacturing
Rutland Plastics, a custom injection molding company, creates jigs and fixtures for each individual project to assist during manufacturing operations like assembly, gluing, drilling and measuring. Using PolyJet 3D printing technology, Rutland produces jigs and fixtures with exceptional surface finish and intricate detail, benefits which could not be achieved with conventional milling machines. Rutland’s engineers are able to use their 3D printer’s multi-material capability to produce rubber-like surfaces that cushion and protect production parts coming into direct contact with the fixture. Identification labels are 3D printed directly as part of the jigs and fixtures. All of these are accomplished in a single build on a Stratasys multi-material 3D Printer (Connex3 System), eliminating costly extra steps.
Nikki Kaufman, the CEO of Normal, a firm that makes bespoke, 3D printed earphones, explained why she installed 10 Stratasys Fortus 250mc 3D Printers on site. Kaufman says that customers get terrific sound as well as terrific fit. The entire assembly line, which creates and ships the 3D printed earphones in a matter of two days, is in full view from the retail store through floor-to-ceiling windows. The transparency of the manufacturing process ups the level of customer engagement for this custom-built product.
7-Year Old Alex Pring On His Awesome New 3D Printed Bionic Arm and His Fist Pump with Robert Downey Jr.
The non-profit organization Limbitless Solutions, which now has a formal relationship with the University of Central Florida, has been using a Stratasys Dimension Elite 3D Printer to create the coolest prosthetic arms for kids, including seven-year-old Alex Pring from Groveland, Florida. Pring received an Iron Man-themed (and custom-fit, of course) 3D printed prosthetic from Limbitless. It was presented to him by none other than Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr. Other Stratasys-3D printed prosthetics, designed and created by Limbitless in sturdy ABSplus material, covered by the Stratasys blog include Paulo’s Fluminense FC bionic hand and special delivery from Winter the Dolphin of Annika’s prosthetic arm.
Art and Science
Neri Oxman’s 3D Printed Photosynthetic Wearables Shine New Light on Art, Design, Science & Technology at TED2015
Architect, designer and long-term 3D printing collaborator Professor Neri Oxman revealed the world’s first 3D printed photosynthetic wearable, embedded with living matter, on the TED2015 stage in Vancouver. Mushtari, an artwork 3D printed by Stratasys, is the world’s first wearable to combine multi-material additive manufacturing and synthetic biology.