Oak Ridge To Pay For The (Giant, Superfast 3D) Printer

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has asked machine tool manufacturer Cincinnati Incorporated to vastly increase the speed and output size of 3D printers.

Their goal; a 3D printer that is 200 to 500 times faster and outputs an object that is 10 times the size of current 3D printers.

The system leverages the injection molding industry. First, the feedstock is pellets so you’re going directly from pellets to parts (rather than a filament). Second, the extruder has a large nozzle (approximately 0.3” in diameter rather than 0.020”).

“The larger nozzle enables a few important things. First, you obviously put down a lot more material faster (two to three orders of magnitude). Second, it enables the extrusion of fiber reinforced material. The fiber reinforcement changes the behavior of the material and enables growing it out of the oven. So the larger nozzle speeds it up but introduces much larger layer stratification (poorer surface finish). However, since it’s out of the oven, we can put a spindle on the same machine and “machine it as we go” to get extremely good surface finish while also providing very high deposition rates.”

One of the earliest science fictional scenarios for 3D printers is found in a 1956 short story by Philip K. Dick. The Biltong life-forms were aliens who were seemingly able to reproduce any item using simple ash and its own substance. Items were internally manufactured down to the tiniest details, like the interior of a watch that actually worked. It could also duplicate large, complex items - like cars:

"Can your Biltong print for more than a hundred people?" John Dawes asked softly.

"Right now he can," Fergesson answered. He proudly indicated his Buick. "You rode in it - you know how good it is. Almost as good as the original it was printed from…"

Via Forbes.

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