Tag Archives: metal

ESA Announces The AMAZE Project to Bring Metal 3D Printing to Space

The European Space Agency (ESA) is making a major push into metal 3D printing

Today, at the London Science Museum, the ESA is showcasing complex 3D printed parts made of metal that can withstand temperatures at 1000°C – fit for space and the most demanding applications on Earth.

Direct Metal Laser Sintering DMLS

Moving from plastic to metal

3D printers are great from rapid prototyping or creating industrial objects out of plastic, but what about metal?

The ESA and the EU, together with industrial and educational partners, are developing the first large-scale production methods to 3D print with metal. This technology would allow the creation of complex objects in space — imagine full-scale systems like reactors or rockets.

“We want to build the best quality metal products ever made. Objects you can’t possibly manufacture any other way,” said David Jarvis, ESA Head of New Materials and Energy Research, in an interview with BBC.

Titanium 3D Printed Structure

Above: a titanium 3D printed structure

This novel technology offers many advantages. 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, can create complex shapes that are impossible to manufacture with traditional casting and machining techniques. Little to no material is wasted and cutting the number of steps in a manufacturing chain offers enormous cost benefits.

The AMAZE project – Additive Manufacturing Aiming Towards Zero Waste & Efficient Production of High-Tech Metal Products – began in January and factory sites are being set up in France, Germany, Italy, Norway and the UK to develop the industrial supply chain.

Below is a video produced by the ESA.

3D Printing Iron: ExOne Announces New Metals for 3D Printing

ExOne IPO 3D Printing

ExOne Enables 3D Printing in Iron

The ExOne Company (NASDAQ:XONE), a global provider of 3D printing machines and printed products to industrial customers, announced that it added iron infiltrated with bronze as a new 3D printing material and has also increased its suite of binder solutions for its 3D printing process.

ExOne filed for IPO at the beginning of 2013.

ExOne’s strategy is to expand its direct metal printing capabilities to increase opportunities in the industrial marketplace. Iron is widely used in the manufacturing of machine tools, automotive parts and general support structures. Part of the reason for iron’s popularity as an industrial product is its cost effectiveness. Manufacturing iron-based products using ExOne’s 3D printing technology allows for the direct creation of more intricate products than traditional manufacturing processes, and creates a more cost effective alternative to current 3D printing materials such as stainless steel. ExOne believes that the addition of iron to its metal portfolio will be well received by customers in the traditional markets for iron. ExOne prioritized its development of iron infiltrated with bronze as a result of general customer interest and the breadth of the manufacturing market.

To further develop its reach into the molds and casting industry, ExOne has added phenolic and sodium silicate to its suite of binders for use in its 3D printing process. Phenolic binder, used with ceramic sand in the 3D printing of molds and cores, offers customers three benefits:

  1. Casting higher heat alloys,
  2. Creating a higher strength mold or core, and
  3. Improving the quality of the casting due to reduced expansion of the mold or core.

These capabilities address challenges faced by the automotive, aviation, hydraulic/heavy equipment and pump industries.

ExOne believes that sodium silicate binder will appeal to casting houses that are in search of cleaner environmental processes. It is further believed that the use of sodium silicate will reduce or eliminate the release of fumes and gas in the casting process, helping to reduce costs associated with air ventilation, and electrical and maintenance equipment.

Rick Lucas, ExOne’s Chief Technology Officer, commented, “We are excited to add iron infiltrated with bronze to our product offerings. We continue to focus on the development of our other metals and materials. We remain committed to releasing at least one new material every six months. Our priorities are defined by the needs of our current customers and as we uncover new opportunities with prospective customers.”

ExOne’s Material Applications Laboratory (ExMAL), currently has eleven other materials under various stages of development. ExOne has been focused on 3D printing for industrial customers since 2005.

About ExOne

ExOne is a global provider of 3D printing machines and printed products to industrial customers. ExOne’s business primarily consists of manufacturing and selling 3D printing machines and printing products to specification for its customers using its in‐house 3D printing machines. ExOne offers pre‐production collaboration and prints products through Production Service Centers, which are located in the United States, Germany and Japan. ExOne builds 3D printing machines at its facilities in the United States and Germany. ExOne also supplies the associated products, including consumables and replacement parts, and services, including training and technical support, necessary for purchasers of its machines to print products.

3D Printing Materials: From Plastic to Metal to Wood and Beyond

Shapeways 3D Printing Materials

3D Printing Materials: What You Can Make

This is a guest post by Kyle Hurst, whose bio is at the end of the article.

If you look up 3D printing on the internet you’re likely to run into a variety of objects ranging from decorative knick-knacks to full blown prototype models of new inventions. While there’s a lot of emphasis on all of the cool ideas that concept designers have come up with, there is relatively little hype about the development of the various materials and techniques being developed and that are now floating around in the 3D printing community. Here is quick look at the variety of different materials available on the market today.

Hard Plastics

This is the most common material and you can find it all over the internet, or even make your own out of garbage plastic using a home extrusion machine. “Hard” is usually a relative term and depends heavily on the number of layers in your model. Being the first and most prolific material it’s used for lots of different ideas from sculptures, to graphic design, to mechanical models. Sometimes they’re even used to make functional parts and tools.

Flexible Plastics

This is a very significant advancement in printing technology because it allows people to print objects with flexible parts in them to build composite structures. That means that printed items don’t have to be stiff, greatly broadening the variety of functional objects that can be effectively produced. Because it’s a lot more rubbery in consistency it’s very useful not only for making flexible objects, but for any number of practical applications such as shoe soles, handgrips, or grips on the undersides of objects to prevent them from sliding around.


Selective Laser Sintering has been around for decades, but it hasn’t ever been put to this type of use, and it definitely hasn’t been affordable for a private person. The incorporation of laser sintering into 3D printing allows people to build much more durable and heavy objects. While that means producing machine parts that typically have to be cast or ground by machine tools, it could also be applied to make less glamorous everyday objects like a hammer, or a screwdriver.


While some people were out chasing the dream of home manufacturing, others got a bit more creative. Considering that at the end of the day we’re using a robot to dab droplets of sticky things strategically into predetermined shapes, it was only a matter of time before someone thought to use chocolate. Perhaps in the future we won’t be so lazy as to buy a box of chocolate hearts for valentines day, but instead design and customize chocolate sculptures as gifts? The idea might be a bit too romantic, but at least it’s tasty.

Wood Composite

Designed to appeal on aesthetically as well as economically, a German company found a way to create printable wood. It’s made of wood fibers and a lignin based polymer that behaves similarly to plastic. Depending on temperature it will print with different colors, allowing for the addition of artificial “tree-rings” in printed items. The material looks and feels essentially like wood, but more important is that it’s actually made of wood and natural ingredients. That means that we don’t need to rely on artificial non-renewable plastics for 3d printing purposes.

3D printing is becoming increasingly ready to make the jump from fun design toy to essential home-manufacturing tool. If we’re lucky then in 10 years we’ll be sitting in our homes with our own 3D printers building many of the items that we buy at the store today.


About the author: Kyle Hurst has a background in 3D modeling and B2B marketing. He’s currently pursuing his education further and writing about 3D plastic printing in his free time.

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Shapeways Materials Sample Kit photo by Shapeways used under Creative Commons license.