Friday, 12 August 2016

CSIRO Relies on 3D Printing for Groundbreaking Research


The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) is one of the largest and most diverse scientific agencies the world. CSIRO researches a variety of disciplines from agriculture to energy, manufacturing to space, improving the future for Australians and the world. CSIRO’S accomplishments include pioneering radio astronomy work leading to the invention of WiFi, development of extended-wear contact lenses and a vaccine that protects against the deadly Hendra virus. 

3D printing has played a key role in CSIRO’s Autonomous Systems Lab since 2011, accelerating research and reducing costs.

3D Printing Streamlines Research
In many CSIRO studies, researchers developed testable prototypes and gathered data by securely attaching multiple sensors to moving robotic devices in order to finalize designs. Prototypes created for tests were often held together with double-sided tape or zip ties, because using traditional fabrication methods (such as milling or cutting) or outsourcing were too costly and time consuming.

Paul Flick, a senior mechatronic engineer for CSIRO, implemented FDM® and PolyJet™ technologies to streamline prototype production. Researchers now create models quickly in-house from 3D CAD designs, minimizing lead time and outsourcing.

A hexapod robot developed by CSIRO’s robotics team with 3D printed components.

“Efficiency has been a huge factor contributing to the success of a research project for us, and 3D printing has been the integral accelerator for some of our projects with its highly reliable technology and durable ABS materials,” Flick said.

A Smart Approach
CSIRO adopted two 3D printing methods to aid its research. FDM builds durable prototypes with mechanically strong, production grade thermoplastics for projects that need higher tensile or impact strength or bio-compatibility. PolyJet creates models with fine details that can undergo functional tests, such as assembly and snap fit. With these two complementary technologies on site, Flick and his team create concept models and functional prototypes more confidently.

“Now, if someone comes up with a brilliant idea at the end of the day, it is possible to send the CAD file to one of the 3D printers and have the part ready the next day,” Flick said.

This agility sped the development of a GPS-enabled cattle monitoring sensor. A key goal was to design a collar that could house the solar panels, electronics and batteries while withstanding the rough movements of the animal. This system tracks the movement of the cow via GPS, accelerometer and barometer information that is then transferred to a base station for studies. Finalizing this design took many iterations that would have taken the team weeks or even months using a traditional fabrication method. Instead, it took only days to print, assemble and test to confirm the design using 3D printing, allowing the team to begin developing the data-reading parameter ahead of schedule.

CSIRO’s GPS-enabled sensors track animal movements

Extending the Robotic Reach
Since the Queensland lab facilities added 3D printing, its machines have been running nonstop, providing predictable results faster and more cost-effectively. For example, assembly tests for a hexapod, which can travel on uneven terrain to collect natural-science data where wheeled robots can’t go, took advantage of strong ABS material to ensure the robot prototype could withstand high impact and oscillation.

“At CSIRO, research is the religion as we endeavor to improve people’s living standards by investigating science and nature. 3D printing has been an indispensable tool and the driving force that helps us prototype better and faster, eventually pushing the limits of possibility in the many sectors that we work in,” Flick said.

While the CSIRO lab continues to seek answers to some of the world’s most challenging questions, 3D printing is enabling its researchers the ability to create applications and systems with greater efficiency.

Objective3D is Australia and New Zealand’s leading provider of Stratasys and Concept Laser 3D Printer Solutions for designers, educators and manufacturers. We are the only Stratasys reseller in Australia and New Zealand that provides both 3D Printer Solutions and 3D Printing Bureau Service through a state-of-the-art Additive Manufacturing Centre which houses the largest range of FDM and PolyJet Machines including consumables and spare parts. With more than 1500 orders received and over 100,000 parts produced annually, Objective3D Service Bureau is helping companies in diverse industries create extraordinary new products at every phase of the production process. Objective3D is an ISO 9001 compliant company and has won the Stratasys Customer Satisfaction and Support Award in 2013 and 2015 for the Asia Pacific region. 

For more details, visit www.objective3d.com.au or call 03-9785 2333 (AUS)  09-801 0380 (NZ) or try out our INSTANT ONLINE QUOTING SYSTEM if you have need 3D Parts Printed.

Monday, 8 August 2016

NextGen Space-frame Combines Lightweight Construction and Flexibility


Manufacturers are currently required to integrate the increasing number of drive concepts and energy storage systems into vehicle structures. The vehicle bodies of tomorrow, particularly in view of alternative drive systems in small series with lots of different versions, will not only need to be lighter, but above all will also require a highly flexible design. The consequence is an increasing number of vehicle derivatives, which demand adaptable bodywork concepts that are economical to manufacture. In the foreseeable future, additive manufacturing could offer entirely new possible approaches.

The EDAG concept car “Light Cocoon” is a compact sports car with a bionically designed and additive manufactured vehicle structure, covered with an outer skin made from weatherproof textile material. The EDAG Light Cocoon was unveiled in March 2015 at the Geneva Motor Show and in September 2015 at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt. The “EDAG Light Cocoon” is intended to polarize opinions among designers and breaks open existing thought patterns in vehicle design. The bodywork structure embraces bionic patterns and translates them into a lightweight bodywork structure. A concept car that highlights sustainable approaches and at the same time embodies the technological potential of additive manufacturing.

Technology example: 
NextGen space-frame combines lightweight construction and flexibility: Functionally integrated, bionically optimized lightweight vehicle structure manufactured flexibly

In a joint project, EDAG Engineering GmbH (Wiesbaden, DE), Laser Zentrum Nord GmbH (Hamburg, DE), Concept Laser GmbH (Lichtenfels, DE) and the BLM Group (Cantù, IT) created the bionically optimized space-frame produced by hybrid manufacturing to highlight a new way in which a bodywork concept that is adaptable and can be manufactured flexibly can be delivered in order to make the increasing range of different vehicles manageable thanks to the large number of different drives and load stages. Additive manufactured bodywork nodes and intelligently processed profiles are combined. Thanks to additive manufacturing, the nodes can be configured to be highly flexible and multi-functional so that, for example, different versions of a vehicle can be produced “on demand” without any additional tooling, equipment and start-up costs. Steel profiles are used as connecting elements. They too can easily be adapted on an individual basis to the specified load levels by providing them with different wall thicknesses and geometries.


The NextGen space-frame in detail
The NextGen space-frame is a combination of additive manufactured 3D nodes and intelligently processed steel profiles. The nodes can be manufactured on site for the particular version “just in sequence” (JIS), along with the profiles, which are cut to the appropriate shape and length initially using 3D bending and then by employing 2D and 3D laser cutting processes. The focus is on joining together individual components to create a hybrid structure in order to produce topologically optimized structures that are not yet possible at present. The method used is laser welding, which is characterized by intricate welded seams and low thermal input. The components are welded together with a fillet weld on the lap joint. The geometric basis for this is the complete shoeing of the profiles all the way round, and this is also produced on demand via additive manufacturing through 3D measuring of the profiles. This joint enables circumferential welding to produce a connection over a long length along with excellent pre-positioning of the components. 


The profiles are automatically aligned and fixed in place by the node. A high-brightness laser with robot-guided optics is used. In addition, the laser techniques used to produce profiles and nodes can largely be automated in assembly. This concept offers great potential when it comes to the manufacturing cost structure and the possibility of saving time.The additive manufactured nodes can be adapted to reflect each load stage, e.g. by incorporating additional stiffening elements to cater for high load requirements. This means that each version is designed for the optimum weight and function. The hybrid design spans the required distances of the structure with the profiles, while the nodes are used to connect the profiles together. Both elements were optimized using CAE/CAD and guarantee the requirements that are demanded of a bodywork structure. In the present case, as well as playing a coordinating role, EDAG Engineering GmbH was responsible for devising and optimizing the space-frame concept, Laser Zentrum Nord GmbH did the laser welding, the BLM Group undertook the 3D bending and laser cutting, and Concept Laser GmbH performed the additive manufacturing of the nodes. The project could only be implemented successfully thanks to the interdisciplinary collaboration between the complementary partners and the high level of expertise of the individual technology specialists in their specific disciplines.


Production of the additively manufactured NextGen spaceframe nodes
The LaserCUSING process from Concept Laser generates components in layers directly from 3D CAD data. This method allows the production of components with complex geometrical shapes without the use of any tools. It is possible to produce components, which it would be very difficult or impossible to fabricate by conventional manufacturing. With this type of design, the nodes cannot be manufactured by conventional steel casting. In order to be able to guarantee a fault-free structure, a support structure should be provided on planes with an angle of less than 45° in relation to the build platform. As well as providing simple support, the support itself absorbs in particular internal stresses and prevents the components from warping. Due to the complex geometry of the nodes, clean support preparation is the absolute basis of successful production. After preparing the support, the component is virtually cut into individual slices. Once the data has been transferred to the LaserCUSING machine, the corresponding process parameters are assigned, and the build process is started. The nodes were manufactured on an X line 1000R machine from Concept Laser, which has the appropriate build envelope (630 x 400 x 500 mm3) for such projects and operates with a 1kW laser. Only the new X line 2000R (800 x 400 x 500 mm3), likewise from Concept Laser, has a larger build envelope for powder-bed-based laser melting with metals and it is also equipped with 2 x 1kW lasers.


Verdict: Digital 3D manufacturing strategy with laser technologies
The spaceframe concept combines the advantages of 3D printing, such as flexibility and the potential for lightweight construction, with the efficiency of proven conventional profile designs. The laser plays the key role in both technologies. The topologically optimized nodes enable the maximum lightweight construction that is possible at the present time, and a high degree of functional integration. Both the nodes and the profiles can be adapted to new geometries and load requirements without any additional outlay. This means that they offer the possibility of designing every single part to cater for the level of loading, and not dimensioning the components to reflect the greatest motorization or load stage, as was previously the case. The basic idea then is to have a node/profile design which can be optimally customized to reflect what the particular model requires. The result is a space-frame structure with an optimized load path. By employing processes, which do not involve much use of apparatus or tools, it will be possible in future to manufacture all bodywork versions economically and with the greatest possible flexibility.
Article Source: Concept Laser Inc

Objective3D is Australia and New Zealand’s leading provider of Stratasys and Concept Laser 3D Printer Solutions for designers, educators and manufacturers. We are the only Stratasys reseller in Australia and New Zealand that provides both 3D Printer Solutions and 3D Printing Bureau Service through a state-of-the-art Additive Manufacturing Centre which houses the largest range of FDM and PolyJet Machines including consumables and spare parts. With more than 1500 orders received and over 100,000 parts produced annually, Objective3D Service Bureau is helping companies in diverse industries create extraordinary new products at every phase of the production process. Objective3D is an ISO 9001 compliant company and has won the Stratasys Customer Satisfaction and Support Award in 2013 and 2015 for the Asia Pacific region. 

For more details, visit www.objective3d.com.au or call 03-9785 2333 (AUS)  09-801 0380 (NZ) or try out our INSTANT ONLINE QUOTING SYSTEM if you have need a 3D Part Printed.