And it’ll never rust….

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3D printing company Solid Concepts announced it has manufactured the world’s first 3D Printed Metal Gun using a laser sintering process and powdered metals.
The gun, a 1911 classic design, has already handled 50 rounds of successful firing. It is composed of 33 17-4 Stainless Steel and Inconel 625 components, and decked with a Selective Laser Sintered (SLS) carbon-fiber filled nylon hand grip.

at 3ders.org

Spiders in Space! SpiderFab, a fabulous NASA initiative

3ders.org a great 3 D printing site has this up…..TUI, a space technology development company based in Bothell, WA is currently developing “SpiderFab” to provide order-of-magnitude packing- and mass- efficiency improvements over current deployable structures and enables construction of kilometer-scale apertures within current launch vehicle capabilities.
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Trusselator
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SpiderFab project (credit: Tethers.com)

Go NASA!

Here is the TUI SpiderFab site

And remember this, Lego for the MIT set20130830-102928.jpg20130830-102946.jpg

Design, fab, test, iterate…. NASA gets 3D Printing’s advantages

Ars techica: NASA test-fires 3D printed rocket parts: low cost, high power innovation
Propulsion engineers focus on R&D and pushing new tech into private industry.20130828-222007.jpg

A 3D-printed injector plate delivers 20,000 lbs of thrust in a hot-fire test on August 22.
NASA

Fidelity is an issue with 3D printed parts, even using advanced techniques like DMLS. (direct metal laser sintering) Greg Barnett, the lead propulsion engineer on the project, … “The surface is a little rougher,” he explained; however, those variations are within a consistent range and can be compensated for in the design. …

The test results on the 3D printed components have been extremely positive; Barnett and Williams told Ars that the 3D printed injector is equivalent in performance to the traditional machined one. The next step is to move on to an injector with more elements, which will mean testing with more power.

3D printing—or “additive manufacturing,” as it’s called when you get industrial like this—is seen by NASA as a vital way to keep rocket component development costs down. In a lot of ways, the ability to rapidly prototype via DMLS harkens back to the Apollo-era development method of fast physical iteration. Rather than spending a tremendous amount of time performing deep, computer-based analyses of rocket components, NASA can rough in a design and then print and test a component within hours or days.

The deep analysis and simulation tools are still available and still used, but the months- or years-long physical manufacturing time is drastically reduced. This gives engineers the flexibility to design and build in the most optimal fashion. They can use complex software analysis where necessary, but they don’t have to rely solely on computer modeling.

In the days of Apollo, NASA operated with effectively unlimited funding, which it used to create a nation-wide army of contractors with tremendous manufacturing capabilities. Design-by-iteration was feasible because there was so much design going on. These days, the picture is entirely different. “It’s almost a cultural issue,” explained Williams, “where a part can cost so much, you get into what I call ‘analysis paralysis.'” Without additive manufacturing, prototype rocket parts that can withstand actual hot-firing can cost so much and take so long to produce that when you finally get a physical component to test, you’re already hoping the tests show that it’s perfect—otherwise it would take too long to redesign. With additive manufacturing, that paralysis goes away, and engineers can iterate as needed on actual physical components.

Ingenuity unleashed, development accelerated, designs simplified…the power of 3D printing.

MIT’s Spidery Lego, The Future of large scale 3D ‘Printing’ by little Maker-Bots

When you think about it we’re built up from billions of smaller common modules with a lot of minor variations, why shouldn’t our infrastructure be the same?

MIT researchers have developed a lightweight structure whose tiny blocks can be snapped together much like the bricks of a child’s construction toy. The new material, the researchers say, could revolutionize the assembly of airplanes, spacecraft, and even larger structures, such as dikes and levees.

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Assemblies of the cellular composite material are seen from different perspectives, showing the repeating “cuboct” lattice structure, made from many identical flat cross-shaped pieces.
PHOTO COURTESY OF KENNETH CHEUNG

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Credit: © CC-BY-NC-SA Kenneth C. Cheung

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Part production for reversibly-assembled cellular composite materials, slicing from stock produced by a multiplexed fiber winding method. Credit: CC-BY-NC-SA Kenneth C. Cheung

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Test apparatus with reversibly-assembled cellular composite materials. Credit: © CC-BY-NC-SA Kenneth C. Cheung

If you can’t tell that last picture is a load cell, an instrument for applying precisely controlled loads to CRUSH YOUR ENEM…. uh, I mean… test the strength of a part or structure.

Read more at:MIT
or at:PhysOrg
or at: 3Ders

Obviously the MIT press piece is the base, but the others each have a little different insight.

3D printed parts resurrect Saturn V’s ferocious F1 first stage engines

Dynetics reporting “outstanding” progress on F-1B rocket engine20130813-224116.jpg

The prototype components were constructed not with welding and casting, but rather with selective laser melting—a 3D printing technique that uses hot lasers to fuse metal powder into complex shapes. Dynetics and Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne hope to lean heavily on advanced manufacturing techniques like this in order to massively reduce the part count—and hence cost—of the F-1B engine compared to its F-1 predecessor. Current estimates call for a reduction in the combustion chamber from more than 5,000 parts in the F-1 to fewer than 100 parts in the F-1B.

OK I loathe the senate taxripoff system (STS), otherwise known as the space transportation system, but this is absolutely cool. I have to say NASA engineers and scientists have done a lot of really great and innovative stuff, even in these tough times, but as an exploratory risk taking organization…..well they’re a bunch of engineers and scientists lead by bureaucrats and directed by politicians . . . what more is there to say?