Besides plastics and metals there are also other materials that can be used for 3D printing, like for example concrete. Contour crafting is a technique that can be used for this kind of printing. It can be compared with FDM for plastics. With a giant nozzle a dense high-performance concrete will be added layer by layer. With this method walls can be formed. You can find an example in the picture beneath. The main advantages are the following:
- Hollow walls to make it lighter
- Higher strength than traditional housing walls
- Curved walls can be printed
- Savings in materials and human labour
- Fewer CO2 emissions and less energy consumption
The contour crafting machine is equipped witch a robotic arm that can place steel I-beams on the correct place to create doorways and windows. However, the machine is not entirely autonomous. There are still construction workers needed for the preparation and finishing.
This idea was invented by professor Behrokh Khoshnevis. What is your opinion?
3D printing at home is gaining popularity. This is because it becomes affordable to order your own designed objects at companies that are specialized in Additive Manufacturing.
An example is iMaterialise, here you can upload your design as an stl file and after a couple of days you will receive a 3D printed component.
It is also possible to buy your own 3D printer or for the hobbyists to build their own. Makerbot and PP3DP are two companies that are offering affordable 3D printers for domestic use.
Reprap is the most common printer build by hobbyists. There is a whole community around Reprap that optimizes the printer and share their experiences. Reprap printers are containing a lot of 3D printed parts. So that it’s easy to multiply themselves.
The influence of the medical world has ensured that additive manufacturing is used in healthcare. There are different fields where it is used. You can find some examples in the following paragraphs.
PATIENT-SPECIFIC SOLUTIONS FOR ORTHOPAEDICS
Materialise is involved in making surgical guides. They are based on a 3D-model of a bone from a patient. This will result in a perfect fit. These surgical guides are tools that are used during a bone reconstruction. The integrated functionality eliminates the uncertainty during an operation.
Complicated implants can be made out of metals using selective laser melting. Serial products and even patient specific implants will contain the advantages of additive manufacturing. Here you can see some examples.
3D-printed skull implant
3D printer builds new jaw bone for transplant
My thesis is about 3D printed connections, which is commissioned by Materialise. Materialise is a market leader in additive manufacturing. My purpose is to design, create and study different types of connections made by using Additive Manufacturing. Because this is a confidential thesis, I can’t give more information about the subject.
In this blog post I will explain the basics of additive manufacturing. With this method the work piece will be created by adding material , layer by layer. This is different than conventional methods where material will be removed by for example milling. This also creates waste. It is also different than injection molding where an expensive mold is needed.
Various techniques are available, the three most common are the following:
- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
- Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
If you want more information about the different techniques you can browse the websites by clicking on the links, or you can ask your question in a comment.