In the Product Design & Development Brainstorm we talk with industry leaders to get their perspective on issues
critical to the design engineering marketplace. In this issue, we ask:
What are the newest advancements in rapid prototyping
materials? What are your expectations for future materials?
Hi-Tech Outsourcing Services
The 3D printing industry has seen
remarkable growth in the last decade,
A breakthrough example is the use of human cells as a 3D printing
material to develop tissues for testing during drug development. The
bioink uses tens of thousands of cells printed over hydrogels, such as
collagen or gelatin, which gets dissolved once the tissue is printed.
Organova, a bioprinting pioneer, printed the first blood vessels using
cells cultured from a single person, and is expecting to leverage the
technology further to develop on-demand organs during surgical
procedures. Additionally, an entire range of biocompatible materials,
such as thermoplastics, photopolymers, and metals, are expected to
be increasingly adopted to test 3D printing compatibility.
Food ingredients can also be a good material for 3D printing food items.
While this may sound a bit impractical on earth, printing food for long
duration space missions can provide required food quality and nutrient
stability, rather than today’s ready-to-eat pouches that are tasteless and lose
nutrient stability over time. As a matter of fact, NASA is already funding a
project which is expected to bring a breakthrough in food technology.
From the manufacturing perspective, the pursuit to identify
advanced materials for 3D printing applications is at its peak. More
recent advancements, include the use of composite materials, such
as carbon fiber, Kevlar, fiberglass, and nylon to print mechanical parts
that require higher strength without adding weight. MARKFORG3D
has demonstrated the use of these materials effectively by developing
the world’s first carbon fiber 3D printer.
The future of 3D printing materials is also greatly dependent on
printing technologies. Two matured 3D printing techniques exist
today: one focusing on details and surface finish, and the other
focusing on structural strength, each having its own disadvantage.
As such, future technologies of 3D printing will be more focused on
fulfilling strength and surface finish. HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology
is one initiative that will help fill the gap in present additive manufac-
Additionally, existing printing capabilities are restricted to only
printing single materials. In order to develop more useful products,
3D printers will need to process multiple materials in a single build
cycle. Although recent advances have made the use of multiple materials from a single family of materials possible, future efforts are still
required to combine different families of materials, such as plastics
and metals to build more innovative products.
Project Engineering Manager
Just this year, components made
with FST-rated, fused deposition
modeling (FDM) ULTEM 9085 were
tested and verified for outer space
at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
to function on the exterior of a
satellite to be launched in 2016.
Engineering-grade thermoplastics traditionally used in injection molding, such as UV-stable ASA for the
FDM process, have recently hit the market for extended outdoor use.
Moreover, flame retardant PEEK, an SLS material, is also used for end-use aerospace applications. Such advancements are a sign of the rising demand for more rugged, production-grade 3D printed products.
The additive manufacturing industry has grown significantly and
quickly in the last decade. When I initially started in this field, rapid
prototyping with additive manufacturing was a crude process. The
materials and technology weren’t as robust, and 3D printed parts
were primarily used for visual verification and application uses were
limited. Today, machines have become more reliable, repeatable and
accurate; combined with evolving materials, we continue to move