Manufacturing & Prototyping

4D Printing: New dimension for additive manufacturing

A team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have demonstrated the 3D printing of shape-shifting structures that can fold or unfold to reshape themselves when exposed to heat or electricity. The micro-architected structures are fabricated from a conductive, environmentally responsive polymer ink developed at the lab.Scientists and engineers revealed their strategy for creating boxes, spirals, and spheres from shape memory polymers (SMPs), bio-based "smart" materials that exhibit shape changes when resistively heated or when exposed to the appropriate temperature. While the approach of using responsive materials in 3D printing, often known as 4D printing, is not new, LLNL researchers are the first to combine the process of 3D printing and subsequent folding (via origami methods) with conductive smart materials to build complex structures.The researchers create primary shapes from an ink made from soybean oil, additional co-polymers, and carbon nanofibers and "program" them into a temporary shape at an engineered temperature determined by chemical composition. Then the shape-morphing effect is induced by ambient heat or by heating the material with an electrical current, which reverts the part's temporary shape back to its original shape."It's like baking a cake," said Jennifer Rodriguez, a postdoc in LLNL's Materials Engineering Division. "You take the part out of the oven before it's done and set the permanent structure of the part by folding or twisting after an initial gelling of the polymer."Ultimately, Rodriguez said, researchers can use the materials to create extremely complex parts. "If we printed a part out of multiple versions of these formulations, with different transition temperatures, and run it through a heating ramp, they would expand in a segmented fashion and unpack into something much more complex."Through a direct-ink writing 3D printing process, the team produced several types of structures: a bent conductive device that morphed to a straight device when exposed to an electric current or heat, a collapsed stent that expanded after being exposed to heat, and boxes that either opened or closed when heated.The technology, the researchers said, could have applications in the medical field, in aerospace (in solar arrays or antennae that can unfold), as well as flexible circuits and robotic devices.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping


Dual-Channel Transceiver

Red Rapids, Richardson, TX, introduced the Model 372 FPGA-configurable dual-channel transceiver that features a dual-channel 16-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC) and dual-channel 16-bit digital-to-analog converter (DAC) clocked at 310 MHz. The converters are coupled to a Xilinx Kintex-7 FPGA that is also connected to high-throughput SRAM. The transceiver is available on a single XMC, CCXMC, or PCI Express half-length form factor board. The SRAM interfaces to the FPGA through separate 18-bit read and write ports to achieve a combined 8 Gbytes/sec data transfer rate.

Posted in: Articles, Products, Aerospace, Manufacturing & Prototyping


Rittal’s Hannover Fair Contest Trip Closes with Facility Tours

After a full week in Germany, Rittal Corporation (, the world’s largest enclosure manufacturer and a leader in thermal management of electrical, electronic, and IT equipment, brought its “Win a Trip to Hannover Fair with Rittal!” contest to a close with tours of three of its facilities.

Posted in: Articles, News, Manufacturing & Prototyping


Rittal Hosts President Obama at Germany’s Hannover Fair

"We want to build on the spirit of innovation in the USA," said President Barack Obama in his opening speech at the Hannover Messe trade fair in Germany. Following the official opening, President Obama, accompanied by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, was given a tour of the Rittal Corporation booth. Rittal is the world’s largest enclosure manufacturer and a leader in thermal management of electrical, electronic, and IT equipment.

Posted in: Articles, News, Electronics & Computers, Government, Manufacturing & Prototyping


Robotic Drones to 'Print' Emergency Shelters

Researchers from the University of Bath, Imperial College, and University College London have developed robotic drones designed to "print" emergency shelters. The flying robots will autonomously assess and manufacture building structures to help areas suffering from natural disasters.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling


The Fourth Revolution in Manufacturing

The fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, is all about going digital. But the term – and the basic idea behind it – are not new. First used in 2011 at Hannover Fair in Germany, the term Industry 4.0 originates from a question posed by the German government to its country’s manufacturing industry leaders: What is the next stage of evolution for manufacturing?

Posted in: Articles, News, Manufacturing & Prototyping


Scientists Print in 4D

Scientists at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have brought a fourth dimension to their microscale 3D printing technology.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials


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