3D printing continues to be a source of excitement in manufacturing. The ability to create prototypes and replacement parts all at the point of use with less waste is fairly revolutionary. But going further, the technology actually allows for the creation of structures that were impossible with previous technologies. A group from the University of Southern California is investigating how 3D printed can use folding techniques borrowed from origami to created strong, thin-walled structures.
One of the challenges of 3D printing since it garnered such widespread attention was how to improve the building speed, and that was one problem set out to solve. Instead of printing a 3D structure, the team created a 2D structure that was foldable and thus drastically improved the production rate and strengthened the final product.
The system uses a series of folding algorithms to deduce what the 2D structure should look like, and then sets out to print it. The resulting product is folded on the exterior but hollow in the middle, which creates a lighter and more durable product. This new methodology, termed Assembled Additive Manufacturing (AAM), has a whole set of possible applications for anyone who needs light and strong industrial material. The team imagines it would be quite useful in aerospace and automotive industries, but also in robotics and even dentistry. If for some reason, you weren’t excited about the prospect of 3D printing before, perhaps now is the time to get excited.
The concept of additive manufacturing is reminiscent of the modular systems Rexroth pioneered. Perhaps this will be as much of a breakthrough. Only time will tell. In the meantime, if your Rexroth electric motion control is in need of service, give us a call. We have the largest selection of factory refurbished emergency replacement units in the nation.