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MIT opening AM center, designs faster 3D-printer

Steel News - Published on Wed, 12 Dec 2018

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MIT recently announced two developments related to additive manufacturing: The opening of the MIT Center for Additive and Digital Advanced Production Technologies and a printer head capable of extrusion rates 14 times higher than existing heads. ADAPT’s aim is to “accelerate the implementation of AM and to invent its future,” according to a press release published by the university. “As such, ADAPT convenes its members and MIT experts with a mission to perform visionary research, continually and critically assess the status of AM technology, develop model-based decision tools and open strategic frameworks, build a vibrant academic-industry network comprised of MIT students, and accelerate critical AM education initiatives for professional audiences.”

The roster of industry members includes GM, Bosch, Volkswagen, Autodesk, Formlabs, EOS, and Protolabs. The center’s director is John Hart, associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of the MIT Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity.

The release said that “ADAPT’s membership fees support research projects on visionary new AM technologies, breakthrough materials, computational methods, and more. Our research leverages the multidisciplinary strengths of ADAPT’s faculty and students spanning mechanical engineering, materials science, computer science, and business and enables members to reach beyond the constraints of today’s AM technologies and work hand-in-hand with MIT.”

To complement its technical research, ADAPT performs strategic analyses of the present and future capabilities of AM and of digitally driven manufacturing systems. “Broadly, we seek to identify the ‘scaling laws’ of AM technologies and create insights that enable members to act decisively in this rapidly changing arena. These analyses include accurate, up-to-date cost models of AM, tools for value analysis, and a library of case studies derived from member interests. Key insights and detailed reports are shared with members far in advance of academic publication.”

Mr Hart also figures into the news about research into a faster 3D-printing head. Extrusion, a common method of 3D printing, starts with a polymer rod, or filament, explains an article written by Nancy W. Stauffer that MIT published about the development. The filament is heated, melted, and forced through a nozzle in a printhead. The printhead moves across a horizontal surface (the print bed) in a prescribed pattern, depositing one layer of polymer at a time. On each pass over the print bed, instructions tell the printhead exactly where material should and shouldn’t be extruded so that, in the end, the layers stack up to form the desired, freestanding 3D object.

To find out what slows down current 3D printers, Hart teamed up with Jamison Go, a mechanical engineer at Desktop Metal, and Adam Stevens, a doctoral student in Hart’s lab, to examine several commercial, extrusion-based desktop models. They concluded that these units’ so-called volumetric build rates were limited by three factors: how much force the printhead could apply as it pushed the material through the nozzle; how quickly it could transfer heat to the material to get it to melt and flow; and how fast the printer could move the printhead.

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Posted By : Nanda Koijam on Wed, 12 Dec 2018
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