ESA Amaze project to take 3D printing into the metal age

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The European Space Agency (ESA, the “European NASA”) has unveiled plans to “take 3D printing into the metal age” by developing the first large-scale production methods to 3D-print with metal. These 3d printed metal parts can be used for jets, spacecraft and fusion projects.

3D printing, formally known as additive manufacturing, can create complex shapes that are impossible to manufacture with traditional casting and machining techniques. Little to no material is wasted and cutting the number of steps in a manufacturing chain offers enormous cost benefits.

3D printers are expected to revolutionize the way we live but until recently they could work with only plastic, which is not very useful for many industrial applications.

The AMAZE project – Additive Manufacturing Aiming Towards Zero Waste & Efficient Production of High-Tech Metal Products – began in January 2013 and brings together 28 institutions with the purpose of developing complex printed parts made of metal which are lighter, stronger and cheaper than conventional parts. These 3D printed metal parts can withstand temperatures at 3000°C which allows them to survive inside nuclear fusion reactors and on the nozzles of rockets.

Totally 20 million Euro will be invested in this project. Pilot-scale industrial AM factories are being set up in France, Germany, Italy, Norway and the UK to develop the industrial supply chain. The 28 partners include Airbus, Astrium, RENISHAW, Volvo Technology, Norsk Titanium, Cranfield University, EADS, the University of Birmingham, and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.

The project will design, demonstrate and deliver a modular streamlined work-flow at factory level, offering maximum processing flexibility during AM, a major reduction in non-added-value delays, as well as a 50% reduction in shop-floor space compared with conventional factories.

AMAZE will dramatically increase the commercial use of adaptronics, in-situ sensing, process feedback, novel post-processing and clean-rooms in AM, so that (i) overall quality levels are improved, (ii) dimensional accuracy is increased by 25% (iii) build rates are increased by a factor of 10, and (iv) industrial scrap rates are slashed to <5%. In order to turn additive manufacturing into a mainstream industrial process, a sharp focus will also be drawn on pre-normative work, standardisation and certification, in collaboration with ISO, ASTM and ECSS Learn more here

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“ESA Amaze project to take 3D printing into the metal age”