Crabontitanium

carbon

Carbon fiber and laser titanium printing fall into the category of Additive manufacturing. Where layers of a material are added one at a time until you have a product.  Regular manufacturing (also known as reductive manufacturing) generally starts with pieces of materials that are then cut down.

   The benefit of additive manufacturing is there is no limits on the engineering in the process. For example lets take a bicycle frame. In the normal reductive process the frame is made of multiple pieces of tubing that are cut into shape and the welded together. with additive manufacturing the entire frame would be printed out in one piece. In that process of printing there is no limitations on how complex the frame could be from an engineering point of view. The frame could be three dimensional latticework that has great flexibility and strength. Or it could be just a tube.It would be up to the engineer. 

    A small company called Local Motors has used carbon fiber printing to make the frame and body for an electric car. They did that in multiple pieces. The next one they plan to do it all in one piece. While a one piece manufacturing may be a technological achievement, I think it is a mistake. How will they repair damage in a one piece car frame?  Either way, this is an exciting development for manufacturing. Here is the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daioWlkH7ZI

    The second step in the revolution is Titanium Laser Printing. Titanium is hard to work with since it can catch fire during the manufacturing process. Generally it is created in a argon environment. Titanium is not a scarce material. Its high cost are due to the issues in manufacturing it. And its strength and corrosion resistant qualities instantly make it a “top tier” material. 

   I have worked in the aviation industry. I see there two technologies working together to make helicopters and  aircraft lighter, simpler, corrosion resistant, less labor intense and stronger. I foresee the frames of the crafts being titanium, while the skin being carbon fiber. Instead of thousands of pieces of aluminum being drilled and riveted, entire sections of craft will be make in single pieces. Here is a few videos showing the processes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRXymDoYoWQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daioWlkH7ZI

I see this technology transitioning into all aspects of our life. Mainly dealing with transportation to begin with and spreading from there as the technology becomes common and cheaper. 

I have thought a great deal about this technology. Not only will it help existing companies, but I also see it helping start-ups and individual engineers. Much like computer coding created an influx of new companies due to the low cost of entrance (all you need is a computer and a desire to code something people will by and you are in business. Think apps and early Facebook) this will allow smaller companies to design things and then have machine shops with this equipment make it for them. Eventually partnering up with the machine shop (with success) or buying their own equipment to continue growing…..

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