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COVER FEATURE It stands to reason that AM will


continue to become more widely used in many industries, and this off ers a unique opportunity for transport design engineers. It allows for greater experimentation of materials, at a low cost, to reshape what we consider to be conventional vehicle design. And given the quick prototyping and production time and minimal overheads, it will give design engineers an unprecedented level of freedom. To further exemplify this, we can look at GE Aviation. Using AM techniques, the company’s Catalyst Advanced turboprop engine consolidated 855 components into a mere 12. These changes to conventional designs further reduce the total production costs. So, why wouldn’t transport design engineers experiment with design concepts using this maturing technology and advancing AM materials? Almost three quarters of a century


after the fi rst connection between 3D fabrication and transport was fi rst made, we are inching ever closer to it becoming a widespread reality. We might not yet be at the stage where we can spray a spaceship into existence, but if design engineers experiment and don’t let this opportunity pass by, this could be a stop on the horizon. ■


The author is a scientist at materials search engine Matmatch


Diamond life


Sandvik Additive Manufacturing is claiming a fi rst: a 3D printed diamond composite. Sandvik’s Anders Ohlsson


explains, “Historically, 3D printing a diamond was something that none of us imagined was achievable. Even now we are just starting to grasp the possibilities and applications that this breakthrough could have. On seeing its potential, we began to wonder what else would be possible from 3D printing complex shapes in a material that is three times stiffer than steel, with heat conductivity higher


10 www.engineerlive.com


than copper, the thermal expansion close to invar – and with a density close to aluminium. These benefi ts make us believe that you will see this diamond composite in new advanced industrial applications ranging from wear parts to space programs, in just a few years from now.” Mikael Schuisky, head of R&D and Operations adds, “The additive manufacturing process used is highly advanced. We are printing in a slurry consisting of diamond powder and polymer using stereolithography, where


complex parts are produced, layer by layer, using ultraviolet light.” After the component has been used, it is possible to extract the diamond powder from the slurry and reuse it again.


A diamond - but not necessarily forever


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