$2.2M Granted for 3D Printing Manufacturing Suite
Kyle Maxey posted on February 14, 2014 |
A recent grant by America Makes will help fund the development of a 3D printing-based manufacturing ...

3d printing, UAV, texasIn a recent announcement, the US government’s additive manufacturing program America Makes has awarded a $2.2M grant for the development of a 3D printer-based manufacturing suite, similar to an all-in-one assembly line.

Led by the University of Texas – El Paso’s W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation, a team of corporate and university research interests have banded together to create an automated assembly line that can manufacture multi-material UAVs without external assistance.

"Our proposing team can see a day where a push-button design flow will lead to a rapid, reliable and affordable fully 3D printed spacecraft or UAV," UTEP researchers wrote in their proposal to America Makes.

According to UTEP, the micro-fabricator will eventually have the ability to print multiple material models using a series of 3D printing systems housed within a single, self-contained unit. To complete the manufacture of its aerospace products the all-in-one machine will also house a milling station, robotics capable of implanting electronics and other systems capable of wiring the entire design together.

"The ability to proceed from design to operational use in 24 hours makes the space and airborne resources truly responsive. The team believes we currently have the skills, tools and proven results to advance the concepts of a fully printable aerospace asset."

While the days when an aerospace product moves from design to real-world demonstrator in a single day are, in my estimation, quite a ways away, the research being done at UTEP’s Keck Center is blazing new trails for the world of 3D printing.

If an all-in-one 3D printing-based manufacturing system could be created it might be a blueprint for heavy industry to build upon. Equipped with a metal 3D printer capable of producing high quality, end-use parts, an all-in-one manufacturing suite might truly lead to the additive manufacturing revolution we’ve all been hearing about.

Images and Video Courtesy of W.M. Keck Center

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