Oak Ridge National Laboratory has helped produce the first fully functional excavator that uses parts made through additive manufacturing, or 3D printing.
The excavator, part of a working demonstration known as Project AME, was made in collaboration with ORNL partners in industry, government, and academia. The project helps showcase a range of industrial applications for 3D printing, ORNL said.
Additive manufacturing is the process used to build something one layer at a time. Rather than ink, 3D printers use polymers.
One of the most well-known examples is the Shelby Cobra car 3-D printed on a large-scale polymer printer at ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility in Hardin Valley. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden admired that vehicle—and joked about taking it for a spin—during a trip to East Tennessee in January 2015.
ORNL has been involved in other projects using 3D printing that have attracted attention, and the lab has posted photos of its 3D printed vehicles. You can see them here.
In August 2016, a tool printed by ORNL set a Guiness World Record for largest solid item manufactured on a 3D printer. It was a trim-and-drill tool that will be used to help make a wing part on the Boeing 777X airplane, a passenger jet, and it was printed on a 3D printer at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility. It used mostly ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) mixed with about 20 percent carbon fiber. ABS is the same material used to produce Legos, and it’s a tough, strong polymer.
In September 2015, ORNL announced that a car and house built with 3D printers at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility could provide power to each other. The building and the printed utility vehicle—or PUV—were part of a project called the Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy, or AMIE, demonstration. The project was designed to answer “what if” questions that could lead to innovations in building and car construction and energy use, storage, and consumption.
In January 2015, the Shelby Cobra 3D printed at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility was on stage during the visit by Obama and Biden to Techmer PM in Clinton. Obama said during that visit that the University of Tennessee in Knoxville would head a $259 million advanced manufacturing project and that Oak Ridge National Laboratory would play a key role. The Shelby Cobra was described as a shiny example of innovation, research, and collaboration between ORNL and UT, and the car was highlighted as an example of the changing world of manufacturing.
See ORNL’s photo album of 3D-printed vehicles on flickr here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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