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National Lab Working To Mix Metals and Polymers For 3D Printing 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-we-print-a-terminator-yet dept.
Lucas123 writes "Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab are trying to expand 3D printing to include mixed materials at the same time, such as polymers and metals. With those advances, a company could build, for example, body armor for soldiers that are stronger and lighter. If their work pans out, they'll create materials that have properties that simply don't exist today."
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National Lab Working To Mix Metals and Polymers For 3D Printing

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  • by swschrad (312009) on Friday January 17, 2014 @04:23PM (#45990639) Homepage Journal

    ... I'm sure the soldiers of the First Army will personally come over and "discuss" the matter...

  • Weapons, armor (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @04:28PM (#45990701)
    Why does every discussion of 3D printing seem to devolve into how it could make better weapons or armor? How about using metal and plastic to make elaborate layered circuit boards we can drop inexpensive chips into and make even cooler stuff? And I don't mean detonators.
    • by Noishkel (3464121)

      Because humans are a war like species. They're most happy when blowing shit up.

      I'd be so down with a nice set of powered armor peiced together in my own garage with a printer and a dremil tool. :D

      • Because humans are a war like species. They're most happy when blowing shit up.

        I'd be so down with a nice set of powered armor peiced together in my own garage with a printer and a drem[e]l tool. :D

        I do admit, being able to build one's own, personal mech-suit does have its appeal...

        Anyone up for a game of Real Life Rock-Em-Sock-Em Robots?

        • by Noishkel (3464121)

          Oh yeah! Or making your own knock off one of those Japanese Kuratas robots that were floating around a year or so back.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iZ0WuNvHr8

    • Why does every discussion of 3D printing seem to devolve into how it could make better weapons or armor?

      Human nature.

      As much as we try to deny it, at our base we're still extremely violent, hate-filled, xenophobic tribalists. As a species, anyway.

      How about using metal and plastic to make elaborate layered circuit boards we can drop inexpensive chips into and make even cooler stuff? And I don't mean detonators.

      Oooh, detonators! What a clever idea!

      Your government will now thank you for your contribution to their military-industrial complex in the only way they know how.

      • by nschubach (922175)

        By taxing you until you can't afford what you need, needing the government to supply you that (because of their taxes), then taxing you more because they can't afford to provide it for you?

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday January 17, 2014 @04:52PM (#45990981) Homepage

      How about the most obvious application of being able to mix metals and plastics together: Converting yourself a whale tank using transparent aluminum!

      • by dbIII (701233)
        I worked with some guys that did mix metal and plastic in the 1980s by using PVC powder, iron powder, and a projectile hitting the die block at mach 1. Many weird things become possible such as anti-bacterial filters of controlled size - stick the composite in a solvent and you have a metal sponge with holes through it exactly the size you designed for.
    • by Misagon (1135)

      Look at rebuilding your 3D printer into a CNC router. Then mill your circuit boards.

    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      Why does every discussion of 3D printing seem to devolve into how it could make better weapons or armor?

      It doesn't. MIT Technology Review has an article [technologyreview.com] in the current issue on 3-D printing lithium-ion batteries.

    • Re:Weapons, armor (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mlts (1038732) on Friday January 17, 2014 @05:57PM (#45991673)

      The ironic thing is that the first time I heard about 3D printing, over 10 years ago (it was called stereolithography), was to produce prototype parts for IV roller valves for hospitals. After that, it was used for short runs of parts, replacements for things that have long since stopped being made, and other niche markets.

      The pursuit of guns came a lot later when the technology came out of the factories.

      With accurate 3D printing, we can make circuit boards as an integral part of a product. It might not be useful for large-scale production, but there are likely some objects where having the ability to not have to assemble something and have no weak seams or welds might be of great use. A seamless Faraday cage comes to mind. Perhaps a bottle for highly compressed gas?

      I think part of adopting a technology is how it appeals to some peoples' banal nature. A lot of people love pr0n, so it propelled the Internet into homes. Printing out a firearm of questionable use got 3D printing on the map. Paranoia got solar adopted by both the right wing and left wing in the US.

      There are a lot of uses for 3D printing. I'm probably going to wind up with a Makerbot so I can prototype a few lock mechanisms. If they actually work, then I will moved to sintered Iconel for the key and the lock. After that, hand some of the locks to the local locksport group and Youtube SPP people and see if the lock passes the real world muster. That way, if it actually is something pick resistant, I can always state an average time a pro can open the lock, rather making vague "unpickable" claims.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Simple: humans are violent by nature, its in our DNA. War and competition are what drives the world. Peace and submission does not.

  • " body armor for soldiers that are stronger and lighter"

    But where do we get the soldiers that are stronger and lighter?

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      " body armor for soldiers that are stronger and lighter"

      But where do we get the soldiers that are stronger and lighter?

      First you 3D scan them.
      Then you run them through a CAD program to remove the non-essential parts, and replace the remaining parts with lighter and stronger materials.
      Then you 3D print them.

  • > body armor for soldiers that are stronger and lighter.

    Is you sure?

  • My wife, who is an exec in company which produces very high end precision components from both milling and molding has told me that the owner of the firm is very afraid for the future of the business because of 3D metal printing.
    I, however have told her I do not agree at all. Rather, I see 3D printing as a great opportunity for her firm to make even more complex components which today cannot be made. Her point is that anyone will be able to do it though.
    Sure, maybe they could, but I think they won't. Of cou

  • they'll create materials that have properties that simply don't exist today

    Current materials have properties like their melting point, resistivity and density.

    Will these future ones have a quognon modulus, voctitude and pluness?

  • A 3D printer that can make a nut and bolt?

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