DARPA Researches the Best 3D Printing Practices
The scientists and research teams at DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, are currently working on improving the efficiency of 3D printing. The science behind DARPA’s plans is simple: when we produce different materials, the method of production utilized can have a huge effect on the properties of the end product. For instance, in steel production, the amount of carbon being added to the metal will result in different properties being affected; steels with higher amounts of carbon are stronger but less malleable. In order to develop the best 3D printing practices, the teams at DARPA are looking at the different ways in which the printing process can be performed and altered.
3D printing is an increasingly popular branch of technology and we are still discovering new things about it every day. Researchers and engineers are testing the limits of this technology in order to discover its potential and see how far we can go with the 3D printers currently available. DARPA’s scientists have recognized that when we produce something with a 3D printer, it can turn out very different and with vastly contrasting properties to the same product created by traditional means. Even moving from one model of printer to the next and performing the same operations can result in products with different properties.
To try to bring some order and predictability to the world of 3D printing, DARPA recently announced that it was opening up a new research program, with its ultimate aim being to develop a library of documents and data that can be accessed and utilized to make 3D printing less of a gamble. This will allow users to create products with the properties they desire. This research will hopefully lead to huge increases in printing efficiency, allowing owners of 3D printers to make use of hard data to print the objects they need by using the best printing practices available.
Mick Maher, Program Manager of DARPA’s Sciences Office, discussed how the program will help us understand the physics behind the individual production methods used in 3D printers. This way, people will be able to know exactly what product they are making and the properties it will have before the production process even begins. Maher went on to say that, in its current state, the technology of 3D printing is considered too risky and unpredictable, but that people would become more confident and comfortable using this technology thanks to DARPA’s research.
DARPA has joined forces with the public research university Penn State, along with the US Army Research Laboratory, in order to make this program as efficient as possible. Tests will be carried out by both of these organizations and they will handle and store the data as well. 3D printing clearly has a lot of potential, and in order for the world to understand and make use of the best 3D printing practices, this sort of research is absolutely necessary.