Laser printing speeds parts on demand to manufacturers

Apr 27, 2011

Pull into the auto repair shop with a smashed bumper, and there's no wait while they order a replacement. Instead, the technician downloads specifications from the manufacturer's database. You both watch as a laser beam probing a container of liquid plastic material almost magically builds a new bumper inch by inch.

The scenario may sound like science fiction, but advances in polymer materials are moving the technology for 3-D printing" of , , designer furniture, surgical tools and other products out of the designer's studio and into the marketplace. That's the topic of an article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS' weekly news magazine.

In the article, Alexander H. Tullo, C&EN senior editor, explains that the technology –– termed stereolithography, laser sintering, rapid prototyping, and additive manufacturing –– has been in limited use for decades to produce models of new products and for other design-shop applications. With polymer manufacturers developing new raw materials for the process, this so-called "additive manufacturing" technology is now moving into a new phase –– making actual products. The market has been expanding at an average annual rate of 26 percent, and exceeded $1 billion in 2009.

Explore further: Recycling industrial waste water: Scientists discover a new method of producing hydrogen

More information: "Parts on Demand" This story is available at pubs.acs.org/cen/business/89/8917bus1.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Making solar panels with cleaner, greener technology

Feb 23, 2011

Mention solar energy, and most people think "squeaky clean, pollution-free." The reality of making solar panels with existing technology, however, is much different, involving use of potentially toxic substances and lots ...

Portable laser devices to improve disease diagnosis

Sep 22, 2010

Portable devices that use a laser beam to probe bones, teeth, and other parts of the body for early signs of diseases like osteoporosis and tooth decay may seem like something out of science fiction. But those devices are ...

Recommended for you

A greener source of polyester—cork trees

13 hours ago

On the scale of earth-friendly materials, you'd be hard pressed to find two that are farther apart than polyester (not at all) and cork (very). In an unexpected twist, however, scientists are figuring out ...

A beautiful, peculiar molecule

16 hours ago

"Carbon is peculiar," said Nobel laureate Sir Harold Kroto. "More peculiar than you think." He was speaking to a standing-room-only audience that filled the Raytheon Amphitheater on Monday afternoon for the ...

Metals go from strength to strength

Apr 15, 2014

To the human hand, metal feels hard, but at the nanoscale it is surprisingly malleable. Push a lump of metal with brute force through a right-angle mould or die, and while it might look much the same to the ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Breakthrough points to new drugs from nature

Researchers at Griffith University's Eskitis Institute have developed a new technique for discovering natural compounds which could form the basis of novel therapeutic drugs.

A greener source of polyester—cork trees

On the scale of earth-friendly materials, you'd be hard pressed to find two that are farther apart than polyester (not at all) and cork (very). In an unexpected twist, however, scientists are figuring out ...