Europe’s Ambitious Goal to 3D Print Metal With Their AMAZE Project

Amaze3D printing is taking a step into the metal dimension. The European Space Agency (ESA) recently launched the AMAZE project, where they will begin using 3D printing technology to build metal parts for spacecraft, jets and fusion projects. AMAZE, or Additive Manufacturing Aiming Towards Zero Waste and Efficient Production of High-Tech Metal Products, will be, as explained in the acronym, used for saving money, reducing waste and resources in order to build stronger and lighter parts. Printing plastic in 3D form has already revolutionized the industry, and it is exciting to think how taking on metal will affect things in a positive and powerful way. As stated by ESA’s David Jarvis, “we want to build the best quality metal products ever made. Objects you can’t possibly manufacture in any other way”. An impressive 28 partners in the European industry are working with each other to take hold of the AMAZE project, projected to cost 20 million euros. However, Europeans didn’t quite make the cut as the first to produce 3D printed metal, as Nasa has already hit a milestone recently. Just this July they announced a successful build and test of a 3D printed rocket injector, the biggest printed component they had ever produced.

AmazeUnlike its predecessor made of over 115 units, the injector mentioned was made of only two parts, one of the most efficient aspects of using this method. Additive manufacturing is a fancy way of putting what’s really happening here, the ability to build parts layer upon layer from 3D data with next to nothing waste-wise. The metal components being melted and printed are highly expensive, very strong and exotic, such as titanium and vanadium. The “green” technique ESA is going for will help the company all around. From using less product to saving money, every object is printed as a single piece; meaning it is held together with a tighter bond all while weighing significantly less. Parts for vehicles, planes and satellites could become optimized with this method. This layering method also means for more intricate designs. With conventional metal casting it takes far more effort to attain the same geometries. Furthermore, tungsten alloy components, as an example, can withstand extravagant temperatures up to 3,000 C.

Amaze1The ability to withstand such temperatures makes for ideal use in spacecraft and even nuclear fusion environments. This process of 3D engineering allows them to go beyond the limits of traditional casting. “Our ultimate aim is to print a satellite in a single piece- one chunk of metal that doesn’t need to be welded or bolted. To do what would save 50 percent of the costs- millions of euros”. Can’t blame them, can we? With efficiency, cost and waste management being such high standards to work towards in traditional production, this method could be like handing over the easy stick. Despite the unbound depths of optimism, Jarvis doesn’t deny fall backs that could come their way, a big one being porosity. Porosity means small air bubbles in the product. Another challenge is a possible rough surface finish after printing. Jarvis’s aim is nothing less than industrial quality, and with that comes determination to acknowledge downfall. A final word in regards to obstacles from Jarvis states “We need to understand these defects and eliminate them- if we want to achieve industrial quality. And we need to make the process repeatable – scale it up. We can't do all this unless we collaborate between industries – space, fusion, aeronautics."

Topics: Technology News Inventions & Innovations

Join the conversation!

One Response to Europe’s Ambitious Goal to 3D Print Metal With Their AMAZE Project

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.