First in today’s 3D printing briefs, we’ll share the latest update from Continuous Composites’ lawsuit against Markforged. Next, nTopology released an advanced network generation tool. Finally, on aerospace news, BigRep shared a case study on how its technology helped overcome COVID-19 supply chain challenges and Objectify Technologies shared one on redesigning a manifold. of hydraulic blocks for 3D printing.
Markforged challenges lawsuit filed by Continuous Composites
Last year, Continuous Composites sued Markforged, alleging that the maker of metal and carbon fiber 3D printers infringed patents related to its own continuous fiber 3D printing (CF3D). The case relates to US patents ‘9,511,543,’ ‘9,987,798,’ ‘10,744,708’ and ‘10,759,109’, which Continuous Composites says are part of a larger patent family, revolving around its core technology, dating from before the creation of Markforged. This fall, Markforged filed a motion to dismiss the case, in which Continuous Composites seeks financial compensation and an injunction preventing the Massachusetts company from infringing the patents in the future.
Now Markforged has asked for the case to be dismissed and, failing that, has requested a jury trial, stating that patent 9,511,543 covers “something different from conventional slicing techniques” and that the patent covers a method of slicing. 3D printing that directs curable liquid material to a nozzle, but Continuous Composites does not use this type of material, so it is not responsible for patent infringement in this case. Additionally, Markforged asked how it could infringe the other three patents, as they “do not all meet one or more of the patentability terms”. So it looks like this case won’t be over anytime soon.
nTopology launches advanced network generation tool
Engineering software vendor nTopology has announced the release of its 3rd generation lattice generation tool, which it claims is faster and offers more control over complex lattice structures. The goal was to make it easier than ever for new nTop users to access network tools, which is why the network generation process was separated into three main steps: selecting a unit cell, defining the map of cells and control lattice parameters. For existing users of the software, nTopology wanted to streamline the transition to its new lattice technology, which includes 37 blocks in development for nearly two years; visit the updated Lattices tab to find three new blocks that will allow you to transition over your current workflows.
Some of the key features of this new release include ultra-fast network generation, and by ultra-fast, nTopology means a 50% performance increase over the fastest network generation tools on the market. Users can also enjoy greater control over network creation with new design streamlining and optimization tools. These new tools include truss warping, a unified truss workflow, filter beam utilities, and the ability to create surface trusses, which enables the design of conformal rib grids to increase body stiffness in organic and complex shapes.
BigRep overcame COVID supply chain issues with 3D printing molds
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, 62% of passenger planes were grounded, which is not good for their engines as they need to be protected from the elements when parked for a long time . Due to shortages in the supply chain, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) did not have enough off-the-shelf engine covers and exhaust plugs on site, and turned to CNE Engineering, a supplier specialized local that uses large format 3D printers from BigRep, to help create parts for aircraft maintenance. To 3D print molds to produce the castable urethane parts, CNE used the BigRep ONE, with its cubic meter build volume, for the main part, and the BigRep STUDIO for small features like removable mold inserts. BigRep’s bio-based PLX was used to print the outer shells, while HI-TEMP CF was used for the central core and the inserts were printed using TPU. Large format 3D printing helped CNE meet SAS’s demands for speed at a time when traditional supply chains couldn’t.
“This case study is a shining example of how BigRep’s large format 3D printers are already changing the game in aerospace MRO,” said Peter Smeets, Chairman of the Board of BigRep and Managing Director of 360. AircraftFinance. “We believe this is just the beginning and that 3D printed solutions will become the benchmark for cost effective custom manufacturing without traditional supply chain issues.”
You can read the full case study here.
Objectify Technologies has redesigned the Aerospace Manifold for AM
Finally, Objectify Technologies worked with an aerospace customer to redesign a hydraulic block manifold for 3D printing, as the technology allows for the fabrication of internal features and passages. In the aerospace industry, this type of manifold is used to regulate fluid flow, which helps control the transfer of power between actuators, pumps, and other components in a hydraulic system. Using traditional fabrication to create them usually requires specialist tooling due to the complex drilling required, and unfortunately this can often lead to abrupt angled junctions forming between the flow paths causing separation and even flow stagnation. Using 3D printing to create the manifold for the hydraulic block from an aluminum alloy allowed Objectify to reduce the weight of the component, while maintaining its robustness, improving flow paths and taking into account the loading constraints.
When redesigning the Collector, Objectify used Rhino and MSC Apex to modify and optimize the design, Materialize Magics to prepare the data, and Simufact Additive to simulate the build. The company replaced unnecessary drill channels with simpler designs, allowing critical areas to be modified and internal channels to be redesigned for 3D printing. The first design was printed and stress tested, and the final hydraulic block manifold had 30% reduced weight, improved flow efficiency of up to 60%, and was printed in one piece.
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