Ceramic is one of those materials that’s been in use for tens of thousands of years and is still one of the most commonplace substances today–and yet, we’re still discovering new ways to put it to work and make it better.
Though most people associate ceramics with decorative items and everyday kitchenware, in industry this material is used in a variety of high-demand and advanced applications, including ballistics, medical, and aerospace equipment.
Industries that produce and rely on ceramic for more enduring performance specs will likely benefit most from this new 3D printable milestone, which actually makes it possible to create extra strong, extra enduring industrial ceramics in less time.
Image Source: Live Science
New Possibilities Through 3D Printing
The new 3D printed ceramic process isn’t quite the same as using ceramic particles or pellets to be layered into a solid shape, which is a typical method for 3D printed polymer based objects. Instead, the new ceramic process starts with a 3D printable resin that can then converted into ceramic through a firing process.
Called silicon oxycarbide ceramic, the resulting objects it forms are dense, resistant to temperatures of more than 1700 degrees Celsius, and are ten times stronger than parts made from similar materials.
The base resin and subsequent ceramic making process was developed by researchers at HRL Laboratories, LLC. According to the team’s program manager, silicon oxycarbide ceramics are not only high strength and able to withstand extreme temperatures, they’re also resistant to corrosion and abrasion.
Image Source: phys.org
Enhancing Applications And Performance
This new production method overcomes many limitations that are true of conventional ceramic manufacturing, as well the obstacles that come with casting or machining the material.
Silicon oxycarbide ceramic not only eliminates the porosity that’s common in other 3D printed and traditionally produced ceramics, the method is at least 100 times faster.
The new ceramic could be used in many applications and its enhanced properties could amount to significant structural and performance improvements in everything from hypersonic jet parts to electronic components.
Do you think this new production method and the resulting ceramic could have an impact on your industry?
Cement Industry Exploring CO2 Pollution Reduction Strategies
Cement plays a critical role in almost all infrastructure and construction. As a result, cement making represents a massive global industry that contributes significantly to CO2 pollution. Producing cement accounts for 7 to 8 percent of annual CO2 emissions worldwide. Confronted by this large carbon footprint, the cement industry is turning to carbon-capturing techniques and renewable energy sources to reduce emissions.
One approach to carbon capture involves trapping CO2 within the cement material itself. Researchers have experimented with mineralized CO2 and mixing it into the cement and other aggregates when making concrete.
An alternative method injects CO2 into the wet mix during pouring. As the final product cures, the gas remains trapped inside the solid material. CarbonCure and Solidia already have used these methods at construction sites and in the manufacturing of precast concrete blocks.
Cement represents 80% of the CO2 emissions attributed to concrete usage. Material scientists have reduced cement needs through the use of substitutes, like iron slag and coal ash. Limestone calcined clay offers another binding agent that offers the benefit of lower production expenses.
In the U.K., the Energy Safety Research Institute from Swansea University has installed a green hydrogen power generator at a Heidelberg Cement facility. When using power from renewable sources, the unit splits hydrogen and oxygen atoms from water molecules. The separated hydrogen provides a clean-burning fuel to power cement processing. This reduces reliance on fossil fuels and cuts CO2 emissions. Additionally, hydrogen fuel trucks could replace diesel trucks currently used to transport cement.
Advances in concrete technologies have the potential to preserve the use of a versatile building material while addressing pollution. How effective do you think carbon capture and renewable fuels will be at decarbonizing the cement industry?
CarbonCure’s vision is to make its carbon dioxide removal technology standard for all concrete production across the globe. By realizing the full potential of CarbonCure’s portfolio of technologies, the goal of saving 500 megatonnes of embodied carbon emissions every year could be met—which would be equivalent to taking 100 million cars off the road.
In order to shrink the carbon footprint of buildings, embodied carbon in new buildings must be reduced. Embodied carbon, or the carbon emitted from the manufacturing of building materials and construction, will account for nearly 50% of carbon emissions from new construction over the next 3 decades. In any given building, concrete can contribute a minimum of 50% of the embodied carbon footprint.
ABOUT Solidia Technologies Inc.
Solidia Technologies has developed a technology platform that enables production of next-generation building and construction materials with outstanding physical properties, lower life-cycle costs and low environmental footprint. Solidia’s “Low Temperature Solidification (LTS)” technology accelerates the natural bonding process of CO2 with minerals to form solids, ensuring that it happens in hours rather than years.
In the building materials industry, this enables the production of stronger and more durable products ranging from facades to floor and roof tiles to decorative countertops. Solidia Technologies is also working to develop materials that can replace concrete. Preliminary findings show that the strength and properties of these materials far exceed those of traditional concrete. The sequestration of CO2 in the production process provides the additional benefit of creating a carbon neutral concrete replacement.
ABOUT Energy Safety Research Institute
ESRI is housed on Swansea University’s new world class Bay Campus. ESRI provides an exceptional environment for delivering cutting edge research across energy and energy safety related disciplines with a focus on the following areas:
- Inter-conversion of waste energy and resources – the conversion of excess and wasted energy via a range of energy vectors transformations (heat-to-electricity and electricity-to-hydrogen) providing enhancing flexibility of demand and supply.
- Green hydrocarbon – reducing the environmental impact of hydrocarbon energy sources through enhanced production, reduced resource usage, and ensuring low environmental impact of production.
- Carbon dioxide – defining solutions to the efficient separation, the conversion to useful feedstock, and the safe long-term sequestration of CO2.
- The next generation of energy distribution – creating an internet of energy to allow for local generation and global sharing that enables everyone to have the potential to be a player in a one world energy scheme.
New Type Of Steel Offers High Strength, Ductility, And A Lower Price
Usually, higher strength steels provide less ductility, and vice-versa. Materials scientists and engineers continuously look at methods for getting the most of these two qualities within a single alloy. Researchers in China and Taiwan may have gotten closer, as they’ve developed a new metal manufacturing technique that’s said to yield steel that’s both strong and ductile, and also considerably less expensive than many industrial steels used today.
Image Source: Wikimedia
Strong, Ductile, Lower Cost Breakthrough Steel
The new technique has been referred to as deformed and partitioned (D&P). While the researchers have not revealed many specifics of D&P, the process yields a material that can be defined as a “breakthrough steel”, containing 10 percent manganese, 2 percent aluminum, 0.47 percent carbon, and 0.7 percent vanadium. Cold rolling and embedding of metastable austenite grains are also used in the technique, which creates, what researchers call, a highly dislocated martensite matrix. The matrix allows the steel to retain ductility even as strengthening qualities are incorporated.
Image Source: UPI
Five Times Cheaper Than Aerospace And Defense Alloys
Apart from the dual physical advantages to the new steel, the production process is cheaper than that used to create steel grades that are commonly used in aerospace, defense, and other critical applications. The research team claims that their steel costs one fifth the price of production for aerospace and mil-spec steel, while offering the same characteristics of those alloys.
How Will It Impact Industry?
The study detailing the development of the super steel was published in Science on August 24th, 2017. How the technique and the resulting steel will impact the many industries that use comparable alloys is yet to be known.
What do you think of this development? Comment and let us know.
Desktop Laser Engraving Device Scales Down Industrial Capabilities
Laser engraving is used for many different medical and manufacturing applications. The equipment needed for the capability is typically heavy, complex, and far from portable. There is a company that wants to change that by making laser engravers more compact and accessible, and potentially making the technology as popular as 3D printing.
Image Source: New Atlas
Portable Laser Cutting And Engraving
Cubiio is a small, lightweight, and easily portable laser engraving and cutting tool. It has been designed to function as a desktop technology that can be easily incorporated into just about any maker studio. It’s run using software as basic as the average tablet or smartphone app. Users simply select a design to cut or engrave, place Cubiio over the work piece, and hit start. It’s no more complex than that.
Funded With Enthusiasm
Designed for hobbyists, Cubiio allows for customization of all manner of objects. The unit is comprised of a semiconductor laser source and two current-driven mirrors that direct the position of the laser according to digital commands. The device has recently gained enthusiastic backing and interest after being posted on Kickstarter and exceeding its funding goal in just days. It is now available for preorder and is expected to be available by the end of 2017.
Image Source: Digital Trends
Laser Machining For The Masses
With its creators stating that they had to rethink the design from scratch, Cubiio could be the first of many products that bring laser machining to the masses as a creative tool. It may even follow the rise of 3D printing as a technology used for small, entrepreneurial products, creative household projects, and general novelty. The technology could even serve as an asset to manufacturers who have considered adding laser engraving to their miscellaneous capabilities but have chosen not to make an investment in larger, industrial scale equipment.
What are your thoughts on the Cubiio and desktop versions of industrial technology? Comment and tell us what you think.
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