AMT’s Emerging Technology Center (ETC) Offers Glimpse into Future of Daily Living
The 3D House and Vehicles
The Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy (AMIE) project is comprised of a 3D-printed house and 3D-printed utility vehicle, both made from carbon fiber-reinforced ABS plastic composite material.
Developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and a host of leading industry and university partners, AMIE demonstrates how additive manufacturing and smart communication networking can integrate vehicles, homes and the electrical grid into a cohesive energy system. The display teams a natural-gas-fueled hybrid-electric vehicle with a high-performance mobile home that work together to produce, consume and store renewable energy.
The building and vehicles were created at the DOE's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL. Using large-scale advanced manufacturing and design tools, the partners were able to employ innovative materials, and quickly implement changes and new techniques to optimize overall performance, while taking the project from concept to production in less than a year.
AMIE allows the house and vehicle to share energy with each other and the local infrastructure. In addition to tapping into the power grid, the home can use energy generated by roof-mounted photovoltaic solar panels. Surplus energy is stored in a battery, which can power the house on cloudy days.
The home also can send excess energy back to the grid for use elsewhere, while a wireless charging pad in the driveway allows energy to be shared between the building and the extended-range hybrid vehicle. During peak demand, the vehicle supplies energy to the house. Conversely, stored energy from the house can be used to recharge the vehicle’s battery as needed.
Advanced building control and power management strategies integrate the various energy systems while leveraging the building as a virtual battery. Living up to the project’s goal of “redefining what’s possible,” AMIE creates a symbiotic relationship between energy and the way we live, previewing the potential of energy efficiency and sustainability. IMTS visitors entered the house and talked with the experts who created it.
During a special IMTS Media Day, Dr. Craig Blue, CEO of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation remarked that, “With the long lead times on a mold, it really increases the innovation cycle and the ability to rapidly build on what you’ve learned.”
Expanding on that topic, Dr. Mark Johnson, Director, Advanced Manufacturing Office, U.S. Department of Energy, noted that in manufacturing processes, tooling is often a long lead-time item. As a result, companies rationalize that they can source tooling globally. “However, if you can turn around the tooling in 24 hours or 48 hours, suddenly, it’s really important to have the tool manufacturing and that prototype manufacturing adjacent or close to where all the parts are being made or being designed.”
The Additive Bionic Human
In addition the ETC featured the “additive bionic human” with medical implants printed using laser sintering technology from EOS North America, (Novi, Michigan) a partner in the exhibit. EOS displayed a cranial, tracheal, joint and dental implant as well as, arm, hand, and leg prosthesis. Additionally, the display used touchscreen technology to tell the story of what’s made possible through the use of additive manufacturing from three points of view: that of the patient, the medical science behind the part and the 3D technology being used to create the part.
EOS works with its customers to create parts using a laser-sintering process that produces the parts in a layer-by-layer fashion. The company creates implants that are available in general sizing as well as patient-specific parts depending on specific needs.
According to Laura Gilmour, medical account manager for EOS, the ability to manufacture patient-specific parts in an economical and widely accessible fashion is a significant advantage of using additive manufacturing in the medical industry. Such parts are built using 3D CAD data and are tailored to the patient’s individual anatomy. The use of patient-specific parts can cut down on time spent both in surgery and in recovery, improving the patient’s overall quality of life. In regards to the application of AM technology, innovation is primarily pushed by the customer, Gilmour says.
“Generally, product development engineers, especially folks that have been in the industry for a long time, have been trained that they have to follow a tool path; they have different restrictions on how they can design and how they can build something,” she says. “With additive manufacturing, it really takes away some of those restrictions, so it’s extremely interesting to see a product development engineer or a designer be able to open up their imagination and the box of the tools that they can use to create something different and very innovative. And so, being pushed by our customers, by their innovations and by the innate partnerships that we have with them is really where EOS has pushed the envelope as well.”
EOS uses a variety of biocompatible materials, depending on the application of the part. Medical devices must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration before they can be used in the human body, however, the devices carry the same considerations as those made with traditional manufacturing. According to Gilmour, this just means that the only restrictions on the engineers are what they can build; their innovation is no longer restricted within the confines of a tool path. It’s that spirit of innovation that is a key motivator behind the additive bionic human display. The display tells the story of innovation made possible through additive manufacturing.
“Additive manufacturing can forge connections between local tool builders and OEMs from Detroit to Des Moines,” says Peter R. Eelman, Vice President – Exhibitions & Business Development at AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, which owns and manages IMTS. “Yes, the ETC displays an eye-catching house, but its real purpose is to demonstrate technologies and concepts that make manufacturers think outside of the box.”