Aluminum is used for many things: manufacturing, packaging, even preserving foods in the form of aluminum foil. And while it’s been used as an art medium in a number of ways — including 3D printing — printing images on aluminum is a relatively recent development. A company called Aluminyze has sought to make this more commercially accessible, and the results are impressive. From GeekDad:
When Aluminyze offered to send some samples of their aluminum prints, I was a bit skeptical. Too many times, print samples are too small to get a feel for the quality, and only use heavy HDR or over-contrast to blast the senses and cover up any deficiencies in the process or materials. It was refreshing, then, when they told me to pick two sample photos myself and they’d send me both large and small prints of them.
For both prints, hanging was a breeze with the attached float mount that brings the print away from the wall. Aluminyze infuses the photo into the aluminum and then applies a UV resistant coating, providing a waterproof, fade and scratch resistant piece of art that, unlike paper that can get damp, wrinkle, tear, and fade, can be cleaned with regular glass cleaner and safely hung in direct sunlight. At $35 for an 8″x10″, on up to over $600 for a gigantic 40″x60″, aluminum prints are comparable to both framed prints and gallery wrap canvas, yet last longer. Aluminyze also offers a variety of sizes, shapes, and mounts for your photos on their website.
Click on through to see detailed reviews of Aluminyze’s qualities. But the short answer is that the company is delivering high-quality prints on a unique surface that’s protected from the usual wear and tear you’ll see with paper.
We recently showed you how aluminum-based 3D printing is bringing customized objects to space. For those of us that can’t afford a 3D printer but enjoy a bit of DIY craftsmanship, here’s the next best thing. The self-proclaimed King Of Random recently put together a how-to video offering a technique that involves styrofoam, aluminum cans, and sand. The result is something pretty close to a 3D printed object, though the process is a little more dangerous than uploading to a 3D printer. From Gizmodo:
If you’re looking for a fun, high-risk weekend project, look no further: Grant Thompson, the self-styled “King of Random”, has decided to shared his method for transforming styrofoam into metal. (Spoiler: don’t try this one around your kids.)
To start, you’ll need to cut a model of your soon-t0-be metal creation out of foam. Thompson suggests using foam board from the dollar store, but foam housing insulation or craft blocks will work just as well. Once assembled, attach a thick foam riser to the top of your model, and bury it in a 5-gallon bucket filled with sand.
Next you’ll have to fire up your homemade metal foundry (if you’ve never made one before, Thompson’s got you covered). Now melt down some aluminum cans and pour the molten metal over your buried foam cast, taking care not to splash anything on yourself. The foam, Thompson explains, will vaporize instantly as liquid aluminum rushes in to take its place. Within a few minutes, your sculpture should be cool enough to remove. Do so carefully, using pliers. You can then polish up your new creation and place it prominently on display.
Click here to go to the full article, including a complete video demonstration by the King of Random. Just remember to use gloves and pliers when you try this yourself.
With any major change in a car’s design, one often overlooked aspect is the vehicle’s insurance costs. Design changes come with inherent risks simply because they’re new and have limited real world feedback, so it’s not unusual for new-model cars with significant hardware changes to have higher insurance costs.
However, data has shown that insurance rates for the aluminum-based Ford F-150 have NOT increased compared to the previous year. From Automotive News:
For now, motorists’ yearly insurance premiums for the 2015 aluminum-bodied F-150 are about the same as for the 2014 steel model — good news for Ford.
But premiums could change once insurance companies study accident repair data for the redesigned pickup.
To set rates for 2015 models, insurance companies use the latest data they have — from 2014 model claims. It could take about a year or more to get repair and other data useful to set rates for the 2015 model, insurers say.
“The cost to insure the F-150 may go up, or it may go down,” said Progressive Corp. spokesman Jeff Sibel. “We won’t have
3D printing is one of the most exciting advances in technology over the past few years. For life in space, 3D printers simply receive designs and print out necessary tools to help astronauts perform quick fixes. Until now, 3D printing in space has always used composite material. However, a UK company has announced the first space-qualified 3D printing material using aluminum. From 3DPrint.com:
Now Airbus Defence and Space in the UK says they’re producing their first space-qualified 3D printed components from aluminum. The parts are the result of a two-year-long research and development program undertaken by the UK National Space Technology Programme via Innovate UK and the UK Space Agency.
The UK team say these new 3D printed components cannot be manufactured using conventional manufacturing methods, and they include a structural bracket built using aerospace-grade aluminum alloy. The Airbus Group has started using ALM (additive layering manufacturing) for tooling and prototyping parts for test flights and for parts that will fly on commercial aircraft. The company says components produced with ALM are beginning to appear on the A350 XWB the jetliners in the A300 and A310 line.
Eurostar E3000 Copyright Airbus Defence and Space Ltd 2015 renderingThe first flight-qualified ALM part — a titanium alloy bracket from Airbus Defence and Space — is already flying aboard the Atlantic Bird 7 telecom satellite, and the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle “Atlante” features a 3D printed air intake.
The space-qualified part in question, made as a single piece via laser melting, weighs 35% less than the previous bracket. The part it replaces was made up of four separate pieces and included 44 rivets. In comparison, the additively-manufactured piece which replaces it is now 40% stiffer and no waste results from the process as would be were it created by conventional machining.
3D printing with aluminum opens the door to many manufacturing possibilities, from aerospace and beyond. 3D printing can also go to DIY makers too, and aluminum also creates many opportunities for start-ups, garage engineers, and artists for structurally sound items. If it works in space, it can certainly work on the ground!
The aluminum can — it’s a ubiquitous part of our everyday lives. It holds everything from beer to soda to energy drinks. It’s sold in vending machines, at grocery stores, at food trucks, and even your local big box store. For many people, collecting them is a nice piece of extra change by turning them in at recycling centers.
And yet, how many of us actually stop to think about the engineering and manufacturing of such a vital cog in today’s society? Probably not much. However, writer Jonathan Waldman decided to take a closer look at the life of an aluminum can — and the results may surprise you. From his book Rusted: The Longest War via Wired.com:
When was the last time you paused between sips of your favorite soda and wondered about that can in your hand? If you’re like most people, the answer is likely never. But that seemingly unremarkable object is actually a marvel of modern manufacturing. It is, in fact, a glorious thing.
A few years ago, I finagled my way into Can School, a small industry-only event hosted annually by the Ball Corporation, the world’s largest canmaker. There, in a conference room just north of Denver, engineers chatted about “improved pour rates” and “recloseability” and the “opening performance” of cans. One guy handed me a business card that said “Can Whisperer.” Another wore a shirt that said “Can Solo.” It was a scene of intense devotion, and as such, it was only fitting that the first thing I learned there was that manufacturing aluminum cans is so challenging, and requires such a vast amount of study, design, and precise machining, that many consider cans the most engineered products in the world.
If you drink beer, or soda, or juice, or sports drinks, or if you have ever preserved fruits or vegetables in glass jars, the name Ball probably sounds familiar. The people of the world go through 180 billion aluminum beverage cans a year; enough to build dozens of towers to the moon. Ball makes about a quarter of them. Yet even with that much practice, making perfect 12-ounce cans remains a battle. Throughout the process, the aluminum behaves begrudgingly. It tries to jam the machines. Once filled, it wants to interact with the product inside and change its taste. But mostly, cans yearn to corrode (thereby leaking onto other cans, and causing more corrosion). Rust, it turns out, is a can’s number one enemy—and a can’s only defense is an invisible epoxy shield, just microns thick. (Without that shield, a can of Coke would corrode in three days.) At Can School, I got a hint of what goes into that coating.
The aluminum-based F-150 landed to strong reviews from the automotive press, but what really matters is how the public receives it. What’s the opinion so far? Based on both sales data and anecdotal vendor evidence, people are quite pleased with what aluminum can do. From Louisville Business First:
The company said retail sales of its F-Series pickup trucks were up 7 percent. It said the F-150, which features a standard new aluminum body this model year, was the fastest-turning vehicle on dealer lots.
To get some perspective on this, I had a conversation with Greg Howell, sales consultant at Carriage Ford in Clarksville. He said customers he’s spoke to about the aluminum truck are both knowledgeable and excited about them.
Many Carriage customers have owned Fords previously and are familiar with the changes to the body. He said if they do have questions, it’s usually about body work — as some are wondering whether getting an aluminum body will increase the cost of repairs. Ford has done a pretty good job with explaining to customers that the aluminum is more dent resistant, he said. He also said repairs do not cost more because Ford has sent plenty of military grade aluminum to dealerships and provided training on working with it.
Of course, sales data really only matters over the long haul but you’d definitely rather start strong to build buzz and word of mouth. It looks like the F-150 is doing its part there, and we’ll know more in a few months when Ford evaluates the first half of the fiscal year.