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-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.
European automakers must be impressed with how durable the aluminum-based Ford F-150 is doing. Rolls-Royce, the legendary British luxury car company, is designing a new vehicle capable of handling any terrain. While they haven’t explicitly used the term SUV, you can kind of see where this is going. Most importantly, Rolls-Royce has already declared that it will have an aluminum body. From MLive.com:
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is building the first SUV in the British luxury automotive company’s 111-year history, though the company is calling the forthcoming vehicle about everything but an SUV.
Company Chairman Peter Schwarzenbauer and CEO Torsten Mueller-Ortvoes said in an open letter Wednesday that the new model will be “a high-bodied car, with an all-new aluminium architecture” and one that “offers the luxury of a Rolls-Royce in a vehicle that can cross any terrain.”
It is not immediately clear when or where the company, a division of BMW Group, plans to give the public a first look at the yet-to-be-named off-roader. But the announcement that it plans to move forward with the new car comes shortly after rival luxury automaker Bentley announced a name for an SUV it too is building: the Bentley Bentayga.
Between the F-150 and Rolls-Royce’s not-quite-SUV vehicle, it’s clear that aluminum can handle even the most rugged of circumstances. And we’re pretty sure that Rolls-Royce won’t have to use buzzwords like Ford’s “military-grade aluminum” to sell this car.
While aluminum is masking inroads — pun intended — in the automotive industry, it’s easy to forget that this all flows downstream. If aluminum bodied cars are going to flood the market, then repair shops will have to know how to handle repairs. At least that’s what Carstar anticipated when it instituted an aluminum certification program for its employees — and now the company is reaping the benefits. From the Kansas City Star:
The road ahead for Carstar could be paved in aluminum.
The Leawood-based auto body repair company said it finished 2014 with record North American revenue of $712 million, up about 10 percent from the previous year.
And business this year is already getting a boost from aluminum repair work on vehicles in some of the company’s key markets, particularly those areas “with higher ownership of the Ford F-150 and more exotic cars like the Tesla,” said David Byers, chief executive officer at Carstar Auto Body Repair Experts.
The new F-150 pickup truck, for example, is being touted for its innovative aluminum body, which is lighter than steel and should improve fuel efficiency. The truck has been in dealer showrooms only a few months.
Tesla’s Model S is already becoming the go-to luxury sedan and the Ford F-150 had a strong first sales month, so aluminum-ready body shops will only see more and more business. The lesson here? Adapt to the times, especially if that means working with aluminum.
Aluminum has been part of smartphone chassis design for some time now. However, there’s another form of aluminum that has recently been tested for smartphones. This form, though, isn’t necessarily about protection or weight or anything beneficial like that. No, this involved simple wanton destruction for curiosity’s sake: pouring molten aluminum on an iPhone 6. From Tech Times:
The aluminum glows orange in the mini kiln as TechRax demonstrates that the iPhone he will be using for the video is indeed an authentic, in perfectly good working condition, iPhone 6.
He lays the iPhone 6 down on a table and handles the melted aluminum carefully with a pair of tongs as he shakes it a bit to pour some of the hot metal onto the face of the phone.
A few blobs of aluminum fall onto the front of the smartphone and set a flame immediately. The iPhone 6 screen still displays the icons, however, even as feathery veins start to extend from the aluminum blobs and out.
At some point the screen even switches to World Clock settings and, although obviously dimmer and vertical lines beginning to appear, the iPhone is still working.
Click through to the original post to see the full destructive video. And remember, if you’ve got a stockpile of aluminum cans, DON’T melt them down to pour on your expensive gadgets; just bring them to your local recycling center for a few extra dollars.