The Miller Advanced Research and Solutions Center (MARS) at Weber State University (WBU) recently updated and implemented the Impossible Objects Composite-Based Additive Manufacturing system (CBAM-2).
By doing so, WBU hopes to progress its studies on composite materials that assist the aerospace and defense ecosystem in northern Utah. The machine generates composite materials, which are then employed to create parts for a variety of high-tech applications.
“The MARS Center is at the forefront of aerospace and defense research. We’re proud that they’ve selected CBAM technology, and have already engaged in several projects that have exciting potential for the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and other industrial partners,” said Steve Hoover, Impossible Objects CEO.
Weber State University benefitting from CBAM-2
Hoover stated that the Carbon Fiber PEEK 3D printed material from the CBAM system has superior mechanical properties and is what he describes as a “cutting-edge” substitute for aluminum prototyping, spares, tooling, and repairs.
“Composite materials are of high interest to the military, and the ability to 3D print those parts on demand with CBAM gives us the advantage to participate in more projects and recruit the best talent,” said David Ferro, dean of WSU’s College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology.
Ferro went on to say Weber State University has a rich history with Impossible Objects. He believes this new system, which is a technological advancement over the center’s preceding CBAM printer, will serve as a useful tool in aerospace research among defense, academia, and commercial partners.
“We’ve used this technology to print parts for legacy aircraft, aging jets that need replacement parts or tools that aren’t in production anymore,” said Devin Young, grant writing and research specialist at WSU, who works at the MARS Center. He further explained that CBAM produces parts that are lighter and more durable than those produced by other methods, and it does this faster. According to Young, a notable example of 3D printed components via Impossible Objects includes a strap that retains first-aid kits protected within aircraft currently flown by the United States Air Force.
The MARS Center, situated near Hill Air Force Base in Utah, brings together Weber State faculty and students with industry professionals who can apply innovative solutions to real-world problems, particularly those related to national defense, says WBU.
Furthermore, thanks to a $3.5 million contribution from the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation, the MARS Center was inaugurated in August 2022. Impossible Objects’ CBAM 3D Printer is one of the first advanced manufacturing techniques to be implemented and employed at the new facility.
Institutes that house additive manufacturing technology
Recently, researchers at the USA’s National Eye Institute (NEI) developed a method for 3D bioprinting eye tissues employing patient stem cells. The scientists believe that by 3D printing three distinct types of immature choroidal cells onto a biodegradable scaffold, they will be able to produce an infinite supply of patient-derived tissues. These, in turn, have the potential to aid doctors in better comprehending the mechanisms underlying common degenerative retinal diseases like age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Previously, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT Guwahati) developed a novel method for 3D printing industrial waste into large-format sustainable structures. The group was able to 3D print a special piece of ‘urban furniture’ using an in-house-developed concrete that uses local waste materials as a binder and a Deltasys E-Forming construction unit. Engineers claimed that such structures typically require a large amount of material, labor, and formwork, but they were able to decrease their concrete consumption by 75% by using design optimization.
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Feature image shows Impossible Objects’ CBAM system. Image via Impossible Objects.