Global Innovation and New Technology’s on Hand At Engineering Conference

Engineers will get a take-home example of the capabilities of the sintered Titanium Powder 3D printing process at the 2013 SKF  National Maintenance Engineering Conference in Rotorua. Each attendee will receive a custom designed MESNZ key-ring crescent crafted from the 3D printing process. In full working condition, each crescent is created from nothing but Titanium powder using groundbreaking technology that speaks volumes for New Zealand’s position on the world stage of innovation and technology.

The umbrella group developing this new technology is TiDA, the Titanium Industry Development Association. TiDA, who were recently presented with the Metals NZ Innovation Award, are recognised as leaders in Australasia’s’ Titanium Powder Consolidation Industry. TiDA works with contributing companies such as RAM and Page MCrae Coatings to bring prototypes to market, cost effectively and quickly.

The depth of New Zealand’s prowess was on the world stage in the recent Americas Cup sailing regatta, where both the contending boats boasted extensive Kiwi talent in design fabrication, technology and sailing ability. TiDA was there too, responding to a call from the designers for a light-weight customised knife that had to be strong enough to cut through marine ropes.  Victory Knives and TiDA set about designing a state of the art knife and sheath, 3D printed in Ti64 alloy powder and then super coated, that can cut super strong marine ropes in one blade stroke compared to their existing knife which took 10 strokes.

Titanium is more commonly used in the medical world, but even there the new scanning and printing capability is opening up new possibilities without the traditional prohibitive manufacturing costs. TiDA received an urgent project to manufacture a custom jaw bone replacement, going from design to implant within five days. A replacement jaw bone for a large dog with an aggressive cancerous growth was modelled from a CT scan by Napier’s Axia Design group, which TiDA then 3D printed. The surgery was a success, with a happy pup enjoying solid food the following morning.

Conference attendees will quickly grasp the myriad possibilities of creating small volume components in exacting tolerances and super strong capabilities for new developments or plant repairs. The mind boggles with this space age technology now cost effectively available to the general engineering public. For now though, they have a hands on example of creating something from nothing.