Canvas Category Machinery : Additive Manufacturing : Fabricated Metal
With Optomec, the promise of high-volume additive manufacturing is a reality today, transforming how companies design, build and maintain critical parts and products and enabling new manufacturing possibilities.
🖨️ How Will The Apple Reality Pro Headset Boost 3D Printing?
While most AR/VR companies certainly rely on 3D printing to some extent, at least at the level of product design, Apple’s latest product, specifically, may kickstart a niche segment of the industry known as “additively manufactured electronics (AMEs).” To those who have been following the 3D printing industry, the most obvious method for squeezing electronics into small spaces is to use AMEs. With 3D printing, it’s possible to spray conductive traces onto curved surfaces using a technology called Aerosol Jet, from Optomec, which allows electronic features to be incorporated into the structure of a product, rather than force entirely separate components into already tight spaces.
The Sandia National Labs spinout has sold Aerosol Jet printers to Google, Meta, Samsung and has all-but-confirmed that Apple is using the process, as well. By 2016, Taiwanese manufacturer Lite-On Mobile used these systems to spray antennas onto millions of mobile phones before its then-senior manager of Technology Development for Antennas, Henrik Johansson, left to work for Apple.
However, it isn’t Aerosol Jet alone that may be used by these companies to shrink devices. In December 2022, Meta acquired optics firm Luxexcel with a goal of using its lens printing process to create AR glasses. Luxexcel’s method produces optically clear polymers with the ability to integrate waveguides, necessary for transparent displays, into its lenses. It’s no coincidence then that the social media-turned-metaverse giant will be releasing the newest version of its Quest Pro headset late this year, a device said to rival Apple’s Reality Pro.
Optomec to develop additive repair process for USAF aircraft engine parts
The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded a contract to Optomec to develop an additive repair process for the aircraft engines’ oversized titanium components. The components are used on USAF aircraft, including the F22 Raptor and F35 Lightning II. Under the $1.5m contract, Optomec will develop metal additive manufacturing system, which will help repair the parts.
The integrally bladed rotors (IBR), also known as the blisks, are single-piece compressor rotors that often gets damaged or worn out in the normal use. Cost of replacing each of the lightweight, titanium-alloy blisks can amount to more than $500,000, noted the company. With Optomec’s additive repair process, the USAF is expected to save more than 80% of the total repair cost, including tens of millions of dollars in annual investment.