Innovative Catalytic Reactor Incorporates Metal 3D Printing

Minnesota-based start-up Activated Research Company recently launched its flagship product, the Polyarc™ catalytic reactor — built in part with Proto Labs’ 3D printing process of direct metal laser sintering (DMLS).

A DMLS stainless steel block that attaches to a gas chromatograph, the reactor accelerates the process of analyzing the composition of matter and is useful in industries ranging from fuel to pharmaceuticals, according to Andrew Jones, a chemical engineer, who, along with former Proto Labs CEO Brad Cleveland, founded Activated Research in 2014.

The Polyarc™ microreactor was 3D printed in stainless steel with direct metal laser sintering technology.

Fans of TV’s “CSI” are likely familiar with a gas chromatograph. The evidence from the crime being investigated goes into the crime lab’s gas chromatograph, the high-tech machine quickly identifies whatever is in it and a dramatic arrest ensues.

That’s great for a TV crime series, but the show glosses over how, in reality, as Jones explains, the chemical or composition analysis is quite expensive and time-consuming.

That’s where the Polyarc™ reactor comes in. It can quickly quantify carbon-containing chemicals in a sample without the slow, costly calibrations of existing methods.

The idea for what would become the Polyarc™ reactor originated with researchers at the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation led by Paul Dauenhauer, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota. Dauenhauer’s group published a paper proposing a “quantitative carbon detector” based on their research, which received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

For more details on how Proto Labs provided prototypes and production parts for this project, read the complete case study here.

TIPS WITH TONY: Prototyping with Soft Metals

Soft metals — aluminum, magnesium, brass, copper — are available in different grades at Proto Labs depending on the 3D printing, CNC machining and injection molding service chosen. Quantities range from 1 to 5,000+ parts in 1 to 15 business days.

Aluminum engine bracket 3D printed through DMLS.

Aluminum
At Proto Labs, we use the industrial 3D printing process of direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) to build parts from soft (and hard) materials like aluminum.

DMLS-built aluminum provides parts with excellent strength-to-weight ratios, temperature and corrosion resistance, and provides good tensile, fatigue creep and rupture strength. With a tensile strength of 37.7 ksi (260 MPa) and a hardness of 47.2 HRB, for example, you are able to have parts produced in nearly any part geometry with features like internal channels or complex undercuts that can’t be manufactured through any other method. And, final parts are still up to 98% dense.

You can also get aluminum parts using CNC machining in 6061 and 7075 grades. 6061 can provide you with improved corrosion resistance and can be welded while 7075 provides you a part that has a higher tensile strength and is harder than 6061.

Do you need a prototype of an aluminum die-cast part? We can mimic aluminum die casting using our stereolithography (SL) process and SLArmor technology. SLArmor uses our DSM Somos (NanoTool) material, applying a nickel metal coating that gives the look and feel of metal without the added strength or weight.

 

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Why DMLS is a Reliable Additive Alternative for Complex Metal Parts

Additive manufacturing in DMLS

The rise of direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) has opened up a new world of 3D-printed metal prototypes and production parts. DMLS fuses metal powder into thousands of thin layers, making it particularly well-suited for highly complex metal parts that are unable to be machined and multi-part assemblies that can be reduced into a single piece.

The advanced additive process complements high-speed CNC machining, by producing fully dense end-use parts built in a range of metals like aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, cobalt chrome and Inconel. Our latest design tip explains the DMLS process, its benefits and provides some design advice on how to build better parts for DMLS

DMLS lugs help build the ultimate urban utility bike

San Francisco is an ideal backdrop for a bike culture to thrive. Its temperatures remain consistently mild year-round, and its landscape seamlessly blends hills, streets and shoreline. Bicyclists commute to work, run errands, transport groceries (and their kids), and climb rugged bike paths to Bay Area overlooks. And that’s just a Monday.This fusion of task- and recreationally minded biking activities amidst the natural and man-made architecture of San Francisco was the inspiration behind Huge Design’s recent entry into Oregon Manifest’s Bike Design Project. Along with the California-based design firm, organizers of the national competition asked teams from Chicago, Portland, Seattle and New York to create an urban bike that most represented their city. Teams included both a design firm and frame builder — the San Francisco team being composed of Huge Design, bicycle fabricator Forty One Thirty Cycle Works and engineering partner PCH Lime Lab.

Started From the Bottom Now We’re Here: The Rise of 3D Printing

3D Printed Globe

It’s nearly impossible to have a conversation about the current state of manufacturing without mention of 3D printing, an additive process that uses digital CAD models to build physical, real-life objects, layer by layer. While additive manufacturing has existed for more than 30 years, it wasn’t until the last few that 3D printing, led by increased accessibility, has become the poster child for progressive technology within the industry — NASA prints telescope! Designers print runway pumps! Scientists bio-print human organs!

It’s undoubtedly an exciting time in manufacturing that has many eager to see what the future brings, but can the promise of a printed world withstand the heat? We deconstruct the layers of 3D printing to find the substance beneath the style. Continue reading