Introducing The AM News ‘Editor’s Corner’ Column

AM News is adding a new section called the Editor’s Corner. This new section will provide a way for us to share a variety of resources, links, projects, and other stories that we come across in our research for this site. TJ McCue, our editor, will begin sharing some personalized posts this week.

TJ here: In my work on various National Science Foundation (NSF) projects, particularly here on TEAMM and AM News, I am constantly researching and reviewing a wide range of topics that matter for technician education, materials science, and additive manufacturing. I am active in the industries that touch our educational efforts having worked as a consultant or contractor for many of the large brands that you know and love.

I have put pen to paper for a number of publications you know as well, from the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, and currently Forbes in their Innovation and Consumer Tech section. I spent almost a full year on the road for a large national project known as 3DRV where I traveled the USA researching and reporting on 3D printing and 3D scanning. All that said, I am passionate about this space and care deeply about how we educate our young people to keep them ready for the future of work.

Every year, there are conferences and events that capture our attention and time. Depending on your specialties, you may visit an event focused on Materials Science, STEM Education, or 3D Printing, to name just a few that are of interest to our readers here. 

TEAMM was part of the annual M-STEM event held last year at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. The event is sponsored by the National Science Foundation as part of an Advanced Technological Education (ATE) with MatEdU, our sister organization at Edmonds Community College. If you have not visited before, MatEdU is a clearinghouse of teaching materials including labs, hands-on demonstrations, modules and papers, which can easily be integrated into a variety of courses, class-room settings, and industry. 

At the M-STEM event, two graduate students presented (and won) an award for their work at Tennessee Tech University building a mobile 3D printer. It can work with a variety of materials from cake frosting (you read that right) to cement to paint. You can check out the YouTube video here. Although they were not present at M-STEM, TEAMM Network Member, Somerset Community College, is doing some amazing 3D printing work as well converting a $450 polymer (FFF) machine into a metal 3D printer.

If you have not visited MatEdU before, it is a clearinghouse of teaching materials including labs, hands-on demonstrations, modules and papers, which can easily be integrated into a variety of courses, class-room settings, and industry. 

An event to mark on your calendars for April 20 – 23, 2020 is probably one of the best-known conferences for 3D (celebrating its 30th Year): RAPID + TCT, the largest 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing event in North America (scroll down on that page to find student and educator discounts).

I’ll be attending this year’s RAPID+TCT event in Anaheim, California and will be reporting back to you on some of the developments for education, as well as advances in Medical Additive Manufacturing (AM), and new AM Startups (this section is not published yet) shaking up the already fast-moving world of 3D printing. Plus, there is a Student Summit

One of the goals of this new section is to give a shout out to various organizations, colleges and universities, companies, and other resources that can help you in your work with students and the public at large. Some weeks, it might be a long list; other weeks I might only have one item to share with you. 

This week I wanted to draw your attention to an affordable, do-it-yourself type microscope known as the Foldscope. According to the website, Foldscope was “invented by Manu Prakash and Jim Cybulski who asked themselves: What is the best microscope you can build for under $1 in parts?

Image Courtesy: Foldscope.com

“Their inspiration for the Foldscope originated from field visits around the world, where they continually encountered bulky, broken microscopes, or a lack of microscopes entirely. As traditional microscopes are often expensive or cumbersome, they realized the universal scale of this problem and the need for a low-cost, revolutionary solution.”

At the end of 2019, one million Foldscopes were found in the wild helping children and adults become citizen scientists.

May your weekend be filled with all the good materials.

NOTE: The Foldscope is made up of common, easy to get and affordable materials, however on their website a deluxe microscope sells for around $30 for one unit. I presume this is partly to fund other parts of the initiative. They sell a classroom kit of $20 that works out to a bit over $1.75 per unit. Still a deal.

An earlier version of this post was published at Medium

SCC Metal 3D Prints Stainless Steel Parts With Modified $600 Desktop Printers

The additive manufacturing program at Somerset Community College (SCC) recently 3D printed numerous 316L stainless steel metal parts on multiple low cost desktop 3D printers. Metal 3D printing is typically an expensive process requiring metal 3D printers starting in the low six figures. SCC has created an impressive initiative to bring the cost down – way down.

SCC’s process is based on a relatively well-known method known as “Bound Metal Additive Manufacturing” (BMAM). It is also predicted by researchers to be one of the fastest growing methods of additive production over the next several years. The SCC AM program faculty and staff started with several low-cost or fused filament fabrication (FFF) (sometimes known as fused deposition modeling – however, FDM is a trademarked term) 3D printers, typically less than $450 each, then modified them for metal filament extrusion and better build plate adhesion for an additional $150 each (total price tag of $600 per printer). 

Once you print a part on one of the SCC machines, there are still multiple steps to completion. The team started with metal-infused filaments provided by Virtual Foundry and BASF. After accounting for shrinkage and other production issues in the design phase, the parts were 3D printed. SCC worked with sintering experts such as DSH Technologies to debind and sinter the 3D printed parts. Imagine that part is “green” and must be cured, similar to what you might do with a piece of pottery in a kiln (oversimplified, but you get the idea). Below, we link to a few additional resources from Virtual Foundry, BASF, and MatterHackers (a provider of filament).

With the material hardened into something closer to its finished metal state, the team had SCC’s Welding department work on the parts. Senior Welding Professor, Karl Watson, used Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), also known as TIG welding. Several fillet and groove welds were applied to the original six pieces and the welding went very well.

Preliminary testing of the parts has also shown hardness values slightly less than stock 316L (stainless steel), but microscopic inspection after finishing work has not shown any inconsistencies thus far. Watson also noted that the heat dissipation during the welding process of the 3D printed stainless was higher than conventional stock stainless.

From this success, SCC’s goal now is to bring this low cost metal 3D printing technology to students, teachers, and the workforce throughout Kentucky. SCC will be providing training workshops across the state in the assembly and set up of low cost metal 3D printers for select educators in Kentucky high schools and community colleges. This work is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and EPSCoR (or Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) grants. 

Over the next few months SCC will be dialing in the equipment and their training process for the low cost metal procedures, as well as collecting data on product performance. Eric Wooldridge, Director of SCC’s Additive Manufacturing program, notes that “there is a lot for us to learn about practical welding of 3D printed metal parts, especially parts that have been produced on a desktop 3D printer. Factors of shrinkage, potential zones of weakness, and the best welding practices are still to be determined. These are very exciting but uncharted waters to be sure.” 

SCC will be working with partners across Kentucky, including the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky, to integrate skills in low cost BMAM into the workforce. SCC will also be working with Tennessee Technological University (TTU) to scale their work across state lines through the support of the Mobile Additive Manufacturing Platform for 21st Century STEM Workforce Enhancement grant from the NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. 

SCC currently offers a certificate in Additive Manufacturing/3D printing and offers additional training through the college’s Workforce Solutions program. For more information, please visit SCC’s Additive Manufacturing program, or check out their YouTube channel, The Additive Guru, dedicated to 3D printing.

Additional Resources:

      • Virtual Foundry – makers of the sintering furnace
      • BASF – makers of the metal filament mentioned above
      • MatterHackers – a provider of filament and reseller of 3D printing machines and equipment. This link goes to a YouTube video overviewing the metal filament from BASF.

Materiom Is Serving As Nature’s Recipe Book For STEM Educators

If you are an educator, a maker, a biohacker, or a curious student, who is often trying to come up with recipes for #natural #materials to test out in your classroom, workshop, or lab, this Materiom site is for you. Their Materials Library is filled with “recipes” for materials you might throw away as compost-worthy, but that can be used in a variety of student projects.

Materiom Materials Library Search Tool
Materiom Materials Library Search Tool

Here are a few recipes you will find and the image above gives some ideas as to what you will find on the site. 

  • -Eggshell biocomposite
  • -Sawdust / agar
  • -Chitosan 12% – Stiff behaviour
  • -Sodium Bicarbonate / Cornstarch
  • -Green tea
  • -Kombucha fabric
  • -Agar bioplastic (heated)
  • -Coffee grounds (used)

According to their home page, “Materiom provides open data on how to make materials that nourish local economies and ecologies. We support companies, cities, and communities in creating and selecting materials sourced from locally abundant biomass that are part of a regenerative circular economy.”

Users can customize and finely tune their materials recipes for their long list of over 50 different  materials (or variations of some materials). Search their Materials Database here.

If you are anything like the team at TTU that invented the paste-based 3D printer known as the TechBot, (patent-pending) then you might be able to use one of these novel, DIY pastes found on Materiom. Both these recipes were created by Marita Sauerwein and E.L.Doubrovski. Check out the Mussel shell | alginate MS01 recipe as well as the similar Mussel shell – sucrose composite. The recipes are on a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 license, but be warned, they are rated 5 out of 5-stars for difficulty.

This post idea originated on the Materials Education Facebook page (via our sister organization MatEdU).

Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series Spring 2020

The College of Engineering at Tennessee Tech is organizing its ninth Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series for Spring 2020. Under Dr. Ismail Fidan’s leadership, he and his team coordinate with top-notch speakers from around the world. A combination of experts from academia and industry are recruited to share cutting edge knowledge with university students and anyone who simply has a desire to keep learning about additive manufacturing. 

The web-based presentations are shared via the free Zoom platform. On the dates listed, simply visit Zoom URL ( tntech.zoom.us/j/432789883 ) at 11am Central Standard Time and you can listen in to the 30-minute lecture/discussion. Mark your calendars for one or all of these excellent presentations.


Thursday, February 6

New functionalities for metal AM by embedded intelligence

With Puukko Pasi, Research Team Leader, Advanced Manufacturing Technologies VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd., Espoo, Finland


Thursday, March 5

Integrated statistical/experimental methodologies for rapid and cost-effective optimization of process parameters in additive manufacturing

With Ehsan Toyserkani, Ph.D., Professor and Canada Research Chair in Additive Manufacturing, Director of Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing Lab, Director of Pan-Canadian NSERC/CFI Strategic Network for Holistic Innovation in Additive Manufacturing (HI-AM), Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, University of Waterloo, Canada


Thursday, March 26

A holistic approach to achieving the best possible component quality for AM architectures for vat photopolymer and laser powder bed fusion systems

With David Bue Pedersen, Ph.D., Senior Researcher, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark


Thursday, April 9

Additive Manufacture with High Temperature Polymers

With Oana Ghita, Ph.D., Chair and Professor of Materials Science and Manufacturing in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, Academic Lead of Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing (CALM), University of Exeter, United Kingdom


Thursday, April 23

From 3D Printing to Digital Manufacturing

With Wenchao Zhou, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Arkansas


The Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Virtual Lecture Series is partially funded by the NSF Award 1601587, “AM-WATCH: Additive Manufacturing-Workforce Advancement Training Coalition and Hub”. The archive of past Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Virtual Lectures is found here.

Tennessee Tech Sends Two Students To M-STEM 2019 Workshop

Earlier this year, Tennessee Tech (TTU) created and built an innovative mobile 3D printer. After a number of improvements since the launch, the team of Ankit Gupta and Seymur Hasanov, both graduate research assistants and PhD candidates, represented the TechBot project for TTU. 

After his keynote, Ames Lab scientist, Dr. Iver Anderson (and other M-STEM presenters) spent the afternoon reviewing student entries in the Poster competition and interviewing each student or team. If you are interested in a brief overview of his Keynote presentation, you can read about it here and watch a short video compilation of his main points: M-STEM 2019 Keynote: Meet Climate Change Challenges with Clean Energy Innovations.

Editor’s Note: Due to the large and public area where the posters were displayed, it has quite a bit of background noise, however we tried to diminish that as much as possible (which still did not make much of an impact). 

Ankit Gupta and Seymur Hasanov explain how the new TechBot can print with different materials and how they tested each material for its strength and other traits. The TechBot tests currently included paste-based materials, such as cake frosting, floor paint, and concrete. It is also offered as a do-it-yourself (DIY) kit (assembly required). The project is funded through NSF Award 1601587, Additive Manufacturing Workforce Advancement Training Coalition and Hub (AM-WATCH) under the leadership of Dr. Ismail Fidan (Leader) and Dr. Michael Allen (Co-Leader). 

AM News reported in detail on their work: Tennessee Tech Launches New Mobile Multitasking 3D Printer

Update: We forgot to share an important video from earlier in 2019 – it is embedded below, but if you cannot see it in-post, then click the TechBot launch video. It is a must-watch.