ExOne and College of Pittsburgh produce promising reusable respirators utilizing 3D printed steel filters

Main sand and steel binder jet 3D printer producer ExOne and the College of Pittsburgh are working collectively to develop reusable steel filters that match into plastic respirator cartridges.

ExOne’s binder jetting 3D printing course of can be utilized to supply steel elements with particular porosity ranges that may successfully filter out contaminants whereas permitting airflow. Leveraging its expertise, the corporate was capable of develop the reusable and porous steel filters in two metals: copper and 316L chrome steel.  The plastic respirator cartridge was designed by the Mechanical Engineering & Supplies Science division in Pitt College’s Swanson Faculty of Engineering.

The preliminary checks for airflow and filtration effectivity are at present underway, and the filters are being optimized with the target of adhering to an N95 respirator customary. ExOne explains that the mixed items can doubtlessly ship sustainable, sterilizable private safety gear (PPE) for long-term use towards contaminants equivalent to COVID-19, the illness accountable for the present Coronavirus pandemic. 

“Our group has been working urgently to expedite this promising and reusable answer for medical personnel on the frontlines of combating the COVID-19 pandemic,” mentioned John Hartner, ExOne CEO. “Our prospects routinely print porous steel filters for quite a lot of functions, and we’re assured that we’ll have an answer quickly that may allow medical personnel to sterilize steel filters for repeated reuse, eliminating waste.” 

“As soon as authorized, we will print these filters in quite a lot of sizes for respirators, ventilators, anesthesia masks or different gear.”

ExOne and Pitt 3D Print Promising Reusable Respirators with 3D Printed Metal Filters. Photo via ExOne.ExOne and Pitt 3D Print Promising Reusable Respirators with 3D Printed Metallic Filters. Picture by way of ExOne.

Creating totally different porosity ranges for various 3D printed steel filters

ExOne’s binder jetting expertise works utilizing a printhead to selectively deposit liquid binder layer-by-layer onto a skinny coating of steel powder, till a last object is fashioned. As soon as this merchandise has been 3D printed from the powdered steel, it’s then sintered in a furnace.

Sometimes, binder jetted steel elements are sintered to full density. Nevertheless, ExOne’s expertise permits for a particular stage of porosity to be established for the article in query, on this case, a steel filter. The required stage of porosity for filters nevertheless, would differ between totally different steel supplies. 

As such, to check filters in several metals and porosities, a analysis group led by Dr. Markus Chmielus, Affiliate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Supplies Science on the Swanson Faculty, is utilizing CT scanners to investigate their microstructure and porosity. To assist analyze and optimize the efficiency of the filters, extra laptop simulation help is being supplied by engineering simulation software program developer Ansys. 

ExOne has 3D printed metal filters in a variety of metals and porosities for testing. Photo via ExOne.ExOne has 3D printed steel filters in quite a lot of metals and porosities for testing. Picture by way of ExOne.

“The benefit of binder jet 3D printing over different additive manufacturing strategies for this filter software is the flexibility to make the most of the porosity of the printed half after which positive tune it through the excessive temperature densification or sintering course of to realize optimum filtering and airflow efficiency,” explains Dr. Chmielus.

Whereas each copper and chrome steel filters have been 3D printed by ExOne, and are at present being examined by Pitt College, copper itself has been recognized to own antibacterial properties for fairly a while, in accordance with ExOne. The corporate explains that the primary recorded use of copper to kill germs was within the Edwin Smith Papyrus, the oldest recognized medical doc in historical past, in accordance with the Smithsonian. Moreover, many research have confirmed copper’s disinfectant powers, together with one in 2015 which, funded by the U.S. Division of Protection, revealed that copper alloys contributed to a 58 p.c discount in infections. 

Close up of reusable and sterilizable copper filter 3D printed by ExOne in partnership with Pitt. Photo via ExOne.Shut up of reusable and sterilizable copper filter 3D printed by ExOne in partnership with Pitt. Picture by way of ExOne.

ExOne’s steel binder jetting 3D printing expertise

ExOne developed the primary iteration of their binder jetting expertise in 1996, which it has since adopted for its sand and steel 3D printing techniques. It’s collection of steel 3D printers contains the Innovent+, an entry-level system designed for R&D and small half manufacturing. At Formnext 2018, the corporate launched its X1 25 PRO system, which was designed to allow a bigger construct quantity and the equal powder metallurgy capabilities powders from the Innovent+. 

Round a 12 months later in November 2019, the corporate launched the X1 160PRO. The corporate’s largest machine to this point, it has been developed for prime quantity, giant scale manufacturing of end-use elements and castings.

Moreover, ExOne has engaged in plenty of partnerships to develop its steel binder jetting expertise. Final 12 months it introduced a collaboration with Sandvik Additive Manufacturing to advance its binder jet 3D printing course of. Each firms will work in direction of optimizing using steel powders with binder jet 3D printing.

The corporate can also be working with Oak Ridge Nationwide Laboratory (ORNL) to advance binder jet 3D printing to allow the 3D processing of H13 Instrument Metal. 

The nominations for the 2020 3D Printing Trade Awards are actually open. Who do you assume ought to make the shortlists for this 12 months’s present? Have your say now. 

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Featured picture exhibits ExOne and Open Well being Reusable Respirator Masks. Picture by way of ExOne.

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