Fluid Power and Additive Manufacturing

Eric Lanke NFPA CEO

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by Eric Lanke

One of the biggest splashes at the recent IMTS show in Chicago was the 3D-printed car. In case you haven’t heard the news, the folks at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Local Motors, and Cincinnati, Inc. worked together to create the additive manufacturing technology needed to 3D print a car frame, attach an engine and necessary components, and drive it off the show floor. There are pictures of it all over the internet.

What’s this got to do with fluid power? Well, currently, not much. But the potential is clearly there to see what use our industry can make of the same additive manufacturing capabilities. Because the same people who worked with Local Motors and Cincinnati and available and interested in working with companies focused on hydraulics and pneumatics.

Mike Gust and I spoke to one of the ORNL guys, who confirmed that their Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, and the advanced additive manufacturing machines it contains, is looking for industry partners to conduct applied projects with—testing the limits of their technology and its practical use for dozens of industries. They even have funding available. All they require from industry is the project idea and some dedicated time from one of the company’s engineers.

Mike is going to gather some more details and help me send a specific call out to NFPA members, looking for project ideas and possible partners. Knowing that a lot of the industry is going to be visiting ORNL and their Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at the end of the upcoming Fluid Power Innovation and Research Conference, we’re especially interested in getting some fluid power projects started.

Contact me with any questions, elanke@nfpa.com.

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