“Drawing” a lot of attention at the CONEXPO show in Las Vegas in March was a small mini excavator off in one corner. The amazing thing about it was that significant parts of the machine were produced using 3-D printing technologies, which were then integrated with conventional parts to create a functional 5.5-ton mini excavator.
Project leader Lonnie J. Love, a corporate research fellow from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), says printed components included the cab, which was printed in five hours with carbon-fiber-reinforced ABS plastic; the 7-ft.-long, 400-lb. “stick” at the end of the boom; and a 13-lb. aluminum heat exchanger. They were then attached to other traditionally built components to create a machine based on a Case New Holland 5.5-ton excavator.
—ENR and other sources