Tractor Uses 3D-Printed Part to Haul 2,600 Pounds


The carbon fiber parts coming off of new 3D printers continue to impress, particularly when it comes to strength.

Gordon Styles is the president and CTO of Star Rapid, a company that focuses on low-volume manufacturing and prototyping. Styles' business started off as a small prototyping company (formerly known as Star Prototyping), but it has since swung nearly two-thirds (more than 65 percent) of the business to low-volume manufacturing. Still, Styles is an expert in additive manufacturing.

In a recent interview, Styles stated that he had been most impressed by the technological leaps and bounds that companies like Carbon and Markforged have taken when it comes to printing high-strength, high-precision carbon fiber parts.

Whenever I hear that a 3D-printed part is strong, I immediately ask, "how strong is it?" Back in May 2016, when HP launched its Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, everyone asked the same question. The company responded by printing out a chain link and then using it to lift a 1995 Toyota Avalon.

In a similar stunt, the engineers from HK3D Solutions, the company that is home to the UK's first Markforged print farm, printed a small, 77-gram chain link using Onyx, a carbon fiber filament from Markforged.

The part had previously lifted 500KG (1,102 lbs), but engineers wanted to see how rugged the part really was, so they took it from the print farm to the real farm for some agricultural testing. They used it to lift fertilizer, 1,200 KG (2,645 lbs) of manure.

Who knew that a 95 Avalon would actually have a step up in the marketing sex appeal? The Onyx part not only lifts the payload but then the tractor drives off without any trouble.

The carbon fiber parts continue to impress, but what I want to know is what they are going to lift next.

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