MOTUS Engineers show what can be achieved by incorporating the latest 3D printing technology right inside a hydraulic cylinder!
Utilising a tiny internal 3D printer inside the actual ram itself, the ‘printer’ actually builds up the end of the shaft increasing its length, and therefore the stroke length as well. This of course enables stroke lengths of far greater lengths than the ram itself without having to go to a telescopic configuration with the volume changes inherent in that system. Upon retraction, the unit reverses, reconfiguring the material back into its pre-printed state. Hydraulic actuation and print actuation can be operated simultaneously, which opens up amazing possibilities for the future.
One secret to its success lies in the fact that the created shaft is hollow, which substantially reduces the amount of material required.
This potential invention has huge application especially in the fields of military and space exploration and NASA is likely to be among the first customers of these units. Our scientists are currently working on being able to alter the material composition on-the-fly, which would enable different tensile strength, surface hardness and varying levels of corrosion resistance. Another idea which isn’t as far-fetched as it seems, is to be able to rotate the shaft on extension, and even curving the shaft and thereby eliminating the necessity of using linkages in some situations!
One unusual aspect of the research was that the weight of the cylinder actually increased as the shaft extends, and more work is being done to determine whether this is caused by Einstein’s theory of relativity, Global warming, or simply an input error.
It was felt that one key aspect to facilitate the introduction of this technology would be the actual texture and reflective qualities of the shafting. Typically this material is Hard Chromed Bar stock, and if this doesn’t ‘look right’ the typical engineer will tend to want to stick with the status quo. Hence we have introduced a range of conventional cylinders to satisfy those customers, called the ‘Status Quo’ range.
Although the speed of the prototype cylinder shown in the video is very slow it is expected that production units will initially be able to achieve speeds of up to 150mm minute, which will open up a host of applications, with further speed increases pending. Suggested name for the new technology is ‘PRAM’, for Printed RAM. Main challenges being faced by our engineers are the room occupied by the printer, and the speed at which reconfiguring takes, which of course limits the retract speed.
Resolving these various challenges could take weeks, according to MOTUS spokesman Dr Wolfgang Kuddelmuddel, and it may take as long as April 1st 2016 before the first ‘PRAM’ units are available for commercial applications.
Obvious uses include Space Shuttle door retract and airlock cylinders, airbrake actuators for Military applications and top link rams for Kubota tractors.
The April Fill Team