In a scene from a stunning documentary, a man named Bob Lazar sits at a drafting table in his home workshop. He has a marker in one hand and is drawing a diagram quickly, as though he had done it a hundred times before.
Although he makes fireworks for a living, he isn’t outlining a future show for the camera. Instead, he is detailing for the audience the projects he worked on during his time at a top-secret government project. Lazar claims to have been one of many scientists working to back-engineer spaceships capable of time travel from found UFOs – or Unidentified Flying Objects, as they are more commonly known.
According to Lazar, the government project worked with a wide range of metals and different technologies. Elements he claimed to have worked with in depth were reportedly not real – until the government admitted to it decades later.
His story is a compelling one because humans are naturally curious creatures. Just like a dog on a walk is driven to smell in order to learn about the world around him, we do the same thing. No matter how much we learn, there’s always something else to discover.
Whether you believe in Lazar’s story or not, it is a fact that technology has made great strides in the last thirty years. Things that didn’t seem possible are now taken for granted.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at a product that seems as miraculous as an interplanetary spaceship, but hails from right here on earth.
We’re talking about metal powder. If you’ve never heard of it before, you’re in for a treat. You’re about to satisfy your human need for new information in a big way.
1. Bring Out the 3D Printer
A 3D printer still seems like the cutting edge of technology.
Instead of printing lines across a paper, a 3D printer can build, layer by layer, a functional item from scratch. Before the invention of this technology, commercial manufacturing used a lathe in order to complete similar projects.
With a lathe, a technician would load in a piece of raw material – whether it be metal, plastic, or wood – and then the machine would spin the material around. As it did so, pieces of the original material were carved away by a sharp implement. In this way, the machine would work like Michelangelo when he was sculpting. He once famously said that his method was to cut away everything that wasn’t the statue, leaving only the statue behind.
A lathe was incredibly popular for years. At the time, it was the most technologically advanced method to create new parts for commercial machinery. Click here for more information about lathes.
But with the invention of the 3D printer, all of that changed. The printer is fed raw material. For most at-home use, this is a specially designed plastic with a low melting point.
A design is input into the machine. It is a three-dimensional model that shows the computer exactly how the finished product will work. Then the plastic is melted down and printed more or less exactly like how you would print an article off of the internet.
This process has several advantages. The first is that it is less wasteful than traditional manufacturing. Only what is needed is printed and the rest is reserved.
The second advantage is that this process is more adaptable than utilizing a lathe. A designer can bring virtually anything into existence with this tool. There are practically no limits.
So what? You might be thinking. So, they can print a toothbrush and barely waste anything. What good does that do me? Let’s continue for a closer look.
2. Outer Space – and more!
There is so much more to 3D printing than just the fun stuff you can make at home. There are also commercial applications all around you.
When NASA wants a new part for a space shuttle, they can’t settle for plastic. It would melt within fractions of a second of getting close to the earth’s outer layer of atmosphere. Instead, they need high-quality metal parts. Click the link: https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/6_Technologies_NASA_is_Advancing_to_Send_Humans_to_Mars for more information about NASA’s newest technologies.
Here is where our metal powder comes into play.
Metal powder is used just like the plastic you use at home, to build items layer by layer until they are completely formed.
This means there are no unsightly seams. Everything can be made exactly to specification.
3. Metal Powder in Action!
In order to create a metal powder, a metal powder supplier first melts down nickel, titanium, cobalt, or other metals. Then they atomize the metals to create an aerosol-like spray.
From there, anything can be created. From high-quality parts ready to send into outer space to new technology to clean our water better than ever before, there is no place metal powder can’t go!