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Printed excavator coming to ConExpo


January 31, 2017
By Keith Norbury
A “fully functional” 3D-printed construction excavator will be a feature display at the next ConExpo-Con/Agg trade show in Las Vegas.

Now dig this.

A “fully functional” 3D-printed construction excavator will be a feature display at the next ConExpo-Con/Agg trade show in Las Vegas.

The machine will be the first of its kind in the world “and the first large-scale use of steel in 3-D printing, known as additive manufacturing,” said a news release for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, which organizes the triennial ConExpo at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

ConExpo and the co-located International Fluid Power Exposition, or IFPE, will jointly unveil the 3D printed excavator at the shows, which take place March 7-11, 2017.

“We’re thrilled to bring such a significant technological and first-of-its-kind achievement like the 3-D printed excavator to the show; it will be a platform to demonstrate how the latest innovations and applied technologies are changing the future of construction industry,” the news release quoted John Rozum, show director for IFPE, which is co-owned by AEM and the National Fluid Power Association.

Also collaborating on the project are the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the National Science Foundation.

“The group is working with research teams from Georgia Tech and The University of Minnesota to convert the current excavator design to one that is conducive to and takes full advantage of 3D manufacturing,” the release said. “Graduate engineering students at Georgia Tech will be creating a boom and bucket featuring integrated hydraulics with the goal of decreasing the weight, materials cost and maintenance, while students at the University of Minnesota are designing a hydraulic oil reservoir/heat exchanger and cooling system that reduces the size and weight and increase the efficiency of the machine.”

The collaborators are also holding a contest for undergraduate students of engineering from across the U.S. to design and print a functional and aesthetically pleasing human-machine interface and futuristic cab for the excavator. The winning team will win $2,000 and a chance to see their design printed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

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