The making of techlife's 3D metal printed cover

The world's first 3D printed magazine cover?

Magazine covers are always printed, of course, but never quite like this.

In search of a unique way to mark 10 years of techlife, we reached out to NAIT’s Innovation Services, home of the polytechnic’s 3D metal printer. While technician Jens Kilden (Nanotechnology Systems ’12) usually keeps busy with prototyping for clients from industries including oil and gas, aerospace and medicine, he eagerly put the printer to work building a commemorative cover out of stainless steel.

Construction took about a week and required 5,666 fifty-micron layers (20 of those layers add up to a millimetre) of steel powder, melted into the shape of the magazine’s nameplate and a number 10. The end result: the shiny, 22-by-28-centimetre (8.7 by 11 inches), 4.9-kilogram (10.75 pounds), 3D plaque pictured on the front of this book – and a testament to what the machine can do.

Kilden says the metal techlife cover was one of the biggest of the 30 builds completed so far by the printer. He saw it as a unique opportunity to contribute to the magazine in a way no other alum could, but also as a chance to safely “stress out our machine” and test its limits.

“It’s also great exposure for our equipment,” says Kilden, who points out that it’s available to anyone in Alberta’s business community. “We want to bring in more people” – and help industry members create unique projects of their own.

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