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Excavator in 3-D

DSC04022ConExpo-Con/Agg 2017 and IFPE are teaming up to unveil the world’s first fully functional 3-D printed construction excavator and the first large-scale use of steel in 3-D printing, known as additive manufacturing. The excavator, which will be on display at the joint trade shows in March 2017, will bring to life how technology is transforming the construction industry in line with the show’s 2017 theme, “Imagine What’s Next.” In addition to the pre-printed excavator, show attendees will see a second excavator printing live on the show floor.

“We know our members look forward to seeing the industry’s most innovative technologies at ConExpo-Con/Agg each show year and 2017 will not disappoint. 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,” said John Rozum, IFPE show director.

The excavator is a joint collaboration between the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), National Fluid Power Association (NFPA), Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

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 3-D manufacturing. 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.

“Technology and innovation will drive change for the future of the construction industry, and we’re excited that students are playing a vital role in bringing the newly designed machine to life,” said Eric Lanke, chief executive officer of NFPA.

In addition to the partnerships with the Georgia Tech and the University of Minnesota, AEM, NFPA, CCEFP, ORNL and NSF are inviting undergraduate engineering students from across the country to participate in a nationwide contest to design and print a futuristic cab and a human-machine interface for the excavator that is both aesthetic pleasing and functionally designed.

Students can submit their designs for the cab of the excavator on the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power website ( and all entries will be judged by a panel of industry experts. The winning team will receive a $2,000 cash prize and the opportunity to visit the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee to observe the printing of the selected design.

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