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Imperial College London’s 3D printing Micro Aerial Vehicle (MAV)

We’ve all seen the potential that 3D printers bring to the table (literally) as a useful tool for fast prototyping, object creation and even organ printing. The creative ideas for using the tool seems limitless and some are taking 3D printing to new levels, such as a team of researchers from the Imperial College London’s Department of Aeronautics, who are using the tool to mimic the way birds build nests. To help them understand bird’s nest building abilities (in this case swiftlets), the team constructed their own Micro Aerial Vehicle (MAV) quad-copter using readily available off-the-shelf parts. They then strapped two chemical dispensers underneath the drone that create a strong sticky polyurethane foam when mixed together. The foam is then pumped through a printing nozzle that can build simple structures or even repair broken components.

That’s right, the researchers slapped a rudimentary 3D printer to a home-built drone, which could not only be used to build bird nests but also used in hostile environments where humans have no business being. Since the polyurethane is sticky, it could be used as tethered ‘grippers’ that could be used to remove bombs or remove hazardous waste in a safe manner without exposing humans to the dangerous materials. The MAV is currently only capable of being controlled remotely in a controlled environment, however the researchers are looking to upgrade the drone for autonomous flight in the near future.


This isn’t a futuristic Rubik’s Cube but rather a 3D printed ‘liver-like’ device that removes toxins.


Yes, we’ve all seen organs being 3D printed, such as skin, hearts and kidneys. Now we can add 3D printed ‘liver-like’ device that removes toxins from the user’s blood. Nano-engineers from the University of California tapped nanoparticles to trap pore-forming toxins that can damage cells. The team used Dynamic Optical Projection Stereolithography (DOPsL) to 3D print a biocompatible hydrogel matrix to house the nanoparticles, which is then housed outside of the patient’s body, much in the same fashion as a dialysis machine.


Infographic: Lockheed Martin and RedEye collaborate on 3D printing large-scale satellite parts.


As the saying goes, ‘go big or go home’. That appears to be the motto for a new collaboration between Lockheed Martin and Stratasys offshoot RedEye, which aims to 3D print large satellite parts. The pair recently built two large fuel tank simulators for a satellite mockup using RedEye’s Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printer. The larger tank was nearly 7-feet long and was built using 10 different printed pieces and the smaller with 6, made using strong polycarbonate material. The tanks took roughly two weeks to print at around 150-hours per tank section, which were then bonded and machined to fit exact specifications, which took another 250-hours to complete.


Lix 3D pen eschews paper and allows users to drawn in the air.


Artists have taken advantage of 3D printers as well to create everything from action figures to timepieces. Now sketch artists and doodlers can take advantage of them as well but not in the conventional aspect of using big machines but rather a specialized pen. The Lix 3D pen allows users to draw and write in the air without the need for paper using the same tech found in set-top printers. The pen heats and cools colored ABS/PLA polymer to form rigid freestanding shapes and works by feeding the filament through the pen where it is then heated and extruded through the pens nozzle, forming rigid shapes. The Lix 3D pen is being funded on Kickstarter and those interested can pledge $135 and up.


The Rabbit Proto is capable of printing electronic traces in 3D printed designs.


3D printing objects is easy, however incorporating electronic leads and tracers are not so easy and usually have to be physically embedded during or after the manufacturing process. That’s no longer the case, thanks to Rabbit Proto’s 3D printer add-on. The company’s print head replaces the 3D printer’s extruder and embeds electronic wire in the solid object, making it both structural and conductive. Simply put, the print head allows users to embed complex conductive traces inside of their designs using conductive ink.

The ink is deposited into printed channels as the object is manufactured layer by layer, thereby embedding the circuit. Rabbit Proto is compatible with dual-nozzle 3D printers, such as RepRap, sells for $350, and comes with a syringe-extruder attachment for the conducive ink. Alternatively, customers can get a fully assembled 3D printer with the attachment already attached for $2,499.


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