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3D Printing

68 Posts authored by: Cabe Atwell

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MIT has come up with a structure using just carbon which is ten times the strength of steel, but only 5% of its density. Lighter than air, 3D graphene structures could take engineering and design by storm. A 3-D printed model of gyroid graphene (via MIT & theregister.co.uk)

 

Steel has thus far been the gold standard for construction materials. Steel is strong, resists compression and stretching, and supports heavy weight. What if it were possible to build with materials even stronger than steel, but with only a fraction of its weight?

 

This is just what engineers at MIT have been working on for years, and recently, they have created a material which does exactly that.

 

Graphene, made entirely of carbon, is like a piece of paper-it’s two-dimensional. Much like the graphite in a pencil or the diamond in a ring, the strength and functionality of graphene lay in the way the carbon atoms are arranged. Graphite has one arrangement of carbon, whereas diamond has another. What the MIT researchers did was simply take the two-dimensional, paper-like arrangement of graphene and rearrange it into coiling shapes.

 

Those coils are what give the new graphene its incredible strength and lightness.

 

The coils are also known as gyroids, a term coined by NASA scientist Alan Schoen back in the 1970’s. Gyroids have no planar symmetry; they are bendy, twisty shapes that increase the flexibility and strength of any given material, and as it turns out, are remarkably abundant in the natural world. Viruses, the DNA double helix, and proteins are some examples of gyroids. So, what happens when gyroid models are used to make life-size, man-made materials? Things get stronger and lighter than ever before.

 

Using compression tests, the material demonstrated resistance to compression ten times greater than that of steel, presently the gold standard for engineering and construction materials. Unlike steel, however, graphene is incredibly light. It has less than 5 % the density of steel, making it much lighter, almost bouncy.

 

The graphene models used in MIT’s compression tests were made using 3-D printers. It is not yet possible to produce graphene for industry uses with current technology. There just aren’t enough 3-D printers in the world to make such complex materials to scale.

 

That may be the next design conundrum for MIT-how to make graphene available to the industries it would benefit the most. In the meantime, that this material exists means exciting things may be ahead for many industries.

 

 

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Chemists at MIT have found a way to add new polymers to things already printed, which allows them to create more complex objects that have different chemical and mechanical properties. Blue LED light is used to add monomers to an existing polymer chain resulting in growth. (via MIT)

 

Research funded by the National Science Foundation helped MIT researchers discover a way to add to, and alter 3-D printed objects after they’ve been printed. Until this advancement, objects that were 3-D printed were “dead” upon completion, meaning that polymer chains in the printed object could not be extended upon. As described by Anne Trafton of the MIT News Office, this new technique enables 3-D printing technology to, “...add new polymers that alter the materials’ chemical composition and mechanical properties”, and also, “...fuse two or more printed objects together to form more complex structures.” This technological development appears to have opened a door for further creativity and complexity in 3-D printing.

 

In 2013, these researchers tried using ultraviolet light to add new features to 3-D printed materials. Trafton describes this process when she writes, “... the researchers used ultraviolet light to break apart the polymers at certain points, creating very reactive molecules called free radicals.” She goes on to explain that these free radicals bind to new monomers from a solution surrounding the object that incorporates the monomers the original material. Ultimately this approach was unsuccessful in that it was damaging to the material and generally uncontrollable due to the reactivity of the free radicals.

 

Recently though, the researchers have designed polymers that are reactivated by light due to the chemical groups, known as TTCs, within them. Trafton describes these polymers as acting like “a folded up accordion”, and when the blue light from an LED hits the catalyst, new monomers attach to the TTCs, causing them to expand. As the new monomers are distributed into the structure uniformly, they inevitably change the material properties of the printed object.

 

According to Trafton, the researchers have demonstrated that they can insert monomers that, “...alter a material’s mechanical properties, such as stiffness, and its chemical properties, including hydrophobicity (affinity for water)” and, “...make materials swell and contract in response to temperature…”. Although these innovations are promising, there is a single, but a significant limitation in that this technique’s organic catalyst requires an oxygen-free environment. So, the researchers march onward, and Trafton reports that they are testing other catalysts that work for similar polymerizations in the presence of oxygen.

 

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A new software developed at MIT enables laypeople to 3D print prototypes of their own design. Much like traditional image editing software, Foundry lets you edit designs, with the added twist that they can be printed 3 dimensionally using up to 10 different kinds of materials (via MIT)

 

Printing 3 dimensional designs has been around for awhile, but the materials used have often been limiting. Most 3D printers can only print using one kind of material as well.  A lot of good designs end up being pretty limited, due to the constraints of the printer and the design ability of the user.  Printing objects with multiple materials has presented a big hurdle as well, due to the nature of the materials and the time required to functionally put them together. After spending days working on a design, engineers would often discover it wasn’t really a feasible prototype.

 

Enter MIT’s MultiFab. Based out of the university’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, a team of researchers has launched a software and printing system which allows people with limited programming ability to print their own multiple-material  prototypes. Much like image editing software lets you make all kinds of fanciful pictures, Foundry enables you to make them a reality. How does it work? You design your prototype on the software, which has various parameters and possible materials that can be incorporated into the object. The software communicates with the printing system, and your image, edited in Foundry, is brought to life.

How nice are the designs? Currently the resolution is 40 microns, just under half the width of a strand of human hair.

 

In addtition, the 3-D printer designed by the team is self-correcting. The machine vision detects errors made while  printing and is able to fix them, without human input. The printers also self-calibrate. These processes historically took time and skill to get just right, so this system frees you to focus more on actual design.

Unlike traditional 3D printers, which squirt material through an extruder, the ones in use at MultiFab print more like an office printer, with an inkjet squirting tiny dots onto a surface. This lets you make complex, tiny layers of material throughout the printing process.

 

The team has already used Foundry and the 3D printers to make smartphone cases and diode casings. They predict that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The 3D printing system they made cost just $7,000, which is easily affordable by many companies and universities. With more people able to make progressively complex objects, they may be right.

 

 

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The organ on chip has integrated sensors that allow scientists to test synthetic tissue instead of testing on animals. This organ on chip gets us one step closer to synthetic organs (via Harvard)

 

It’s easy to forget the importance of organ donors. Truth is there are still people waiting on long lists looking for their chance at survival. If everyone committed to being a donor, there may be chance for everyone waiting, but people are free to not be a donor and that’s just fine. But lately the medical field has been working to create organs via 3D printer. It’s a difficult feat, but a team of researchers at Harvard University did it. They created the first organ on a chip entirely made with 3D printing.

 

So what does organ on chip mean anyway? These are devices that imitate the structure and function of native tissue. The chip was built by a fully automated manufacturing method and is equipped with integrated sensors, which allow scientists to test synthetic tissues during long and short term studies. This way, they won’t have to test them on animals. Thanks to this, the researchers create micophysiological systems that have the build and functions of hearts, lungs, tongues, and intestines. Currently, they’re working on a heart on a chip and have developed six different inks that integrated soft strains with the tissue.

 

According to the researchers, this new development allows them to change and enhance the design of the system. They also to use this new approach for research involving in vitro tissue engineering, drug screening, and toxicology.

 

This development may get us one step closer to synthetic replacements for human organs. But with everything that sounds too good to be true, there’s a downside: the cost. It takes a lot of work and money to create the organ on chip devices as well as collecting the data from them. For the time being, the devices are built in spotless rooms using a complicated lithographic process. Researchers collect the data using microscopes or high speed cameras. So don’t expect to see these in hospitals just yet. There’s still a lot of testing researchers have to do.

 

Right now, researchers are testing the efficiency of the organ by studying the MPS drug responses and development of cardiac tissue made from stem cells. This is not just a huge development in synthetic organs, but in collecting data related to the field. Thanks to the integrated sensors in the organ on chip devices, researchers can gather data more effectively, which can lead to new solutions for challenges faced by the medical field.

 

 

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A new kind of 3D printing uses flexible polymers that can change shape depending on temperature. Image: A 3D flower changes shape due to changes in temperature. (via MIT)

 

Making useful things with three dimensional printers has been changing a lot of design and manufacturing processes in recent years. There was the kid who made his own braces, and even 3D printed shoes given as awards at a recent athletic event. All of these objects, however, are rigid: they stay the same after the printer makes them. But recently a team of researchers have developed a technique that allows printable objects to change shape. Currently under development at MIT, microstereolithography allows 3D printers to make very precise shapes in very small sizes out of bendable materials.

 

When heated to within a certain temperature range, these materials ‘bounce back’ to their original shapes. And they can be very, very tiny-one prototype had the thickness of a human hair.

 

How do you make a tiny bendable flower? Thus far, the process is akin to using a tiny camera to scale an image down to size, then chopping the image up into different layers, like different levels of parfait. The sliced up images are then connected to a printer through a series of beams.

 

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The specific polymers used to make the product bendable are mixed during printing, using rays of ultraviolet light to catalyze the reaction. Making a tiny flower that can unfold is thus a combination of two different systems: creating a series of two dimensional images from a single three dimensional shape, and mixing polymers as the image is printed.

 

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What kind of polymers have been used? So far, pretty typical plastics-industry molecules have been used to make the bendable Eiffel Tower and flowery shapes in miniature. Because they’re used so much already, the chemistry is pretty basic: just add polymers with known elastic properties together. Scaling the process down even further could expand the applications.

 

Imagine taking a drug that was so specific it would only work at certain body temperatures, or tiny implantation devices for surgical procedures. Imagine being able to print single molecules. Making small things has never had such huge implications.

 

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3D Printing will be available at various UPS Store locations (Photo via Fast Radius & UPS)

 

Ever wanted something 3D printed but don't have the money to shell out for a GOOD in home machine? Or maybe there are no 3D printing services close by (like a hackerspace or some person with a printer)? With this technology on the rise, it's in-demand and UPS is here to answer the call. The delivery company recently announced plans to launch a full-scale on-demand 3D printing manufacturing network. The service will be made available in more than 60 UPS Store locations around the U.S. Starting this year and rolling into 2017.

 

For this new service, UPS teamed up with the On Demand Production Platform and 3D printing factory from Fast Radius, which is a provider of on-demand part manufacturing. In addition to this, the company will also collaborate with SAP for an end-to-end industrial offering that mixes SAP's supply chain offerings with UPS' on-demand manufacturing solution and global logistics network to make the process simpler. SAP and UPS teaming up also allows for manufacturing companies of different sizes to access on-demand features easily.

 

“UPS is a leader in bringing industrial-strength 3D printing to reality. By building this disruptive technology into our supply chain models, we also bring new value to our manufacturing customers of all sizes,” said Stan Deans, president, UPS Global Distribution & Logistics. “Additive manufacturing technology is still developing rapidly so ‘manufacturing as a service’ is a smart approach for many companies.”

 

So how does it work? Users visit the Fast Radius website to put in 3D printing orders, which will then be transferred to the closest 3D manufacturing or UPS Store based on the speed, geography, and product quality needed. Depending on the size of the order, some can be completed and shipped out the same day. If you're not in the U.S. There's no problem. The company said they'll take global orders as well. The new service will have big benefits for businesses looking to utilize 3D printing including, manufacturers who want to reduce inventory for slow moving parts, high quality rapid prototypes delivered quickly, and cutting down costs for manufacturers with short production runs.

 

Though many may not know it The UPS Store has been offering 3D printing services in certain locations since 2013, but not on such a wide scale. This made them the first retailer to make 3D printing service available in store. “Connecting all The UPS Store locations into a larger network provides more opportunity for new customers to access our printers and gives customers added flexibility to match their requirements with the appropriate UPS location,” said Daniel Remba, Small Business Technology Leader for The UPS Store, Inc.

 

With UPS getting in on the 3D printing game it should be no time til we see other retailers like Office Depot, FedEx, and even Kinkos offering their own services. The more accessible the technology is, the better.

 

If you don't know, I 3D printed a Spherical Raspberry Pi Case in a past project. I could have used a local option.

 

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This motorcycle looks like it comes from another planet (image via APWorks)

 

3D printing can do a lot things from making clothes to making food. Now, thanks to the efforts of APWorks, it can make motorcycles. The Light Rider isn't the average hog you'll find riding down the freeway. For one, it looks like something out of the Alien franchise with its hollow, skeleton like design. It's also probably the world's lightest motorcycle weighing only 77 pounds. As mentioned, the bike was created by Airbus subsidiary APWorks and they used 3D printing to create it, but they didn't use plastic. Instead they got its odd shape by thousands of thin metal layers produced in a bed of metal powder. The entire frame is made out of Scalmalloy, which is aircraft grade aluminum. It's supposed to offer the strength of titanium, ensuring the bike is light, yet strong.

 

“APWorks used an algorithm to develop the Light Rider’s optimized structure to keep weight at a minimum while ensuring the motorcycle’s frame was strong enough to handle the weight loads and stresses of everyday driving scenarios. The result: a motorcycle that looks more like an organic exoskeleton than a machine. That was a very deliberate design goal for APWorks, which programmed the algorithm to use bionic structures and natural growth processes and patterns as the basis for developing a strong but lightweight structure.”  

 

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It's the 3D printing is what allows the bike to get its unique geometrical design. APWorks says the design is meant to be aerodynamic as a way to give the bike “superb stiffness and guarantees optimal use of material.” The bike is also meant to be environment friendly since it's electric. The Light Rider has a 6kW electric motor that can accelerate the bike up to 130 Nm torques. That's 37 miles per charge. The motorcycle can reach top speeds of 80 km/h (50 mph). It accelerates from 0 to 45 km/h (28mph) in three seconds. The oddball frame only weighs 13 pounds, which is roughly 30 percent less than most existing electric bikes. Can you imagine, a motorcycle you can actually pick up?

 

"With the Light Rider we at APWorks demonstrate our vision of future urban mobility", says engineer Stefanus Stahl. "We have used our know how of optimization and manufacturing, to create means of transportation, that match our expectations,” explains APWorks's Niels Grafen.

 

Believe it or not, The Light Rider is actually available for sale, but you can't find them at your local Harley Davidson dealer. Rather APWorks is slowly rolling out the new motorcycle and is planning to build 50 units with a price tag of $56,100 apiece. Those who are interested can pre-order The Light Rider on the bike's website. It's definitely one of the most unique looking motorcycles on the market, but it is a hefty price to pay for something that looks like no other bike on the road. If this goes well, maybe it won't before long until we see big motorcycle companies like Harley Davidson and Yamaha start making their own 3D printed bikes.

 

 

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Bionic organs are closer than you think. From 3D-printed organs to artificial capillary systems made with a cotton candy machine, artificial organs are almost ready for human trial, and could mean the end of organic organ transplants furthermore. (images via WakeHealth)

 

In 3D printing scientists saw something special – the future of biotechnology. And it isn’t a pipe dream anymore. Scientists have actually 3D printed organs that are viable and near ready for human trials.

 

The Scientists at Wake Forest Institute For Regenerative Medicine successfully 3D printed ‘living’ tissue, muscles, and organs that functioned like organic counterparts in animal studies. The research team, led by Anthony Atala, used a specialized 3D printer to create artificial muscles, bone, and ear structures that function like the real thing.

 

Printing organs and structures for the human body is difficult on a number of levels. Beyond being strong enough to take a beating, the structures have to support the growth of blood vessels, promote organic cell growth, and feature tissue structures 200 microns or smaller. To meet all of these requirements, researchers at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine spent 10 years perfecting a custom 3D printer developed for this sole purpose.

 

Dubbed the Integrated Organ and Printing System (ITOP), the sophisticated 3D printer uses biodegradable material similar to plastic, and uses it to form structures similar to those of the human body. The machine can develop custom body parts for patients based on CT and MRI scans. Best yet, it actually prints a water-based, gel-like structure that houses the cells needed to make the structure ‘living.’

 

In trials, the structures were successful in replacing organic muscle tissue, ear tissue, and bone in rats. The bodies accepted the implants, and actually developed the blood vessels, cartilage, and surrounding tissue necessary to fully integrate the artificial organs into the body. Ongoing research will continue, and researchers, in conjunction with the U.S. Armed Forces, hope to use the technology to help injured soldiers lead more normal lives. In fact, bionic skin grafting may begin soon.

 

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In recent studies at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, researchers used an advanced biotech for of ink-jet printing to print live skin grafts. The grafts are also able to be custom-built, like ITOP organs, and the technology could be available for the medics of the Armed Forces. Injured patients would be able to receive a bionic skin graft on the spot, without cutting into any other parts of the patient’s body. Research for this study is also ongoing, and both studies were supported in part by the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. Army, and the DTRA.

 

With this, researchers at Vanderbilt University have also developed novel ways to generate viable artificial organs and tissues, using a cotton candy machine. Leon Bellan, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt, used a $40 cotton candy machine from Target to create one of the most promising bionic organs under development.

 

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Using the rapid spinning of the machine, Bellan and his team were able to produce artificial 3D capillary systems that kept cells alive for more than a week – one of the longest time periods on record. Using a top-down technique, and PNIPAM, Poly (N-isopropylacrylamide) as the base material, Bellan was able to produce channels ranging from 3 to 55 microns in diameter.

 

Bellan and his research team will continue its efforts, and hope to eventually create a low-cost, effective method for doctors and emergency medical staff to create viable organs on-demand. Bellan’s research was supported in part by the NIH.

 

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ThingMaker uses 3D printer technology for kids to create toys

(Photo from Mattel)

 

Remember toys that encouraged kids to make their own creations, like Easy Bake Oven and Creepy Crawlers? Toys like this are still around, but Mattel wants to take it a step further. At this past weekend's Toy Fair in NYC, Mattel unveiled their latest toys which are more sophisticated than Barbie dolls and board games. One of the more impressive is called ThingMaker, a reboot of a similar toy from the 60s that uses modern 3D printing technology.

 

Now kids can design and create their own toys that are more advanced than plastic bugs. Using the ThingMaker app, which Mattel developed with Autodesk, kids can create complex toys, jewelry, figures and accessories. ThingMaker will begin shipping orders this fall at $300 making it one of the more inexpensive and accessible 3D printers on the market.

 

But what about safety? We all know how dangerous those Easy Bake Ovens actually are with that really hot light bulb and metal plate. Giving kids a high tech printer to go wild with sounds fishy, but ThingMaker has that covered. There are several safety features including a retractable print head to prevent little fingers from touching it and an automatic door lock to make sure kids don't burn themselves. Just because this printer is designed with kids in mind, they still need to be patient: a large toy could take 6 to 8 hours to finish.

 

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The new View-Master promises a VR experience

(Photo from Mattel)

 

ThingMaker isn't only the toy Mattel is redesigning. The company also revealed a new View-Master at NYC's Toy Fair. Dubbed the View-Master DLX is based on Google Cardboard and features better optical lenses, focal adjustment, and a headphone connector. The headset also has a redesigned latch latch to keep it secure. There's also a smartphone mount which allows a greater range of phone sizes.

 

What makes this new View-Master different from the standard are a range of VR experiences, including a two player labyrinth game. It works by one player wearing the headset and playing the role of escapee. They have to solve riddles and puzzles to work their way out of the maze. The other player uses a physical book of clues to help the other make it out alive. The VR will also feature a dinosaur themes “experience pack” adding to its current line up of Space, Destinations, and Wildlife packs. The labyrinth game has a price tag of $19.99 while the packs will cost $14.99. The headset itself will be $40 and is expected to release this fall.

 

With these two technologically advanced toys hitting shelves later this year, Mattel are definitely stepping it up and keeping it modern. Both devices look promising and will be a big hit with kids this holiday season.

 

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The world’s largest 3D printer unveiled! WASP, the World’s Advanced Saving Project, has created a huge 3D printer called, “Big Delta” that is set to produce disaster relief housing. Big Delta stands 40 feet tall and 20 feet around and can print houses using naturally sourced materials like mud. (via WASP)

 

 

On Friday, January 29, 2016 the world's largest 3-D printer, called the 'Big Delta,' will be unveiled in Rieti, Italy. Luckily for us, the teams have already released information on the Big Delta along with pictures and an aerial view of the 40 foot tall, 20 foot wide 3-D printer. The design team is called WASP, or Worlds Advanced Saving Project, and they have a very ambitious goal to create houses for 4 billion people around the world who are expected to lack proper housing in 2030. Hence, Big Delta is their solution to a worldwide problem. However, they will focus initially on creating emergency housing for disaster relief.

 

The Big Delta can 3-D print low-cost housing created from locally sourced materials including dirt and clay. It could also print using rapid set cement. The printing nozzle, which sits in the middle of the structure, can mix materials before printing them on demand which makes it easier to use. Even though the scale of Big Delta is larger than life, it is able to function using less than 100 W - which is an advantage if they plan to use this printer in areas with limited resources.

 

While the utility of a 3-D printer like Big Delta, is apparent in disaster relief situations, WASP also foresees a growing need for cost-effective houses in highly populated areas. WASP created their own estimate of 4 billion people in 2030 who will need ‘adequate housing' that doesn't break their budget when living off of a salary of $3000 a year. If this idea proves itself viable in practice, then the 3D printed home revolution will begin.

 

WASP is an interesting team that uses a hybrid model to fund their projects of bringing affordable homes to impoverished areas worldwide. They sell smaller 3-D printers commercially, and the proceeds have been used to finance their research and creation of Big Delta, over the past three years. Their primary focus seems to be on creating clay houses, however have not actually printed at a house yet. The speed at which the Big Delta could print out a house will vary based upon the materials used and the climate. They report that using rapid set cement could allow the creation of meter high walls in a few hours. However, their focused on creating the most cost-effective houses in low resource areas; hence they expect to use natural resources within the area which will increase the 3D printing time because the walls must dry out and harden before new layers are placed on top. High humidity and rain could also have obvious detrimental effects on a clay house before it has been dried and set.

 

The Big Delta seems like it would be a good fit to make cob houses which are popular, low-cost, eco-friendly homes made from a dirt, water, and straw mixture. Cob houses are particularly popular in areas with earthquakes because they are very resistant to damage by earthquake disasters – even from stronger tremors. They are also popular with eco-conscious individuals who want to limit their carbon emissions, since cob houses are one-hundred percent biodegradable. 3D printed cob houses could become a new consumer market and they could also be used in areas around the world with high earthquake probability.

 

It is unclear how successful building clay houses will be worldwide, and the quality of these houses is entirely unknown, but I’m certain this is the first in a long line of 3D house printing technology. 

 

 

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Looking fresh... The NX1 Nexa3D resin printer that is selling for almost half the price (via Nexa3D)


Just when you think the ‘prosumer’ 3D printing trend will diminish, it just gets better… or perhaps just different. This new gadget, called the NX1 by Nexa3D, is set to hit the market in March 2016 will be the fastest 3D printer on the market – boasting a speed of only one minute for each cm at the highest resolution. This is the equivalent to at least 25 times faster than the fastest 3D printers on the market. Their website demonstrates them creating 1 inch high, 3D objects in about 3 mins at resolutions of about 120 microns. It’s certainly very different than the usual hours of waiting for a conventional 3D printer… however it is also more expensive. 

 

It works using a hybrid, resin tank technology that uses light to harden special resin that is slowly extruded from the tank while mechanical arms move the object around – instead of an extrusion hose applying each layer. However, the NX1 does both by depositing resin in layers if the object size become too large. The printer has photo-curing resin in specialized cartridges that are changed in the similar way you would change a toner cartridge on a laser printer. It is also supposed to be self-cleaning and has a unibody construction that should hopefully avoid messy mishaps. It also automatically refills the cartridge with any unused resin.

 

The NX1 can be pre-ordered now on their website (www.nexa3d.com) for €1,599. A pack of 3 resin cartridges and 3 self-lubricating films can be purchased for €300 with free shipping. There is no word on what the price will go up to after pre-ordering closes, but it was suspected to retail at $1,850. While this is not as cheap as a Makerbot, it is surprisingly cheaper than a similar Morpheus 3D printer that recently got funded on Kickstarter. This machine cost early birds a whopping $3,800! The Morpheus shipped out last month, so hopefully happy recipients will have had time to play with their new toy.


 

In addition to requiring resin cartridges, it also requires lubricating film that self-lubricate each sublayer so that your creation doesn’t stick to the build platform. This is what Nexa3D calls their, LSPc technology. The company said that they tested their printer for 500 hours so they are confident that it should work as expected. For now, it seems like the race is on for the next superfast printer. It also seems like what is new for today, is already obsolete as Morpheus 3D printer purchasers may be regretting not holding out for this deal… or the inevitable next deal.

 

The nice thing about the NX1 is that it has Bluetooth and WiFi built-in and already has apps that allow you to design and print from your phone, tablet, or laptop. It also seems to have less moving parts than most 3D printers, which could theoretically mean less opportunities for it to break down – but who knows. I kind of wonder who has the extra time and money to make good enough use of a 3D printer anyway. I suppose the other strange upside to this is that as newer 3D printers get released, you’ll be able to buy an old-gen 3D printer for the price of a Kindle.


Here is an actual build... in real time!




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This vascular system model was created by Stratasys' 3D printer. Doctors are hoping 3D printed replicas of vascular systems can help treat brain aneurysms. (via Stratasys)

 

There's a reason why those in the medical field have to spend a long time in school; they need to know what they're doing especially when it comes to performing surgery. But there are some things that are difficult to train for, like vascular operation which is both unique to ones anatomy and tricky. One route is to use 3D printing. MakerBot and its parent company Stratasys are teaming up with physicians to create 3D printed copies of patients' vascular systems within 24 hours. These replicas will have doctors practice navigating through the vascular system before the actual surgery.

 

Stratasys, along with The Jacobs Institute, The Kaleida Health's Gates Vascular Institute, and biomedical engineers at the University at Buffalo, create life-sized models using flexible TangoPlus photopolymers, light-sensitive polymers, that recreate the feel of organic tissue. Since they can accurately reproduce the vascular system allows doctors to try out different approaches to treatment and decide which one will be the most effective. Sounds pretty good, right? There's even evidence that suggests this method is effective.

 

One of the first patients to take advantage of the treatment was Teresa Flint, a 47 year old mother of three. She had a potentially fatal aneurysm that's usually treated with a metallic basket delivered into the brain through a tiny tube. Instead, doctors took an image of the aneurysm based on her scans and created a copy of her brain vessel anatomy. “Our original plan was to treat her aneurysm with a metallic basket. After attempting the procedure on the 3D printed replica, we realized it just wasn't going to work," Dr. Adnan Siddiqui said. "Based on the Stratasys 3D printed model, our team was able to pre-empt potential complications and devise a much more optimal means of treating Teresa's aneurysm.”

 

If this method keeps seeing success this could be a great step forward to treating aneurysms, which are extremely risky. According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, aneurysms cause around 500,00 deaths each year around the world. The disorder happens when a weakened area within the artery fills with blood and causes extreme pressure. Currently, about six million people live with the issue undetected. There's no universal method to treating brain aneurysms since no two cases are the same.

 

Using 3D printing to replicate organs is a continuing trend. Earlier this year, researchers at Princeton University in New Jersey and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore used the technology to create a prototype outer ear. And the researchers at Bighamton University are working on a process that involved 3D printing that will allow them to build tissues and organs in a lab setting. 3D printing could potentially save thousands of patients who are kept waiting for donors to get the organs they need.


 

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Nano Dimensions recently released a product that will revolutionize the technology industry. The Dragonfly 2020 3D prints industry-standard PCB boards in minutes, allowing products to move from concept to market in Godspeed  (via Nano-di)


I stare at a board I designed every day - where am I going to get this manufactured. I don't want to wait.... What to do? The technology industry is one of the fastest moving industries – but it’s about to get faster. Nano Dimensions recently released the very first 3D printer for PCBs, and it’s going to be huge.

 

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Printed Circuit Boards are the heartbeat of the technology industry. From industrial manufacturing machines to consumer electronics, PCBs make it all possible. For manufacturers, however, the process of obtaining the devices can be intense.

 

While larger manufacturers may have engineers on staff dedicated to building PCBs, that isn’t feasible for every company. Many companies outsource their PCB needs, which can take weeks or months, and require risking proprietary company development plans (a huge risk if a company opts out of patenting).

 

PCBs are an important step in development and production is often at a standstill until the boards are ready, as PCBs are required for prototyping and testing, as well as production. Whether companies have PCB manufacturers on staff or not, the Dragonfly 2020 will greatly impact the industry forevermore.

 

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Renders don't excite me... but, I think I need this.

 

The Dragonfly 2020 is a desktop 3D printer dedicated to printing PCB prototypes. The unit can print multilayer PCBs on various materials, including glass, using standard Gerber files. Nano Dimensions claims the printed units are functional, high-resolution, and meet industry standards to expedite the development process.

 

Instead of using standard filament, Nano Dimensions created specialty ink to ensure printed devices are fully conductive and indistinguishable from outsourced boards. The company invented two high-end specialty inks – one based on silver nanoparticles and the other dielectric nanoparticles – to ensure printed boards have all the functionality of professional PCB boards, without the time lag.

 

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Nano Dimensions has not announced when its printer will be ready for market, but it looks like it’ll happen soon. The company toured the prototype at Printed Electronics USA earlier this month and has secured millions in backing to date.

 

Still, researchers continue to innovate. The company reportedly just filed a patent for conductive copper ink, potentially making the Dragonfly 2020 a one-stop-shop for all industry PCB needs.

 

If you’re interested in obtaining the Mack daddy printer, you can get your name added to the waiting list on the company’s website. The inks will also available for purchase as well and may be compatible with competitor 3D printers. 


 

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The dune buggy designed was created by contest winner Kevin Lo. The LM3D Swim is a fully driveable car made up of 75% 3D-printed materials. (via Local Motors)


3D printing has the ability to create a lot of unexpected products that are actually useful: clothing, prosthetic arms, and now cars. No, not a toy car. A car you can actually drive down the street. Earlier this year, Local Motors held a contest to build a stable car using mostly 3D printed parts and the winner, Kevin Lo, was picked in July. It's a petite car that may remind you of a Mini Coop or Smart car. Named the LM3D Swim, the vehicle will cost $53,000 with pre-sales launching in spring 2016 via Indiegogo and retail sales coming later that year.

 

The LM3D is entirely electric and is currently made up of 75% 3D printed parts, but the company is ambitious and wants to increase that number to 90% as they further develop technology. Currently, the company is working with a blend of 80% ABS plastic and 20% carbon fiber. They also want this car to be customizable. Owners will be able to choose from a range of features specially built and only made possible through DDM and 3D printing. Though they earlier suggested there would be removable panels this detail hasn't been confirmed.

 

Before people can take this dunebuggy-like car out on the highway, the LM3D still has to work out a few kinks. For one thing the company still hasn't picked an automotive partner for the production vehicle's powertrain and chassis. And even though the company wants to get these cars out by next year, it still has to perform crash tests, which won't happen until the end of 2016. This means certification most likely won't happen until 2017. To make things even stickier the company's factory in Knoxville, Tennessee is still being built and is supposed to be running at the end of the year.

 

Despite this, Local Motors plan to build about 2,400 cars a year depending on demand. The thought of driving a mostly 3D printed car is a bit frightening, but the Local Motors wants to assure people they have these issues in mind while developing the car. On their site,  they say one of their goals is to make 3D printed cars safer than traditional vehicles. Also, this isn't the company's first foray into the 3D printing market. They are actually the world's most prominent maker of 3D printed cars and previously built the Strati using the same technology. For those who want to take the risk and have a truly unique car sitting in their garage, stay tuned for more details in the upcoming year.


I suppose getting parts for LM3D Swim would be easy! I like the idea, not the price.



C

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Skin 3D bioprinter created with partnership of Organovo and LOreal. LOreal is teaming up with 3D bioprinting experts, Organovo, to allow them to print human skin for testing purposes. While LOreal has been growing skin for testing in labs for over 30 years, the 3D printer will allow them to speed their development and R&D process.  (via Organovo)


3D bioprinting is reaching new, creepy heights with a partnership announced between LOreal and Organovo. With anti-cruelty necessitating an end to testing cosmetics on animals, LOreal has been sourcing and growing skin in Petri dishes for over 30 years. With a recent invention from Organovo, LOreal won’t have to culture human skin in their labs anymore. Instead, Organovo, a company that specializes in 3D bioprinting, is set to develop an exclusive 3D printer that prints human skin. Yep, it probably is as gross as it sounds.

 

The 3D printer uses “bio-ink” that is made up of cells that will be used to create the foundation of the tissue. The cells will be used to print layers of skin to make each skin sample 3D instead of 2D. Bio-inert hydrogel can also be used in between layers, or to give the skin a particular shape (I suppose if you wanted to bio print a nose or an ear?). Of course, you’d have to source the live cells from somewhere, but that isn’t a problem for LOreal. They have been sourcing live skin samples from plastic surgery donations for years now.

 

Typically, they use these skin samples to create single cells that they then use to cultivate a 2D layer of skin into square, 0.5 cm testing areas. They cultivate about 100,000 skin samples every year for their endeavors. With a 3D skin bioprinter they will not only be able to shorten the time it takes them to create new skin samples, but they’ll also be able to create better samples.

 

Organovo claims that the ability to print 3D skin test samples will enable researchers to conduct better studies that enable more useful and accurate results. The printer claims that it can create bio-ink from any source and can also print into any sample size. Most researchers would probably print into deep well plates, but the printer will allow them to get creative as well.

 

LOreal has first, exclusive dibs on this upcoming piece of machinery. Organovo is calling it the NovoGen Bioprinting Platform. Within the cosmetic industry at least, no other company will be able to get their hands on this technology for a while yet because of the exclusive contract that Organovo has with LOreal who is providing backing for the R&D for this innovation.

 

LOreal has exclusive rights to skin samples for any non-prescription testing, which should give it a competitive advantage for a while. However, Organovo isn’t just stopping with a contract with LOreal. They also have plans to use their bioprinting within the medical industry to enable anything from testing to creating organs.

 

They have also partnered with a company called Merk to bioprint liver and kidney tissues. They are expected to be able to 3D print organ tissue samples by next year. Organovo retains the right to sell tissue samples for the purpose of testing pharmaceuticals, researching disease, and developing organs.

 

It may be quite some time before we are able to replace organs with 3D printed tissues, but Organovo is certainly making headway in that direction.



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