3D Printing News

A note of caution to our viewers: many of these products are only available for pre-ordering and have yet to be manufactured. Others are only hopes/dreams. Hyperbole is the language of choice, so be careful!

Additionally, be forewarned that some of the materials you intend to work with may be toxic.

Funding from the National Science Foundation is being used to archive more than 20,000 vertebrate models that are free and 3D printable. The collection is derived from the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute and the National History Museum, as well as the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, University of California Berkeley, Field Museum of Natural History at Harvard, Scripps Institute of Oceanography and other leaders in the field. The scans are available at a site called MorphoSource and are expected to be an invaluable resource for teaching, research, and advanced studies.

Doctors in Croatia have successfully 3D printed a shoulder joint, allowing the patient to move from 30% mobility to 80%. The surgeons used a new biomaterial called Trabecular Titanium from Italy, a material that lends itself to custom tailoring for each individual patient. This same clinic in Croatia earlier had implanted a 3D printed pelvic joint

In Germany, a patient who had previously undergone two unsuccessful hip implants, was finally given a new hip with the help of Materialise. Their aMace solution not only allowed the woman to walk comfortably, for the first time since her hip dysplasia was diagnosed, but is said to encourage in-growth of bone tissues, aiding in the recovery process. The operation took 3 hours, using a 3D printed titanium implant.

At a recent conference in Chicago, doctors from Yale New Haven hospital and the University of Pittsburgh discussed their use of 3D printing to create a multicolor 3D printed kidney. The process used a relatively inexpensive desktop printer and could be done for 1% of the cost of a conventional operation. This process answers the often stated limitation that only high-end printers can be used for surgical precision, machines that typically cost more than $150,000. The surgeons estimate that they spent about $25.00 for the model, compared to the roughly $600. it had previously cost.

A new strategy has been devised for using Direct ink writing (DIW) as a method of fabrication. Previously the resolution of printed fibers depended on the diameter of the nozzle and the machine's motion paths. This new process is said to stretch the extruded ink and to print a number of thickened or curved patterns by accumulating the ink.

In the field of chemistry, Sculpteo has compiled a list of the best molecular modeling softward currently available. They describe each one, and list the pros and cons of each as well. Sculpteo also provides their take on how to choose the rapid protyping technique that is most efficient for your company or personal needs.

Researchers at Penn State University are developing microfiber scaffolds for growing tissue such that eventually the scaffolds will dissolve after having produced the living cells in predefined patterns. Most important, however, is that they are using off-the-shelf 3D printing machines to make progress in 3D bioprinting. Their processs consists of using electrospinning technology, which harnesses electric force to produce nanometer-size fibers from threads of melted polymer or polymer solutions. As they describe it, this process lets them create "high-resolution and repeatable polymer fiber patterns on nonconductive materials for tissue engineering."

Scientists, led by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, are using a system of laser holograms to decrease the time it takes to 3D print. In this method, instead of making one layer on top of another, they use special resins that turn solid when exposed to light. With the use of three laser beams at once, they can drastically reduce the printing time by printing the entire structure at once.

A Chinese company called Medprin is printing live cells and folding them into a 3D structure. One of their experiments involves printing stem cells directly onto a failing rat heart. They claim that the imprinted cells spread and transferred healthy heart cells into the animal. Medprin is also taking tumor specimens from patients during surgery and using them to test different drug protocols. Entrepreneurial companies like this one receive ample financial and logistical support from the Chinese government, including networking, promotional materials, and a lessening of stringent regulations.

Although it may sound like science fiction, it is now possible to 3D print an extra set of robotic hands. A company called youbionic is working on what they call "augmented humans": you can even purchase these extra hands, fingers, and supports from their store.

The European Parliament has been discussing the pros and cons of 3D printing, espcially issues of ownership, liability, inetllectural property, and the chain of responsibility in the biomedical 3D printing field. Other areas of interest include possible limits on the number of prints that can be made of the same object and how to manage compensatory taxes. The article concludes with a link to the complete working paper from the E.U.

Engineers in the Netherlands are using dried algae and seaweed to create filament that is eco-friendly. Their process was shown at the "Change the System" exhibition held in Rotterdam and was meant to get rid of oil-based polymers. One of the designers, Eric Klarenbeek, recently showed a 3D printed chair that he made from fungus. Among the advantages of algae is that it produces clean air by absorption and respiration of CO2 into oxygen.

Scientists at the University of Minnesota are working on new inks that can be cured at room temperature with good flexibility and electrical conductivity. The resulting product is stretchable and sensitive, able to identify and differentiate between different human motions, including bending and finger pressing.


An Australian who specializes in euthanasia has produced a 3D printed device to make suicide painless. The 70-year-old doctor, now working in the Netherlands, has designed the Sarco, for what he calls a "peaceful and elegant death". This article describes the Sarco process.

A new Windows software report lists what the editors feel are the top 5 CAD programs to use on your windows PC for working in 3D and 3D printing. They note which software is best for any level of expertise, and which are free to students and open-source sites as well.

Take note of a 3D robot-printed house that can be built in just 8 hours and then transported to its final location, where doors, windows, and engineering systems are installed. The house includes roof-placed solar batteries and a 211-gallon water storage system with filters. For roughly $64,000. (48,000 pounds) you will get what is being called a studio home, with living room (and sofa fold-out bed), kitchen, and one bathroom. Appliances for both kitchen and bathroom are included. Transportation costs are not. You can also have a separate bedroom, which raises the cost to $97,000. Called PassivDom, the building is made by a company based in Ukraine with offices in the U. S. as well.

Note: we review hundreds of articles each month, culling the most significant for you. We also welcome suggestions from our viewers for products and processes that we may have missed.

c.Corinne Whitaker 2018