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, as well as particles and fumes from the printer itself, may be toxic. You may want to read this article for a further discussion of the potential problems.

A brick made from recycled plastic waste has been devised by a senior lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at De Montford University Leicester. Dr. Karthikeyan Kandan was inspired by the bird's nest of the Baya weaver, which offers elaborate complexity and thermal insulation. The nest contains a central chamber, offering a perfect micro-climate for habitation. The 3D printed nest uses many kinds of domestic plastic discards, from coffee cups to plastic bottles.

Living skin including blood vessels has been 3D printed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Previous techniques were more like "band-aids": they sped up the healing process but eventually fell off. Working with researchers at the Yale School of Medicine, the researchers have worked together to include vasculature, which was essential to the integration. In their publication, the scientists describe using two kinds of living human cells, turning them into bio-inks, and 3D printing them into a skin-like substance. They mention using key elements, like human endothelial cells and human pericyte cells.

3D printing complex glass objects has proven to be challenging. Beginning with molten glass requires exceptionally high temperatures, while powdered ceramic particles do not produce complex structures. Now researchers from ETH Zurich have devised a new technique based on stereolithography. The scientists developed a unique plastic-containing resin combined with organic molecules that bond to glass precursors. The resin is processed with commercially available Digital Light Processing technology, allowing layer-by-later build-up. Silica mixed with borate or phosphate can also be added to the resin. Currently the objects produced are quite small - they shrink and harden during the firing process.

Using 3D printed feed spacers could improve membranes in water desalination. Processes like reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration cold be more efficient. The developers of the process have applied for a patent.

A new method of 3D printing enables something called "living" polymers. This new class of materials responds to water or light and can be activated for growth, according to the researchers. They are planning to apply the technology to drugs and biotechnology in a process called 4D printing. As an example, a 3D object begins as a flat plane until it is exposed to certain conditions, at which point it starts to fold. Hence the 4th dimension is time.

Scientists at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University are now able to 3D print a piece of skin the size of a thumbnail in less than a minute. The speed of the process is expected to offer non-animal testing for products like cosmetics. The in-vitro skin is composed of cells from donors and collagen, and offers the same chemical and biological properties as those found in human skin.

An extensive guide to compare 3D printers has been produced to make the process of evaluating and purchasing 3D printers easier. Questions to consider include not only price, size, and speed but also availability of materials and special features. The guide can be downloaded at this site.

A $10 gamepad is being used to control an expensive 3D bioprinter. The Biopixlar made by Fluicell interfaces with a game controller. The printer itself enables the production of complex biological tissue using multiple cell types in just one run. Biopixlar is a gel-free printer that has been in beta testing for two months. Yet another process uses "aqueous architecture for 3D printing of human organs.

A process to simplify 3D printing of human organs like skulls and hips is at the forefront of human implantation experimentation. Two companies have joined to obtain the necessary global certification, with the hope of beginning surgery on human patients by the end of 2020. Another application mentioned is the effort by Singapore start-ups Structo and Zenyum to 3D print clear aligners in dentistry at a much lower cost than the traditional products.

A new ceramic 3D printer is in kickstarter mode. Called Digitalceram, it is claimed to be fast, accurate, and user-friendly. Given here are the technical specs.

We reprint this important report for those of you how may have missed it last month. Another study of the possible health risks associated with 3D printing has been released by the Oakridge National Laboratory's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences. Their inquiry was directed at particle emissions from large industrial printers, specifically the range of emissions around the printer. They studied a Da Vinci XYZ model 1.0 used in a poorly ventilated room to develop ranges and air concentration maps.

A new machine has been developed to speed up the cleaning of 3D medical implants. Called Guyson Powder Flush, the machine works to remove powder trapped inside of traditional laser sintering processes. It uses directed jets for powerful flushing, followed by a compressed air-wash.

We review many 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 2019