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.

Engineers at the University of California San Diego are said to be very close to producing soft robots and their parts that are ready to be fully functional. This means that immediately upon fabrication the soft robots are able to stand up and walk. Called Self-Actuation, the process for soft vs, hard robots is extremely complex, requiring both "exteroceptive and interoceptive capabilities." Currently the resulting objects show some of the strains that human bodies do and require extensive post-production to remove impurities.

FDM, or Fused Deposition Modeling is a 3D printing process used by many printers but not well-understood. This article explains how it works, what materials are available, and the characteristics of each.

Scientists from the University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht and Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne (EPFL) have created a volumetric 3D bioprinting process. their idea is to fuse visible light projection to make free-form tissue objects. The traditional layer-by-layer printing is extremely slow, especially with complex structures. their new process works much more quickly and is expected to be particularly helpful in fields like soft robotics and regenerative medicine.

A 3D printed house made of salt? Apparently it is being done, but by combining traditional construction methods with some new 3D processing. China has commissioned the project design to a company called Emerging Objects for the Jin Hai Lake Resource in Beijing. The company plans to use a product called Saltygloo, made up of salt, which is easily collected (and mainly found in Redwood City, California!). Mixed with glue, the resulting material is claimed to be a "hard, strong, lightweight, translucent, inexpensive, waterproof" construction material.

Salt is also being used for 3D printed bone implants. Up until now magnesium alloys have replaced the more traditional metals like titanium because the magnesium biodegrades in the human body and acts like a nutrient. This process means that further surgery to remove the implant should be unnecessary. In the future, scientists hope to have a material that offers cellular-adhesion or even ingrowth.

Researchers at Georgia Tech Institute of Technology and Hangyang University in Korea have developed a wireless method for monitoring blood flow via an implantable aerosol jet printed bioprinter. Their process uses an implantable, stretchable electronic system for measuring blood flow in patients with aneurysms. Current systems are based on metals and plastics, which are susceptible to causing thrombosis and flow disruption. According to the authors, their process starts with high precision 3D printing of four aligned layers, with ink composed of biocompatible silver nanoparticles and mixed polyimide (PI). Their goal is completely batteryless real-time wireless monitoring.

Engineers are looking closely at the limitations of current robotic technologies, in which most robots can only perform one repeatable action. A new field of adaptive robotics aims to make robots able to do several different functions. At Colorado State University, for example, engineers are attempting to create robots that respond to user needs.

Researchers from India's top technology institute, IIT Guwahati, have developed a bioprinting ink from Muga silk, found in the state of Assam. The team of scientists has applied for a patent. The silk proteins are being used to 3D print human tissues, implants, and hopefully organs at a significant cost savings.

For the first time in Utah history a son has donated part of his liver to keep his mother alive. Her autoimmune hepatitis had turned into cirrhosis of the liver. Although she had been on the liver transplant list, the list has nearly 14,000 patients on it; waiting for someone to become seriously ill merely decreases the chances for a successful transplant.

A company called SQ3d has 3D printed a 500 square foot house in less than 12 hours. The young company only went into business 5 years ago, although the partners have extensive experience in building and construction. Originally it made desk-top 3D printers, but they have developed a process called a Autonomous Robotic Construction System (ARCS)which uses a proprietary form of cement.

Researchers at ETH Zurich say they have developed the world's tiniest stent, small enough to be inserted into the urethra of a fetus. The device has "shape memory", although it can go back to its original shape. The process is called indirect 4D printing, and will undergo animal testing before being tried on human beings.

An open-source smoothing machine has been developed to smooth out the filament lines evident on 3D printed objects. A video at the site explains the process The machine is currently on the kickstarter project page.

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