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.

Two Japanese engineers have used 3D printing and generative design to produce drones for use in disaster areas. Yuki Ogasawara and Ryo Kumeda, known as Team ROK, have built the X VEIN, which has a lattice design said to resemble dragonfly wings. These two researchers were 15 years old when a strong earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in 2011. They began with a multicopter vehicle capable of long flight times. The structures would not have been possible earlier because of problems with drones: lack of safety devices, weight, size, and inability to be customized. Using Autodesk's Within software, however, they were able to resolve these issues.

A team at ETH Zurich has produced an artificial heart that uses its own ventricle system to pump blood. In the past, artificial hearts have run into a myriad of problems, including rejection, blood clots, and unacceptable materials like metal. This new heart, made of silicon, is soft and has two chambers; thus it can pump blood without complex attached structures. At the moment, the heart is only a prototype which can last up to 3000 beats. The researchers are thinking of trying to use 3D printed biological tissue instead of silicon.

James Bruton of XRobots has created a 3D printed electric skateboard made of giant LEGO bricks. The standard LEGO bricks were too small, so he scaled them up. The large bricks took roughly 100 hours to print. The rest of the construction is described in detail in this article and accompanying video.

Scientists have 3D printed a gel-like material that is designed to allow paint scratches and screen cracks to heal themselves, much like living tissue. The new material, called an "ink", uses 4D as well, since it changes shape over time. The material initially feels like toothpast, flows when pressure is applied, and then returns to the original state. The basic process involves forming, breaking, and reforming chemical bonds and it uses a material found in some contact lenses.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have produced a new way to watch 3D movies at home without wearing glasses. Called the Home3D System, it transforms 3D movies from stereoscopic to multiview video, meaning that multiple scenes are combined rather than just two. The new system is better at resolving eye-to-eye differences and handles depth of field and reflections more efficiently. One problem that remains is ghosting, in which a duplicate shadow image appears. Improvements in the algorithm are under way to correct this issue.

The Michelin Tire Company is showing off a 3D printed tire that cannot go flat. The new tire is essentially a Smart Tire that does not use air and has the ability to change treads on the spot for different terrains. These airless tires are expected to be commercially available in 15 to 20 years.

Architectural 3D printing is making major strides in reducing the cost and adding to the availability of large-scale projects. On the drawing boards are using clay to make housing, printing a house in one day, and a new concept out of M.I.T called "SLAM", or Stress Line Additive Manufacturing. SLAM involves the use of dome-shaped structures, originally pioneered by a Russian architect in the 1800's. At issue is how the orientation and spacing of curves react to weight. The MIT researchers are using robotic arms to make prototypes, with the hope of eliminating the support structures eventually.

A joint team from Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine says they are getting close to developing "implantable tissues with functioning capillaries". The researchers call their process tubulogenesis, which uses human endothelial cells with mesenchymal stem cells to form blood-carrying capillaries. One large hurdle in the past has been the development of vasculature, structures which give nutrients and thus life to tissues. Finding commercially available endothelial cells is no small task. Among other goals is that of lowering the cost of pharmaceuticals by using 3D printed tissues which will more accurately mimic the responses of the human body.

A Korean company called Carima has produced a super-fast 3D printing process dubbed C-CAT. They have obtained patents under the titles of "serial stacking 3D forming method and device", and "photo-curing 3D forming method and photo-curing 3D forming device". The process does not need post-production smoothing as happens with FDM (fused deposition modeling) and is rapid and even. It uses photo-curable resin that reacts like wax to light.

At Buffalo University in the United States, experimenters are using ice, liquid nitrogen, and an altered 3D printer to produce structures made of low-density graphene, a process that they call freeze-casting. Commercially available graphene is the subject of much research lately, due to its amazing strength and electrical conductivity. Up until now engineers have had difficulty producing it in 3 dimensions due to its complexity. Another group from Rice University in Houston, Texas, and Tianjin University in China is using sugar to produce graphene.

The inner workings of the human body are beautifully realized in a project called Dynamorphosis, winner of the Bio Art and Design Award 2016. Dynamorphosis combines technolgy and biology to illustrate the inner workings of lungs, intestines, and breasts in a way not seen before.

3rd degree burns are notorious for a healing process that is long and difficult. Now researchers at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have developed a 3D bio printer that is capable of applying healthy skin cells to the burned ones, making the healing quicker and less difficult. So far the process has been successfully applied to pigs and mice, significantly reducing the likelihood of infection and other complications. It is unknown how long it will take for commercial applications to become available.

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 2017