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. Additionally, here is a later review of some of the known health hazards.

A group of scientists from Canada's Western University and the University of Trento, Italy, has come up with a novel approach to 3D printing of ceramics that is said to dramatically cut the cost. They used an inexpensive desktop 3D printer and materials called PDC's (polymer-derived ceramics). Instead of printing the ceramics directly, they were able to print pre-ceramic structures in their polymer condition and then pyrolyzed, i.e. fired in a furnace. The result gives high-resolution ceramic parts. The polymer forms are easier to produce and can then be finished in post-production. It is estimated that this new process can result in a 95% reduction in costs compared to current processes.

Several attempts are being made to produce large-scale 3D prints that will improve the performance of liquid rocket engines. One technique is being developed by Auburn University and NASA using DM3D Technology. The process uses closed-loop multi-nozzles with high power lasers to melt and deposit metal powders pixel by pixel with a closed-loop feedback control. The researchers have 3D printed a 10-foot tall rocket nozzle liner, a big step forward from the 2 feet tall prototype that was built 4 years ago.

The rush to 3D print synthetic beef has been propelled by the fact that, among all meats, beef emits the largest amount of carbon. The synthetic beef produced so far lacks the structure of real beef steaks. Attempting to improve that, scientists at Osaka University are using stem cells from Wagyu cows. The steaks from these cows are known for their marbling, or sashi. 4 breeds of cattle are fed a nutritious diet for 600 days, giving a fatty meat that is juicy and rich in texture. 2 types of Wagyu stem cells are used: bovine satellite cells, and adipose-derived stem cells. Under proper conditions, these two can be made to differentiate every possible cell to produce a superior steak. First, individual fibres that included muscle and blood vessels were bioprinted. The fibres were put into a tendon-like gel to mimic the structure of real Wagyu steak. Then it was sliced perpendicularly to reproduce the marbling of the real beef. Diners would be able to custom order a steak of their choice, with a select amount of fat.

The journal Advanced Materials reveals that a new light-reflected crystal ink has been developed that can be adapted to existing 3D printing techniques. Up till now, these cyrstals have been exceptionally difficult to produce. The new elastomer-based ink can be printed using Direct Ink Writing (DIW), meaning the ink is dispensed from a small nozzle layer by layer. The new ink has several interesting characteristics, including greater viscosity and ease of production.

In a report published in Science Advances, a team of researchers says they have 3D printed a "viable" glioblastoma tumor, known to be one of the deadlies forms of brain cancer. It is hoped that experiments on this synthetic tumor will lead to improved treatments for this highly-malignant condition. Scientists at Tel Aviv University feel that this new method will greatly shorten the time and materials currently required for testing. Today's testing method is highly unreliable, since conditions in the testing materials do not exactly copy the human body and the failure rate is high.

College students in Rhode Island have conceived of a separate lane for bikes and pedestrians that would be built beneath automobile-only bridges. This design would be particuarly useful for bridges that have high winds and heavy traffic. In addition, many older bridges can't support additional weight, so the students propose using a 3D composite material made of carbon fiber wrapped with a composite membrane. As envisioned, the new design would include restaurants, dog parks, and small shops, making the new construction a destination area. At the moment, the project is a suggestion only: there are no current plans to build it.

Graft survival has become a topic of intense research, since current methods that work well on animals do not seem to function as well on humans. A new tissue engineering process hopes to provide a better therapeutic method. In this study, transplantable 3D cardiac tissue (cMesh) with a porous mesh structure was used, incorporating human cardio cells and gelatin hydrogel. The results were positive on animal subject: it reamains to be seen if the process works as well on human patients.

This article suggests how to convert your 3D printer into a laser engraver. The authors claim that the conversion is simple to do and requires no extra software or special skills. The discussion covers the range of lasers available and the different types of power levels, depending on your budget.

Researchers at M.I.T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Shanghai Jiao University in China have developed a new prosthetic hand that gives tactile control to amputees. The new prosthetic incorporates some tactile feedback so that users get primitive sensation in their residual limbs. The device is soft, light-weight, and possibly less expensive. It also assists amputees with everyday activities like shaking hands and zipping a suitcase. Additionally, the prosthesis is not only durable, but is able to recover after being run over by a car or hit by a hammer. Its cost is roughly $500. and is weighs only half a pound.

A digital technologies forum will be held in Berlin in 2021/22 to promote discussion and transfer of knowledge internationally. The forum will focus on innovations and developments taking place in Germany, emphasizing augmented reality, digital twins, A.I., machine learning, big data analytics, and blockchain. Of particular interest is establishing a "chain of trust" in international data transfer without losing protection of intellectual property. Printed components would be tagged, and only a licensed number of print jobs would be done.

A company called MeaTech plans to produce synthetic chicken fat and pork cells during 2022. They are also planning to look into hybrid food using both plants and cultured meat ingredients. MeaTech calls itself an early stage production company. It has filed for a U.S. patent for its novel 3D bioprinting technology.

A new approach to construction materials specifically for hot and humid environments like that of Egypt is being studied. Current materials requiring durability plus extensive time and complexity are impractical. Instead, scientists are experimenting with SaltBlock which uses sand and salt, both of them amply available in hot arid areas. The goal is a less expensive durable building material in the field of desert construction.

India's first 3D printed heart valve prototype was recently revealed. The new device fits the patient's heart exactly and is being tested for durablity, efficiency, and bio-compatibility.

Researchers at the South Chine University of Technology and the Univesity of Warwick have produced new fruit labels that are said to keep fresh produce edible for a longer time. The tags are made of nanofibers with shellfish extracts and growth regulators, preprogrammed to be released "steadily" into the fruit. the scientists claim that they were able to prolong the viable use of lychees by 6 days.

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 2021