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 new method has been developed to quickly 3D print complex glass structures with the use of light rays. Researchers at the University of California Berkeley disclose that their new process, called micro-CAL, represents an expansion of a system they developed 3 years ago, at that time called computed axial lithography (CAL). The new system appears to produce objects that have better optical quality and can output the entire piece simultaneously. This "layer-less" process gives a much smoother finish and can afford details down to a quarter of the breadth of a human hair. The new objects also demonstrate a more consistent strength, as opposed to other 3D printed glass objects which tend to break more easily when they have flaws or a cracked surface.

A Korean 3D printing company called GLUCK is mass-producing realistic human-looking robots. Currently the humanoids are designed for a designer eye-wear brand in Seoul. The robots received post-production to achieve a realistic surface coating in such high resolution that skin pores appear on the surface. GLUCK says that they have more than 20 very large SLA machines, with plans to add the ability to metal-print as well. Check out the examples shown here: the faces are indeed impressive.

Fizik, an Italian bicycle brand, is 3D printing modular seats that adapt to the position of the cyclist. The seats are very lightweight and are said to offer greater stability and comfort. Fizik has been working with an American company to employ Digital Light Synthesis as a basis for the Argo Adaptive bike saddle, which currently offers 2 models, the R1 and the R3.

It is almost impossible to imagine, but a tiny 3D prototype of a Japanese castle has been 3D printed that is about the thickness of a human hair. The miniscule model was produced by Castem Co. in Fukuyama in Hiroshima Prefecture along with Kyoto University of Advanced Science. The surface of the model was coated with platinum. Examining it under a microscope reveals high-level precision crafting of the stone walls and tiles. It is apparently possible to reproduce the tiny prototype in a size 1,000 times smaller even than the current one. The original castle, finished in 1622, is 7 stories high and has an interesting history.

The nation of Dubai has been making strong inroads into the field of additive manufacturing. Shown here is a complex sand wall called Nadarra meant for the Museum of the Future, combining the natural and the synthetic. The wall can be fabricated, installed, and recycled for as many as 8 times without requiring complex mould-making. Opposing the current trend of smooth, clean architecture, the wall contains pockets and crevices to capture seeds and water, thus incorporating the growth of non-human organisms into the structure, as well as a bulging of the moss that flourishes within the surface. The wall is described as "A Product of Mystery and Ambiguity".

A new report suggests that tiny human livers can be 3D printed in as few as 90 days. This break-through might offer help to the thousands of people in line for a liver transplant. Researchers at the Human Genome and Stem Cell Research Center say they have 3D printed hepatic tissue that can store vitamins, secrete bile, produce proteins and perform many other liver functions. The scientists are hopeful that they will be able to 3D print complete organs in the near future.

Engineers at CU Boulder have developed a process to combine both liquid and solid components, leading to the possibility of creating robots from scratch. Combining the the 2 types of material would prevent the robot from collapsing. That kind of collapse occurred to one of my sculptures called Bloated Doll in 2017. Read about what happened here.

Apparently there is little that impedes the fertile imagination of researchers at MIT. Their current obsession began with the childhood favorite, Oreo cookies. In an attempt to understand what happens when the 2 wafers are twisted apart, technically called "how a non-Newtonian material flows when twisted", the researchers asked why the cream in the cookie sticks to one wafer only when twisted apart. Their journey led them to discover that twisting open an Oreo takes about the same force as opening a door knob. The process breaks down at twice the force of peanut butter and cream cheese. The research took them through about 20 boxes of cookies, wherein they learned that no matter how thick the filling or the flavor, the cream always stuck to one wafer. In addition to a potential addiction to Oreos, the knowledge gleaned is expected to impact the design of other complex fluid materials.

The design of meta-materials, like those used to 3D print chocolate, for example, has attracted the attention of scientists at the University of Amsterdam and Delft University. Called Soft Matter, these materials are being studied to discover the best experience of good texture, called the mouthfeel of food. The conclusion was that structure determined the outcome, specifically the number of cracks that can be programmed into the surface. Just enjoying a delicious bite is now known as "interactions between humans and materials". (That won't stop me, however, from being a chocoholic.) Under study are issues like how biting affects the taste, whether spiral-shaped chocolates taste better, and whether the sound the chocolate makes when being eaten affects the enjoyment. It appears that not only sweetness impacts pleasure, but also fat distribution and the number of windings in its manufacture, which in turn determines the number of cracks.

Engineers at the Rowland Institute at Harvard have found that they can alter the bottom-up traditional layered method used in 3D printing with a new process that does away with support structures. They have been able to use a self-supporting resin in an upconversion process that turns red light into blue light. This method produces a resin with a greater viscosity that can stand on its own. Called volumetric 3D printing, the new method is expected to be game-changing as it speeds up the fabrication and eliminates the need for complex support structures.

Formlabs has announced two new BioMedical materials which they call BioMed Black and BioMed White. The company says that this doubles the number of biocompatible printing materials. The matte BioMed Black is said to be suitable for long-term skin contact or short-term mucosal membrane contact. It also absorbs additional light, important when printing parts for heat and light-sensitive procedures. BioMed White is an opaque material designed for similar procedures. Free samples of both are available for companies wanting to test and compare.

If your 3D print refuses to stick to the print bed, this article offers 7 possible solutions to resolve the problem, from leveling the bed, to increasing the bed and nozzle temperature, to adjusting the slicer settings.

The American Chemical Society offers a you tube video on how to 3D print smart clothing with a new liquid metal-alginate ink. This means liquid metal droplets coated with a polymer made from algae. The new material allows motion monitoring, thermal management, and human-computer interaction. You can read a more deailed and scientific description at ACS Publications.

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 2022