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.

You can find the film company called LAIKA at the Portland Art Museum. You will learn that this young outfit produced the first stop-motion movie, "Paranorman", using a color 3D printer. They have already earned 3 Academy Award nominations in the Best Animated Feature category. And they have established their own Rapid Prototyping department. Their dedication to perfection and innovation resulted in their 3D printing 20,000 different faces for a movie recently, rather than the 800 that are typically output for an animation film. You might even know Madame Frou Frou, one of their characters, or want to own a Coraline replica doll with removable raincoat and movable arms and legs. What we have here is an energetic group of engineers and artists not only setting new standards in the film industry but finding a way to monetize their expertise.

As the possibilities for complex 3D printed production expand, we are finding increasingly interesting applications of the technology. Look, for example, at these woven concrete benches, made by the Berlin company Studio 7.5 working with the French 3D printing experts at XtreeE. The benches are not only attractive but much lighter weight and easier to manufacture than a single mold using traditional methods.

These spider-like creatures, (or perhaps they look more like black snowflakes, as the author of the article claims), are made from 3D printed forms using a 3D-print ink that contains magnetic particles. The result is an object that can be controlled from without, including the ability to move individual sections separately. The implications for the fields of medicine and pharmacology are discussed here

Millions of pieces of genetically modified live bacteria were used to print tiny replicas of the Mona Lisa as well as morphed portraits of Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein. The e-coli bacteria that react to being stimulated by light are in fact the same bacteria that cause food poisoning. They are known as "swimmng bacteria" due to their ability to speed up when in the presence of light and mass more densely in darkness.

A group of engineers in Hong Kong has developed a process to use complex 4D printing in ceramics. The expression 4D refers to the ability to reshape or self-assemble over time when influenced by changes in temperture or magnetism. The field of ceramics has been resistant to 3D printing because of issues like brittleness and stiffness. The researchers have come up with a new "ceramic ink", made from elastomeric poly(dimethylsiloxane) combined with tiny crystalline partices of zinc oxide. The new ink allows shapes to be folded and stretched before being solidified by the application of heat.

Some researchers are hoping that cartilage from crocodiles will provide the break-through process that knee surgeons have been hoping for. The new method extracts growth factors from the crocodiles while at the same time eliminating the proteins that tend to provoke an immune reaction. The result is a kind of "soupy glue" that doctors hope to be able to inject into athletes and arthritis sufferers, for example.

An Italian firm called Wasproject hopes to save the world using 3D printing. The company looks forward to 3D printing entire villages: at the moment they have designed the Traveculae pavilion in Milan, which took 5 Wasp printers 4352 hours to print. Their material is a special biopolymer made by FILOALFA.

An ophthalmologist in Beijing has created the first 3D printed eyeglasses to treat deformed corneas. The progressive condition, called keratoconus, destabilizes the patient's vision by bulging out into a cone-like shape. Light entering the cornea is thus distorted. The problem is most common in South Asia, although is said to affect 1 in 2000 people in the U.K.

A new shoe has been designed to reduce the pain felt by ballet dancers. Called P-rouette, it has been created by a graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design using 3D printing technology. The dancer's foot is scanned using a mobile phone app and then the shoes are custom-designed for each ballerina. Traditional pointe shoes only last for about 10 hours of dancing. These new 3D printed shoes are expected to last 3 times longer.

Transplant engineers are trying to grow new organs from the patient's own cells. The need is acute: every 10 minutes someone is added to the national transplant waiting list and roughly 20 people die every day waiting for a transplant. Even those lucky enough to get a transplant face a lifetime of taking drugs to suppress the rejections common in the procedure, and those drugs do not always work. A step forward has been taken by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), who have succeeded in growing lungs of pigs using the pigs' own cells. The new pig lungs were successfully transplanted into the living animals. The complexity of the process is described in a paper published in Science Translational Medicine.

Severe difficulties occur when trying to treat bone defects, generally caused by a tumor, trauma, or infection. Researchers at New York University Langone Health are working with 3D printed ceramic implants coated with a blood-thinning chemical called Dipyridamole which can simulate bone growth. The new implants are designed to be patient-specific and perfectly shaped to match the missing bone.

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 2018