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.

From Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory comes an announcement that they have developed the world's first "aerospace-grade carbon fiber composites". The goal appears to be to make almost everything out of carbon fiber since it seems to be the ideal material: lightweight, temperature-resistant, strong. Researchers at the Laboratory say that they have reduced the time to cure the material to seconds rather than hours. Additionally they are now able to produce complex shapes and have figured out how to avoid the problem of clogging.

Doctors in India have succeeded in 3D printing titanium vertebrae to help a patient with severe spinal cord damage from tuberculosis. Surgeons at Medanta - the Medicity in Gurgaon, India replaced a woman's first, second, and third vertebrae in a 10-hour operation that made it possible for her to stand and walk normally again. A similar operation had previously been performed in China and Australia.

Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created robots with a flesh-like exterior made from living cells that respond to light. The robots will actually move when light reaches them. The tiny robots are composed of 3D printed hydro-gels and measure only 1/2 inch long. Called bio-bots, these responsive machines will someday be able to assemble or even heal themselves.

3D printed lenses have been garnering increasing interest from researchers hoping to improve upon the human eye. Additionally intriguing is the eyesight of eagles with their remarkably sharp vision. Now researchers at the University of Stuttgart in Germany say they have made progress in 3D printing a multiaperture camera with four lenses. Since the process involves different kinds of plastic to print each lens it is only a first step: improvements in using multiple materials will have to be made before the product is ready for market.

A start-up called Divergent 3D has raised $23 million for the initial phase of its campaign to 3D print sports cars. The prototype shown here is said to make car production faster and less expensive. It is also quite stunning.

NASA has hired an engineer from Uber to produce a 3D printed flying car. Viewers of these pages may remember seeing me at Next Fest in San Francisco some years ago admiring the Sky Car on exhibit. NASA plans to use VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) and on-demand production to provide air service between cities and suburbs. They will have to build support structures called vertiports and vertistops as well.

Intuition Robotics is planning to produce a device called Elli.Q as an aid for seniors who are intimidated by technology. Elli.Q uses machine learning to familiarize herself with the user's preferences and needs as well as suggestions of family members, to guide people through things like chat and audiobooks, remind about doctor's appointments and medication schedules, and connect easily with others through messaging and Skype.

The Trimech Blog, a resource for engineers, offers an article on saving money when using 3D printings. They talk specifically about polyjet and FDM printers.

Another source called Markgorged discusses how to save time and material when using plastics in 3D printing. They offer advice on support material and surface area to improve production time.

Industrial Equiment News talks about 3D printing materials that are stretchable. One of the drawbacks of current siicon-based rubber-like materials is the time it takes for curing as well as the tendency to break, making it unfeasible for many products. To demonstrate what they have found, the researchers exhibited a 3D printed light switch, which had held its shape and strength after being used more than 1000 times.

3D Hubs looks into 3D printing and reverse engineering, the process where a product is taken apart to reveal its inner workings. The pieces are then digitized and reassembled as 3d prints. Their discussion goes into laser scanning and CMM measuring, using 3D printed teeth and a motorcycle as examples.

Those of you looking for a large 3D printer might want to consider MASSIVit3D. Their 1800 model has already built a Louis Vuitton store in Paris and a popup shop in the Westfield Sydney shopping center in Australia.

A U.S.Company called Made In Space has specialized in making 3D printers that function well in outer space. They have already printed tools aboard the International Space Station and are now designing a medical supply unit that can solve problems with remote assistance.

A group of scientists from several U.S. universities has produced tiny 3D materials that shrink when they are heated. The prototypes are about the size of a sugar cube. The researchers are calling these meta-materials, since they exhibit properties not normally found in the natural world and in fact seem to be counter-intuitive.

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