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.

Another radical innovation has entered the 3D print world. Researchers at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) in Australia say they have developed a touch-screen that is so thin it can be rolled up like a tube. The scientists say it is not only flexible but much less expensive than what is now available. Basically they heated a transparent but brittle film currently in use on the touchscreens of mobile phones, shrank it from 3D to 2D, liquefied it, and discovered that they could twist and bend it. The implications for inexpensive manufacturing are huge.

As humanity begins to build up bone depositories of 3D printed bones, ethical questions are arising and alarming scientists and medical specialists. Who owns the bones? Who owns the right to print them, and does anyone really have the right to reproduce parts of another person's body? What happens when the data is available online and someone else prints them? Do they then become the property of the person who printed them? At the moment the repositories of human remains only allow them to be reproduced if they are older than 100 years, in order to protect the privacy of the original individual, but these questions become more pressing as the technology advances.

The AMAZEA Scooter is being touted as a breakthrough in marine technology. It is being 75% made of 3D printed parts by a company called BigRep out of proprietary materials said to offer major increases in water temperature resistance along with little warping and shrinkage. The scooter offers a maximum speed of 20 km/h underwater or 30 km/h gliding above water. Without batteries, which are installed in the scooter's front cone, the scooter weighs just 25 kg and claims to offer a user-friendly control panel.

Russian scientists have experimented with bioprinting skin implants to replace or repair skin wounds. The researchers used a special collagen hydrogel as a bio ink. The process includes both surgical robotics and 3D bioprinting, designed to work not only on horizontal surfaces but to fill irregularly-shaped tissue defects at right angle. Here is their description of the procedure: "In situ bioprinting minimizes the risks of complications after transplantation. This method seems perspective as it allows to prevent implant vascularization. The native recipient endothelial progenitor cells, involved in the blood vessels formation, migrate into the printed tissue, and capillaries sprout from the tissue surrounding the defect". At the moment the experiment has only been tried on rats, although researchers are anxious to use it on oncology patients.

Doctors at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City have successfully 3D printed a knee meniscus using a degradable plastic scaffold and a protein growth substrate. It is hoped that this new procedure will be able to leave the knee with its normal shock absorber between the tibia and the femur, significantly reducing the risk of arthritis.

A pavillion has been built in Saudi Arabia by using sand to 3D print it. Sand was chosen since it is abundantly available in the country and fits in well with local building environments. 58 individual 3D printed elements are combined to form a "continous ribbon", designed in perforated style to reflect the surrounding palm trees and sunbreakers.

Four-dimensional micro-building blocks have been proposed as a substitute for the current use of origami shapes. In current usage, 2D shape-morphing systems are fed through computer-generated origami designs. The new system constructs 3D reconfigurable microstructures without an intervening 2D planar self-folding system. Involved are 4D direct laser writing with submicrometer resolution with differentially cross-linked polymer networks.

3D Systems is introducing a figure 4 jewelry printing system which is said to give high precision and fine detailing. The process is said to be applicable to low and medium volume plastic parts. The new process claims to be up to 4 times faster than current production capabilities.

Some police departments are experimenting with 3D scanners at crime scenes to prepare evidence for use in court. Officers in Roanoke, Virginia, are using a Faro 3D scanner to show actual crime scenes in the courtroom. The deparment has hired 7 forensic investigators who are conversant with the scanners to present evidence along with traditional photographs.

A cancer survivor has received a new 3D printed face in Brazil. The prosthetic jaw and right eye were applied after a hand-made treatment was projected to cost half a million dollars. The new face was applied at Sao Paulo's Paulista University using a 3D printer and a smartphone camera. It took 12 hours to create and was composed of silicone, resin, and synthetic fibers.

IBM has created a new kind of battery to replace the lithium-ion batteries currently in use. The new battery is free of nickel, cobalt, and other heavy metals. It is created by using extracts from seawater and has a higher power density than lithium-ion. As well, it only takes 5 minutes to recharge 80%, about as long as it would currently take to fill up a gas tank in a car.

Fabbaloo looks into how the coronavirus will impact 3D printing, including supply lines and components.

Once again we reprint this important report for those of you who may have missed it previously. Another study of the possible health risks associated with 3D printing has been released by the Oakridge National Laboratory's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences. Their inquiry was directed at particle emissions from large industrial printers, specifically the range of emissions around the printer. They studied a Da Vinci XYZ model 1.0 used in a poorly ventilated room to develop ranges and air concentration maps.

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 2020