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.

Mat Collishaw claims that he is leery of technology, yet he has used 3D printing to create a room-sized zoetrope called Centrifugal Soul. If, like me, you are puzzled: a zoetrope is an animation device constructed before film-making to give the illusion of movement by using drawings or photographs, according to Wikipedia. Here Collishaw has made 3D printed flowers and birds, shown in 18 frames spinning at 60 rpm. The artist calls it reality-reality, as opposed to virtual reality. His inspiration was an 1839 photography exhibit by William Fox Talbot.

NASA has granted permission to researchers to 3D print tools using simulations of dust from the moon and Mars. The scientists are trying to convert the flexible rubbery tools into hard objects that can be printed on spaceships. For more on the 3D rubber-like materials, take a look at RoboDoll.

As you may recall, Coobx introduced a resin-based 3D printer several weeks ago. They have now added an accessory called LIFTcell which automates some of the processes usually done by hand before and after the printing. Activities like loading, unloading, resetting, cleaning and curing the 3D print can now be done automatically, which is especially important when using fast printers and needing multiple prints. Coobx has used robotic arms to perform these functions, and the process can run continuously for up to 15 hours, making night operations possible.

An Israeli industrial designer, now based in London, is 3D printing books. Ron Arad was previously known for his "two nuns bicycle", a sprung steel contraption used by the W Hotel in London - be sure to look at the wheel's tessalation. Regarding 3D printed books, in 2014 the Art Institute of Chicago and Tom Burtonwood 3D printed a book with each page printed separately. Arad's book, on the contrary, is printed and bound in one process. Future projects include a book to be 3D printed in space in cooperation with NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Japanese Space Agency.

The "Pod Vending Machine Skyscraper" has been designed to address the problem of overpopulation and housing shortages in places like Tokyo. The proposal by Haseef Rafiei received an honorable mention in the eVolo Skyscraper Competition. This skyscraper functions organically, growing according to demand. Pods are manufactured on site, ready-to-use, and can be inserted instantly. The 3D printing materials are lifted hydraulically on the sides of the building. Abandoned pods can be dismantled, kept in storage, or returned to the printer for updating.

Although Zaha Hadid unfortunately passed away last year, at the height of her career, her company continues to produce stunning designs inspired by her vision. This white sculpture, called "Thallus", is named for the Greek word for flora and is on display in Milan, Italy.

A Chinese company called Xi'zn ZhiRong has produced China's first Electron Beam 3D Printing System. It uses a high-voltage power supply along with digital controls. The metal 3D printing company has already applied for over 20 patents. Among its features are a 5-axis vacuum-covered print bed, dual wirefeeds that will function outdoors as well as indoors, and slicing software. The printer will be traveling around the world; this site gives you its itinerary and dates.

McLaren Racing is taking 3D printing to the track by producing "race-ready" parts for its new McLaren MCL32 car. These parts are expected to make the car lighter and will be printed at the racetrack. Parts that are being considered for 3D printing include brake cooling ducts, rear wing flaps, flexible radio cables, and hydraulic line brackets. Stratasys will work with McLaren on the project.

Ashford, a medical device maker, is developing what it calls Life-saving imaging techniques for use with cancer patients. Along with King's College London, more than 20 technology companies are working on advanced imaging processes for cancer specialists, hoping to create non-invasive methods for the measurement and identification of cancers.

In Australia, a 20-year-old with a shattered jaw, the result of an automobile accident, spent more than 30 years and multiple surgeries trying to fix the damage to her teeth, face and jaw. Recently she agreed to become the first patient to get a 3D printed titanium jaw, called the Osseoframe. Each implant is tailored to the individual patient's body. The surgeon, Dr. George Dimitroulis, has just presented his findings at the 23rd International Conference on Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Hong Kong.

"Dynamorphosis", winner of the Bio Art and Design Award in 2016, was produced by Lilian Van Daal and Roos Meerman to illustrate the invisible functions of the human body through the use of 3D printing technology. Working with the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences at the University of Amsterdam, the researchers have illuminated the biology of lungs, breast tissue, and intestines in a way not seen before. More about Van Daal and Meerman can be seen at their individual sites.

A new company called EchoPixel is using virtual reality to prepare doctors for the surgeries they are going to perform. The 3D simulations are flexible enough that the surgeons can manipulate and dissect them with a device that resembles a stylus. The company is developing 3D models of each body part with a service called True 3D Print Support that includes 3D software tools for the visualization of different organs and the ability to interact with the models.

Adidas is making a big push into 3D printed shoes with its Futurecraft 4D. Working with a Silicon Valley startup called Carbon, Adidas hopes to produce 5,000 pairs this year and 100,000 in 2018. A mid-sole process that used to take months can now be manufactured in 2 hours. Additional information on the manufacturing process is shown here.

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