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.

A company called Luxexcel announces that they have 3D printed more than 5,000 ophthalmic lenses over the past year. They are now out of testing mode and into commercial production. With their systems installed in both Europe and the United States, they are now shipping to customers on a daily basis. They say that their lenses meet all industry standards including requirements of the FDA.

Engineers and scientists at Lawrence Livermore Nationsl Laboratories are using both mechancal computing and 3D printing to create "sentient" materials, meaning materials that can respond to changes in their environment. This includes extreme environmental changes like high heat, pressure, or radiation that would destroy the usual electronic components. Involved are the so-called logic gates, able to perform complex mathematical calculations.

E3D Skunkworks is offering Pathio, a new slicer for FDM/FFF 3D printing. The software is still in its Beta phase but available for free beta testing in Linux, Mac, and Windows. Pathio uses C++ programming language and a method call off-setting that produces a reliable shell without holes or gaps.

Engineers at the University of California at San Diego have 3D printed a complete spinal cord in 1.6 seconds. In a recently published paper they described implanting the 3D printed spinal cords into the limbs of rats that had spinal cord injuries. The results showed restored function in the hind limbs. U.C.San Diego has also been a leader in 3D printing blood vessels and human liver tissue.

A company called Owlson has created cabinets for 3D printing that help cut toxic particles and fumes by 80%. Based in Copenhagen, Owlson cabinets are composed of anodized aluminum and laser-cut acrylic materials, producing fully-sealed enclosures that keep micro and nano particles away from humans and also cut down on noise emissions. Users can choose accessories like dehumidifiers, LED lighting, and HEPA and active carbon filtration. The owner and founder of Owlson discusses the lack of exact measurements of toxic materials and particles in 3D printing, especially since many of the printers run for hours and this increases the infection biomarkers in both adults and children.

Last year it was determined that hollow tubes could give added strength to 3D prints. Unfortunately the method was difficult to reproduce. Now Dr. Adrian Bowyer has created a work flow that is much more user-friendly. His process is based on Fusion 360 cloud-based modeling software, which Autodesk offers free to students, makers, and small businesses. He also uses Slic3r PE (Prusa Edition), which takes the stress points from Fusion, after they have been coverted into a mesh, and then alters them using Slic3r's mesh modifiers.

Hexbot all-in-1 desktop robotic arm can draw, engrave, pick objects, and 3D print. Robotic arms offer versatility in terms of what tools they can use, but most of them are large and expensive. The Hexbot offers a pen holder for drawing and writing, a laser to cut and engrave, a soft gripper to handle oddly-shaped objects, and a hotend/extruder for 3D printing, at a reasonable cost of $659. on Kickstarter. As a result the company got to its $50,000 goal in less than 5 minutes.

UL Chemical Safety has published a 3D printing standard to reduce the risk of indoor air pollution. The standards apply to nonindustrial indoor locations like schools, offices, homes and libraries. The organization had previously identified ultrafine particle emissions in commonly used 3D printers which could enter deep into the pulmonary system. They also reported on over 200 volatile organic compounds known to be potential carcinogens released when the printers were working.

Omni3D is 3D printing a flament with carbon fibre to produce a material that will never fail on a racetrack. The material is said to be exceptionally solid, very stiff, and resistant to ripping.

3D printing is now using self-healing rubber to create objects that can repair themselves. Engineers at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering are working with this type of material which can fix itself if it becomes fractured or punctured. The process involves photopolymerization, which uses light to shape a liquid resin into the desired form or geometry. How the self-healing property is created is glossed over in this article.

A company called AI SpaceFactory has 3D printed a Mars prototype for NASA. The proposed surface habitat for living on Mars is one of 5 finalists in a competition to design and build a shelter for a crew of 4 astronauts. The comany uses what they call a "Martian polymer" to be made from materials found on the planet.

MIT's Mediated Matter Lab has been a leader in the development of 3D printing glass, a process that is exceptionally complex. The Lab has now published a detailed study of how they work and particularly the G3DP2 3D printer they used to create the 3 meter tall glass columns shown at Milan Design Week 2017. The article describes in detail the machines used, the 3-zone thermal control system, and a motion module with a 3-axis motion control system.

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 2019