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. Additionally, here is a later review of some of the known health hazards.

Scientists at mimix feel that their cymatiX 3D printer will revolutionize the world of biofabrication. Available in 2021, their device is described as a sound-based next generation biotech. The sound waves enable the creation of well-defined biological patterns that can self-assemble into working tissues. The technique was developed nearly ten years ago at the AO Research Institute in Davos, Switzerland. Their patented technology, called Sound Induced Morphogenesis (SIM) bioprocessing, is said to be fast, gentle, and user-friendly.

In what is being called another 3D printing milestone, Made in Space is making a ceramic turbine part while in orbit. The part is expected to return to Earth on a Space Dragon cargo capsule. The single-piece turbine is called a "blisk", meaning bladed disk, and is being printed aboard the International Space Station. The company's Ceramic Manufacturing Module is the size of a microwave and apparently works well in a non-gravitational environment. This is the 4th device made by Redwire, which runs Made in Space. Last year, NASA awarded almost $74 million USD to Made in Space to test in Earth orbit its free-flying space-manufacturing platform, called Archinaut, on top of a Rocket Lab Electron booster in 2022.

Picture, if you can, a robot arm that is also a laser engraver, 3D printer, and AI assistant. It is actually available for purchase and called the Rotrix DexArm. It can use materials like PLA, TPU, wood and carbon fiber, while its laser engraving can work on cardboard, wood, and ceramics. It is fully compatible with Scratch, the MIT-designed app meant to teach children how to code. For advanced programmers, it uses languages like C, C+, Python, Java, Javascript, and ROS.

Dubai is announcing the world's first 3D printed office building. The building includes air conditioning, electricity, water, and telecommunications. Called "The Office of the Future", it offers roughly 2500 square feet of space. Its materials include cement and other building materials developed by the U.S. and the UAE. A 20 foot high 3D printer was used to build it, along with an automatic robotic arm. The full building took 17 days to print, with the office installed on-site within 2 days.

A new system has been developed to determine the reliability and strength of the solder paste in 3D printing. The system inspects for excess solder, solder shift, missing solder, and solder volume to determine if there are defects. Ideally the weaknesses and/or defects can be found early in the printing process before too many models have been built incorrectly.

Attention is being paid to the build plate in the 3D printing process, since it will strongly influence your ability to get good prints. Normally the build plate sits on top of an existing frame, and that frame determines how level your bed will be. Building plates come in a variety of materials, from plastic to glass. This article will guide you through the properties of two common types, magnetic and polypropylene. Characteristics examined include smooth vs textured surfaces, bendability, necessity for binder clips, and first layer adhesion, including ease of removing the print from the bed. Cleaning the print bed is also discussed, as well as the appropriate heat level for each type.

3D print glass has remained elusive for many creatives. A main obstacle was the high temperature required for the glass to flow freely through the nozzle, meaning that the nozzle itself had to be receptive to those high temperatures. M.I.T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), a clear leader in the field, recently published a research paper offering a new process to achieve real transparency in the glass print. Their process involves a four-axis motion control system accompanied by a three-zone thermal capability. Called G3DP2, the system is robust enough to work at industrial scale. Also involved is a two-box set-up: one is a heated and sealed box to preserve the glass in its molten state; the second is the thermal control box to print. The new system claims to ensure that the glass models do not insert impurities between extrusion and solidification. Another recent advance comes from a relatively new company in Germany called Glassomer, with their special material Glassomer Resin. This new material uses the standard SLA or DLP printing systems. It contains 60% glass, with organic binders as fillers. Your first result will be a green model, wlthough it will appear white. By heating the green object under a temperature of 600 degrees centigrade, you will burn out the organic binders leaving only pure glass that is brown. Heating the brown model under 1300 degrees celsius is said to produce a print that is 100% transparent.

Europe now lays claim to its largest 3D printed building, constructed in the Bavarian village of Wallenhausen. The ground floor was printed out by two workers in about 25 hours. You can watch the actual printing and construction process as it occurs in the accompanying video.

You may have read that lunar dust contains so many abrasives that it can erode space suits. It certainly can't be breathed. A British company called Metalysis is developing a process to extrude the oxygen from the dust, making it available for rocket fuel and potentially for humans to breathe. Moon dust is so abrasive because it contains particles of metals like titanium and iron as well as glass melted from asteroid collisions, all of which will cause hemorrhaging. The new method, known as molten salt electrolysis, removes the abrasives, leaving pure oxygen. The goal is achieved by using calcium chloride salts containing ions which are heated and electrically charged.

Researchers at ETH Zurich have produced 3D printed microbots that can deliver medicines to the human body via blood vessels. The system combines soft lithography and electrochemical deposition, controlled by magnetic fields. The goal is to inject these microbots into patients during surgery and then control illnesses remotely. The company blends both metals and polymers, common materials that have not previously been available on a microscale. Another advance in the field of using biodegradable bots to carry drugs comes from Oxford University using an origami- like technique to achieve microbots with shape-morphing abilities. Both processes still appear to have fairly major obstacles to overcome before being completely functional.

In 2013, France established an Endowment Fund to encourage research and innovation in cosmetics and perfume, with the goal of promoting a "Made in France" brand. The first awards, called "The Cosmetic Victories", were given in 2015. The current prize was awarded to ColorForge, a U.S. start-up that has created a "revolutionary" 3D printer that can output hundreds of unique color cosmetics in a single batch in under five hours, as opposed to the 32 hours currently reaquired. ColorForge claims that their process contains no waste. It can output a variety of shapes and sizes in a wide range of colors.

At the Deep Learning DevCom 2020 conference, Dr. Raul Villamarin Rodriguez, Dean of the School of Business at Woxsen University in Hyderabad, India, addressed the problem of too many patients needing organ transplants and too few donors. The speaker discussed his team's efforts at developing pluripotent stem cells that drive 3D bioartificial "organoids" via quantum-enabled learning methods. Currently most transplant organs are composed of plastic and silicone, which are rejected by the human body. Bioprinting, however, offers the ability to print liquid and gel-based materials like cells and tissues. Additionally his team works with deep learning rather than the standard algorithms, using features like parameter optimization, predictive modeling, information retrieval, feature extraction and blueprint generation. The results appear to offer increased accuracy, faster production, and fewer chances for rejection.

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 2021