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.

Note: a new report has just been issued about the safety of both filaments and the printers themselves. Here are some conclusions: 1. "toxic effects can be produced even with small levels of exposure"; 2. "It is unwise to touch models with bare hand"; 3. "Even though some resins may come with good cytotoxicity, they may still cause health issues after repeated exposure". Be sure to read the report in its entirety for your own safety..

A firm called Philipp Aduatz makes limited edition functional furniture. Take a good look at their design process to see the prototypes they have come up with. Their work involves textured 3D printed objects with LED lighting, resulting in what is said to be the world's first 3D printed film studio. They first used an innovative mortar based on white cement to create 60 segments. The segments were then used to build the wall by stacking 6 segments, seamlessly fitted together, so that they could be easily disassembled to be reused. The lighting system uses 14 LED strips laid horizontally into prefabricated joints and able to change through multiple gradients and colors. Note: be sure to look at our immersive exhibition, shown recently at the Monterey Museum of Art, to see this type of projection, or make an appointment to visit the Digital Giraffe studio in Carmel-by-The-Sea to view them in person.

The National Library of Medicine has released a study on photothermal bone cancer therapy. The work is based on a biomaterial that combines therapeutic and regeneration functions for tumor therapy and tumor regeneration, using a 3D aerogel-based composite scaffold combined with a dual-network structure. The structure is made from self-assembly and photo cross-linking that includes both photothermally triggered controlled anticancer drug release and photothermal cancer cell ablation. The aerogel scaffold is hoped to be a high-quality implantable material for bone tissue engineering aimed at successive cancer therapy and tissue regenertion.

Two companies, Hassell, an international design studio, and to.org, which specializes in venture capital and philanthropy, plan to create a 3D printed public pavillion composed of recycled plastic. Their goal is to build a pavillion that adapts to local climate changes, leaving minimal carbon footprints. Basically they are aiming for using plastic refuse as an economic base for the construction industry. The companies comment that currently the planet is burdened with 5 billion metric tons of plastic waste. They hope that their efforts will lead to increased eco-innovation in architecture.

Researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi are working to 3D print tracheas for military training. The method is already being tried in Syria, where each print took 4 hours to make. Previously the team had created and distributed thousands of respirator masks at the start of the covid-19 pandemic.

In the current state of technology, rotational devices can be 3D printed quickly but still cannot include sensors in their design. Now engineers at MIT have developed a new technique to 3D print sensors into a mechanism's moving elements. These sensors can now identify rotational speed, angular position, and direction. Ongoing work will look at ways to make the sensors more sensitive to outside noise. Called MechSense, these encoders can be printed in one pass alongside of rotational mechanisms by integrating a floating capacitor into the rotating object. The new method therefore does not require manual assembly after printing.

New Optometric software allows for mass 3D printing in microchip packaging. Optomec, based in New Mexico, has been in business for 30 years. They jet very fine droplets of nanoparticle conductive inks right into circuit boards and other components. The company's high resolution printers can support millimeter wave integrated circuit printing for high efficiency and performance. They report that they have already delivered over 600 of their systems to be used in aerospace and defense, energy, medical devices and advanced electronics packaging.

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Techonology and the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Techology have succeeded in using Bingham Colloidal Inks to 3D print structurally-colored architectures. The structural colors on surfaces like skins of organisms are said to be nontoxic, non fading, and responsive to stimuli. There have been previous attempts to direct-write colloidal crystals and glasses, but controlled evaporation of the solvent results in shrinkage and is time-consuming. The new method is said to open new opportunities in the 3D printing of soft robots and sensors with stimulus-responsive colors and no fading.

Scientists at the University of Technology Sydney have successfully shown that bio-engineered heart tissues can some day help patients recover from heart attacks. The research was conducted on mice, and involves the use of bio-inks developed from the patient's own stem cells. These bio-inks are then used to 3D print cardiac tissue to repair dead tissue caused by the heart attacks. The bio-engineered patches are said to be safe, consistent, and cost-effective. The process should avoid major obstacles like the body rejecting tissues from donors. Additional testing to validate long-term effects is now being conducted.

Scientists have been fascinated by the coding that enables pose and motion in humans and animals. Computer imaging is extremely complex and can easily miss parts of a motion sequence. Previously skeletons have been used to study motion, but a new report shows how neural network models can better illustrate motion sequences with full appearance of animals from any viewpoint. It is said that the 3D view is more flexible and precise than skeletal studies. An AI system is able to take key points and predict the intermediate steps that will take place. The study first began looking at silhouette motions of humans, cows, and pigeons. Now they have begun collecting behavior patterns of insects and birds, initiailly in a laboratory where where they can better control lighting and background. Eventually they plan to extend their research to the outdoors.

A variety of 3D printing capabilities was used to reconstruct what 2 Czech rulers could have looked like. The remains came from 2 skeletons held at Prague Castle, belonging to a royal dynasty dating from the late 800's to 1306 A.D. Czech and Brazilian researchers identified the 2 brothers, one of whom was father to Saint Wenceslas. The researchers utilized radiocarbon dating and DNA testing to gain insight into the diet and mobility of the two figures. Then the investigators scanned the skulls with photogrammetry which offered minute details of the measurements of the skulls. Their final step was to add muscle, tissue, and other facial characteristics, including educated guesses as to the eye color, hairstyle, and facial markings.

Sports equipment maker Wilson has made a prototype 3D printed airless basketball that does not need to be inflated. The company used an elastomeric polymer that it developed to produce a see-through lattice structure with hexagonal holes that allow air to pass through it. The new ball is printed as one solid object, yet it incorporates "seams" and 8 panels to reflect the appearnace of the traditional basketball.

A new tool has been developed to enable viually impaired scientists to read journals and data. The tool is called "tidyverse", which uses the R programming language. Obstacles to reading data files include PDF files, which usually don't have the necessary tags , and the 2-column format used in many journals, which are confusing to the visually impaired because they generally read from left to right across a page. One online tool is called SciAlly, which allows researchers to upload PDF's and re-render them in html. But even SciAlly struggles with tables and images and doesn't correctly pull out headings. An additional roadblock is something called alt text, which is designed to assist blind or low-vision persons to "understand" images, but it is not clear how that can best be accomplished. MIT is currently working on a tool called Olli, a screen-reader interface. Other solutions being considered are MAIDR, which encodes data as sound, and Braille. One researcher is working with showing data as 3D printed graphics called lithophanes: these are made from very thin plastics that allow light to shine through so that multiple forms of data can be encoded, like the ultraviolet spectrum of a protein, or a scanned electron micrograph of a butterfly. Another system is in developement at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta at their Highcharts Sonification Studio using auditory formats.

An innovative tool for the construction industry uses discarded eggshells to 3D print bricks. The process was developed by the Mexican multidisciplinary design studio MANUFACTURA. The company combines leftover local food waste with biobinders to 3D print.

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 2023