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Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Novel process could let consumers 3D-print metal parts for the first time

Novel process could let consumers 3D-print metal parts for the first time | Amazing Science |

A novel 3D printing process called Selective Inhibition Sintering (SIS) promises to allow manufacturing of consumer 3D printers* that can print parts made of high-performance metals, which high-cost industrial 3D printers can already do.

The new process, developed at the Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies at USC, is based on existing low-cost inkjet printing technology. It differs from traditional research in powder sintering* (a process of fusing materials using heat and pressure), which focuses on enhancing sintering.

Instead, SIS prevents sintering in selected regions of each powder layer, using a sintering inhibitor — the inverse of traditional metal additive-manufacturing processes. The engineers explain this innovative process, show sample parts printed using the technology, and discuss the next steps in research and development in an article in the journal 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing


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Meet Strati, the first 3D printed car in the world

Meet Strati, the first 3D printed car in the world | Amazing Science |

While some people have successfully 3D printed buildings, others have taken the same approach to the car manufacturing business, as a company has just come out with a car called the Strati that’s the first 3D-printed car in the world. Scientific Americanreveals that it took Local Motors only 45 hours to build the Strati, a two-seater “neighborhood” electric car that has a range of up to 120 miles and a maximum speed of 40 mph.

Interestingly, the company plans to start selling Stratis for anywhere between $18,000 to $30,000 later this year, as it further refines its 3D-printing procedure.

“We expect in the next couple of months [printing a complete car] to be below 24 hours and then eventually get it below 10 hours, [down from 45 hours currently]” Local Motors CEO John Rogers said. “This is in a matter of months. Today, the best Detroit or Germany can do is 10 hours on a [production] line, after hundreds of years of progress.”

The car’s design was chosen from over 200 proposals submitted by Local Motors’ online community and Rogers says that the main advantage of 3D printed cars is that local communities may adopt such procedures to build cars best fitted to the resources available to them.

“In the future, you’ll still have … your Detroits that make one product the same over a million units,” the exec said. “And then I think you’ll have examples of microfactories that do things profitably at lower volumes—10,000 units, 15,000 units per year—and show the mass factories what they ought to build next.”

Local Motors chose an electric engine for the Strati because an electric powertrain was simpler to construct. Another advantage the Strati has is that it’s made from thermoplastic using a “Big Are Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine,” which is a fully recyclable material, meaning that it can be easily “chopped up and reprocessed back into another car.”

Even so, while using 3D printing technology to build a car might lead to less wasted material, a lot of energy might actually be required to print such vehicles.

Via Tiaan Jonker, MARTIN'S Gonçalo Wa kapinga
Gemma Shannon's curator insight, September 23, 2014 2:21 PM

What's next? 3D printed buildings?! Amazing to see how far this technology has come in such a short space of time.

Farid Mheir's curator insight, September 28, 2014 7:27 PM

This is much inline with my readings on the zero marginal cost society. Being able to print your own car may not be practical of cost effective today but once it is and car 3D models are available free or low charge on the web, where will the car industry go? I understand why Tesla is building huge battery manufacturing plant as they may have seen that providing key components may be the future of the car industry?

Alexandre Armougom's curator insight, September 29, 2014 9:16 AM

This is a good utility of 3D printer.

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Researchers Combine Ideas of 3D Printing With Molecular Self-assembly – Is Molecular Manufacturing Next?

Researchers Combine Ideas of 3D Printing With Molecular Self-assembly – Is Molecular Manufacturing Next? | Amazing Science |

What’s the ultimate extension of 3D printing technology? Where could 3D printing take us in the future? Eventually, we will have nano-factories, 3D printing at the molecular level. We will be able to turn our garbage into just about anything we want, via a sophisticated computer system, along with hardware capable of breaking any mass down to its molecular level, before using those molecules to construct a brand new object.

The two men have now combined the ideas of 3D printing with that of molecular self assembly to create a process which they call ‘genetic 3D printing’. For those who are not biologists, molecular self assembly is simply the process in which molecules arrange themselves in a particular order without guidance from an outside source. Molecular self assembly is a bottom-up approach like that of 3D printing. The discovery, which was accidental, allowed the researchers to create proteins which have the ability to self assemble into fibers. The discovery was made while they were simply trying to produce gluten adhesives, by cutting out a section of the gluten protein. What happened next surprised them. When the section of the protein was removed, fibers self assembled themselves in the beaker.

The quality of the fibers were on par with those produced by silk spiders, something which researchers have been trying to produce for years. Spider silk has a strength-to-weight ratio which is five times that of steel, making it an ideal material for all sorts of applications. The researchers went back and realized that they can manipulate the protein structures of the fibers to change their colors, but this wasn’t all. By combining the gluten protein with other proteins, they are able to molecularly print fibers with varying electrical properties, strengths and colors. In ordinary 3D printing, individuals use a software to translate a computer code and raw material into a physical object. In this case the researchers found that they were able to use a genetic blueprint as their computer code and back-calculate the DNA, which was inserted into a host bacterium, in this case e-coli. From there, the protein (raw material) grew, left the cell, and interacted with one another to build the fibers which the researchers had predetermined.

If this seems amazing, both Barone and Senger believe that they could eventually utilize this method as a way to molecularly manufacture all sorts of objects. Because the protein fibers are natural building blocks, once a method is figured out in which they are able to get the fibers to organize into larger structures, anything could be possible. From a coffee pot, to human bone, or even muscle, the researchers believe that one day this method of 3D printing fibers could manufacture it all. The researchers are currently working to further their discovery, and produce the silk-like fibers in large quantity for a variety of uses.  Additionally they are looking for ways to increase the size of each fiber, eventually enabling the manufacturing of larger objects.

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3D-printing may revolutionize medical education

3D-printing may revolutionize medical education | Amazing Science |

A kit of 3D-printed anatomical body parts could revolutionize medical education and training, according to its developers at Monash University.

Professor Paul McMenamin, Director of the University’s Centre for Human Anatomy Education, said the simple and cost-effective anatomical kit would dramatically improve trainee doctors’ and other health professionals’ knowledge and could even contribute to the development of new surgical treatments.

“Many medical schools report either a shortage of cadavers, or find their handling and storage too expensive as a result of strict regulations governing where cadavers can be dissected,” he said.

“Without the ability to look inside the body and see the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels, it’s incredibly hard for students to understand human anatomy. We believe our version, which looks just like the real thing, will make a huge difference.”

The 3D Printed Anatomy Series kit, to go on sale later this year, could have particular impact in developing countries where cadavers aren’t readily available, or are prohibited for cultural or religious reasons.

After scanning real anatomical specimens with either a CT or surface laser scanner, the body parts are 3D printed either in a plaster-like powder or in plastic, resulting in high resolution, accurate color reproductions.

Further details have been published online in the journal Anatomical Sciences Education.

ChemaCepeda's curator insight, July 23, 2014 4:22 AM

La impresión 3D también va a mejorar la manera en que nos formamos los profesionales sanitarios

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Layered paper 3D printers: Full color, life-like, durable objects at a fraction of the cost

Layered paper 3D printers: Full color, life-like, durable objects at a fraction of the cost | Amazing Science |

Irish company Mcor's unique paper-based 3D printers make some very compelling arguments. For starters, instead of expensive plastics, they build objects out of cut-and-glued sheets of standard 80 GSM office paper. That means printed objects come out at between 10-20 percent of the price of other 3D prints, and with none of the toxic fumes or solvent dips that some other processes require.

Secondly, because it's standard paper, you can print onto it in full color before it's cut and assembled, giving you a high quality, high resolution color "skin" all over your final object. Additionally, if the standard hard-glued object texture isn't good enough, you can dip the final print in solid glue, to make it extra durable and strong enough to be drilled and tapped, or in a flexible outer coating that enables moving parts - if you don't mind losing a little of your object's precision shape.

The process is fairly simple. Using a piece of software called SliceIt, a 3D model is cut into paper-thin layers exactly the thickness of an 80 GSM sheet. If your 3D model doesn't include color information, you can add color and detail to the model through a second piece of software called ColorIt.

Next, a regular CMYK inkjet printer prints each slice of the model onto a separate sheet of paper, with a ~5 mm-wide outline of the required color of the bit that will end up showing once it's assembled. The stack of printed slices is then loaded into the Mcor IRIS machine, which uses a process called selective deposition lamination.

Each sheet is laid down, and its slice shape is cut into it. Then a print nozzle lays soft glue all over the non-essential parts of that sheet that will be broken away after manufacture. A second, high density glue is applied to the sections of the paper that will be used to form the final model. Then, the next sheet is drawn over the top of it, and the stack is pressed up against a heat plate that seals the two layers together.

Once all layers have been cut, glued and pressed together, the object comes out of the printer as a chunky sheaf of paper. But the waste material, with its softer glue, is slightly flexible and pre-cut into little cubes, so it pulls away quickly and easily from the much tougher, denser material of the object itself.

Even without an outer coating, the final objects feel very solid – something like a medium density wood feel – and the print detail can be truly fantastic, miles ahead of what some other 3D printers are able to achieve. Some of the samples we looked at had started to peel apart a little bit – but then, these were road-weary trade samples that had been handled by hundreds of people. In general they felt very solid.

Geoff Hancock, CEO of DGS 3D, the Australian supplier of Mcor machinery, told us that while the paper-based print process was broadly useful in parts prototyping, presentation modelling, architectural modelling, sand casting and a range of other business use cases, one of the most successful areas of the business is in printing out miniaturized cityscapes, complete with topographical data.

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The Billion Cell Construct: Will Three-Dimensional Printing Get Us There?

The Billion Cell Construct: Will Three-Dimensional Printing Get Us There? | Amazing Science |

In the 1960s field known as Bionics, many human tissue functions were considered analogous to basic mechanical and electrical systems, such as servomechanisms [1]. Researchers made rapid progress recapitulating components of systems found in the body, and forecasts were made as to when human–machine interfaces would become so completely integrated with our anatomy as to be essentially undetectable. This conceptual framework has proven useful in practice, with contemporary work applied to human patients through surgical implants such as knee, hip, and limb prostheses [2]; pacemakers; and cochlear and retinal devices [3]. Although these medical devices significantly improve the quality of life for patients today, there are many functions in living tissues which cannot be addressed with electromechanical systems. Shrewd utilization of our best materials simply cannot replace tissues in the body whose functions are intimately tied to their biochemistry. For example, we don't know how to make a plastic or a metal that can metabolize acetaminophen and alcohol like the liver can.

Since cells are the major functional unit responsible for biochemistry in the body, efforts to separate cells from their native environment in vivo and apply them therapeutically in extracorporeal devices have remained steadfast. In extracorporeal liver-assist devices, live cells can be loaded into bioreactor chambers outside the body and then connected in a closed loop with host blood circulation so that the biochemical benefit from cells in the device will positively affect the patient [4],[5]. But these strategies that are external to the body, including dialysis of blood during kidney failure, lead to their own morbidities and are not suitable long-term therapies [6].

Cells loaded into extracorporeal devices or growing at the bottom of a Petri dish bear little resemblance to the exquisite anatomical complexity found in the human body. Organs like the lung, heart, brain, kidney, and liver are pervaded by incredibly elegant yet frighteningly complex vascular networks (carrying air, lymph, blood, urine, and bile), leaving us without a clear path toward physical recapitulation of these tissues in the laboratory (Figure 1). However, we don't need to fully understand tissue organization or all of developmental biology (e.g., spatiotemporal growth factor release) before we can improve the quality of life for patients suffering from damaged or diseased organs. Transplanting whole organs from a human donor into a recipient can provide lifelong benefit when accompanied with immunosuppressive therapy [7],[8]. Moreover, isolated cells have been shown to be able to provide biochemical benefit to the host, even when injected or placed at ectopic sites inside the recipient [9][11].

As we look toward the future, the prospect of using a patient's own cells to develop living models of their active biochemistry as well as functional, life-lasting cellular implants offers potentially revolutionary changes to research and healthcare. Stem cell biologists are uncovering exciting new ways to induce pluripotency [12] and direct lineage commitment [13]. But simple questions about cell number and cell types, their spatial arrangement, and local extracellular and microenvironmental considerations remain largely intractable because of difficulties in placing and culturing cells in three-dimensional (3D) space. For example, embryoid body aggregates containing thousands of cells change differentiation trajectory as a function of cell population and microenvironmental characteristics [14], while larger cell populations packed at physiologic densities rapidly die because of lack of adequate oxygen and nutrient transport.

Recent advances in 3D printing, a suite of technologies originally developed for plastic and metal manufacturing, are now being adapted to operate within the soft, wet environments where cells function best. Because 3D printing excels at producing heterogeneous physical objects of high complexity, biologists and bioengineers are gaining unprecedented access to a rich landscape of tissue architecture we've always wanted to explore.

Reference: Miller JS (2014) The Billion Cell Construct: Will Three-Dimensional Printing Get Us There? PLoS Biol 12(6): e1001882.

Via Complexity Digest
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Affordable precision 3D printer for professionals runs on stereolithography

Affordable precision 3D printer for professionals runs on stereolithography | Amazing Science |

The team at Formlabs, a MIT Media Lab spinout, has invented a high-resolution 3-D laser printer, called the Form 1, that’s viewed as an affordable option (about $3,300) for professional users.

The desktop printer — standing about a foot high and weighing about 20 pounds — runs on stereolithography, a fabrication technique usually reserved for massive machines that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In the Form 1, a violet laser moves around a bath of light-sensitive polymers, or resin, tracing a predetermined pattern. After each layer is cured, a mechanical platform lifts the object upward, where the layer is rapidly dried and another melded to it. This process is repeated layer-by-layer, taking several hours and delivering layers as thin as 25 microns — much more finely detailed than other low-cost 3-D printer.

By continuously advancing the software, the long-term goal, Lobovsky says, is to achieve “one-click printing,” where a user can design a model, press “print,” and set the printer to churning out a model rapidly.

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An essential step forward toward 3D-printing of living tissues

An essential step forward toward 3D-printing of living tissues | Amazing Science |

A new bioprinting method developed at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University creates intricately patterned, three-dimensional tissue constructs with multiple types of cells and tiny blood vessels. The work represents a major step toward a longstanding goal of tissue engineers: creating human tissue constructs realistic enough to test drug safety and effectiveness.

The method also represents an early but important step toward building fully functional replacements for injured or diseased tissue that can be designed from CAT scan data using computer-aided design (CAD), printed in 3D at the push of a button, and used by surgeons to repair or replace damaged tissue.

“This is the foundational step toward creating 3D living tissue,” said Jennifer A. Lewis, senior author of the study, who is the Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard SEAS and a Core Faculty Member of the Wyss Institute. Along with lead author David Kolesky, a graduate student in SEAS with a fellowship from the Wyss Institute, Lewis' team reported the results February 18 in the journal Advanced Materials.

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IBM invents ’3D nanoprinter’ for microscopic objects

IBM invents ’3D nanoprinter’ for microscopic objects | Amazing Science |

IBM scientists have invented a tiny “chisel” with a nano-sized heatable silicon tip that creates patterns and structures on a microscopic scale.

The tip, similar to the kind used in atomic force microscopes, is attached to a bendable cantilever that scans the surface of the substrate material with the accuracy of one nanometer.

Unlike conventional 3D printers, by applying heat and force, the nanosized tip can remove (rather than add) material based on predefined patterns, thus operating like a “nanomilling” machine with ultra-high precision.

This new capability could improve the prototyping of new transistor devices, such as tunneling field effect transistors, for more energy efficient and faster electronics for anything from cloud data centers to smartphones.

By the end 2014, IBM hopes to begin exploring the use of this technology for its research with graphene.

“To create more energy-efficient clouds and crunch Big Data faster we need a new generation of technologies including new transistors, but before going into mass production, new techniques are needed for prototyping below 30 nanometers,” said Dr. Armin Knoll, a physicist at IBM Research – Zürich.

“With our new technique, we achieve very high resolution at 10 nanometers at greatly reduced cost and complexity. In particular, by controlling the amount of material evaporated, 3D relief patterns can also be produced at the unprecedented accuracy of merely one nanometer in a vertical direction. Now it’s up to the imagination of scientists and engineers.”

Other applications include nano-sized security tags to prevent the forgery of documents like currency, passports and priceless works of art, and quantum computing and communications (the nano-sized tip could be used to create high quality patterns to control and manipulate light at unprecedented precision).

IBM has licensed this technology to a startup based in Switzerland called SwissLitho, which is bringing the technology to market under the name NanoFrazorSeveral weeks ago the firm shipped its first NanoFrazor to McGill University’s Nanotools Microfab, where scientists and students will use the tool’s unique fabrication capabilities to experiment with ideas for designing novel nano-devices.

To promote the new technology, scientists etched a microscopic National Geographic Kids magazine cover in 10 minutes onto a polymer. The resulting magazine cover is so small at 11 x 14 micrometers that 2,000 can fit on a grain of salt.

Today (April 25), IBM claimed its ninth GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the Smallest Magazine Cover at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C. Visible through a Zeiss microscope, the cover will be on display there on April 26 and 27.

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Chinese company 3D-prints a house for $4,800

Chinese company 3D-prints a house for $4,800 | Amazing Science |

Shang Hai company WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co. has advanced the science of 3D printing by printing all of the parts needed to construct houses and then using those parts to build ten houses, all in just a single day. The finished houses are made of mostly concrete with other materials added for various purposes.

WinSun isn't printing whole houses, instead, the company prints basic parts using concrete (with construction or industrial waste materials or tailing added to help reduce costs) as ink. The parts dry quickly and can then be used to assemble a complete 2,100 square foot house. Purists might argue that the company isn't technically printing houses, but the end result is the same—very little labor, low cost materials, and incredibly inexpensive (approximately $4,800) houses.

The houses built in China are in stark contrast to a project going on in Amsterdam, where a crew has begun work on a project that aims to print an entire 13 room house, including some of the furniture—all in one fell swoop. The timetable is three years and the finished product will likely wind up costing millions.

To print its house parts, WinSun uses a giant printer—it's 490 feet long by 33 feet wide and 20 feet deep—and unlike other companies, plans to use its printer to start printing parts for real houses for sale to consumers. To that end, the company has announced its intention to open 100 recycling factories to convert waste to make it suitable for adding to its concrete ink. Representatives for the country told the press that they believe their system can be used to create a very large number of affordable homes for impoverished people who now cannot afford a traditional house.

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Scientists Use 3-D Printer To Help Create Prototype Next-Gen Pacemaker

Scientists Use 3-D Printer To Help Create Prototype Next-Gen Pacemaker | Amazing Science |

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington University in St. Louis have developed a new device that may one day help prevent heart attacks.

Unlike existing pacemakers and implantable defibrillators that are one-size-fits-all, the new device is a thin, elastic membrane designed to stretch over the heart like a custom-made glove.

The new cardiac device -- a thin, stretchable membrane imprinted with a spider-web-like network of sensors and electrodes -- is custom-designed to fit over the heart and contract and expand with it as it beats. 

University of Illinois materials scientist John Rogers co-led the team that invented the new device. He says they used high-resolution imaging, computer modeling, and a 3-D printer to create a plastic model of a heart. Then, they used that as a mold to make a thin, elastic membrane designed to fit snugly over the real heart’s surface.

Rogers compares the silicon version to the heart’s natural membrane, the pericardium. “But this artificial pericardium is instrumented with high quality, man-made devices that can sense and interact with the heart in different ways that are relevant to clinical cardiology,” Rogers said.

Washington University biomedical engineer Igor Efimov helped design and test the new device. He says the membrane’s spider-web-like network of specialized electrodes can continuously monitor the heart’s electrical activity and keep it beating at a healthy rate.

“When it senses such a catastrophic event as a heart attack or arrhythmia, it can also apply a high definition therapy,” Efimov said.

“So it can apply stimuli, electrical stimuli, from different locations on the device in an optimal fashion to stop this arrhythmia and prevent sudden cardiac death.”

Efimov calls the new device a huge advance and hopes it will be approved for use in patients in 10 to 15 years.

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Microrobotic technique combines 3D printing and tissue engineering

Microrobotic technique combines 3D printing and tissue engineering | Amazing Science |

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Carnegie Mellon University have introduced a unique micro-robotic technique to assemble the components of complex materials, the foundation of tissue engineering and 3D printing, described in the Jan. 28, 2014, issue of Nature Communications ("Untethered micro-robotic coding of three-dimensional material composition").

Tissue engineering and 3D printing have become vitally important to the future of medicine for many reasons. The shortage of available organs for transplantation, for example, leaves many patients on lengthy waiting lists for life-saving treatment. Being able to engineer organs using a patient's own cells can not only alleviate this shortage, but also address issues related to rejection of donated organs. Developing therapies and testing drugs using current preclinical models have limitations in reliability and predictability. Tissue engineering provides a more practical means for researchers to study cell behavior, such as cancer cell resistance to therapy, and test new drugs or combinations of drugs to treat many diseases.

The presented approach uses untethered magnetic micro-robotic coding for precise construction of individual cell-encapsulating hydrogels (such as cell blocks). The micro-robot, which is remotely controlled by magnetic fields, can move one hydrogel at a time to build structures. This is critical in tissue engineering, as human tissue architecture is complex, with different types of cells at various levels and locations. When building these structures, the location of the cells is significant in that it will impact how the structure will ultimately function. "Compared with earlier techniques, this technology enables true control over bottom-up tissue engineering," explains Tasoglu.

Tasoglu and Demirci also demonstrated that micro-robotic construction of cell-encapsulating hydrogels can be performed without affecting cell vitality and proliferation. Further benefits may be realized by using numerous micro-robots together in bioprinting, the creation of a design that can be utilized by a bioprinter to generate tissue and other complex materials in the laboratory environment."

Our work will revolutionize three-dimensional precise assembly of complex and heterogeneous tissue engineering building blocks and serve to improve complexity and understanding of tissue engineering systems," said Metin Sitti, professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Robotics Institute and head of CMU's NanoRobotics Lab.

"We are really just beginning to explore the many possibilities in using this micro-robotic technique to manipulate individual cells or cell-encapsulating building blocks." says Demirci. "This is a very exciting and rapidly evolving field that holds a lot of promise in medicine."

Deborah Verran's curator insight, February 14, 2014 10:07 PM

Another interesting step in the research that is being performed in the tissue engineering sphere. However there is a lot more research required before bioengineered tissues can be used for transplantation into humans

Sieg Holle's curator insight, February 16, 2014 11:23 AM

Towards our age of abundance and self sufficiency and personal choice?

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NYT: 3-D Printing Moves Closer to the Mainstream

NYT: 3-D Printing Moves Closer to the Mainstream | Amazing Science |

You know that inkjet printer sitting under your desk? The one with the old, crusty ink cartridges that are collecting dust because you no longer use it? Well, you can move it aside now and buy a fancy, new 3-D printer.

While we all have been talking about 3-D printing for the last few years, 2014 might be the year these devices actually move closer to becoming a mainstream reality.

On the floor of the International CES this month, a section of the exhibit hall was completely dedicated to 3-D printers, including products from Makerbot3DSystems and RoBo3D. These are all consumer-level printers that are essentially plug-and-play models. A company calledMatterform was also displaying a 3-D scanner, making it easy to replicate objects by scanning and then printing them.

Until now, the software has been one of the larger barriers to using 3-D printers, but even that became easier when Adobe announced last week that it was integrating 3-D printing into Photoshop CC.

Winston Hendrickson, vice president for products in Creative Media Solutions at Adobe, said in a phone interview that Adobe was making it possible to print a 3-D printed object from Photoshop CC, much like people print on paper today with a traditional printer. By going to a new drop-down menu in the application, people will be able to select their 3-D printer, or choose from online 3-D printing companies, including Shapeways, which prints in a variety of textures and materials, and then print an object they have designed.

Adobe is adding a level of intelligence that isn’t available in most other 3-D printing software. It will check the 3-D object to make sure it is structurally sound and then fill in any inaccuracies. The software can also automatically add “support structures” to a 3-D model, which are required to make an object print at the right specifications.

Adobe also said it was extending the ability to design 3-D printed objects from scratch in its software, or refine an existing 3-D model made with other software that is then imported into Photoshop CC.

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Incredibly Small 3D Printed Middle Ear Prosthesis is Achieved on a 3D Systems Printer

Incredibly Small 3D Printed Middle Ear Prosthesis is Achieved on a 3D Systems Printer | Amazing Science |

3D printing has been providing various forms of prosthetic devices such as fingers, hands, arms and legs for a short time now, mostly due to the fact that it is affordable, easy to use, faster than traditional manufacturing, and provides for total customization. Companies are also really beginning to see the potential of 3D printing in the rapid prototyping of medical products.

One company, Potomac Laser, has been in the business of specializing in and creating medical devices, as well as other unique electronic devices for over 32 years now. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, they use 3D printing, laser micromachining, micro CNC and micro drilling in their many unique projects.

Just recently, a woman by the name of Monika Kwacz, who is a researcher at the Institute of Micromechanics and Photonics at Warsaw Technical University in Poland, contacted Potomac Laser to see if they could help her 3D print something almost unheard of. She had been studying stapedotomy, which is a form of surgical procedure that aims at improving hearing loss in those who suffer from the fixation of their stapes. The stapes, which is one of the 3 tiny bones within the middle ear involved in the conduction of sound vibrations to the inner ear, is the smallest and lightest bone within the human body.

Millions of peoples in the US alone suffer from a condition called Otosclerosis, where the stapes becomes stuck in a fixed position, and can no longer efficiently receive and transmit vibrations needed for a subject to hear properly. This is mostly due to a mineralization process of the bone and surrounding tissue.  It is estimated that 10% of the world’s adult Caucasian population suffers from this condition in one form or another.

Via Gust MEES
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FDA-Approved 3D Printed Face Implant is a First

FDA-Approved 3D Printed Face Implant is a First | Amazing Science |

3D printed organsskulls and vertebrae are just a few of the ways 3D printing can literally be a part of us. On Tuesday, biomedical devices company Oxford Performance Materials (OPM) announced the latest addition to 3D printed body parts: a 3D printed face.

OPM has received official FDA approval for a 3D printed facial device that can be used on patients in need of facial reconstructive surgery. The 3D printed OsteoFab® Patient-Specific Facial Device (OPSFD), which is the first and only FDA cleared 3D printed polymeric facial implant, is entirely customizable. It is made of different 3D printed parts that are made to fit each individual patient’s anatomical features.

What is equally revolutionary about the 3D printed facial implant is the drastic reduction in price it brings to facial reconstructive surgery. As it is tailor-made to each patient, the OPSFD reduces overall cost of ownership of a facial implant by reducing operating time, hospital stay duration and the chance of procedure complications. It also minimizes time before surgery as the implant can be 3D printed quickly.

Scott DeFelice, the CEO of OPM, referred to the FDA’s approval of the OPSFD as a paradigm shift:

“There has been a substantial unmet need in personalized medicine for truly individualized – yet economical – solutions for facial reconstruction, and the FDA’s clearance of OPM’s latest orthopedic implant marks a new era in the standard of care for facial reconstruction. Until now, a technology did not exist that could treat the highly complex anatomy of these demanding cases.

With the clearance of our 3D printed facial device, we now have the ability to treat these extremely complex cases in a highly effective and economical way, printing patient-specific maxillofacial implants from individualized MRI or CT digital image files from the surgeon. This is a classic example of a paradigm shift in which technology advances to meet both the patient’s needs and the cost realities of the overall healthcare system.”

Oxford Performance Materials also developed the first and only 3D printed customizable skull implant, which was approved by the FDA in February 2013 and later used to replace 75% of a patient’s skull. According to the president of OPM’s biomedical division, the two implants can now be used together for more complex cases.

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The MX3D Robot is 3D Printing Large Objects in Steel at 3 Meters per Hour Speed

The MX3D Robot is 3D Printing Large Objects in Steel at 3 Meters per Hour Speed | Amazing Science |

The MX3D robot arm extrudes steel with 360-degree articulation. 

The chair shown above was 3D printed -- not in plastic, but in stainless steel. "It was born out of frustration with the limitations in existing printers," says Amsterdam-based furniture designer Joris Laarman, 34.

To create the Dragon chair (shown viewed from above), Laarman worked with materials researchers at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia to develop the multi-axis MX3D printer. The machine combines an MIG (metal inert gas) welding machine with a robotic arm. "By adding small amounts of molten metal at a time, we are able to print lines in mid air without support," Laarman says. As the arm is flexible -- not fixed to an axis like the heads of most small 3D printers -- it allows the designer to create complex shapes. 

Laarman's ultimate aim, he says, is to "get 3D printing out of the world of funny little gadgets". His lab is already in conversation with construction companies and shipyards about uses for the device, and Laarman is working with Autodesk to bring it to market. "This is still unexplored territory," he adds. "But we think digital fabrication has to scale up to grow up."

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NIH Launches 3D Print Exchange Library

NIH Launches 3D Print Exchange Library | Amazing Science |

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched the NIH 3D Print Exchange, a public website that enables users to share, download and edit 3D print files related to health and science. These files can be used, for example, to print custom laboratory equipment and models of bacteria and human anatomy. The launch coincides with the first White House Maker Faire, an event designed to celebrate innovation in science, technology, engineering and math.

Few scientific 3D-printable models are available online, and the expertise required to generate and validate such models remains a barrier. The NIH 3D Print Exchange aims to eliminate this gap with an open, comprehensive, and interactive website for searching, browsing, downloading, and sharing biomedical 3D print files, modeling tutorials, and educational material.

3D printing is a potential game changer for medical research,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “At NIH, we have seen an incredible return on investment; pennies’ worth of plastic have helped investigators address important scientific questions while saving time and money. We hope that the 3D Print Exchange will expand interest and participation in this new and exciting field among scientists, educators and students.”

IH uses 3D printing, or the creation of a physical object from a digital model, to study viruses, repair and enhance lab apparatus, and help plan medical procedures. The 3D Print Exchange makes these types of files freely available, along with video tutorials for new users and a discussion forum to promote collaboration. The site also features tools that convert scientific and clinical data into ready-to-print 3D files.

Lucile Debethune's curator insight, August 8, 2014 7:49 AM

Les scientifiques ont été les premiers à ouvrir leur recherches, articles, etc mais en passant à une bibliothèque de modélisation 3D dans le domaine de la santé, ce sont encore de nouveaux horizons d'études qui s'ouvrent, permettant de plus facilement conduire des recherches.

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Nanoscribe claims world’s fastest commercially available nano-3D printer title

Nanoscribe claims world’s fastest commercially available nano-3D printer title | Amazing Science |
Nanoscribe GmbH, a spin-off of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), has built the world’s fastest 3D printer of micro- and nanostructures.

At the Photonics West, the leading international fair for photonics taking place in San Francisco (USA) this week, Nanoscribe GmbH, a spin-off of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), presents the world’s fastest 3D printer of micro- and nanostructures. With this printer, smallest three-dimensional objects, often smaller than the diameter of a human hair, can be manufactured with minimum time consumption and maximum resolution. The printer is based on a novel laser lithography method.


“The success of Nanoscribe is an example of KIT’s excellent entrepreneurial culture and confirms our strategy of specifically supporting spin-offs. In this way, research results are transferred rapidly and sustainably to the market,” says Dr. Peter Fritz, KIT Vice President for Research and Innovation. In early 2008, Nanoscribe was founded as the first spin-off of KIT and has since established itself as the world’s market and technology leader in the area of 3D laser lithography.


Last year, 18 spin-offs were established at KIT. The 3D laser litho-graphy systems developed by Nanoscribe – the spin-off can still be found on KIT’s Campus North - are used for research by KIT and scientists worldwide. Work in the area of photonics concentrates on replacing conventional electronics by optical circuits of higher performance. For this purpose, Nanoscribe systems are used to print polymer waveguides reaching data transfer rates of more than 5 terabits per second.


Biosciences produce tailored scaffolds for cell growth studies among others. In materials research, functional materials of enhanced performance are developed for lightweight construction to reduce the consumption of resources. Among the customers are universities and research institutions as well as industrial companies.


Increased Speed: Hours Turn into Minutes

By means of the new laser lithography method, printing speed is increased by factor of about 100. This increase in speed results from the use of a galvo mirror system, a technology that is also applied in laser show devices or scanning units of CD and DVD drives. Reflecting a laser beam off the rotating galvo mirrors facilitates rapid and precise laser focus positioning. “We are revolutionizing 3D printing on the micrometer scale. Precision and speed are achieved by the industrially established galvo technology. Our product benefits from more than one decade of experience in photonics, the key technology of the 21st century,” says Martin Hermatschweiler, the managing director of Nanoscribe GmbH.

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3D-printed material can carry 160,000 times its own weight

3D-printed material can carry 160,000 times its own weight | Amazing Science |

Researchers from MIT and Lawrence Livermore have created a new class of materials with the same density as aerogels (aka frozen smoke) but 10,000 times stiffer. Called micro-architected metamaterials, they can withstand 160,000 times their own weight, making them ideal for load-bearing, weight-sensitive applications. To do it, the team created microscopic lattice molds using a 3D printer and photosensitive feedstock (see the video below), then coated them with a metal 200 to 500 nanometers thick. Once the lattice material was removed, it left an ultralight metal material with a very high strength-to-weight ratio. The process also works with polymers and ceramics -- with the latter, they created a material as light as aerogel, but four orders of magnitude stiffer. In fact, it was 100 times stronger than any known aerogel, making it ideal for use in the aerospace industry. Given that it was funded by DARPA, it could also end up on robotsdrones or soldiers.

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BioPen – a handheld 3D printer for sugeons

BioPen – a handheld 3D printer for sugeons | Amazing Science |

A handheld ‘bio pen’ developed in the labs of the University of Wollongong (UOW) will allow surgeons to design customised implants on-site and at the time of surgery.

The BioPen, developed by researchers from the UOW-headquarteredAustralian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), will give surgeons greater control over where the materials are deposited while also reducing the time the patient is in surgery by delivering live cells and growth factors directly to the site of injury, accelerating the regeneration of functional bone and cartilage.

The BioPen works similar to 3D printing methods by delivering cell material inside a biopolymer such as alginate, a seaweed extract, protected by a second, outer layer of gel material. The two layers of gel are combined in the pen head as it is extruded onto the bone surface and the surgeon ‘draws’ with the ink to fill in the damaged bone section.

A low powered ultra-violet light source is fixed to the device that solidifies the inks during dispensing, providing protection for the embedded cells while they are built up layer-by-layer to construct a 3D scaffold in the wound site.

Once the cells are ‘drawn’ onto the surgery site they will multiply, become differentiated into nerve cells, muscle cells or bone cells and will eventually turn from individual cells into a thriving community of cells in the form of a functioning a tissue, such as nerves, or a muscle.

The device can also be seeded with growth factors or other drugs to assist regrowth and recovery, while the hand-held design allows for precision in theatre and ease of transportation.

The BioPen prototype was designed and built using the 3D printing equipment in the labs at the University of Wollongong and was this week handed over to clinical partners at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, led by Professor Peter Choong, who will work on optimising the cell material for use in clinical trials.

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Bioprinted 3D liver-mimicking device detoxifies blood

Bioprinted 3D liver-mimicking device detoxifies blood | Amazing Science |

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a 3D-printed device inspired by the liver to remove dangerous toxins from the blood. The device, which is designed to be used outside the body — much like dialysis — uses nanoparticles to trap pore-forming toxins that can damage cellular membranes and are a key factor in illnesses that result from animal bites and stings, and bacterial infections.

The findings were published May 8 in the journal Nature Communications.

Nanoparticles have already been shown to be effective atneutralizing pore-forming toxins in the blood, but if those nanoparticles cannot be effectively digested, they can accumulate in the liver creating a risk of secondary poisoning, especially among patients who are already at risk of liver failure.

To solve this problem, a research team led by nanoengineering professor Shaochen Chen created a 3D-printed hydrogel matrix to house nanoparticles, forming a device that mimics the function of the liver by sensing, attracting and capturing toxins routed from the blood.

The device, which is in the proof-of-concept stage, mimics the structure of the liver but has a larger surface area designed to efficiently attract and trap toxins within the device. In an in vitro (lab) study, the device completely neutralized pore-forming toxins.

“One unique feature of this device is that it turns red when the toxins are captured,” said the co-first author, Xin Qu, who is a postdoctoral researcher working in Chen’s laboratory.  “The concept of using 3D printing to encapsulate functional nanoparticles in a biocompatible hydrogel is novel,” said Chen. “This will inspire many new designs for detoxification techniques since 3D printing allows user-specific or site-specific manufacturing of highly functional products,” Chen said.

Chen’s lab has already demonstrated the ability to print complex 3D microstructures, such as blood vessels, in mere seconds out of soft biocompatible hydrogels that contain living cells.

As previously reported, Chen’s biofabrication technology, called dynamic optical projection stereolithography (DOPsL), can produce the micro- and nanoscale resolution required to print tissues that mimic nature’s fine-grained details, including blood vessels, which are essential for distributing nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.

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Scientists hope to build first 3D-printed heart

Scientists hope to build first 3D-printed heart | Amazing Science |
A team of scientists is hoping to create the first human heart through a 3D printer, an innovation that could be a major breakthrough for medicine, since heart transplants are reliant on donors or purely artificial hearts.

The team from the University of Louisville in Kentucky has printed human heart valves and small cell-laden veins with the ultimate goal of being able to recreate the vital organ within three to five years.

To be known as the ‘bioficial heart’, because it will be a blend of natural and artificial material, still requires a significant amount of research and funding before it can be anywhere close to a final product.

From the teams' findings so far, the biggest issue is making the cells work in unison in the same way they do in the heart.

This is vital if they are to create a heart that won’t require suppressant antibiotics designed to lower the immune system to accept the foreign organ.

That is why their ultimate goal is to use a patient’s cells, through the 3D printer, to recreate the bioficial heart. Even when the technology is developed, however, human testing is still estimated to be more than a decade away.

Stuart Williams, leader of the project and head of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, believes that once science and technology reaches this stage, the first patients to avail of 3D-printed hearts will be those with failing hearts.

Currently, hospitals do have access to purely artificial hearts, but a large proportion of children cannot use them because their chests are too small to accommodate the device.

According to Yahoo! News, Dr Anthony Atala, a doctor using a 3D printer to make a human kidney, says there are fundamental challenges to the technology so far.

“With complex organs such as the kidney and heart, a major challenge is being able to provide the structure with enough oxygen to survive until it can integrate with the body."

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How 3D Printing Creates On-Demand Swarms of Disposable Drones

How 3D Printing Creates On-Demand Swarms of Disposable Drones | Amazing Science |

New advances in 3D printing are making it not only possible but also viable to manufacture cheap, print-on-demand, disposable drones designed simply to soar off over the horizon and never come back. Some British engineers did just that, and this is only the beginning. The team hails from the Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC) at the University of Sheffield, where they're exploring innovative ways to 3D-print complex designs. They built their disposable drone, a five-foot-wide guy made of just nine parts that looks like a tiny stealth bomber, using a technique called fused deposition modeling. This additive manufacturing technique has been around since the 1980s but has recently become faster and cheaper thanks to improved design processes.

The ultimate vision, as sUAS describes it, is for "cheap and potentially disposable UAVs that could be built and deployed in remote situations potentially within as little as 24 hours." Forward-operating teams equipped with 3D printers could thus generate their own semi-autonomous micro air force squadrons or airborne surveillance swarms, a kind of first-strike desktop printing team hurling disposable drones into the sky.

For now, the AMRC team's drone works well as a glider, and they're working on a twin ducted fan propulsion system. It will eventually get an autonomous operation system powered by GPS as well as on-board data logging of flight parameters. Presumably, someone will want to stick a camera on there, too. If they're successful at building these things cheaply enough, it will be a green flag for the rest of the industry to take a hard look at their designs and see if they can make a disposable drone, too.

Eli Levine's curator insight, April 4, 2014 10:36 PM

This is going to get ugly.


The arms race between the people and the government is just beginning. 


Cause, I can think of all sorts of mayhem that can be raised with this technology, all of it spontaneously generated from the conditions in which people are living, caused primarily by our elite factions, public and private alike.


You SURE you want to be holding those reigns of "power" when they come for you?


Think about it.

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How NASA is Planning to 3D Print Trees in Space

How NASA is Planning to 3D Print Trees in Space | Amazing Science |

The Stanford University researchers have been working long hours honing a three-dimensional printing process to make biomaterials like wood and enamel out of mere clumps of cells. Pundits say such 3D bioprinting has vast potential, and could one day be widely used to transform specially engineered cells into structural beams, food, and human tissue. Rothschild and Gentry don’t only see these laboratory-created materials helping only doctors and Mars voyagers. They also envision their specific research – into so-called “synthetic biomaterials” – changing the way products like good-old-fashioned wooden two-by-fours are made and used by consumers.

Here’s their plan: Rothschild, an evolutionary biologist who works for NASA and teaches astrobiology at Stanford, and Gentry, her doctoral advisee who is trained in biology and mechanical engineering, are working with $100,000 they received last fall from the space agency’s Innovative Advanced Concept Program. They say they’re on track to prove their concept  by October: a three-dimensional printing process that yields arrays of cells that can excrete non-living structural biomaterials like wood, mineral parts of bone and tooth enamel. They’re building a massive database of cells already in nature, refining the process of engineering select cells to make and then excrete (or otherwise deliver) the desired materials, and tweaking hardware that three-dimensionally prints modified cells into arrays that yield the non-living end products.

“Cells produce an enormous array of products on the Earth, everything from wool to silk to rubber to cellulose, you name it, not to mention meat and plant products and the things that we eat,” Rothschild said. “Many of these things are excreted (from cells). So you’re not going to take a cow or a sheep or a probably not a silk worm or a tree to Mars. But you might want to have a very fine veneer of either silk or wood. So instead of taking the whole organism and trying to make something, why couldn’t you do this all in a very precise way – which actually may be a better way to do it on Earth as well – so that you’re printing an array of cells that then can secrete or produce these products?”

Rothschild and Gentry’s setup is different from using basic 3D printers that deliver final products. Instead, the NASA-funded researchers are using 3D printing as an enabling technology of sorts. Their setup involves putting cells in a gelling solution with some sort of chemical signaling and support into a piezoelectric print head that spits out cells that form a gel-based 3D pattern.

Andrew Hessel, a biotechnology analyst who is a distinguished researcher with San Rafael, Calif.-based Autodesk Inc., said the emerging field of 3D bioprinting is a “pretty wide open space” with different researchers “all dancing on multiple fronts at once.” And the research is not without controversy. Information-technology research firm Gartner, Inc. recently predicted 3D printing of living tissue and organs will soon spur a major ethical debate.

Hessel said the most-complex 3D bioprinting research is being done with the actual engineering of cells. Companies like Organovo, for example, aren’t actually engineering the cells, and instead are differentiating and laying them in a way that they can mature and grow in to functional tissue.

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Retina cells 3D printed for the first time

Retina cells 3D printed for the first time | Amazing Science |

The ability to arrange cells into highly defined patterns and structures has recently elevated the use of 3D printing in the biomedical sciences to create cell-based structures for use in regenerative medicine.

A group of researchers from the UK have used 3-D biomedical printing to successfully print new eye cells, making it the first time the technology has been used successfully to print mature central nervous system cells. The breakthrough could lead to the production of artificial tissue grafts made from the variety of cells found in the human retina and may aid in the search to cure blindness.

Experts at the University of Cambridge printed two types of cells - ganglion cells and glial cells - derived from adult rat retinas. Ganglion cells transmit information from the eye to parts of the brain, while glial cells provide support and protection for neurons.

Co-authors of the study Professor Keith Martin and Dr Barbara Lorber, from the John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair, University of Cambridge, said: "The loss of nerve cells in the retina is a feature of many blinding eye diseases. The retina is an exquisitely organised structure where the precise arrangement of cells in relation to one another is critical for effective visual function".

In their study, the researchers used a single nozzle piezoelectric inkjet printer that ejected the cells through a sub-millimetre diameter nozzle when a specific electrical pulse was applied. The driving waveform was defined by a PC-driven generator. "We plan to extend this study to print other cells of the retina and to investigate if light-sensitive photoreceptors can be successfully printed using inkjet technology. In addition, we would like to further develop our printing process to be suitable for commercial, multi-nozzle print heads," Professor Martin concluded. His goal is to make living tissues using multiple nozzles so that different types of cells could be printed from different nozzles at the same time.

The study has been detailed in a paper published in Biofabrication.

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