3D Printing News
Posted: 10 March 2013 02:57 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Developments in the field seem to be coming pretty rapidly these days, so I thought it’d be nice to have a single thread dedicated to advances in the tech.  (To give you an idea an idea of how fast the tech is advancing, the oldest of these articles are from January of this year.)

Let’s start with things on the consumer front:

Makerbot, the folks behind one of the home 3D printers has come up with a cheap 3D Digitizer.

When combined with a 3D printer, the digitizer is almost like a Xerox machine for real-world objects. Need to replace a small part that’s broken? Instead of contacting the manufacturer you can simply toss it on the laser-based scanner, generate (and repair) a 3D model, and then print it off on your 3D printer. The Digitizer was revealed for the first time at SXSW today, and while MakerBot does plan to put it into production once the hardware is finalized, at the moment they’re only showing a prototype that is still undergoing extensive testing and refining.

Of course, one of the things you’ll need for your 3D printer is plastic.  Here’s one fellow’s solution to that problem.

Hugh Lyman, an 83-year-old retiree from Enumclaw, Washington, won The Desktop Factory Competition with his design for a low-cost, open-source machine capable of turning resin pellets into inexpensive filament for 3D printing. The competition, sponsored by Inventables, Kauffman, and the Maker Education Initiative, required that the parts used to make the machine could cost no more than $250.

One has to ask: Why buy the pellets, when you can just recycle the plastic you already have?

Researchers at Michigan Technological University have created a plastic extruder, called Filabot, that turns home recyclables into usable filament for 3D printing. Basically the machine takes 4-inch pieces of plastic and shreds them, before melting the plastic and extruding it through changeable nozzles, and shaping it for use in printers. Filabot works with thermoplastics like HDPE, LDPE, ABS, and NYLON, though PVC is out because of, you know, serious toxicity risks and stuff. The group calculated that Filabot uses a tenth of the energy needed to recycle empty bottles to produce its filament.

Another one, which, like a doctor, allows you to “bury” your mistakes.

So you’ve got a 3D printer. What do you do with all of your 1-, 2- and 3.0’s that you had to print out before perfecting your desired gewgaw? Those rolls of ABS filament you used to make them are affordable, but not cheap.

Thanks to German programmer and inventor Marcus Thymark, you may soon be able to grind your old projects up and re-extrude them into fresh filament, ready for another go-round.

Then there’s the 3D printing “pen,” which at $75, is too awesome for words.

While this doesn’t have any practical application in the world of actual industrial design, where the name of the game is precision, there’s no denying this thing is neat: The 3Doodler is a pen that lets you “sketch” in three dimensions, something like a 3D-printer stripped of everything except the printing head.

(Currently, funding has reached $2.1 million, beating their goal of $30K by a wide margin.)

BBC piece on 3D printed gun parts.  The video is less about the technology, and more about the legality, but you do get to some 3D printed gun parts, to get an idea of what’s possible.

Sort of half commercial, half consumer, UC Berkley has come up with a vending machine which produces 3D printed items.

UC Berkeley’s new Dreambox is a vending machine like no other – it incorporates a 3D printer that makes and dispenses goodies right before your eyes! By connecting to a cloud-based computing system hosted within the machine, customers can upload their designs and set them in the cue for printing.

One the medical front, we’ve got, a man who had a large portion of his skull replaced with a 3D printed implant.

If a 3D printer can replace a beak for an injured bald eagle, why not the majority of the skull for a human patient? This week, a man from the US was able to trade three-quarters of his skull’s natural bone for a man-made replacement. His head was scanned before a prosthetic was printed using a 3D printer. Surface details were etched into the polyetherketoneketone (PEKK) material to encourage the growth of tissue and new bone. PEKK is a high-performance biomedical polymer that can be sold in a raw or semi-finished form, and it began being used for Additive Manufacturing technologies back in 2006. It is mechanically very similar to bone, does not interfere with x-rays, and helps prompt new bone to form.

Developers build a $150 3D prosthetic hand for a child.

Two men living on opposite sides of the planet have teamed up to design and build a 3D-printed prosthetic hand for a five-year old named Liam, who was born with no fingers on his right hand. By combining low-tech mechanics and fast prototyping, the team developed the Robohand, a body powered device that can be personalized and costs only $150. The design is open-source and can be downloaded by anyone.

Doctors use 3D printed replicas of body parts to help prepare for surgery.

The surgeons employ paper 3D printing technology from Mcor Technologies to recoup hours from traditional surgical procedures. Working from the digitally scanned contours of patients’ bones, doctors push a button to create full-size 3D physical models they can use as surgical guides.

3D printed meat still needs work.

I’ve tasted it as have my colleagues. We’ve only been able to have small bites since we’re still working on getting the process right.

I cooked some pieces in olive oil and ate some with and without salt and pepper. Not bad. The taste is good but not yet fully like meat. We have yet to get the fat content right and other elements that influence taste. This process will be iterative and involve us working closely with our consulting chefs.

We’re now also able to build 3D printers that work on the nanoscale!

Nanoscribe GmbH, a German company based in Karlsruhe, has released the Photonic Professional GT, which it claims is “the world’s fastest 3D printer of micro- and nanostructures.” An announcement from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) says that the printer, based on laser lithography, can produce three-dimensional objects smaller than the diameter of a human hair, with “minimum time consumption and maximum resolution.”

There’s now also a tradeshow for industrial metal 3D printers.

MIT has now developed 3D printed objects which can assemble themselves.

At the TED conference in Los Angeles, architect and computer scientist Skylar Tibbits showed how the process allows objects to self-assemble.

It could be used to install objects in hard-to-reach places such as underground water pipes, he suggested.

It might also herald an age of self-assembling furniture, said experts.

(No word on if it’ll call IKEA and complain that it failed to print out all the parts for your new futon.)

That’s it for now.  Feel free to add any articles on the subject you might find.  I think its clear, though, that we are living in the future! :cool:

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Posted: 10 March 2013 05:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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What surprised me is that this is just being publicized now.  I recall going to my company’s research center in Des Plaines about 25 years ago and one of the projects they were working on was developing various types of plastic raw materials for this machine.

Occam

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Posted: 10 March 2013 06:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Occam. - 10 March 2013 05:26 PM

What surprised me is that this is just being publicized now.  I recall going to my company’s research center in Des Plaines about 25 years ago and one of the projects they were working on was developing various types of plastic raw materials for this machine.

Occam

But things like Makerbots run for $2,500.  How much were the machines you guys were developing the plastic for, selling for?

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Posted: 11 March 2013 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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No idea.  However, management screwed up and ended up having to break the company apart and sell off each.  I’d guess that the research projects got scrapped.

My division got sold to a thoroughly unethical company so I took retirement as quickly as I could.

Occam

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Posted: 23 April 2013 09:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Baby livers!  Fava beans and chianti not included.

The dream of one day completely doing away with frustratingly long transplant lists in favor of made to order, 3D-printed organs is closer to becoming a reality. Scientists at Organovo in San Diego have, for the very first time, been able to 3D print tiny replicas of human livers.

At just half a millimeter deep and four millimeters across, the mini livers can perform most of the same functions as the larger version hanging out over your gallbladder. Which means that these presumably adorable bile-makers stand to serve a variety of purposes, the most immediate of which would be using them to observe how our livers react to certain drugs and diseases.

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