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3D Printing: March

Let’s start off with a fun story:

Thrillist reports on a new project launch embarked upon by Bulleit Bourbon.  The Bulleit 3D Printed Frontier is part of Bulleit’s Frontier Works program, which “highlights ‘the modern frontier’ – people who are pushing the boundaries in their current craft…for 2019 it’s all about the marriage of tech, culture, and, of course, cocktails.  With a 3D printed bar and a menu of printed cocktails.”

“Benjamin Greimel is the robotics pioneer behind Print-A-Drink, one of the first technologies to combine robotics with design and mixology, and one of the key features of The Bulleit 3D Printed Frontier. Greimel’s idea to combine 3D printing, robotics, and mixology actually began as a one-off grad school assignment using a robotic arm with a micro-dosing attachment, but Greimel quickly realized there was a need for this type of tech in the entertainment scene. Mostly because, as far as he could tell, no one else was utilizing 3D printing technology this way.”

Unlike most 3D printers, which print vertically, Greimel’s robotic arm prints cocktails “in a similar way to how medicine would be created in a lab, via micro-injections (and no thermoplastics, obviously).  The artful designs are created by precisely injecting microscopic dots of liquid into the drink in a pre-set pattern.”

These designs are able to stay in place due to the chemistry of the drinks and “because the tiny dots are actually small droplets of edible oils, like lemon, hazelnut, or even vegetable.  Because the droplets are so small, they don’t typically affect the mouthfeel or taste of the drink, unless a mixologist is using a more pronounced oil to accentuate the cocktail.  Think of them as edible garnish – but way cooler.”

“But not everything can be a robo-cocktail, and it took the team over 100 recipes to discover this for themselves. The drinks need to be semi-transparent for the design to shine through, so no stout beer. Sparkling drinks are out, since they go flat when cooled to the printable temperature. Lastly, the printed oil drops don’t maintain their position in spirits with a high alcohol content (they still aren’t sure why).”

The printing process actually only takes about 60 seconds per drink, which is optimal for a bar setting.  The bar itself was also 3D printed.  In fact, “now Bulleit is bringing the 3D Printed Frontier (bar and cocktails included) to cities across the US in 2019. The bar kicked off in Oakland and will stop through Austin, NYC, and more until it lands in Shelbyville, Kentucky, the home of the Bulleit distillery.”

Elsewhere, TCT Magazine reports on a new announcement made by GKN Additive concerning the opening of a new metal 3D printing customer center in Danyang, China.

GKN Additive, which is a metal additive manufacturing company, aims for the new facility to help “allow customers and partners to get hands-on experience with metal 3D printing and work with GKN Additive’s engineers to design and print components.  The new location is the company’s sixth R&D and manufacturing facility as part of a print network across Europe, North America, and Asia.”

GKN’s focus has been on direct metal laser sintering and binder jetting technology.  “Last year, the company announced a partnership with HP to deploy its new HP Metal Jet technology in its production plants to produce functional metal parts for automotive and industrial customers.”

As President of Additive Manufacturing at GKN Powder Metallurgy Guido Degen explains: “China is the world’s largest automotive market and automotive manufacturing country for conventional and new energy vehicles. Automotive development activities have shifted from traditional regions to China, and this leads to an increased demand on new technologies like additive manufacturing.  We believe that metal additive manufacturing is one of the future processes that will have great effect on the automotive industry and electric vehicle production. From saving time to market through rapid prototyping to redesigning and rethinking parts and assemblies for additive, to reduced inventories by on-demand replacements – metal AM adds value during the whole component life cycle.”

Beyond the world of metal, indeed – beyond our very own world, 3D Printing Industry reports on a recent announcement made by NASA.  Apparently, the space agency is allotting $2 million for a project involving the creation of 3D printed multifunctional sensors.  NASA’s Associate Branch Head of the Systems Engineering at the Maryland-based Goddard Space Flight Center, Mahmooda Sultana, will oversee the project.

As Sultana explains: “with our funding, we can take this technology to the next level and potentially offer NASA a new way to create customized, multifunctional sensor platforms, which I believe could open the door to all types of mission concepts and uses.”

This comes in the wake of Sultana’s team’s work last year, wherein they “developed multifunctional sensors using the Nanoscale Offset Printing System (NanoOPS) developed at Northeastern University by Professor Ahmed Busnaina and his team.  These sensors were made of various nanomaterials including graphene and carbon nanotubes.”

As Sultana elaborates: “the sensors were found to be quite sensitive, down to low parts per million.  With ECI we are targeting parts per billion sensitivity by improving sensor design and structure.”

Now, with this added funding, “Sultana’s team will be specifically looking to develop smaller spectrometers.  Used to measure properties of light over the electromagnetic spectrum, spectrometers are a useful tool for identifying materials.  Such devices are used in astronomy to understand the composition of stars and planets.  Currently, spectroscopy devices are generally too large to be easily transported to space.”

“The NanoOPS technology works differently from other nano 3D printing technologies…which is a photo curing process. In contrast, NanoOPS dips a substrate wafer with a template into a well of nanomaterial. The nanoparticles stick to the template when an electrical charge is applied, and the material is built up layer by layer this way. The process is known as electrophoresis.”

Sultana concludes: “The beauty of our concept [involves the ability] to print all sensors and partial circuity on the same substrate, which could be rigid or flexible. We eliminate a lot of the packaging and integration challenges…This is truly a multifunctional sensor platform. All my sensors are on the same chip, printed one after another in layers…The same approach we use to identify gases on a planetary body also could be used to create biological sensors that monitor astronaut health and the levels of contaminants inside spacecraft and living quarters.”

Tune in next month for more scintillating 3D printing coverage!

Image Courtesy of Bulleit Bourbon and Thrillist

Quotes Courtesy of Bulleit Bourbon, Thrillist, TCT Magazine, NASA, and 3D Printing Industry  

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