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3D Printing in November 2018

As with many other months in the past, November 2018 has been full of innovation for the world of 3D printing.

Let’s start with the world of razors!

As CNBC explains, recently Proctor & Gamble has been faced with a lot of successful competition in the sphere of men’s razors: “P&G is competing against newer rivals such as Dollar Shave Club, the subscription company bought by Unilever for a reported $1 billion in 2016.”  As a result of this, “in May 2017, Gillette launched its own on-demand service…[expanding it earlier this year in order to allow their customers to] add photos and text to their razor handles.”

Now, however, Proctor & Gamble has solicited the help of 3D printing in order to allow more customer customization options for their Gillette razors.  This pilot program, which P&G is calling Razor Maker, involves razor handles “printed using stereolithography, a type of 3D printing technology from Boston-based Formlabs.”  Customers will have the option “to choose from 48 designs and seven colors, priced between $19 and $45, including one razor blade.  A pack of four extra blades will cost $15 and orders will ship in two to three weeks from the new Razor Maker website.”

As Formlabs Chief Product Officer David Lakatos explains: “3D printing has mostly been used in manufacturing [up until now].  Mass customization with 3D printing is finally becoming a reality for consumers to experience end-use 3D printed products.”

P&G’s Director for Gillette and Venus North America Pankaj Bhalla enthuses: “earlier this year we introduced a range of new razor products and declared ‘one size’ does not fit all men when it comes to razors.  The Razor Maker pilot program furthers our commitment to place power in the hands of consumers.”

Elsewhere, Digital Trends has caught wind of an astoundingly cheap way to 3D print houses!  Italian 3D printing company WASP (which stands for World’s Advanced Saving Project) “has just 3D printed a hut structure called Gaia, using a combination of 3D printed concrete and a mud-based material.  [This was all put together using a giant, crane-based 3D printer.]  Total cost of the build?  Around $1,000.”

WASP CEO Massimo Moretti explains: “the material consist of clay earth, rice straw, and rice husk.  The natural fibers allow [us to minimize] the shrinkage of the dry mixture and confer mechanical strength to the layered wall.  By using the wet pan mill, the raw mixture has reached an interesting homogeneous plasticity which permits a good resolution in printed texture.”

To go with the earth and rice-based material, concrete is also mixed into the building foundations.  The roof of the Gaia hut was made out of timber.  “The 215 sq. ft. build took around 10 days to complete, although more time would be required to furnish the place.  It is also guaranteed the cost would creep up north of the $1,000 price tag for a commercial build, since this only includes material costs and not labor.”

Moretti concludes: “Gaia represents an example of reduced costs, especially if compared on the thermal performances usually obtained [through traditional systems.]  Gaia does not require heating or air conditioning, and is able to maintain consistent temperatures indoors regardless of what season in the year it is.  At the moment, the company is evaluating every possibility to enter the construction market.  Probably the most reliable strategy will be a construction service, with our team involved in the wall construction.”

Speaking of 3D printed houses, 3D Printing Industry was on hand to witness the announcement of a substantial seed funding drive successfully achieved by a Texas-based construction technologies company, ICON.  This is “said to be one of the largest seed rounds for Texas startups in 2018.”

Apparently, ICON has been able to raise $9 million from Oakhouse Partners (an early stage venture capital firm based in California), “D.R. Horton, Emaar, Capital Factory, CAZ Investments, Cielo Property Group, Engage Ventures, MicroVentures, Saturn Five, Shadow Ventures, Trust Ventures, Verbena Road Holdings, and Vulcan Capital.”

Why are all these venture capitalists so excited to invest in ICON?  Well, the company plans “to reinvent the construction of affordable homes with the use of ‘3D printers, robotics, and advanced materials.’”  In fact, earlier this year, ICON “and its non-profit partner New Story created the first permitted, 3D printed home in Austin, Texas using its Vulcan 3D printer, at a cost of less than $4000…as a result of this 350 sq. ft. house, which took approximately 48 hours [to 3D print], construction [of this 3D printed abode] became a proof of concept for investors.”

As Co-Founder and CEO of ICON Jason Ballard explains: “we’re in the middle of a global housing crisis and making old approaches a little better is not solving the problem.  We couldn’t be happier with the team of global investors who are supporting ICON in our belief the homebuilding industry needs a complete paradigm shift.”

With these new funds, ICON will “now…further the homebuilding process through the expansion of its team with several technical roles in robotics, software engineering, and advanced materials.”

Oakhouse Partners Managing Partner Jason Portnoy adds: “what the ICON team has accomplished in such a short period of time is not only a transformational breakthrough in homebuilding, it is an inspiration for the entire world to think outside the box about how humanity will confront the global housing crisis.”

ICON is already hard at work on the second generation of its Vulcan 3D printer.  It will be unveiled sometime in 2019.

Finally, as 3D Printing Industry (again) reports, when the Soyuz MS-10 spaceflight exploded, the Organ.Aut 3D bioprinter was destroyed.  Luckily, the two Russian cosmonauts aboard the vehicle used an emergency escape capsule and survived.

The Organ.Aut 3D bioprinter “was tipped to be the first of its kind to make it aboard the International Space Station (ISS).”  Developed by 3D Bioprinting Solutions (an arm of INVITRO) in Moscow, the Organ.Aut was “one of the most multifunctional bioprinters in the world in terms of printing possibilities with different materials…the system seems to fabricate tissues from cell containing spheroids.  The bioprinter relied on a gelatinous (possibly hydrogel) bed, to hold deposited spheres of biological matter in place. After each printed layer, the supportive gel was replenished to hold the next layer of spheres and so on until the desired shape was created.  When incubated, these cells fused together, then gel was cleaned away leaving a sample of purely biological tissue.”

Now, however, as 3D Bioprinting Solutions Co-Founder and Managing Director Yousef Hesuani reports, “Organ.Aut and the cosmonauts have a duplicate [of the printer], it will be ready to fly to the ISS in the near future.  The current crew has already confirmed its readiness for undergoing the remote training, so we will be ready to send the scientific equipment in any case.”

In the meantime, while an investigation is undergone to determine what went wrong on the Soyuz MS-10 spaceflight, this might mean NASA’s 3D BioFabrication Facility will become the first bioprinter to actually reach the International Space Station – in February of 2019.

Be sure to check in again with us here at Replicator World for your monthly 3D printing news updates!

Image Courtesy of 3D Printing Industry

Quotes Courtesy of CNBC, Digital Trends, and 3D Printing Industry

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