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3D Printing in The New Decade

Happy new decade!

We begin our world tour in Mexico. Interesting Engineering reports the world’s first 3D printed community of houses is up and running. These 500-square-foot houses were built by a 33-foot-long 3D printer.

Long envisioned by not-for-profit New Story, this community is the next step in a plan to “find a solution for the 3 billion people who will be living without access to adequate shelter by 2050.”

New Story’s Co-Founder and CEO Brett Hagler expounds: “we feel like we’ve proved what’s possible by bringing this machine down to a rural area in Mexico, in a seismic zone, and successfully printing these first few houses.”

New Story “claims to research ‘breakthroughs in homebuilding.’ This is why it has partnered with Austin-based construction tech company Icon to develop a 3D printer capable of tackling even the most extreme conditions.”

“Icon’s printer, Vulcan II, is now helping print 50 Mexican homes. The new resulting neighborhood will be the first to use this technology at scale. The area where the homes are being printed has a high risk of earthquakes. Therefore, the new homes had to go through several engineering structural tests. However, the printer performed well when it came to creating the homes and better yet; it did so autonomously. Although minor adjustments to the blueprint could be made on site.”

Additionally, Vulcan II is able to print multiple houses simultaneously. These homes all “have two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a bath. New Story partnered with the local government to ensure the homes went to the 50 families most in need.”

As New Story’s other Co-Founder Alexandria Lafci explains: “for a majority of these families, this will be the first time they will have indoor restrooms, plumbing, and sanitation.”

Elsewhere, SciTechDaily reports on innovative new 3D printed lattice designs, developed by a team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. These 3D printed lattice designs “are ultra-lightweight and ultra-stiff, despite breaking a rule previously thought to be required to exhibit such properties.”

The team described their findings in a paper published in a recent edition of the scientific journal Science Advances. The team, led by engineer Seth Watts, “used topology optimization software to create two unique unit cell designs composed of micro-architected trusses, one of which was designed to have isotropic (identical and omnidirectional) material properties. These new structures were then fabricated and tested, and were found to outperform the octet truss, a standard geometric pattern for 3D-printed lattice structures.”

“To the researchers’ surprise, the trusses appeared to violate the Maxwell criterion, a theory of structural rigidity used in mechanical design positing the most efficient load-bearing structures deform only by stretching. In such structures, stiffness scales linearly with density — cutting the structure’s weight in half only reduces its stiffness by half, as opposed to less efficient structures whose stiffness would be reduced by three-quarters or seven-eighths. This linear scaling enables the creation of ultra-lightweight, ultra-stiff mechanical metamaterials.”

As Watts continues: “we have found two trusses, which have linear scaling of stiffness with density when the conventional wisdom — this Maxwell criterion rule — is not satisfied. It had been believed the Maxwell criterion was both necessary and sufficient to show you had high stiffness at low density. We’ve shown this is not a necessary condition. In other words, there is a larger class of trusses which have this linear scaling property.”

Watts explains: “this experiment shows the previous orthodoxy is not firm. There are exceptions, and the exceptions can actually get you better properties.” In order to get to this point, the team used a projection micro-stereolithography 3D printing process.

As for the future?

Well, “Watts and his team are continuing their work to include a fuller characterization of the lattice structures, considering physics beyond linear elasticity, including heat transfer, nonlinear mechanics, vibration, and failure. Understanding their response across a range of phenomena results in more accurate design of multi-scale structures built using these new metamaterials.”

Finally, SyFy Wire reports on a new Great Wall of China, which has been 3D printed in the city of Suzhou. Suzhou, located in the eastern portion of the superpower, is a major city.

It is now even more major due to the fact it is home to one of the largest 3D printed structures in the world. This wall was developed by 3D printing firm WinSun. The wall, 1,640 feet in length, is a “river protection device.”

“This lengthy sloped river revetment wall, installed along the Shanghai-Jiangsu Port waterway, is meant to absorb and deflect the energy of strong water currents, thereby protecting the land from destructive shoreline erosion, soil contamination, and flooding. It also provides a stout barrier for sensitive ecosystems and habitats relied upon by numerous birds, fish, plants, grasses, and trees.”

WinSun, also known as WinSun Decoration Design Engineering, is based in Shanghai, and “has helped revolutionize the burgeoning 3D printing construction industry. This company’s 3D printer works by printing, layer by layer, large segments of buildings, especially wall panels, using a special ‘ink’ blended from a complex proprietary cocktail of fiberglass, steel, sand, cement, hardening agents, and recycled materials.”

As the firm points out, “by utilizing the cutting-edge invention, WinSun was able to trace the natural contour of the area’s Suzhou Creek, something which would have been incredibly cost-prohibitive with traditional methods.”

WinSun added: “our 3D printed great wall stands as a testament to the obvious cost-saving, durability, and ecological benefits of the flourishing additive manufacturing industry. 3D printing reduces the need for construction materials by an estimated 30-60%, saves 50-70% in total construction time, uses 50-80% less labor, and can be up to 50% cheaper.”

Tune in next month for even more 3D printing news!

Image Courtesy of Interesting Engineering

Quotes Courtesy of Interesting Engineering, SciTechDaily, and SyFy Wire

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XEV Crowdfunds YoYo

New Atlas reports XEV is “looked to crowdfund YoYo, a 3D printed, two-seater electric city car.” XEV, based in Italy, announced a partnership with Chinese 3D printing firm Polymaker last year. Their partnership aimed “to produce a small, inexpensive electric city runabout called the LSEV. Now the name has changed to the YoYo and the car has moved closer to production with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign.”

“Designed to significantly lower the cost of all-electric driving,” the YoYo “also allows for lots of vehicle personalization possibilities. This last bit is made possible courtesy of the 3D printing of components, and in the future the company will offer a library of new part styles, which can be retro-fitted to the car to alter its look to suit changing tastes or to repair damaged parts.”

The YoYo is designed to meet European safety standards. “All of the components are secured to a steel frame, and there are front impact beams, side impact beams in the doors, and rollover protection as well. Other safety features include ABS, front and rear disc braking, and a driver’s side airbag.”

The YoYo will be categorized as an L7 vehicle, which means it will be regarded as “a quadricycle rather than a car.” “The 2.5 x 1.5 m (8.2 x 4.9 ft) dimensions offer smart car-like maneuverability and parking ease – with a turning radius of less than 8 m (26 ft).”

Despite the YoYo’s compact size, however, XEV promises “a comfortable ride for everyone from the daintiest ballerina to the burliest rugby player.” “A 7.5 kW (22 kW peak) motor will manage an electronically-limited top speed of 70 km/h (43.5 mph), so it won’t be suitable for highway driving, but should be good for zipping around urban or city streets. Per charge range is 150 km (93 mi).” YoYo Kickstarter pledges start at US$6,650, but will only be available in Europe for now.

“If all goes according to plan, shipping is estimated to start in December 2020.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of XEV and New Atlas

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The Great (3D Printed) Wall of China

SyFy Wire reports on a new Great Wall of China, which has been 3D printed in the city of Suzhou. Suzhou, located in the eastern portion of the superpower, is a major city.

It is now even more major due to the fact it is home to one of the largest 3D printed structures in the world. This wall was developed by 3D printing firm WinSun. The wall, 1,640 feet in length, is a “river protection device.”

“This lengthy sloped river revetment wall, installed along the Shanghai-Jiangsu Port waterway, is meant to absorb and deflect the energy of strong water currents, thereby protecting the land from destructive shoreline erosion, soil contamination, and flooding. It also provides a stout barrier for sensitive ecosystems and habitats relied upon by numerous birds, fish, plants, grasses, and trees.”

WinSun, also known as WinSun Decoration Design Engineering, is based in Shanghai, and “has helped revolutionize the burgeoning 3D printing construction industry. This company’s 3D printer works by printing, layer by layer, large segments of buildings, especially wall panels, using a special ‘ink’ blended from a complex proprietary cocktail of fiberglass, steel, sand, cement, hardening agents, and recycled materials.”

As the firm points out, “by utilizing the cutting-edge invention, WinSun was able to trace the natural contour of the area’s Suzhou Creek, something which would have been incredibly cost-prohibitive with traditional methods.”

WinSun added: “our 3D printed great wall stands as a testament to the obvious cost-saving, durability, and ecological benefits of the flourishing additive manufacturing industry. 3D printing reduces the need for construction materials by an estimated 30-60%, saves 50-70% in total construction time, uses 50-80% less labor, and can be up to 50% cheaper.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of SyFy Wire

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3D Printed Lattice Designs

SciTechDaily reports on innovative new 3D printed lattice designs, developed by a team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. These 3D printed lattice designs “are ultra-lightweight and ultra-stiff, despite breaking a rule previously thought to be required to exhibit such properties.”

The team described their findings in a paper published in a recent edition of the scientific journal Science Advances. The team, led by engineer Seth Watts, “used topology optimization software to create two unique unit cell designs composed of micro-architected trusses, one of which was designed to have isotropic (identical and omnidirectional) material properties. These new structures were then fabricated and tested, and were found to outperform the octet truss, a standard geometric pattern for 3D-printed lattice structures.”

“To the researchers’ surprise, the trusses appeared to violate the Maxwell criterion, a theory of structural rigidity used in mechanical design positing the most efficient load-bearing structures deform only by stretching. In such structures, stiffness scales linearly with density — cutting the structure’s weight in half only reduces its stiffness by half, as opposed to less efficient structures whose stiffness would be reduced by three-quarters or seven-eighths. This linear scaling enables the creation of ultra-lightweight, ultra-stiff mechanical metamaterials.”

As Watts continues: “we have found two trusses, which have linear scaling of stiffness with density when the conventional wisdom — this Maxwell criterion rule — is not satisfied. It had been believed the Maxwell criterion was both necessary and sufficient to show you had high stiffness at low density. We’ve shown this is not a necessary condition. In other words, there is a larger class of trusses which have this linear scaling property.”

Watts explains: “this experiment shows the previous orthodoxy is not firm. There are exceptions, and the exceptions can actually get you better properties.” In order to get to this point, the team used a projection micro-stereolithography 3D printing process.

As for the future?

Well, “Watts and his team are continuing their work to include a fuller characterization of the lattice structures, considering physics beyond linear elasticity, including heat transfer, nonlinear mechanics, vibration, and failure. Understanding their response across a range of phenomena results in more accurate design of multi-scale structures built using these new metamaterials.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of SciTechDaily

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3D Printing Aids the Visually Impaired

3D Print reports on a new campaign recently launched involving 3D printing and how it can aid the visually impaired. The South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB) has just launched 3D Printing for the Blind, whose goal is to “assist the SANCB in their quest to educate visually impaired individuals who struggle with more traditional means of learning, by 3D printing a range of educational objects students in SANCB-supported schools can use.”

This project isn’t just for visually impaired people in South Africa, either. No, anyone around the world can participate. Especially makers. “The basic requirement is a 3D printer and access to the nearest post office. It’s a big call out to the 3D printing community, to come together for a good cause. The SANCB is asking people to print between one and three items for this campaign. Then, all the 3D prints will be used in classrooms across South Africa to teach visually impaired students new shapes and objects they are not familiar with. This will also illustrate the way 3D printing can be used in education and how everyone can make a small difference for a large community.”

In order to see this vision through, the SANCB “teamed up with the 3D Printing Shop, one of the biggest one-stop-shops for 3D printing hardware and consumables in South Africa, to provide 3D printing enthusiasts a list of 31 items they can choose from.”

As Bishop Boshielo, 3D Printing Shop’s Marketing Manager, explains: “this campaign was inspired by our daily task of trying to show how practical and beneficial 3D printing could be in everyday life, to help people visually impaired people in our community learn better, as well as reaffirm the importance of 3D printing in education. We realized educational toys were quite expensive and visually impaired children struggled to understand two-dimensional concepts so we decided to print them in 3D to give them a better understanding. Also with 3D printers being reasonably priced and easy to use, any parent or caretaker of a visually impaired child could organize and print whatever models they would like to give the children.”

Boshielo concludes: “we hope to witness the children interact with these 3D printed models soon, but we can only imagine the relief and excitement which will come for the children when they are finally able to hold a shape or model they had previously only perceived in two dimensions.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3D Print

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British Airways to Enter 3D Printing Ring

Simple Flying reports British Airways is set to throw its hat into the additive manufacturing arena. The British airline will begin “trial manufacturing non-essential aircraft parts using 3D printers. This would allow the carrier to turn grounded aircraft around quicker at a destination when something simple like a tray table has broken.”

Indeed, “the airline is looking into the feasibility of printing some aircraft parts at remote locations as opposed to flying parts out.” This foray into the world of additive manufacturing could have British Airways looking to 3D print “everything from cutlery, tray tables, and toilet seats…in a remote location. The airline even thinks the technology could be expanded to build baggage containers, aircraft windows, and cockpit switches.”

British Airways is, of course, not the first airline to be swayed by the innate advantages of additive manufacturing. These advantages “range from cost to cutting emissions. When a part such as a toilet needs to be replaced, the part required for replacing the toilet could be printed and assembled on site. The airline says this means they don’t need to wait for the part to be flown out to the aircraft. This will save costs as the part doesn’t need to be flown somewhere, and the aircraft will also be back up in the skies and making money quicker. British Airways also touts that while being of the same strength, 3D printed parts weigh 55% less.”

Perhaps most astoundingly, “every kilogram removed saves up to 25 tons of CO2 emissions during the lifespan of an aircraft.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Simple Flying

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World’s First 3D Printed Community: Up and Running

Interesting Engineering reports the world’s first 3D printed community of houses is up and running. These 500-square-foot houses were built by a 33-foot-long 3D printer.

Long envisioned by not-for-profit New Story, this community is the next step in a plan to “find a solution for the 3 billion people who will be living without access to adequate shelter by 2050.”

New Story’s Co-Founder and CEO Brett Hagler expounds: “we feel like we’ve proved what’s possible by bringing this machine down to a rural area in Mexico, in a seismic zone, and successfully printing these first few houses.”

New Story “claims to research ‘breakthroughs in homebuilding.’ This is why it has partnered with Austin-based construction tech company Icon to develop a 3D printer capable of tackling even the most extreme conditions.”

“Icon’s printer, Vulcan II, is now helping print 50 Mexican homes. The new resulting neighborhood will be the first to use this technology at scale. The area where the homes are being printed has a high risk of earthquakes. Therefore, the new homes had to go through several engineering structural tests. However, the printer performed well when it came to creating the homes and better yet; it did so autonomously. Although minor adjustments to the blueprint could be made on site.”

Additionally, Vulcan II is able to print multiple houses simultaneously. These homes all “have two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a bath. New Story partnered with the local government to ensure the homes went to the 50 families most in need.”

As New Story’s other Co-Founder Alexandria Lafci explains: “for a majority of these families, this will be the first time they will have indoor restrooms, plumbing, and sanitation.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Interesting Engineering

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3D Pavilion: Made from 30,000 Water Bottles

3D Printing Industry reports on a pavilion developed by Middle East Architecture Network (MEAN). This pavilion was 3D printed “from 30,000 recycled water bottles at the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC).”

MEAN has dubbed this pavilion as “‘Deciduous,’ a term used in the field of botany to describe trees who seasonally shed leaves. It aims to provide a new form of public interaction revisiting human relationships with nature.”

In order to achieve this, MEAN utilized “computational design processes and digital fabrication tools to leverage the quality of architectural solutions. The design team was led by architect and founder Riyad Joucka, who has experience in developing complex structures, facades, and building technologies.”

Additionally, to create Deciduous, “MEAN collaborated with London large-scale 3D printer provider Ai Build and Dubai-based Construction company Besix 3D to additively manufacture the structure’s base using concrete. Conjoining stems are included in this structure, forming its unusual shape, which is made from PETG stems and a plastic polymer upcycled from 30,000 discarded water bottles.”

Deciduous feeds into “Dubai’s vision for 2025, in which at least 25% of every new building in the city will be made with additive manufacturing.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3D Printing Industry

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ISS Astronauts 3D Print Protein Crystals

3D Printing Media Network reports astronauts aboard the international space station were successful in 3D printing protein crystals up in orbit. This whole experiment was envisioned by 3D Bioprinting Solutions.

Specifically, “in August 2019 3D Bioprinting Solutions carried out a high molecular weight protein crystallization experiment on board the ISS with a Organ.Aut magnetic bioprinter and specials cuvettes.”

For this experiment, the researchers “used a new method – magnetic sedimentation of protein molecules in a paramagnetic solution in an inhomogeneous magnetic field and diffusion of the precipitator into protein solution.”

Organ.Aut’s magnetic bioprinter has the capability to create “a high-gradient inhomogeneous magnetic field with a magnetic well in the center of the active area. The cuvettes ensure delivery, process initiation, fixation, and return to Earth of the resulting samples. The results show the prospective application of this method to create high-quality protein crystals.” These crystals vary in size (300-1500 mm).

Why did the researchers conduct this experiment up in orbit, you may ask. Well, “to obtain an ideal crystal, it is necessary to ensure uniform access to the substance. On Earth, gravity prevents it. But in space there are almost ideal conditions for the crystals growth. There, molecules can integrate into the crystal evenly from all sides. And the more perfect the crystal, the higher the accuracy with which the team could determine the structure of the macromolecule.”

This magnetic bioprinter could be “used in the following studies and experiments, with various cuvettes and materials, which could potentially lead to unique protein crystals, which are only achievable in space. The crystals grow in specially selected solutions acting on the protein in such a way that its macromolecules, when combined, form a strictly ordered crystalline structures. The team’s study will help scientists in creating more effective drugs that affect viruses and bacteria at the molecular level.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3D Printing Media Network

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Durable 3D Printed Structures: Inspired by Bone

Extreme Tech reports on the recent development of durable 3D printed structures, inspired by bone. These structures were developed by scientists from Cornell, Purdue, and Case Western Reserve Universities. These teams’ goal is to “eventually make 3D printing viable for high-stakes applications like construction and aircraft design.”

“Neither bones nor 3D printed objects are completely solid, this would make them too heavy. In 3D printing, projects often make use of various ‘infills’ to make the structure stronger. In bones, the strength comes from spongy structures called trabeculae. In both cases, the key is collections of columns and beams distributing the load evenly. The team found creating modified versions of the ‘beams’ inside human bone with 3D printing could produce objects, which are much more durable.”

Trabeculae are made up of vertical plate-like struts and horizontal rod-like structures, acting as columns and beams. The teams hypothesized these vertical plates “do contribute to a bone’s stiffness and strength, but it’s the horizontal beams, which make bone durable over the long term.” In order to prove this, “the teams created a 3D printed model of trabeculae. They showed the 3D printed trabeculae had similar mechanical properties to real bone. Next, they made a fully synthetic structure inspired by human bone and adjusted the horizontal beam thickness. The team found a 30% thicker beam resulted in a 100-fold increase in load-bearing capacity, offering compelling proof the horizontal structures are the main contributor to strength.”

The teams concluded: “making the horizontal supports thicker did not significantly increase the weight of 3D-printed objects. This means humanity could eventually produce large 3D-printed structures, which are durable and light enough to be transported from place to place. It could also make Martian habitats sturdier. This discovery could even help humanity better understand the changes happening in bones as they age, potentially leading to new treatments reducing breaks.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Extreme Tech

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Instructions Stored Within 3D Printed Rabbits

According to Spectrum, 3D printed rabbits have been created with the instructions for creating them stored within the object. This has been likened to DNA in living creatures, as “every living thing contains DNA providing the codes for its existence.”

A report on these 3D printed rabbits was published in the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology recently. The researchers “described how they 3D printed a rabbit-shaped trinket containing DNA encoding the digital instructions for its fabrication. This means tomorrow, or a thousand years from now, someone could, with merely a piece of this rabbit-shaped trinket, decode the DNA stored within, and learn exactly what the trinket looked like, or even 3D print a clone.”

As the researchers explained, “this experiment demonstrates digital information can be stored as DNA in free-form objects. One might call it the DNA of things.” Associate Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford Drew Endy, who was not a part of this research, is still blown away by its implications: “the work is incredibly interesting from a cultural perspective. Imagine a societal norm in which every object must encode the instructions for making the object, given the incredible information density of DNA data storage, such information could, in some commonplace objects such as refrigerators, also include a fully unabridged guide to rebuilding all of civilization.”

For their part, the researchers involved in this report “envision embedding this type of code in important, difficult-to-replace objects such as medical implants, building materials, car parts, and electronic components.”

In order to achieve this, the researchers “converted 3D printing instructions contained in a 45 kb binary strereolithography (.stl) file into a four-digit code, and synthesized the corresponding DNA. Subsequently, they divided the DNA into short strands of code, called oligonucleotides, and encapsulated them in silica nanoparticles. Finally, they blended the nanoparticles with biodegradable thermoplastic polyester, and generated a 3D printing filament laced with DNA.”

Why a rabbit? “The tchotchke, by the way, is the Stanford Bunny: one of the most commonly used test models in 3D computer graphics.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Spectrum

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India’s First Metal 3D Printer

Inc42 reports India has developed its first metal 3D printer. It was developed by Wipro 3D in conjunction with the Indian Institution of Science (IISc). Wipro 3D is the additive manufacturing (AM) arm of India’s tech giant Wipro.

As Wipro 3D reports: “this newly developed industrial-grade metal additive 3D printing machine works on selective electron beam melting technology. Additionally, this 3D printer offers improved thermal management, higher part density, and superior mechanical properties” in relation to its non-metal printing predecessors.

As Wipro 3D’s Vice President and Business Head Ajay Parikh explains: “this is India’s first electron beam melting powder bed fusion 3D printer. The machine, whose benchmarking is underway and likely to be completed in the near future, symbolizes Wipro 3D’s constant effort for additive technology.”

“In addition to this metal additive 3D printing machine, Wipro 3D is also engaged in building some aerospace components, including a thruster for satellite engines using this new-age technology, meaning additive manufacturing in general.”

Regionally, “3D printing market in the Asia Pacific region is expected to reach $4.3 Bn by 2021, as per 6WResearch. Globally, this technology has been projected to create a market worth $30.19 Bn by 2022, including the manufacturing and sale of 3D printers. Moreover, for India, the numbers stand only at $79 Mn by 2021.”

However, “in this hyper-digitalized era, India is in position to forge head with its own brigade of 3D printing-related startups.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Inc42

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