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3D Printing and the Body

As with many other recent months, the medical industry has once again put itself in the 3D printing limelight.  This time, the focus of additive manufacturing in this sector has been trained on body modification and enhancement.

We begin with aquatic 3D bioprinting.  3D Printing Industry reports on a new 3D bioprinting process.  This process is unique in that the 3D printing occurs in water.  This will lead to faster 3D print times.

“When working with living cells, hydrogels and bioscaffolds are typically used as support material to grow tissue.  As such, there is a growing volume of 3D bioprinting research concerning the optimal environment and materials for cell growth.  With this in mind, it becomes clear why water may be a good environment to 3D print a structure for medical use.”

Enter materials scientists Shlomo Magdassi, who led teams at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Maryland in the United States in the “research into a new family of photoinitiators for use in digital light processing (DLP).  These additives, which cause rapid solidification of a liquid material, create faster reactions when exposed to light.”  By 3D printing in water, the process allows for medical applications, “leading toward a competitive response for patient specific implants and tissues.”

“The key to rapid 3D printing of Magdassi’s team’s initiators is in their ability to split water, and absorb oxygen molecules, which typically inhibit the performance of the process.  The particles added as the photoinitiator in this case are semi-conductive metal hybrid nanoparticles (HNPs), and are used to create high-resolution 3D objects on a sub-microscopic scale…degree of polymerization in material including the HNPs is significantly faster than light-restive material used without the particles.”

As the teams concluded: “the semiconductor and metal segments can be tuned in terms of their composition, size, shape, and relative location toward optimal performance in photopolymerization and in particular in 3D printing.”  Yet again, 3D printing is the champion of flexibility and customization.

Beyond chemicals and nanoparticles, 3D printing is having an impact on lives right now.  That is why many countries are becoming more and more invested in building 3D printing facilities.  Indeed, 3DPrint has caught wind of an opportunity coming think3D’s way.  think3D, which is based in India, is that country’s largest desktop 3D printing platform.  think3D is a “subsidiary of Singapore-based think3D Labs Pte Ltd.”

Now, the Provincial Government of Andhra Pradesh, which is the eighth largest state in India, has tendered think3D to create a new 3D printing facility.  “The medical device market in India is worth $5.5 billion, and huge growth is expected in the next several years.  However, nearly 75% of the market is made up of imported medical devices, which means a monetary and employment loss for the country.”

This is the main reason why the government of Andhra Pradesh has tasked think3D with the creation of the $6 million facility.  This “facility will be part of a new medical devices park, the Andhra Pradesh Medical Tech Zone (AMTZ), which is an SPV formed…to reduce the country’s dependence on imported medical devices and promote this type of manufacturing within India.  The medical device manufacturing zone is roughly 270 acres.”  This AMTZ is part “of the central government’s Make In India Initiative, which was launched two years ago as a means of transforming the country into a global manufacturing and design hub.”

As part of its agreement with AMTZ, think3D will set up and manage “a 20,000 square-foot rapid prototyping facility, an expert 3D design facility, and a reverse engineering facility; the rapid prototyping facility will house various high-quality metal 3D printers for any SLS, SLA, and bioprinting needs.  AMTZ will purchase the 3D printers, and lease both the facility and the machinery to think3D, which will manage the whole operation at its own expense while offering 3D printing customers at the park a subsidized pay-per-use rate; a market rate will be available for any entities outside of the park.”

3D printed implants aren’t just for the future, though.  They’re also for the here and now.  Again, 3DPrint reports on a recent clearance by the FDA on SI-BONE’s patented iFuse-3D Implant, “its next generation member of the iFuse Implant System and the first 3D printed titanium implant for use in the sacroiliac joint.”

SI-BONE, a California-based medical device company, has “also announced the full commercial launch of the iFuse-3D in the US.”  The “triangular MIS iFuse Implant System…is used for fusion for certain disorders of the sacroiliac (SI) joint.  This joint is between the ilium and sacrum bones on each side of the pelvis; the sacrum supports the spine, and the ilium supports the sacrum.”

“SI-BONE developed a proprietary 3D printing technology in order to develop the implant, which features an enhanced porous surface resembling the trabecular structure of cancellous bone and unique fenestrated design; both of these features combine to make an environment promoting bone ongrowth, ingrowth, through growth, and intra-articular fusion.”

As Scott A. Yerby, Ph.D. and SI-BONE’s Chief Technology Officer, explains: “the design and development of the iFuse-3D implant was a multi-year effort.  Our goal was to expand the iFuse family using 3D printing technology to provide enhanced surface characteristics while retaining key performance features of the iFuse Implant, including superior rotational resistance, mechanical strength, and ease of use with our existing instrumentation.  iFuse-3D, with its trabecular-like surface, provides 250% greater surface area than our highly successful iFuse Implant.  Additionally, the structural fenestrations allow complete bone through growth.”

The iFuse-3D Implant’s patent “covers some of its structural design features, and offers intellectual property protection until September 2035.”

Of course, this isn’t all.

As The Independent reports, Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) will be launching “the world’s first clinical trial of [3D printed prostheses]…the 3D printed devices for child amputees, based on popular Disney characters, are designed to be produced at a fraction of the cost of current models.”

This trial will be carried out by Open Bionics, a firm based in the English city of Bristol.  Open Bionics will be “working with 10 children at a local hospital during the six-month trial.”  One such child is Tilly Lockey, “an 11-year-old from Durham who lost her hands after she developed meningitis as a baby.”

Of her new 3D printed prototype bionic hand, Lockey says it “looks awesome and makes you feel confident.  Instead of people thinking they feel sorry for you because you don’t have a hand, they’re like: ‘Oh my gosh, that’s a cool hand!’”

Open Bionics’ hands “cost 5,000 pounds [about $6,370] and only take one day to make, using cutting edge 3D scanning and printing techniques to ensure a good fit.  Currently available prosthetics with controllable fingers can cost up to 60,000 pounds [about $76,448], often prohibitive to growing children.”

This new lightweight design by Open Bionics “uses a 3D printer to create the hand in four separate parts, custom-built to fit the patient using scans of their body.  Sensors attached to the skin detect the user’s muscle movements, which can be used to control the hand and open and close the fingers…Open Bionics has won a 100,000 pound [about $127,413] award from the Small Business Research Initiatives scheme to fund the trial, which it is conducting with the North Bristol NHS hospital trust.”

Open Bionics has entered into a royalty-free agreement with Disney, which “means the devices can be based on characters from any Disney property” such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the Star Wars saga.  As for Lockey’s hand, it is based on the cyberpunk video game series Deus Ex.

These are just a few examples of how 3D printing isn’t just going to change the future of the medical industry – it’s already changing the industry – right now!

Image Courtesy of the BBC and The Independent

Quotes Courtesy of 3D Printing Industry, 3DPrint, the BBC, and The Independent

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Cell-Infused 3D Printed Patches for the Treatment of Ischemia

3Ders caught wind of a brand-new type of cell-infused 3D printed patch designed to be used during the treatment of ischemia.  These patches were developed at Boston University’s Biological Design Center.  The research team at Boston University published their results in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.

Ischemia “is a term [describing a condition wherein] heart muscles [do not receive] enough oxygen, something that is often caused by narrowing or blockage of the arteries.  For most people, it’s a temporary thing, but its consequences can sometimes be severe: ischemia occasionally leads to heart attack, stroke, gangrene, and other serious conditions.”

Enter the team at Boston University’s Biological Design Center, who “have developed a technique for 3D printing cell-infused patches that can be used to grow healthy blood vessels.”  The Director of the Biological Design Center, Professor Christopher Chen (BME, MSE), explains how these “3D printed patches foster the growth of new vessels while avoiding some of the problems of other approaches:”

“Therapeutic angiogenesis, when growth factors are injected to encourage new vessels to grow, is a promising experimental method to treat ischemia.  But, in practice, the new branches that sprout form a disorganized and tortuous network that looks like sort of a hairball and doesn’t allow blood to flow efficiently through it.  We wanted to see if we could solve this problem by organizing them.”

Therefore, “the research team designed two 3D printable patches, one where the cells were pre-organized into a specific architecture, and another where the cells were simply injected without any organizational structure.  Testing showed the patches with pre-organized structures performed better than their ‘hairball’ counterparts [when it came to] reducing the prevalence of ischemia.”

In order to 3D print blood vessels on such a small scale, the team at Boston University recruited the help of Innolign, “a Boston biomedical technology company that Chen helped establish.”  This allowed the team to 3D print “details as fine as 100 microns.”

As Chen concludes: “the pre-organized architecture of the patch helped to guide the formation of new blood vessels that seemed to deliver sufficient blood to the downstream tissue.  While it wasn’t a full recovery, we observed functional recovery of function in the ischemic tissue.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3Ders

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World’s Largest Laser Powder Additive Machine

Business Wire reports on a brand-new announcement by GE Additive, which is part of the GE brand.  GE Additive plans to create “the world’s largest laser-powder additive manufacturing machine.  This machine will 3D print aviation parts one meter in diameter, suitable for making jet engine structural components and parts for single-aisle aircraft.”

This laser-powder additive machine will have a “build envelop of one meter cubed (1000mm x 1000 mm x 1000 mm).”  While GE Additive announced this development project at the Paris Air Show, they plan to unveil it in November at the Formnext Show in Frankfurt, Germany.

Mohammad Ehteshami, Vice President and General Manager of GE Additive, explains the machine’s properties: “the machine will 3D print aviation parts…suitable for making jet engine structural components and parts for single-aisle aircraft.  The machine will also be applicable for manufacturers in the automotive, power, and oil & gas industries.”

“The initial technology demonstrator machine, called ‘ATLAS,’ is a laser-powder machine and will be ‘meter-class’ (1000mm) in at least two directions.  The GE team has been developing the machine over the past two years and several proof-of-concept machines have been built.”

“In the machine’s production version, the build geometry will be customizable and scalable for an individual customer’s project.  Its feature resolution and build-rate speeds will equal or better today’s additive machines.  It is also designed to be used with multiple materials, including non-reactive and reactive materials (such as aluminum and titanium).”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of GE and Business Wire

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British National Health Service Begins World’s First Trial of 3D Printed Prostheses

As The Independent reports, Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) will be launching “the world’s first clinical trial of [3D printed prostheses]…the 3D printed devices for child amputees, based on popular Disney characters, are designed to be produced at a fraction of the cost of current models.”

This trial will be carried out by Open Bionics, a firm based in the English city of Bristol.  Open Bionics will be “working with 10 children at a local hospital during the six-month trial.”  One such child is Tilly Lockey, “an 11-year-old from Durham who lost her hands after she developed meningitis as a baby.”

Of her new 3D printed prototype bionic hand, Lockey says it “looks awesome and makes you feel confident.  Instead of people thinking they feel sorry for you because you don’t have a hand, they’re like: ‘Oh my gosh, that’s a cool hand!’”

Open Bionics’ hands “cost 5,000 pounds [about $6,370] and only take one day to make, using cutting edge 3D scanning and printing techniques to ensure a good fit.  Currently available prosthetics with controllable fingers can cost up to 60,000 pounds [about $76,448], often prohibitive to growing children.”

This new lightweight design by Open Bionics “uses a 3D printer to create the hand in four separate parts, custom-built to fit the patient using scans of their body.  Sensors attached to the skin detect the user’s muscle movements, which can be used to control the hand and open and close the fingers…Open Bionics has won a 100,000 pound [about $127,413] award from the Small Business Research Initiatives scheme to fund the trial, which it is conducting with the North Bristol NHS hospital trust.”

Open Bionics has entered into a royalty-free agreement with Disney, which “means the devices can be based on characters from any Disney property” such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the Star Wars saga.  As for Lockey’s hand, it is based on the cyberpunk video game series Deus Ex.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of the BBC and The Independent

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Formlabs Enters 3D Printing for Manufacturing

Tech Crunch reported from Formlabs’ Digital Factory Conference in the middle of last month.  Among the announcements made, the 3D printing company has stated they will be entering the 3D printing for manufacturing market.

Formlabs Founder and CEO Max Lobovsky says that “around 95-percent of Formlabs’ existing customers are professional…these next steps for the company make a push into direct manufacturing and the embrace of a 3D printing technology long out of reach for most startups.”

The Form 1 and 2 3D printers were designed to be used in the prototyping world.  However, in recent years, both machines have begun creeping into the world of biomedical devices.  “Lobovsky estimates some five-million people around the globe have used products created on a Formlabs 3D printer, with companies like Invisalign Dental making up the biggest chunk of that market share.”

While it’s not quite mass manufacturing yet – Formlabs is clearly well on its way.  That’s why they’ve announced the Form Cell System, “to mark the beginning of scalability for their desktop offering.  The principle of the system is…essentially a bunch of 3D printers networked into a single system…Form Cell is an array of up to five connected Form 2s, plus the company’s new Wash and Cure systems…the whole process can be controlled remotely.”  This allows companies to cut their 3D printing costs.

“New Balance will be one of the first companies to take advantage of the new small-scale manufacturing.  Starting next year, the athletic shoe maker will be using Formlabs’ system to create custom 3D printed footwear…it’s a step beyond the current biomedical applications for 3D printing, but one which still benefits from customization.”

As Lobovsky concludes: “investors, press, everyone was obsessed with the mass consumer thing.  If there’s one area we’ve lost to MakerBot and 3D Systems, it’s in terms of press.  Now everyone is talking about mass production: ‘We’re going to produce millions of parts!’  But it’s not going to be random plastic bits in a car.  It’s where 3D printing has a unique edge.  It is going to impact people, it just might be in slightly creepy [i.e. dental drilling] applications.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Tech Crunch

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think3D to Open 3D Printing and Design Facility in India

3DPrint has caught wind of an opportunity coming think3D’s way.  think3D, which is based in India, is that country’s largest desktop 3D printing platform.  think3D is a “subsidiary of Singapore-based think3D Labs Pte Ltd.”

Now, the Provincial Government of Andhra Pradesh, which is the eighth largest state in India, has tendered think3D to create a new 3D printing facility.  “The medical device market in India is worth $5.5 billion, and huge growth is expected in the next several years.  However, nearly 75% of the market is made up of imported medical devices, which means a monetary and employment loss for the country.”

This is the main reason why the government of Andhra Pradesh has tasked think3D with the creation of the $6 million facility.  This “facility will be part of a new medical devices park, the Andhra Pradesh Medical Tech Zone (AMTZ), which is an SPV formed…to reduce the country’s dependence on imported medical devices and promote this type of manufacturing within India.  The medical device manufacturing zone is roughly 270 acres.”  This AMTZ is part “of the central government’s Make In India Initiative, which was launched two years ago as a means of transforming the country into a global manufacturing and design hub.”

As part of its agreement with AMTZ, think3D will set up and manage “a 20,000 square-foot rapid prototyping facility, an expert 3D design facility, and a reverse engineering facility; the rapid prototyping facility will house various high-quality metal 3D printers for any SLS, SLA, and bioprinting needs.  AMTZ will purchase the 3D printers, and lease both the facility and the machinery to think3D, which will manage the whole operation at its own expense while offering 3D printing customers at the park a subsidized pay-per-use rate; a market rate will be available for any entities outside of the park.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3DPrint

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Michelin 3D Print Airless Tire

Designboom was on hand to witness an exciting new announcement made by the tire company Michelin.  This announcement concerned a brand-new tire “concept, designed to make mobility safer, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly.”  It was made at Michelin’s MovinOn Conference in Montreal.

“Michelin envisions a puncture-free future, combining tire and wheel into one 3D printed design.  The revolutionary form is made entirely of recycled materials, and it too can be recycled at the end of its (hopefully long) life, after having covered thousands upon thousands of kilometers.”

Michelin’s 3D printed airless tire’s biometric structure was inspired by “the honeycomb, as if it may well itself have been woven by nature.  A perfect example of generative design, the tire gets its strength from its coral-like texture.”  With this tire, punctures will be a thing of the past.  But beyond this, “the tire’s tread can be replenished by a 3D printer” as well.

“The tire’s biodegradable body material performs to the same standard as conventional tread, yet saves expensive costs and waste materials in replacing the whole tire when tread gets low.”  The tire’s inbuilt 3D printed qualities will therefore help conserve resources.

Additionally, “Michelin’s concept tire is even connected with your vehicle, automatically informing you of the wear on your tread, and programming you in for a tread re-print.  When you’re due for a tread touch-up, you can even choose the type of tread you need at that particular time for your intended tire use, following the suggestion that its embedded app deems fit.”

As Michelin boasts: “our vision of mobility is also based on a vision of the economy.  A circular economy protecting the planet’s resources by reducing, reusing, renewing, or recycling the materials required to manufacture our products, in order to avoid leaving an environmental footprint.  This vision guides our research because we bear in mind that, if mobility is to have a future, it will have to be even safer, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Michelin and Designboom

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3D Printed Jewelry

TCT Magazine reports on a new partnership between Italian jewelry manufacturer B.M.C.srl, Cooksongold, and EOS.  B.M.C. “is to leverage a metal [3D printer] developed by Cooksongold and EOS [in order] to offer a complete 3D precious metal service.”

The partners have gone about this by “utilizing the Precious M 080 system…[which] will be used to enhance B.M.C.’s Specialized Services and Products operation…[this] system expands upon the technology created by EOS to provide jewelry makers with the power and freedom to create complex jewelry in a matter of hours.”

B.M.C.’s CEO and Chairman Carlo Massavelli explains his company’s reasoning when it came to entering into this partnership: “we are always looking to incorporate the latest technology and production possibilities.  Direct Precious Metal 3D printing with the M 080 system provides us with another tool and production method, which will ensure we can continue to push the boundaries of jewel and watch creation.”

B.M.C.’s new partner, Cooksongold’s Managing Director Martin Bach, “looks forward to seeing the M080 system flourish at the ‘elite level of jewelry making.’  [Cooksongold is] delighted to be working with B.M.C. for the development of precious metal 3D printing to fully exploit its capabilities and production application in the high-end jewelry supply chain.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of TCT Magazine

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3D Printed Titanium Implant for Sacroiliac Joint Approved by FDA

3DPrint reports on a recent clearance by the FDA on SI-BONE’s patented iFuse-3D Implant, “its next generation member of the iFuse Implant System and the first 3D printed titanium implant for use in the sacroiliac joint.”

SI-BONE, a California-based medical device company, has “also announced the full commercial launch of the iFuse-3D in the US.”  The “triangular MIS iFuse Implant System…is used for fusion for certain disorders of the sacroiliac (SI) joint.  This joint is between the ilium and sacrum bones on each side of the pelvis; the sacrum supports the spine, and the ilium supports the sacrum.”

“SI-BONE developed a proprietary 3D printing technology in order to develop the implant, which features an enhanced porous surface resembling the trabecular structure of cancellous bone and unique fenestrated design; both of these features combine to make an environment promoting bone ongrowth, ingrowth, through growth, and intra-articular fusion.”

As Scott A. Yerby, Ph.D. and SI-BONE’s Chief Technology Officer, explains: “the design and development of the iFuse-3D implant was a multi-year effort.  Our goal was to expand the iFuse family using 3D printing technology to provide enhanced surface characteristics while retaining key performance features of the iFuse Implant, including superior rotational resistance, mechanical strength, and ease of use with our existing instrumentation.  iFuse-3D, with its trabecular-like surface, provides 250% greater surface area than our highly successful iFuse Implant.  Additionally, the structural fenestrations allow complete bone through growth.”

The iFuse-3D Implant’s patent “covers some of its structural design features, and offers intellectual property protection until September 2035.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3DPrint

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Disney Files Anti-Scanning Material Patent

Disney has just launched yet another volley in the endless war against 3D printing pirates.  As reported by 3Ders, the entertainment monolith “has filed a patent for an ‘anti-scanning’ material that would prevent the unauthorized 3D scanning and printing of copyrighted Disney figurines.”

In recent years, it has become apparent that many makers have used the wonders of additive manufacturing in order to scan and print figurines they haven’t paid for.  Enter Disney with its new ‘anti-scanning’ material.

“The material, described in a recently filed patent, would have certain reflective properties [capable of befuddling] scanning equipment by making solid edges hard to identify.  It is not yet known exactly how this ‘retro-reflective’ material works, but the patent suggests that glass crystals embedded in a figurine’s face could be used to perform the function.”  As the patent explains: “the scan-protected exterior surfaces are either light-absorbing or reflect light in unconventional directions.”

Of course, this new patented material cannot stop all forms of 3D printed piracy.  For example, “Disney lovers would still be able to create 3D models using their own freehand CAD skills or by importing the 3D data from sources like video games.”  But this latest patent by Disney “could be part of a wider project to stamp out unauthorized copies at all stages of their creation.”

Who knows where these 3D printed piracy wars will end up next…

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3Ders, Lucasfilm, and The Walt Disney Company

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HP Expands 3D Printing Foothold in Asia Pacific

ZDNet reports on a brand-new expansion by HP into the Asia Pacific region.  This expansion involves the company’s Jet Fusion 3D Printing Technology.  As a result of this expansion, HP has announced “its 3D printing portfolio will be available across [the Asia Pacific region].”

“The company, which has been expanding its reseller and commercial reach for its Jet Fusion 3D Printing portfolio, announced pacts with two Chinese 3D printing services to build out a network of 50 facilities.”

“Shining 3D ePrint, which has more than 10,000 customers globally, will deploy HP’s 3D printing hardware and software in Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Nanjing, and Shanghai.  In addition, Infinite 3D Printing will deploy HP’s 3D [printing apparatus] in more locations such as Suzhou and Qingdao…HP’s expansion into Asia Pacific also includes Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Australia.  The company said it will expand its HP Partner First 3D Printing Specialization program to more than a dozen partners in the region.”  Additionally, HP will be building 3D printing reference and experience centers within cities spread across this region.

Only time will tell if this ambitious expansion will help HP’s 3D printing enterprises – but “Asia Pacific is a critical market for 3D printing given the region is [such a vital] cog in the manufacturing sector.”  So, it is well within the company’s interest for this new foothold to succeed.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of HP and ZDNet

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Aquatic 3D Bioprinting

3D Printing Industry reports on a new 3D bioprinting process.  This process is unique in that the 3D printing occurs in water.  This will lead to faster 3D print times.

“When working with living cells, hydrogels and bioscaffolds are typically used as support material to grow tissue.  As such, there is a growing volume of 3D bioprinting research concerning the optimal environment and materials for cell growth.  With this in mind, it becomes clear why water may be a good environment to 3D print a structure for medical use.”

Enter materials scientists Shlomo Magdassi, who led teams at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Maryland in the United States in the “research into a new family of photoinitiators for use in digital light processing (DLP).  These additives, which cause rapid solidification of a liquid material, create faster reactions when exposed to light.”  By 3D printing in water, the process allows for medical applications, “leading toward a competitive response for patient specific implants and tissues.”

“The key to rapid 3D printing of Magdassi’s team’s initiators is in their ability to split water, and absorb oxygen molecules, which typically inhibit the performance of the process.  The particles added as the photoinitiator in this case are semi-conductive metal hybrid nanoparticles (HNPs), and are used to create high-resolution 3D objects on a sub-microscopic scale…degree of polymerization in material including the HNPs is significantly faster than light-restive material used without the particles.”

As the teams concluded: “the semiconductor and metal segments can be tuned in terms of their composition, size, shape, and relative location toward optimal performance in photopolymerization and in particular in 3D printing.”  Yet again, 3D printing is the champion of flexibility and customization.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3D Printing Industry

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