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July 2018: 3D Printing Update

Every month, the world of 3D printing advances in a variety of ways.  July 2018 was, of course, no exception.  Let’s get right to it!

Stratasys and Audi recently announced a new partnership between their two companies.  The automotive and additive manufacturing companies have been working together since 2002, but now “the Audi Pre-Series Center with its Plastics 3D Printing Center in Ingolstadt, Germany, will leverage the world’s only full-color, multi-material 3D printer – the Stratasys J750.”

The J750 will be used to help reduce prototyping lead times for automotive tail light covers.  Audi foresees this 3D printer reducing these lead times by up to 50 percent.  Prototypes of these automobiles are created in order for Audi “to evaluate new designs and concepts thoroughly.”  Traditionally, methods such as molding and milling have been used in order to create such prototypes.  But not anymore.

3D printing speeds up the entire process: “the use of plastics 3D printing has become an integral part of the automotive design process at the Audi Pre-Series Center, enabling the team to overcome limitations of conventional processes and accelerate design verification.”

Stratasys’ J750 “will enable production of entirely transparent, multi-colored tail light covers in a single print, eliminating the need for its previous multi-step process.  With over 500,000 color combinations available, the team can 3D print transparent parts in multiple colors and textures that meet the stringent requirements of the Audi design approval process.”

As Head of the Audi Plastics 3D Printing Center Dr. Tim Spiering concludes: “Design is one of the most important buying decisions for Audi customers, therefore it’s crucial we adhere to supreme quality standards during the design and concept phase of vehicle development.  As a result, we need prototypes to have exact part geometries, no distortion and extremely high quality, as well as true-to-part color and transparency. The Stratasys J750 3D Printer will offer us a significant advantage, as it allows us to print the exact textures and colors our design defines. This is essential for getting design concepts approved for production. In terms of 3D printing transparent parts, I have not seen a comparable technology that meets our standards.  Using the J750 for the prototyping of tail light covers, we will be able to accelerate our design verification process.  We estimate time-savings of up to 50 percent by using this 3D print technique in our prototyping process of tail light covers.”

Elsewhere, Mother Nature Network reports on astounding news out of the Netherlands.  Eindhoven, which is the Netherlands’ fifth largest city, is the home of the world’s first 3D printed concrete bicycle bridge.  But now the city can etch itself even deeper into the legacy of additive manufacturing.  It is now to be the home of the world’s first concrete 3D printed commercial housing project.

This project, which is being dubbed Project Milestone, will consist of a cluster of five rental homes near Eindhoven Airport.  Project Milestone is being sold as “living in a sculpture garden…modern-day Stonehenge…Bedrock by way of Bauhaus.”  Project Milestone is spearheaded by the same team from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) which created the 3D printed concrete bicycle bridge.

These homes will be “excreted from a massive 3D concrete printer…concrete printing is relatively speedy compared to traditional building methods, is low-cost, and is environmentally friendly.”  The team believes that by the time Project Milestone has been completed in 5 years, 5 percent of homes in the Netherlands will be 3D printed using similar processes.  One of the great things about 3D printing livable spaces is that they can be customized to fit the needs of the people who want to live there.  Truly a democratization of living spaces.

Project Milestone’s press release concludes: “The 3D printing technique gives freedom of form, whereas traditional concrete is very rigid in shape. This freedom of form has been used here to make a design with which the houses naturally blend into their wooded surroundings, like boulders. As if the five buildings were abandoned and have always been in this wooded oasis.”

From large buildings to a much smaller scale, 3D printing can do it all:

3DPrint reports on an exciting new breakthrough concerning microscale multimaterial 3D printing.  A team of researchers from Virginia Tech University created a new additive manufacturing process and published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.

The team has dubbed their new process ‘method multimaterial programmable additive manufacturing with integrated resin delivery.’  In English, this means the team created a new process for mircoscale 3D printing “using in-situ resin mixing and robotics to 3D print multimaterial with programmed stiffness – without cross contaminating any of the properties.”

The researchers created this process to be used for a number of different “applications, such as actuation, aircraft wing structures, artificial muscles, energy absorption, flexible armor, microbotics, and protective coatings.”

This new process allows for “programmed morphing,” meaning it is now possible “to create specific modulus (flexibility) distributions in a build, which then allows for programmed shrinkage or expansion to take place throughout the material body.”

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Xiaoyu “Rayne” Zheng, who is also a member of the Macromolecules Innovation Institute, added: “this new microscale manufacturing system is also able to be up-scaled to centimeter levels…and levels above that.”

“We envision these programmable morphing material concepts will find applications in directional strain amplifications, actuations, flexible electronics, and the design of lightweight metamaterials with tailored stiffness and toughness. The new material design space offered by rapid fabrication of dissimilar material constituents distributed within a micro-lattice architecture opens up new dimensions of 3-D printing of multimaterials with a large degree of stiffness variance.”

Finally, Engadget recently caught wind of a new release by the company 3Doodler.  3Doodler is famous for their mobile 3D printing pens.  Now, 3Doodler has announced the launch of their latest pen, the Create+.

“The Create+ builds on the original Create with the first dual drive system in any 3D printer, promising ‘almost entirely jam-free’ drawing…this also allows it to work seamlessly with a greater range of plastics, including ABS, FLEXY, and PLA.”

Additionally, the Create+ will also come complete with “a new heating algorithm for better performance, auto-retraction to prevent plastic from oozing out and more distinctive fast and slow settings.”

3Doodler plans to ship this shiny new Create+ 3D Printer pens this summer, “starting at $80 in an Essential set that includes three plastic packs.  Other sets include the $100 Deluxe set with a nozzleset and a Mini DoodlePad, and a $150 Master Creator set that upgrades to a full DoodlePad while throwing in the new A-to-Z Bookends Canvas kid, a project book, and another three plastic packs.”

On top of all this, 3Doodler customers will also have the option to add new creative kits into the mix.  These new creative kits include “the Animal Heads Kit (for wall mounting), a Purse Kit, a Decorative Lights Kit, an Engine Kit, and even an Advanced Robotics Kit” allowing your 3D printed objects to move on their own.  Each of these kits are an additional $30.

What will occur next in the wonderful world of 3D printing?  Tune in to Replicator World to find out!

Image Courtesy of Mother Nature Network

Quotes Courtesy of Audi and Stratasys, Mother Nature Network, 3DPrint, and Engadget

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3D Print Your Own Brains!

Engadget recently reported on a slightly creepy, yet informative, way – using 3D printing – to discover things about your brain and neurology.

When MIT graduate Steven Keating wished to see data of his brain from MRI and CT scans “following surgery to remove a baseball-sized tumor,” he discovered that even if he were to 3D print life-sized models of his brain, it would be “a slow, cumbersome process, which wouldn’t reveal any important areas of interest.”

As a result, Keating teamed up with some researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute.  The researchers then developed “a fast and easy way to print palm-sized models of individual human brains, in a bid to advance scientific endeavors.”

“MRI and CT scans produce images with so much detail that objects of interest need to be isolated from surrounding tissue and converted into surface meshes in order to be printed…  But since medical imaging data often contains irregularly-shaped objects and lacks clear borders, features of interest are usually over- or under-exaggerated, and details are washed out.”

But now, thanks to Keating and his team, you can 3D print models of brains using “dithered bitmaps, a digital file format where each pixel of a grayscale image is converted into a series of black and white pixels, and the density of the black pixels is what defines the different shades of gray, rather than the pixels themselves varying in color.”  This way, the data you are attempting to investigate becomes clearer.

As a result, a 3D model of Keating’s brain was successfully 3D printed and it “preserved all the detail shown in the MRI data, down to a resolution on par with what the human eye can see from about nine inches’ distance.  The team has applied the same approach to other parts of the body too.”

James Weaver, one of the other architects of the project, concludes: “Our approach not only allows for high levels of detail to be preserved and printed into medical models, but it also saves a tremendous amount of time and money.”

“Manually segmenting a CT scan of a healthy human foot, with all its internal bone structure, bone marrow, tendons, muscles, soft tissue, and skin, for example, can take more than 30 hours, even by a trained professional. We were able to do it in less than an hour.”

“I imagine that sometime within the next five years, the day could come when any patient who goes into a doctor’s office for a routine or non-routine CT or MRI scan will be able to get a 3D-printed model of their patient-specific data within a few days.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Engadget

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New Microscale Multimaterial 3D Printing Process

3DPrint reports on an exciting new breakthrough concerning microscale multimaterial 3D printing.  A team of researchers from Virginia Tech University created a new additive manufacturing process and published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.

The team has dubbed their new process ‘method multimaterial programmable additive manufacturing with integrated resin delivery.’  In English, this means the team created a new process for mircoscale 3D printing “using in-situ resin mixing and robotics to 3D print multimaterial with programmed stiffness – without cross contaminating any of the properties.”

The researchers created this process to be used for a number of different “applications, such as actuation, aircraft wing structures, artificial muscles, energy absorption, flexible armor, microbotics, and protective coatings.”

This new process allows for “programmed morphing,” meaning it is now possible “to create specific modulus (flexibility) distributions in a build, which then allows for programmed shrinkage or expansion to take place throughout the material body.”

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Xiaoyu “Rayne” Zheng, who is also a member of the Macromolecules Innovation Institute, added: “this new microscale manufacturing system is also able to be up-scaled to centimeter levels…and levels above that.”

“We envision these programmable morphing material concepts will find applications in directional strain amplifications, actuations, flexible electronics, and the design of lightweight metamaterials with tailored stiffness and toughness. The new material design space offered by rapid fabrication of dissimilar material constituents distributed within a micro-lattice architecture opens up new dimensions of 3-D printing of multimaterials with a large degree of stiffness variance.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3DPrint

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3D Printed Artificial Cornea

The Verge has caught wind of an exciting new advancement in the treatment of eyes brought about by the wonderful world of additive manufacturing.

The cornea is the thin protective film over the eye.  “The cornea is the first lens light passes through before eventually hitting the retina at the back of the eye. Damage to the cornea — from injury or infection — can distort vision, or even lead to blindness. Right now, the damaged corneas are replaced with healthy ones from deceased donors, but there aren’t enough donated corneas to go around.”  Indeed, according to the World Health Organization, “nearly 5 million people [globally] are blind due to infection scarred corneas.”

This is where a team from Newcastle University comes in.  These scientists have recently had a breakthrough.  They have managed to 3D print a cornea using human cells – “the most advanced version of an artificial cornea yet.  Should the technology improve, it could help millions of people see again.”

As Newcastle University Tissue Engineer Che Connon explains: “it was tricky to find the right recipe for an ink thin enough to squirt through a 3D printer’s nozzle.  This bio-ink doesn’t just have to be thin, it also has to be stiff enough it could hold its shape as a 3D structure.  To get the right consistency, the team added a jelly-like goo called alginate and stem cells extracted from donor corneas, along with some ropy proteins called collagen.”

The team is quick to add their 3D printed corneas “don’t completely eliminate a need for cornea donations.  Those  are key for making the stem cell part of the recipe. But, using this technique, the donation goes a lot farther.  Instead of replacing one damaged cornea with one healthy one, you could grow enough cells from one donated cornea to print 50 artificial ones.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of The Verge

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3D Printing Magnetic Structures

Science Daily reports on brand new findings published in the scientific journal Nature.  Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have managed to develop 3D printed magnetic Structures.

Using a new method of additive manufacturing, the researchers believe their methods could “be used to develop remotely controlled biomedical devices.”  These soft 3D printed structures have movements capable of “being controlled with a wave of a magnet, much like marionettes without the strings.  The menagerie of structures capable of being magnetically manipulated includes a smooth ring, which wrinkles up, a long tube squeezing shut, a sheet folding itself, and a spider-like ‘grabber’ which crawls, rolls, jumps, and snaps together fast enough to catch a passing ball.”

The Noyce Career Development Professor in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Xuanhe Zhao explains these 3D printed magnetic robots’ real-world potential: “this technique may be used to fabricate magnetically controlled biomedical devices.  We think in biomedicine this technique will find promising applications.  For example, we could put a structure around a blood vessel to control the pumping of blood, or use a magnet to guide a device through the GI tract to take images, extract tissue samples, clear a blockage, or deliver certain drugs to a specific location. You can design, simulate, and then just print to achieve various functions.”

Professor Zhao’s colleague Yoonho Kim adds: “There is no ideal candidate for a soft robot that can perform in an enclosed space like a human body, where you’d want to carry out certain tasks untethered.  That’s why we think there’s great promise in this idea of magnetic actuation, because it is fast, forceful, body-benign, and can be remotely controlled.”

Professor Zhao concludes: “”We have developed a printing platform and a predictive model for others to use. People can design their own structures and domain patterns, validate them with the model, and print them to actuate various functions.  By programming complex information of structure, domain, and magnetic field, one can even print intelligent machines such as robots.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Nature and Science Daily

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HP Launches 3D Printing Center in China

ZDNet reports on yet another initiative HP is making within the wonderful world of additive manufacturing.  Recently, HP has announced a brand-new 3D printing center to be opened in China.

This will be HP’s largest 3D printing deployment in the Asia Pacific region.  This facility, when fully constructed, will focus on production 3D printing.  HP launched this initiative along with Guangdong (Dali) 3D Printing Collaborative Innovation Platform.

“The Lanwan Intelligence-HP’s Multi Jet Fusion Technology Mass Manufacturing Center includes 10 HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing systems and is designed to create prototypes and production parts.”

HP says Lanwan Intelligence-HP’s Multi Jet Fusion Technology Mass Manufacturing Center will be operated by Guangdong Lanwan Intelligence Technology.  This center will be located in Dali, Forshan, China – an area known for its concentration of manufacturing.

The launch of HP’s new additive manufacturing center in China illustrates the company’s commitment to “building out its reach for its 3D printing unit via partnerships, early implementations, and using technology in its own supply chain.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of ZDNet

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Boeing Adds Norsk Titanium Additive Manufacturing Facility to Qualified Producers List

TCT Magazine reports on a recent announcement made by Boeing concerning one of its component suppliers, Norsk Titanium.  Norsk Titanium “is an FAA-approved supplier of aerospace-grade, additive manufactured titanium parts.”

In 2017, “Norsk announced its first production order from Boeing Commercial Airplanes for the manufacture of 3D printed structural titanium components for the 787 Dreamliner.”  Now, Boeing has added Norsk Titanium’s Plattsburgh, New York Development and Qualification Center to its Qualified Producers List.

“Qualified production began last month with the manufacture of its first part under the Boeing contract.  The Plattsburgh facility will produce aerospace components for Boeing and other aerospace manufacturers.”

Currently, Norsk Titanium’s Plattsburgh, New York facility “houses nine proprietary Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD) titanium printing machines…Norsk’s RPD process uses titanium wire with plasma torches to print large titanium structural components up to 50-100 times faster than powder-based systems with 25-50% less titanium than forging processes.”

Norsk Titanium’s Chief Operating Officer Tamara Morytko is thrilled: “We could not be prouder of our Plattsburgh, New York production operations as they put another stake in the ground for the continued success of Norsk Titanium and the state of New York.  Receiving this qualification from Boeing, now qualifying two Norsk Titanium sites for production across the globe, is a true vote of confidence in our service, quality, and disruptive Rapid Plasma Deposition technology.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of TCT Magazine

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3Doodler Launches Create+ Pen

Engadget recently caught wind of a new release by the company 3Doodler.  3Doodler is famous for their mobile 3D printing pens.  Now, 3Doodler has announced the launch of their latest pen, the Create+.

“The Create+ builds on the original Create with the first dual drive system in any 3D printer, promising ‘almost entirely jam-free’ drawing…this also allows it to work seamlessly with a greater range of plastics, including ABS, FLEXY, and PLA.”

Additionally, the Create+ will also come complete with “a new heating algorithm for better performance, auto-retraction to prevent plastic from oozing out and more distinctive fast and slow settings.”

3Doodler plans to ship this shiny new Create+ 3D Printer pens this summer, “starting at $80 in an Essential set that includes three plastic packs.  Other sets include the $100 Deluxe set with a nozzleset and a Mini DoodlePad, and a $150 Master Creator set that upgrades to a full DoodlePad while throwing in the new A-to-Z Bookends Canvas kid, a project book, and another three plastic packs.”

On top of all this, 3Doodler customers will also have the option to add new creative kits into the mix.  These new creative kits include “the Animal Heads Kit (for wall mounting), a Purse Kit, a Decorative Lights Kit, an Engine Kit, and even an Advanced Robotics Kit” allowing your 3D printed objects to move on their own.  Each of these kits are an additional $30.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Engadget

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Entire Eindhoven Neighborhood to be 3D Printed

Mother Nature Network reports on astounding news out of the Netherlands.  Eindhoven, which is the Netherlands’ fifth largest city, is the home of the world’s first 3D printed concrete bicycle bridge.  But now the city can etch itself even deeper into the legacy of additive manufacturing.  It is now to be the home of the world’s first concrete 3D printed commercial housing project.

This project, which is being dubbed Project Milestone, will consist of a cluster of five rental homes near Eindhoven Airport.  Project Milestone is being sold as “living in a sculpture garden…modern-day Stonehenge…Bedrock by way of Bauhaus.”  Project Milestone is spearheaded by the same team from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) which created the 3D printed concrete bicycle bridge.

These homes will be “excreted from a massive 3D concrete printer…concrete printing is relatively speedy compared to traditional building methods, is low-cost, and is environmentally friendly.”  The team believes that by the time Project Milestone has been completed in 5 years, 5 percent of homes in the Netherlands will be 3D printed using similar processes.  One of the great things about 3D printing livable spaces is that they can be customized to fit the needs of the people who want to live there.  Truly a democratization of living spaces.

Project Milestone’s press release concludes: “The 3D printing technique gives freedom of form, whereas traditional concrete is very rigid in shape. This freedom of form has been used here to make a design with which the houses naturally blend into their wooded surroundings, like boulders. As if the five buildings were abandoned and have always been in this wooded oasis.”

Images and Quotes Courtesy of Mother Nature Network

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3D Systems Launches On Demand Service

3DPrint reports on another launch by additive manufacturing giant 3D Systems.  3D Systems has recently announced the launch of its brand-new On Demand Anatomical Models service.  “The service allows medical professionals to order 3D printed anatomical models from their own medical files, enabling them to better plan surgeries and educate patients or trainees.”

All a user of this new On Demand Anatomical Models service has to do “is upload a 3D model file in STL, OBJ, or PLY format to the new website.  Customers can prepare their files for 3D printing using 3D Systems’ D2P software if they so choose, or any other commercially available software. The user then selects which materials they want their models to be 3D printed in, as well as areas to highlight, and requests an instant quote. The order can then be placed with one click, and the 3D printed model will arrive in approximately five business days.”

Additionally, “3D Systems has created a seamless connection between its D2P software and the On Demand Anatomical Models website, so medical professionals can quickly and easily create 3D models from their medical imaging data.”

3D Systems Vice President of Medical Devices Katie Weimer explains: “for more than 25 years, 3D Systems has assisted medical professionals through the combination of our anatomical modeling experience and our 3D printing expertise.  The healthcare industry is seeing the benefits provided through 3D printed anatomical models, and we are dedicated to continuing to expand our healthcare offerings to meet market needs. With the launch of our new On Demand Anatomical Modeling Service, we are making 3D printed models easier and more accessible to a broader range of the healthcare community.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3DPrint and 3D Systems

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Audi Leverages World’s Only Full-Color, Multi-Material 3D Printer

Stratasys and Audi recently announced a new partnership between their two companies.  The automotive and additive manufacturing companies have been working together since 2002, but now “the Audi Pre-Series Center with its Plastics 3D Printing Center in Ingolstadt, Germany, will leverage the world’s only full-color, multi-material 3D printer – the Stratasys J750.”

The J750 will be used to help reduce prototyping lead times for automotive tail light covers.  Audi foresees this 3D printer reducing these lead times by up to 50 percent.  Prototypes of these automobiles are created in order for Audi “to evaluate new designs and concepts thoroughly.”  Traditionally, methods such as molding and milling have been used in order to create such prototypes.  But not anymore.

3D printing speeds up the entire process: “the use of plastics 3D printing has become an integral part of the automotive design process at the Audi Pre-Series Center, enabling the team to overcome limitations of conventional processes and accelerate design verification.”

Stratasys’ J750 “will enable production of entirely transparent, multi-colored tail light covers in a single print, eliminating the need for its previous multi-step process.  With over 500,000 color combinations available, the team can 3D print transparent parts in multiple colors and textures that meet the stringent requirements of the Audi design approval process.”

As Head of the Audi Plastics 3D Printing Center Dr. Tim Spiering concludes: “Design is one of the most important buying decisions for Audi customers, therefore it’s crucial we adhere to supreme quality standards during the design and concept phase of vehicle development.  As a result, we need prototypes to have exact part geometries, no distortion and extremely high quality, as well as true-to-part color and transparency. The Stratasys J750 3D Printer will offer us a significant advantage, as it allows us to print the exact textures and colors our design defines. This is essential for getting design concepts approved for production. In terms of 3D printing transparent parts, I have not seen a comparable technology that meets our standards.  Using the J750 for the prototyping of tail light covers, we will be able to accelerate our design verification process.  We estimate time-savings of up to 50 percent by using this 3D print technique in our prototyping process of tail light covers.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Audi and Stratasys

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Croatian Artist Bruno Juričić 3D Prints Pergola

Curbed was recently on hand to witness some truly beautiful and awe-inspiring 3D printed art.  Recently, the city of Venice in Italy hosted the Venice Architecture Biennale.  For the Croatian Pavilion, Croatian artist Bruno Juričić debuted his Cloud Pergola, which is a 3D printed structure.

This pergola is made up of various “airy columns” rising to a ceiling, in support of a porous roof.  “Juričić worked with Arup to develop the shape, which was created with generative algorithms using parameters like the room’s shape, the archetypal form of Mediterranean pergolas, and desired porosity in order to inform the pergola’s final form.”

This pergola takes up 620 square feet, and as a result of which, “is one of the largest structures made using 3D printing technology.”  However, Juričić’s pergola appears and feels quite lightweight, “thanks to its latticed form.  It’s built from 100,000 extruded plastic pieces, which were connected together like a daisy chain by robots.”

In all, the pergola is made up of “661 pounds of 3D printed biodegradable material.”  This is an impressive feat of art, engineering, and architecture – particularly due to its airy and latticed form.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Curbed and Jan Stojkovic

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