UConn Students 3D Print Kidneys

According to 3DPrint, “six School of Engineering students at the University of Connecticut (UConn)” are tackling the problem of the scarcity of kidney donors. 

“The six students, Danny Ung, Derek Chhiv, Guleid Awale, Meaghan Sullivan, Benjamin Coscia, and Ali Rogers, are working to create artificial kidneys.”

“Anson Ma, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Institute of Materials Science”, oversaw this project .  The students split into two teams of three and developed kidneys using 3D printing over the last year. 

“One of the two teams decided to look into ways in which they could use hollow fiber membrane technology, the same technology used in current dialysis treatments, to create a solution.  The other team used electrodialysis and forward osmosis technologies in their prototype device.”

Although these methods are different, both teams utilized “3D printing as an integral part of their designs.  They both used AutoCAD software to design their kidneys.”  The students were able to present “their projects at the School of Engineering Senior Design Demonstration Day at UConn.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3DPrint 

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ExOne Releases Inconel Alloy 625

TCT Magazine reports that “metal additive manufacturing market leader and technology developer ExOne” has added a new material to its 3D printing arsenal. 

Inconel Alloy 625 was developed in ExOne’s Material Applications Laboratory (ExMAL).  This new material is “nickel-based, representing the first single metal alloy for 3D printing industrial applications at more than 99 percent density, utilizing its renowned binder jetting technology.”

ExOne plans to use Inconel 625 for “components in the aerospace, chemical, and energy sectors.”  The material will also have “applications including gas turbine blades, filtration, and separation, heat exchanger, and molding processes.  The metal is considered desirable thanks to its oxidation and corrosion-resistant qualities and its ability to retain its strength in extreme environments.”

“Inconel alloy 625 has been qualified for use on ExOne’s M-Flex and X1-Lab 3D printing machines and it is expected to commercialize Inconel alloy 625 in June 2014.”

Rick Lucas, ExOne’s Chief Technology Officer, added: “Our machines provide higher volumetric output per unit of time compared with other metal 3D printing technologies and greater flexibility for simultaneously printing multiple production parts.  We believe that the ability to directly print highly dense metal components increases our competitive edge with both subtractive manufacturers and other metal 3D printing technologies.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of TCT Magazine 

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3D Printed Firearms in Asia

According to Asia One, 27-year-old Yoshitomo Imura, “was arrested…on suspicion of possessing plastic guns.”  The Kanagawa police in Yokohama believe that Imura “downloaded them from the site Defense Distributed, a nonprofit organization that offers original gun designs online.”

We here at Replicator World have already mentioned Defense Distributed and its anarchist founder Cody Wilson (26).  Wilson says “the organization released the blueprints on its website in May 2013.  The group posted the blueprints on the website for only two days as it received a request from the US government to delete them.  During those two days, however, the blueprints were downloaded more than 100,000 times in over 40 countries.”

Before he was arrested, Imura posted on Twitter that he would “spread the blueprints for a 3D printed gun that everyone can easily create.”  According to the police, he followed up on his word and released the blueprints online.

“Wilson said he saw the guns that were seized from Imura’s home on the news…and believes one of the guns was made using blueprints provided by Defense Distributed.  Other guns seemed to be created based on the blueprints, but are likely Imura’s original design as they were considerably modified.” 

In total, the police confiscated five firearms, two of which could fire real bullets.   Imura came to the attention of the authorities when he posted videos of himself firing them online.  He says, “I actually made [those guns], but I didn’t think it was illegal.”  Apparently, strict Japanese firearms laws would disagree.

Photo Courtesy of Reuters

Quotes Courtesy of Asia One      

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Secrets of Sharkskin Unearthed by 3D Printing

io9 has brought attention to recent findings published in the Journal of Experimental Biology concerning the nature of sharkskin. 

Scientists have been baffled by sharkskin for decades.  They know that their “rough sandpapery skin gives sharks their highly efficient swimming abilities” but they haven’t been able to explain why.

Until now.

“Harvard University researchers Li Wen, James C. Weaver, and George V. Lauder created artificial shark skin…using a 3D printer.”  As described in the article in the Journal of Experimental Biology:

“After finding a mako shark in a local fish market, Lauder took a small sample of the skin for scanning to get a high-resolution view of the surface.  Next, he and Wen zoomed in on one representative denticle to build a detailed model of the structure before reproducing it thousands of times in a computer model of the skin.  Then the team had to find a way to construct the model.  ‘After considering a number of approaches, we decided that the only way to embed hard denticles in a flexible substrate was the 3D printer’, recalls Lauder…Weaver finally produced a convincing sample with the denticles secured in a flexible support.”

The researchers then conducted a series of water tests with their 3D printed sharkskin.  “They found that it managed to reduce drag by 8.7% when the water flowing over it moved slowly, which is consistent with the thought that denticles reduce drag.”  However, in faster currents, the denticles initially “increased drag by 15% compared to a smooth sheet.”  This surprised the scientists at first, until they realized that “sharks don’t swim in a straight line, they wriggle their bodies.  As soon as the researchers started wriggling their artificial skin, the swimming again became more efficient: swimming speed increased by 6.6% and the energy expended was reduced by 5.9%”

This shows that “denticles alone” do not “account for [sharks’] efficient swimming.  Rather, a shark relies on its rough skin combined with the wave-like motion of its body as it undulates through the water.”

This marks “the first time that anybody has found a way to combine the two most important features of sharkskin in an artificial device: rigid denticles combined with a flexible substrate.”

“Findings from this line of research could also open up new frontiers for soft-bodied hydrodynamic robotics, and lead to innovation in the design of more efficient wetsuits and other swimming apparel.”

Quotes Courtesy of the Journal of Experimental Biology and io9

Photo Courtesy of James Weaver

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Return of the 3D Printed Robots

Geeky Gadgets recently wrote about the Raspberry Pi Powered Rapiro Robot.  This adorable portent of humanity’s impending doom was launched on Kickstarter back in June 2013.   

This project had the goal of allowing customers to build their “own mini robot powered by a Raspberry Pi minicomputer.  As promised in its Kickstarter campaign, Ishiwatari has now shared the 3D design files for the Rapiro Robot this week on Thingiverse, allowing everyone to download and customize their own Rapiro Robot using a 3D printer.”

The robot consists of a total of 12 servo motors, “one for its neck, one in the waist, four for the two feet, and the final six for its two arms…The Rapiro board is Arduino compatible enabling you to program it using the Arduino IDE.”

Video and Quotes Courtesy of Geeky Gadgets

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3D Systems Partners with Google

As reported by ValueWalk, Google Inc. has launched a modular Smartphone initiative called Project Ara.

3D Systems hopes “to print ‘billions’ of modules for the piecemeal Smartphones…the inclusion of 3D Systems Corporation as a major partner for the project is hoped to boost the company’s addressable market by increasing knowledge of the company among those doing in-house prototyping and small-scale manufacturing.”

Although Google and 3D Systems are optimistic about Project Ara, industry “analysts are skeptical of its ability to change the industry in any holistic way.  The complexity of constantly upgrading parts of a Smartphone is probably too much for most consumers.  The majority seems to prefer a phone that works with less, rather than more, tweaking.”

However, in their press release, 3D Systems added that they “are creating a continuous, high-speed 3D printing production platform and fulfillment system to accommodate production-level speeds and volume.  This methodology breaks away from the ‘reciprocating platform’ of many contemporary 3D printers.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of ValueWalk    

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The Mink: 3D Printing for Makeup

At TechCrunch’s Disrupt stage in NY, Harvard graduate Grace Choi demonstrated her new 3D printer, the Mink. 

“The little printer lets users choose any color on the web, or in the real world, and using simple already-existing software, print that color into a blush, eye shadow, lip gloss or any other type of makeup.”

“With Mink, users can satisfy the desire for instant gratification while still having access to any color in the world at an affordable price.  Simply choose a color on a website, Pinterest board, or snap one with your phone in the real world, and use any color picker to locate the hex code of the color.  Once you have the code, you can put it into any other program like Photoshop or Paint and simply press print.”

Mink is aimed at the 13-21 demographic “who are less ingrained in their habits with certain brands and retailers.”  It will cost less than $200 and launch later this year.

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of TechCrunch

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Reddit and 3D Printing: Educating a Community

Mr. Burger, who goes by the username ‘ubermeisters’, had previously “been involved with CNC machining for many years, and was fascinated with additive manufacturing.”  Up until that point, he had been very familiar with subtractive methods of manufacturing and so he decided to try and build a 3D printer of his own.

“I purchased all the items for, and built my own Fab@Home Model II, a syringe deposition 3D printer.  It was a grueling and expensive mistake, [which I learned from].  The printer was open source, as was the software, but having no knowledge of programming, or the types of math required to modify it, the software was cripplingly awful.  The hardware was expensive for what it did, and honestly, to this day, I have never gotten one good print from the machine.  It really made me cautious about new printers, and gave me a healthy respect for the guys who pioneer the FOSS software the RepRap community enjoys and relies on so much.”

So, the printer Mr. Burger uses now is a MendelMax 2.0 from   This printer is “rigid.  It’s not made of bare wood, which will warp and change dimensionally with environmental variables such as temperature and humidity.”  But the MendelMax’s main selling point, at least for him, was the fact that it gives the user the ability to modify it however they choose, with “unbelievable support from the Maker’s Tool Works staff and community.”

As to what Mr. Burger uses his printer for: “I have some interesting designs that I am working on, and would like to patent eventually, and I want to be able to produce good prototypes when the time comes. That is how I justified the expense.  In the end, to be honest, probably close to 60% of my prints are upgrades or other modifications to my printer.  (Fan Ducts, cable chains to retain the wires, things of that nature.)  5% is probably calibration prints, as I test a lot of different types of new materials, each one requiring calibration prints for temperature.  The remaining 35% are just little things at the moment, cell phone cases personalized for my significant other, or her mother, D&D miniatures, showcase examples of what can be printed, etc.”

Equipped with his obvious passion for the technology, Mr. Burger first became heavily involved with the r/3Dprinting subreddit between his experiments with his Fab@Home Model and his purchase of the MendelMax: “I was starting to look for a new 3D printer after I finally gave up on the Fab@Home, and a coworker said he bet there was a subreddit for that, so I checked, and I’ve been addicted ever since!…I buffed up on every bit of knowledge I could find, and became quite good at regurgitating the right information to people when they needed it, and the mods at the time took notice, and asked me if I was interested [in becoming a moderator]…  My main goal was to [discover some] reviews for printers, and see how the tech had evolved since I first dipped my toes in a few years back…My goals quickly turned to educating the public about 3D printing…With the community’s blessing, I decided to reach out to 3D printer and filament manufacturers, and see if I could get some…contests goings, while giving some companies exposure to the community.  It has been a great success, with its own set of tribulations, but undeniably, it became my personal baby, and my main task as a moderator.”

Mr. Burger’s other main job as a moderator is, unfortunately, spam removal: “3D printing is exploding, and as such, there is an ever-growing wealth of people seeking to gain from the rise in popularity.  With this comes people looking to be a ‘website with a reddit account’ not a ‘redditor with a website.’  Self promotion issues are by far the largest number of junk…posted on a regular basis.”

Despite this irritation, however, “the community has absolutely grown in the time that I have been there.  I certainly would like to think this is partially thanks to my contests bringing people in, but more than that, I’m just happy to see it grow. I have seen a gradual shift away from the RepRap mindset in the community, and in general, as it seems people are getting ready to accept the idea of consumer 3D printing…People are starting to complain more about print quality, although it has certainly been [improving]. They want ease of use now, like with a 2D printer, and hopefully soon enough, that will be a goal for the 3D printing companies.”

If you scroll through the various threads on the subreddit, you will see many members asking advice concerning everything from printer recommendations to the size of filament spools they should use.  Mr. Burger explains, “we have so many posts that it can be frustrating for those of us who are regulars…That is the entire reason we put a list of proven printers in the sidebar, to help aid in the reduction of identical posts.”  This expansive sidebar chart contains breakdowns of print dimension capabilities, print volume costs, and whether specific printers come as kits or fully assembled. 

The r/3Dprinting community, Mr. Burger says, “is [full of] mostly curious and intellectual people, who are starting a new “maker career” for themselves.  I think most of the hardcore makers, while still around the sub, tend to keep quiet most of the time, and are likely more active in /r/reprap, as it is more of a… reprap sub. Recently I have seen an impressive influx of teachers, librarians, and parents, asking about printers in education, and what they should know to start a program of their own, to educate children, and make it available to learn from.  I love this, and I welcome every single post from anyone looking to learn more about 3D printing and education. “ 

“We also have quite a few questions about 3D printing for ‘Cosplay’ and similar costume customizations, such as Daft Punk helmets.  These people generally only stick around to ask a few questions, and get discouraged when they realize it’s not like printing a paper for school.   Hopefully we can start to retain more of these types of users, as the tech gets more user-friendly. “

“Then there are the tinkerers. These people dive dumpsters, tear apart old printers, and build new machines.  [These devices] are almost always failures, otherwise I would call them makers [laughs], but the experience is fun, vicariously, for the community.  More recently, I have also seen model builders coming by to ask about 3D printed quadcopters, RC cars, and drones.”

When we asked Mr. Burger if he had found there to be a most popular 3D printer among the r/3Dprinting community, he explained that “there are two main classes of consumer printers, the sub-$1K class, and the over $1K class.  For the sub-$1K group, The Makerfarm kits have absolutely been the fastest growing kit, and Delta kits are starting to pick up some good momentum.”

“As for the over-$1K group, the main players are Ultimaker, Lulzbot (TAZ), and Makers Tool Works.  The former has recently released a sub-$1K printer known as the Fusematic, which I expect to start picking up some serious steam.  It’s an amazing printer, worth well over what they are selling it for, and the prints I’ve seen from it are absolutely gorgeous. much nicer than the other sub-$1K printers.  I would keep an eye on that one!  There are also MakerBot users among us.”

However, apparently MakerBot is not the most popular printer among the diehards of the subreddit.  This is mainly due to ‘open source’ proponents.  As Mr. Burger explains, “the community is really geared toward open source, and it is also very polarized because of it.  Many people are ‘open source or nothing!’ and lots of people want open source, but don’t care really, as long as they can get nice prints…It’s been causing some bickering and general misunderstanding here and there, but overall, it creates a really great thought environment. “

That’s truly the power of a forum community where makers, teachers, and other advocates of 3D printing can gather, discuss, and ultimately, learn from each other: “I see a lot of open discussion about better ways to do things, with mostly appropriate back and forth regarding feasibility…We may not be a technological mecca for all things intellectually-related to 3D printing, but there certainly have been some really great ideas that have started as ‘what if?’ conversations.”

Quotes Courtesy of Chris Burger

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The Minecraft Worlds of Dave Russell


A few months ago, we interviewed Mark Loertscher from iMaker Academy about his company’s interest in teaching kids how to 3D print their own digital creations from Minecraft. 

But iMaker Academy isn’t the only ones in on the Minecraft party.  Kotaku has a gallery of Minecraft worlds that Dave Russell 3D printed into reality.

Mr. Russell “used Mineways, an open source 3D printer program, to bring these blocky builds to life.”  He then sent his files to Shapeways, who were able to print them for him. 

These 3D printed wonderlands were featured at the Cambridge (Mass.) Science Carnival. 

Photos and Quote Courtesy of Kotaku     

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Printrbot’s Latest Printers


Printrbot, according to Design News, “is noted for its affordable wood-based frame 3D printers, which feature open-sourced hardware that can be expanded upon depending on project requirements…Brook Drum [founded the company in order] to create an affordable 3D printer that home hobbyists could assemble themselves for small, simple projects.”

Before Printrbot updated the Simple, they “introduced the Printrbot Go V2 portable printer, which comes in three sizes, including the Go Small, Go Medium, and the Go Large…all three come fully assembled and feature a Raspberry Pi pre-loaded with OctoPrint software for wireless printing.  The printers feature the same GT2 belts and pulleys found on the all-metal Simple printer, and boast some of the company’s larger build areas.  Each portable 3D printer is outfitted with an onboard ATX power supply and can be powered by a laptop battery for printing in the field…the costs for the portables…range from $1,299 to $1,699.”

The Printrbot Simple “features a bigger self-leveling build-plate (from 4 inch X 4 inch X 4 inch to 6 inch X 6 inch X 6 inch) along with longer Z-axis rods (8mm to 12 mm), which allows for larger project builds. ”

“The printer comes in multiple powder-coated colors, including black, red, white, and industrial-looking silver (grey) and can either be bought as a kit (at $539) or fully assembled (at $599).”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of Design News

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Bone Makers


As reported by VR-Zone, “Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), in cooperation with RIKEN, Tokyo University, and NEXT 21 K.K. (a Japanese medical technology research company)” have been developing a new device for additive manufacturing. 

This 3D printer has been built in order to exclusively print artificial bones.  This technology could become commercially available as early as 2015. 

“The 3D printer is capable of producing artificial bones that are detail accurate by up to 0.1 mm.  The printing material of the 3D printer is calcium phosphate, which is a major component of bones and teeth.  This makes the 3D printed bones easier to integrate into the patient’s body.  The improved detail allows it to mold perfectly to where it is positioned, while the calcium phosphate material could simply fuse with the patient’s natural bones eventually as the body acclimates to its use.”

The machine is about as large as a professional grade 3D printer and “Next 21 K.K. plans to make the technology commercially available in Japan first, then slowly proceeding to other nearby Asian countries, until the technology reaches the larger global market.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of VR-Zone 

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A 3D Printed Car To Fuel Your Nightmares


Mashable was at this year’s New York International Auto Show.  Among all the concept vehicles of the future was a very special Ford Gran Torino.

“Crafted by Ioan Florea, this ‘liquid metal’ version of the 1971 Ford Gran Torino looks like it was touched [by] Ghost Rider or peeled from the walls of an H.R. Giger spacecraft.”

Florea explained, “the actual 3D printing is basic.  Design the shapes, slice them, generate the G-code, and print them.  The complicated part is the transfer technique that I invented…I use a mixing mill that weighs around 12,000 pounds.  It’s a multi-stage process that requires exact measurements, exact timing, and ideal temperature conditions.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of Mashable   

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