3D Printing News

A note of caution to our viewers: many of these products are only available for pre-ordering and have yet to be manufactured. Others are only hopes/dreams. Hyperbole is the language of choice, so be careful!

Additionally, be forewarned that some of the materials you intend to work with, as well as particles and fumes from the printer itself, may be toxic. You may want to read this article for a further discussion of the potential problems.

A Dutch company has brought out its latest 3D clay printer with new improvements, like a larger build space, an "off" button for emergencies, and a variety of nozzles. They are also using an all-metal body, rather than the metal and wood of previous versions, and a method to protect the clay from dust and water.

The Media Lab at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), specifically their Mediated Matter Group, has created some stunning 3D models. Photorealistic models are encased in a transparent block so that they are printed as though they were "floating" in space. The process utilizes voxels, little dots or points in 3D space.

A Dutch company called Aectual is specializing in custom-designed 3D printed flooring, meant to be walked on by thousands of people at locations like airports, libraries, and other public spaces. Their process uses huge robots and recycled bio-plastic materials. The original pattern, a 3-D printed outline, is just centimeters tall, with spaces to be filled in at the build site with materials like terrazzo, marble, or granite, and then polished to give a smooth even surface.

We have spoken before about the futuristic fashions of Iris van Herpen, based in Amsterdam. Her newest creations are said to be based on skydiving, fossils, and snakes, among other things, and can be seen at the Royal Ontario Museum. Van Herpen studied with Alexander McQueen and likes to use fine detailing as well as 3D printing - she features swirls of leather, for example, and mirror foil. This site gives you a broad overview of her designs.

A new kind of cellulose is being adapted to the 3D printing of large objects. Although cellulose itself is expensive and causes pollution when combined with plastics, scientists at the Singapore University of Technology and Design have uncovered a practical way to work with it. They have come up with FLAM, a fungal-like adhesive material, that is strong, lightweight and inexpensive to produce. Since no synthetic plastics or organic materials are involved, the new material is said to be "environmentally friendly".

Apple Computer has been quietly accumulating patents in the field of 3D printing since at least 2012. Their latest patent is for 3D printed color metal glass, which one analyst from China believes will be "one of the brightest pearls" in the 3D universe. One report suggests that spending on 3D prnting, including hardware, software, materials and services, wlll approach 12 billion US dollars this year, an increase of almost 20% from 2017. By 2021 that total is expected to climb to 20 billion US dollars.

Scientists at New York University's Tandon School of Engineering have devised a robotic zebra fish that aims to lead real fish away from hazards like oil spills. Their process combines 3D printing technology with wi-fi connectivity, using ABS plastics. They are experimenting with both open-loop and closed-loop paradigms, and have discovered that one of the biggest roadblocks to success is the unpredictability of nature.

A 26-year-old student with a brain tumor has been the inspiration for Harvard and MIT to try and 3D print brains. The patient, a Ph.D student, and the researchers collected MRI, CT, and other scans of his brain to be converted into dimensional models. Their challenge was to remove extraneous tissues without losing resolution or structure. A clinical radiologist who co-authored the resulting paper says, we get "exquisitely detailed medical 3D printed models with a fraction of the manual labor currently required."

Did you know that the average American eats more than 9 pounds of chocolate every year? A federal Reserach and Development tax credit gives extra incentive for makers of 3D printers to do research in this field. It appears that standard printing methods are suitable, with extra attention given to heat. Some samples are already being offered at Hershey's Chocolate World venues, using the Cocojet 3D printer. Preset designs as well as customer selfies are available. Another large company exploring this field is Mondelez International, producer of treats like Toblerone, Cadbury, Oreo, Chips Ahoy and Ritz. Nestle is also working with 3D printed chocolate.

Researchers at Rutgers University have 3D printed a gel that can walk under water and move objects around. One of their goals is to created octopus-like creatures that can bump into things without causing damage to themselves or to the objects. Their studies focus on a hydrogel that can change shape when exposed to an electrical current. Hydrogels stay solid in spite of being composed of more than 70% water.

Boston Dynamics has manufactured a robot that can run and jump over logs. In process for several years, the 1.5 meter tall robot runs pretty smoothly. It still has problems getting over objects though: it wants to stop and then spring with both legs, giving its prey time to escape.

Engineering dot com reports on six 3D printing companies that are altering how humans will survive in space. This overview will give you a better understanding of the efforts being made to adapt humans to living and traveling in a gravity-less environment.

Engneers at MIT have 3D printed soft creatures that can be told to move with the stroke of a magnet. The researchers used a new 3D-printable ink filled with magnetic particles and a magnetic electromagnet around the printer's nozzle. The fascinating structures include a sheet that folds itself, a long tube that can squeeze itself shut, a smooth ring that wrinkles, and a "grabber" that can roll, jump, and snap closed fast enough to catch a ball. The scientists anticipate using the process to control the pumping of blood, for example, or lead a device through the gastrointestinal tract to photograph tissues.

Note: we review hundreds of articles each month, culling the most significant for you. We also welcome suggestions from our viewers for products and processes that we may have missed.

c.Corinne Whitaker 2018