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. Additionally, here is a later review of some of the known health hazards.

Note: a new report has just been issued about the safety of both filaments and the printers themselves. Here are some conclusions: 1. "toxic effects can be produced even with small levels of exposure"; 2. "It is unwise to touch models with bare hand"; 3. "Even though some resins may come with good cytotoxicity, they may still cause health issues after repeated exposure". Be sure to read the report in its entirety for your own safety..

Johns Hopkins has developed a rapid response system that can spot 3D printing defects in nanoseconds in real time using advanced sensors. Some problems arise from keyhole defects, which weaken structural integrity. High resolution capture of data can now detect these during the printing. Future plans include adding AI to the process to improve accuracy and speed.

Scientists at the University of Illinois have discovered that they can grow biological tissues from sugar. The sugar used is called isomalt, which is found in throat lozenges. Using a process called free-form printing, the team was able to make complex shapes that could not be produced with standard layer on layer 3D printing. With scaffolding, soft materials or cell tissues can be built and the scaffolding then dissolves away.

Continuing our coverage of 3D printed shoes, Nike has announced that it has developed its own AGI algorithm based on its own vast data bank of athletic performance. Nike is calling this database a "private garden" which it is combining with public data. In PR language, Nike claims that the new process will not replace the creativity of human designers but will rather act as "rocket fuel" for creativity.

A Japanese company has designed a tiny 3D printed home that will sell for the price of a car. The 530 square foot concrete house includes a bedroom, bathroom, and living room with a kitchen. They plan to sell it for roughly $37,300.

Take a look at this 3D printed electric car. This electric quadricycle has 90% of its parts made with 3D printing. It features a joy stick rather than a steering wheel and pedals and an aluminum chassis with a 3D printed body. It also boasts 4 kW batteries with an 8-hour recharge cycle and an 8 kW motor that can go up to 85 km/hr.

A team of engineers is experimenting with custom 3D printed furniture. Using AI as well, they are concentrating on Large Format Additive Manufacturing which allows them to output industrial-scale pieces ranging from furniture to vehicles. Calibrating printing speeds with appropriate temperature remains a key element to achieving their goals since either underbaking or overbaking will create material defects. Algorithms must be developed so that real-time monitoring can identify problems immediately. They also hope to use AI so that text descriptions can translate into complex 3D models ready for printing.

Research engingineers at the University of Coimbra in Portugal are working on a multimaterial soft robotic hand to increase the bendability of fingers. They are proposing that the hand contain soft actuator cores and an exoskeleton. Their prototype was not only cost and time effective but was fabricated in one step. It also maintained its bending abilities even when leaking occurred. The model was also able to grasp objects with different weights, shapes, and sizes. Sometimes heavier, slippery objects presented a problem and there was mechanical interference between fingers. Note that this university is where we are presenting digital images this July.

A special 3D design has been made for Lexus called the '8 Minutees and 20 seconds'. The name is derived from the time it takes for sunlight to get to earth. The concept vehicle forms part of Lexus' zero-emission catalyst vehicles, made with organic photovoltaic sheets. It features the BEV (battery electric vehicle) model currently in review at Lexus.

Scientists in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) are looking into the possibility of using 3D printing to create biodegradable implants for breast reconstruction and breast-conserving surgeries. The researchers first used a 3D scanner to recreate the breast shape of the patient, using the image to make a mold with the 3D printer. The 3d printer created a personalized implant using a biodegradable polymer. The implant would be surgically inserted into the woman's body with her own fat injected into it. Eventually the implant should degrade slowly over time.

3D printed surgical implants are also under investigation to cure blindness, chronic pain, and neurological disorders like epilepsy and Parkinson's disease. A materials engineer at the University of South Australia feels that these so-called incurable conditions all reflect misfiring neurons that have so far eluded human control. Associate Professor Matthew Griffith plans to "reprogram" diseases and injuries completely by using inexpensive electronic products that, in his words, "can talk to our bodies in a language it understands." He also plans to grow new nerve cells and make new artificial neural interfaces. At issue are the 3 billion people around the world that suffer from neurological conditions, another 200 million that are blind, and the 1 in 5 who endure chronic pain.

One note of caution: many companies are using high-tech and confusing language to disguise the fact that plastics are part of their product or their process, especially in the food industry. Buyer beware. Demand an easy-to-understand explanation before you eat or buy.

We review many 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 2024