Showing posts with label 3-D printing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 3-D printing. Show all posts

3-D Print-ception: Scientists Create New, Working Ovaries Via 3-D Printing

It seems that the only technology progressing as rapidly as the robots who are going to take your jobs is that of 3-D printing.  Capable of creating clothes, huts, offices, art, prosthetic limbs, space station parts, and more, the science has now expanded to being able to reproduce the organs that are used to reproduce.

Even though they actually work, can we please call them "faux-varies"?
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Prints To Convince: 3-D Printed Fingerprints To Be Used In Murder Case

3-D printing is experiencing a boom across a fascinating variety of sectors.  It can be used for construction, creating artistic foods arrangements, making clothing, or even fashioning spare parts for the International Space Station.  Now, cops have used it to help gather evidence…but is it ethical?

Every other part of you can be cloned, why not your fingerprints too?
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Olli, Olli, Oil-Free: New Electric, 3-D Printed Shuttle Bus Rolls Out In DC

The description sounds like the ultimate futuristic vehicle, but the technology is here today: an autonomous, 3-D printed, electric shuttle bus. As of today, it’s transporting the citizens of one of America’s oldest cities into the future…

This cozy little computer-generated craft
might be revolutionizing shared vehicles in big cities.
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Red Picket Fences: Will Your Martian Apartment Be 3-D Printed?

Barring any massive mistakes in the next two decades or so, humanity is going to Mars.  It's very well within reason to suspect that some of the readers of this article -maybe even you, prospective pioneering Martian! - could be taking a one-way ticket off of Earth, permanently.  So, you know, you've got to start seriously planning for how cool your Martian digs are going to look.

It's actually way roomier than what's similarly priced in Manhattan.
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3D In The UAE: Dubai's Latest Architectural Innovation Is A 3D-Printed Office Building

The world has watched Dubai build all manner of architectural artwork...first by rising phoenix-like to form a bustling desert oasis in record time, then erecting sights like the massive Burj Khalifa tower, or islands in the shape of the entire world.  Now, they're setting the stage for a new kind of innovative intrigue...

Your future workspace could be one of these cozy little rounded rectangles.
BTW, that's the Museum of the Future in the background.
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Moonage Daydream: Is Audi Backing The Next Successful Moon Rover?

It's 2016 and we've only progressed a little bit more into the future, but the prospect of space travel is always pushing further forward.  For instance, one of the better car companies of past and modern times is now helping a team of scientists plot how to put a rover on the know, for the future.

It's more R2-D2 than R8, but that's still cool.
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Finger/Painting: Innovative 3D-Printing Process Allows The Blind To Truly Feel Visual Art

Can you imagine what life would be like were you to lose one of your senses?  What if it was the sense that's so important, it's allowing you to read this right now?  For the blind, all visual artwork used to be abstract.  Until now...

The original and tactile 3D-printed versions of Van Gogh's "Dr Gachet."
Now you can both touch and be touched by art.
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Fired Up For The Future: NASA 3D-Prints A Working Rocket Engine

As we speed full-tilt into 2016, the opportunities for new technologies to improve on old ideas seems endless.  One strong manufacturing technology, 3D printing, arose to a number of important challenges in 2015, and now may have its sights on the stars.  NASA has recently announced that their tests of conduits comprising a 3D-printed rocket engine have been a success.

To boldly go:  the 3D-printed "breadboard" engine exceeded expectations.
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Rad Moon Rising: European Space Agency Chief Wants A Moon Colony

With all the notions (sometimes literally) flying around about humanity's expansion onto Mars, it can be easy to forget that we still have a lot of open real estate right in Earth's backyard.  Now, the head of the European Space Agency ponders the pros and cons of building a base on the moon...

Ok, maybe the palm trees will take a while...we still love the idea.
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A Bridge To The Future: 3-D Printing Robots To Build Metal Footbridge Over Amsterdam Canal

The projects that 3-D printers are now capable of undertaking are vast, from organs to garments to housing.  The architectural aspects are proving to be fascinating new ways of creating structures, including some that might not be cost-effective or even physically feasible for humans to similarly construct...

Bots building beauty...coming soon!
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Computerized Couture: New 3-D Printer Creates Clothing

It's a fast-paced world in modern times, one in which it's easy to lose your shirt.  Fortunately, the future has some fashion sense, and a new 3-D printer is ready to deliver it straight to you, sans stores or shopping.

Futuristic tank tops, just in time for all the global warming!
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A Whole New World (Of 3D Printing): Disney Makes Soft, Snuggly 3D-Printed Prototypes

With 3D printing technology expanding dramatically, the innovative ideas just keep coming.  Want to 3D print a mud hut to chill in?  Covered.  Need to get fresh tools to the International Space Station on the double?  3D printing can handle that.  And now, 3D printing isn't even limited to materials that are supposed to remain sturdy...

Straight outta E.P.C.O.T....
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3D Throwdown: Get Hip To CLIP

It's now apparent that 3D-printing technology is going to play a major role in the future, from medical devices to housing to parts for the International Space Station.  Now, a streamlined system for materializing 3D objects has been unveiled, and it's amazing what's drawn up from the depths...

Those crazy elements are at it again...
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3D Printing The One-Of-A-Kind: New 3D-Printing "Teleporter" Destroys And Redeploys

It's kind of like teleportation...except a little more destructive.

According to, scientists have discovered a way to use "destructive scanning" and 3D printing to make objects rematerialize someplace else.  The process involves milling down (shaving away layers of) an inanimate object so that a 3D printer can make a scan of each layer.  Then, the printer sends the imagery from each scanned layer over an encrypted connection to another 3D printer.  The second printer then reconstitutes the item.

Slash it up, then beam it up, Scotty!
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The device is powered by a regular 3D printer, 3-axis milling machine, camera, and encryption microcontroller, reports.  A Raspberry Pi provides the brains, while an Arduino works the milling.

The system, called "Scotty" in homage to Enterprise engineer from "Star Trek", is considered useful in its destructive protocol, due to the fact that it enables security by only allowing one copy of an object to exist at any given point.  This could be important for future online vendors who can assure that once purchased, only one copy of an item will be available to the client.

It'll make 3D-printed art forgery a pretty bad idea.
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The encryption elements being developed for Scotty will hopefully combat homemade mass-production, ensuring the scanned files are difficult or impossible to pirate.  Copying your newest set of 3D printed flatware won't be as easy as copying a CD.

While it'll still be some time before full-scale teleportation comes into public use, it's somewhat comforting to know that even if we can replicate complex items via 3D printing, they still can't always match the originals.

Some one-of-a-kind items should remain so, in their original form.
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Compositions From Composites: New 3D-Printing Materials To Include Wood, Stone, Iron

The concept of creating objects on demand using 3D-printing technology has caught the eye and imagination of artists and designers worldwide.  The scope of what can be made - from mud huts to human skin to prototype motorcycle parts - grows by the day.  Now, the palette of available materials for 3D printing expands still further, and will soon include composite filaments of wood, stone, iron, and bronze.

L-R:  Bronze, limestone, iron, and maple:  the remix.
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According to, the MakerBot 3D-printing company is moving past plastics and by late 2015, will have developed printable composite filaments of maplewood, limestone, iron and bronze.  The items created with these materials retain the visual look and some of the strength of the main material, but the plastic that also comprises the composite lends a lighter feel.

The cavemen would be so proud of how far we've come.
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The physical elements of the source material retain several characteristics that would make prototype printed parts much more accurate to the real thing.  Metal composites can be magnetized.  Wood composites smell like wood, and can be stained, sanded and treated as normal nature-grown wood would.

Can't carve?  No worries, just print!
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Other filaments can glow in the dark or change color by temperature, but these new composites are good for more than just novelty.  The wood and iron filaments create a convincing hammer (although the functionality of such a hammer is still being improved on.)  The iron filaments can create nuts and bolts. All that's required to print the different materials are swappable "Smart Extruders", which manipulate the filament composites into your desired items.

As reported by, MakerBot CEO Jenny Lawton expressed enthusiasm about the upcoming year, telling fans at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show that "...for 2015, we are focused on enhancing the overall MakerBot 3D Ecosystem by listening to our users, fine-tuning our 3D printers, iterating our software and apps to unlock their full potential, and launching new MakerBot PLA Composite Filaments as well as services that will make 3D printing even more interesting and accessible.”

What could these new artistic abilities create for you?

3D-printing in limestone could make for some very ambitious projects...
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3D-Printed "Exo" Prosthetics Give A Lightweight Leg Up

With America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan apparently concluded, a major source of the horrors our servicemen endured - losing body parts to improvised explosive devices - will hopefully now be curtailed.  But for the many whom these injuries have affected, as well as for those who have biological, accidental, or other medical issues that would cause the loss of a limb, art and science have combined to help rebuild the missing pieces.

The Exo, not alive, but definitely kicking.
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As reported by, artist William Root (of NYC's Pratt Institute) has teamed up with MIT to produce effective, comfortable, and cool-looking prosthetics that are created via 3D printing.  Root's desire to combine form and function sacrificed nothing from the aesthetic nor biomechanical sides of the prosthetic process, which is in itself an innovative task.  “Prostheses are not aesthetically pleasing, extremely expensive, and difficult to produce,” he noted.

Using MIT's "Fitsocket" technology from their Biomechatronics Lab, a scan of the prospective recipient's leg is taken.  The Fitsocket technology adeptly gauges the strenth or give of the recipient's remaining tissue, then forms a perfectly specialized "socket" to join the wearer to the limb.  This data is then also used by Root to create a 3D model of the recipient's leg, using a stress analysis tool to determine where the new "Exo" limb would need the most weight support and how to avoid weak points.  A mesh structure is then rendered using this information.

Yes, it will eventually probably be used to make robots in your own image.  We'll deal with that later.
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The sintered titanium-powder (or heavy-duty plastic) mesh gives a minimalist yet realist visual impression of a leg.  While not as traditionally inconspicuous-acting as a flesh-toned limb trying to blend in, Root feels part of the part's new power is its unwillingness to appear as an imposter appendage like something that "crosses into the Uncanny Valley."  Eventually he plans for wearers to be able to fashionably customize their hot new legs to their personal tastes.

Unfortunately they're not yet available in "Crazy Stilts" version yet.
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Root's business proposal for the Exo, as cited by, illuminates the scope of his hope both in quantity and quality, stating, “There are over 2 million amputees in the United States with 185,000 amputations each year. Over 90% of those amputations are lower extremity amputations; millions of Americans are suffering from hindered mobility. Prostheses enable patients to regain their freedom and much of the functionality they had lost. At the same time they help to restore the amputees’ spirit and help with the psychological recovery from having lost part of oneself.”

Best of all, Root's current designs allow the limbs to be printed for as little as $1,800, where traditional prostheses could cost ten times that.  While specialized knee, ankle, or added-mobility joints will cost more, overall costs would likely fall as 3D technology escalates ever more rapidly.  Though the current "Exo" models are not tested to bear full human weight yet, this problem is being analyzed, with the Fitsocket computer program experimenting with where different points could feasibly be augmented to bear more of the burden.

The Fitsocket testing hardware has got your legs, and it knows how to use them.
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The specialized socket fits, lightweight lift, unique design and ever-decreasing manufacturing costs could make life a lot happier for thos requiring prostheses.  And just as soon as the proper weight ratio is figured out on the Exo, you could use one to help jump for joy.

A closeup of Exo's mesh-meat.  This kind of cage means freedom!
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How to Email a Wrench to the International Space Station

From Backchannel:
My colleagues and I just 3D-printed a ratcheting socket wrench on the International Space Station by typing some commands on our computer in California. We had overheard ISS Commander Barry Wilmore (who goes by “Butch”) mention over the radio that he needed one, so we designed one in CAD and sent it up to him faster than a rocket ever could have. This is the first time we’ve ever “emailed” hardware to space.

We founded Made In Space, Inc. to design and build the first 3D printer for space. Our first printer was launched to the space station in September, and it printed its first object in November.

The socket wrench we just manufactured is the first object we designed on the ground and sent digitally to space, on the fly. It also marks the end of our first experiment—a sequence of 21 prints that together make up the first tools and objects ever manufactured off the surface of the Earth. (The other 20 objects were designed before the printer flew to the space station.)

E-asy Rider: Check Out Harley's "LiveWire" Electric Motorcycle

Motorcycles have traditionally been associated with freedom and rebellion.  But not all rebellions are created the same.  Is it possible for Harley Davidson to convince their tough biker demographic that a new bike can buck the notion of conventional fossil fuel (for a power source similar your cellphone) and still stay cool?  They intend to find out, with their new "LiveWire Project" all-electric motorcycle.

Sharp AND sustainable!
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According to, developer Ben Lund explained that Harley wanted to present the LiveWire simply as a newer model that "happens to be electric."  The look, sound, and feel of the past Harleys all had to be taken into account, but so did a new technical element of composition.  Using CAD computer models to design the initial bike before production, other computer software such as Pro Engineer Wildfire and CAM (computer-aided machining) aided the process.

Harley's in-house 3D printers churned out 1:1 scale parts for testing, so that an authentic look and feel for every component could be assessed and duly approved.  While also used for the fabrication of model elements for Harley's internal combustion engine bikes, the 3D prototypes were important tools in deciding what fit best for the new LiveWire venture.

One of Harley's  3D-printed prototype parts.  It is unknown if the computer made motorcycle noises while printing it.
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The LiveWire runs thanks to a longitudinally-mounted 74hp AC induction motor, which Lund and his team found superior for its availability, affordability, and high power-to-weight ratio. It's fueled by a 300V lithium-ion battery pack that can allow the bike to achieve speeds of nearly 100 m.p.h.  A "power" or "economy" mode switch lets you regulate your ride.

The pseudo-futuristic design may irk the aesthetic sensibilities of "classic" Harley enthusiasts, who would perhaps appreciate some more chrome or pipes.  As for a Harley's distinctive growl, the classic Harley revving-rumble isn't possible with an electric vehicle.  However, the sound was fine-tuned by the engineering team so that the gearbox emits a turbine-like noise as it roars down the road.  Yes, it's very different, but it's a rebellion you could grow to like.  The LiveWire is currently still a prototype, but it could spark a whole new revolution in riding.

You can care about the environment and still be a badass.
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I Like Big Huts And I Cannot Lie: New 3D Printer Constructs Locally-Sourced Mud Homes

With all of the ultra-modern, high-tech uses for 3D printing, it may come as a surprise that someone thought to repurpose it for one of the oldest and dirtiest tasks known to mankind.  Yet that's just what has happened thanks to WASP, a 3D printing company whose latest invention specializes in constructed houses made of mud.

While 3D printing has been used to experiment with architecture already, WASP's plan does not simply throw up a suspiciously-indefensible concrete castle for your backyard.  Crafting a triangular honeycomb wall design that can properly bear weight and outside impediments, the new WASP machine slowly layers on a solid structure that, if mixed with strong enough natural binding components, could prove to be as durable as anything our ancestors could have dug up once their cave neighborhood wasn't fashionable anymore.

Ugh, cave-hipsters ruin everything.
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According to, WASP uses a 20-foot tall, three-armed 3D printer that is portable (to aid in construction in remote areas) and can be assembled in two hours.  It can use a variety of locally-available materials to construct its mud layers, including materials like wool (which is set to be tested when WASP prints a 3D hut in Sardinia.)

The WASP company rose to prominence as the second-largest 3D printing company in Italy by manufacturing various smaller 3D printers of exceptional quality.  Their previous models have the ability to carve out creations, create food or adhesive products, or even design ceramic pieces that can then be glazed and fired.  That's right, the next generation of fine Italian art might not come from the hands of a sculptor or painter, but rather from the design program entered into a 3D printer.

Is it worth it to use our new technological bounty in places where rudimentary handiwork has long sufficed?  Will lives really be improved when one of the most time-honored types of local labor is outsourced to a large robot?  Only time will tell.  In the meantime, this extremely "green" type of housing may appeal to hut-home enthusiasts the world over.  Clubs and pelts optional.

WASP's CEO Massimo Moretti examines a scale-model hut.  Could mud be the material of a masterpiece?
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Seared And Re-Engineered: Bioprinting "Living Bandages" For Burn Victims

The 3D printing revolution surges forward, and is now able to literally heal your wounds.  Scientists announced this week that 3D printed skin cells will be able to be applied to burned flesh to make it heal faster and become new again.

This amazing new development, as reported by the International Business Times, was invented at the University of Toronto, and takes an innovative approach to burn treatment.  While the successive layers of exterior and interior skin tissue (epidermis and dermis) have different cell structures and would normally require careful construction to individually repair, the scientists working on the PrintAlive project have created a "living bandage" to safely ensconce the wounded area in a healing hydrogel.

The PrintAlive bioprinter creates what is not exactly a skin graft, but rather an amalgamation of the patient's own skin tissue cells (keratinocytes and fibroblasts) along with cell nutrients, which fuse with a biopolymer that is then printed in stripes or spots to localize care as needed by the recipient.  The successive layers of skin tissue are printed together, so they will interact with the body as normally as possible to protect the damaged flesh until the wound heals itself.

Despite human trials being some 2-3 years away, the PrintAlive technology was advanced enough to win Canada's division of the prestigious James Dyson award in 2014.  The award is given to "the best student industrial or product projects in 18 countries that are able to solve a problem." They will now be competing internationally for a grand prize of $50,000 in funds.

But remember kids, just because we have this...

...doesn't mean you should do this.