3D Printing May Put The Toy Industry Out of Business

Why It’s Better To Make Toys At Home

It was projected that by 2020 the toy and game industry would be worth $135 billion. It’s an enormous pie that 3D printing can bite into. You can just imagine – great toys, plastic and cheap! And no manufacturer needed! While 3D printers are not to be considered toys, the technology can enable toy-making at home with a 3D printer using designs from a free online repository. A team of engineers from Michigan Technological University and the London-based company MyMiniFactory did a study on how much consumers can save 3D printing toys rather than buying from manufacturers.

The researchers investigated the 100 most popular downloaded designs from MyMiniFactory, one of those free online repositories, using three printing material types to analyze the costs of printing on an open source 3D printer (Lulzbot). The materials are commercial filament, pellet-extruded filament and recyclebot filament. Comparing all filament types with commercially made toys, it was found that consumers saved about 75% of the cost if they 3D print their toys instead; 90% of the cost if recyclebot filament were used. Using just MyMiniFactory’s 100 toy designs, consumers save $60 million dollars per year in toy purchases.

The LEGO Magic. Speaking about one of the world’s most famous and beloved plastic toys, Lego is every child’s most coveted plaything, but too expensive for most parents. People tend to keep their Lego blocks like collector’s items, enjoyed by even adults.

Make your own version of Legos

Imagine if these blocks can be 3D printed by your own standard home 3D printer, you can make custom compatible blocks and have that same kind of fun while playing with something you make yourself. Do they look and feel the same as the real Lego or even its generic counterpart? With a little smoothing, recycled ABS plastic can have the same look and feel and absolutely less expensive. A standard Lego block costs six cents; the generic, three cents; and a recycle bot-sourced, 3D printed block is half a cent.

The researchers say there are significant savings – typically between 40 to 90% – even with complex toys like toy trucks, chess sets, math puzzles, action figures and board games. They suggest that toys and games companies should also embrace 3D printing by designing accessories or add-ons that are 3D printed to give added value to their commercial toys. Home manufacturing is growing as printers become more affordable and designs are available free and in the millions.

Fun With Your Own Creation

If you have a bright toy or game idea, bring it over to your 3D printing company in Seattle. Our team at 3D Composites may just turn a dream toy or toy series into reality, at less cost than if you go shopping and looking for it in stores.

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Old Fashioned Glass-Making Made Easy By 3D Printing

Old Material and New Technique

Glass originated in Mesopotamia in about 3500 BCE and the first objects made wholly of glass date to about 2500 BC. Through the millennia, the glassmaking process has typically employed hot furnaces and harsh chemicals. Scientists and engineers are investigating the possibility if such drawbacks to glassmaking can be sidestepped with 3D printing.

3D Printing Materials

A wide variety of materials have already been used in 3D printing – plastics, metal, ceramic, including living cells. Glass proved to be too difficult to 3D print. With the use of laser or heating the materials to temperatures of about 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, the resulting products were coarse and rough, not suitable in many applications.

Now, a new technique has been developed using ‘liquid glass.’ They used silica nanoparticles, about only 40 nanometers, or billionths of a meter wide. It is something much thinner than a hair strand, about 2,500 times thinner. The silica is dispersed in acrylic solution, becoming what they call liquid glass and using a standard 3D printer, the layers printed are exposed to temperatures of 2,370 degrees F. As the acrylic burns away the silica nanoparticles fuse together into smooth, transparent glass structures. With additives, even colored glass can be printed.

The new method can print tiny features as tiny as a few dozen microns, does not require harsh chemicals, and can produce smooth and clear glass items such as lenses for smartphone cameras, chemically and thermally resistant micro reactors, and optical and photonics components for high-speed data transmission. For bigger items, the new method may also print 3D curved pieces of glass for architecture.

The scientists say that they can commercialize the technology, and in a few years, 3D printing glass may be as convenient and easy as printing plastics. This work has been published online in the Nature international weekly journal, in April 2017.

Material of The Future in Seattle

Glass will soon be the next material in 3D printing. For now, popular materials available can still be used for any flight of fancy or serious endeavor you can think of. We of 3D Composites are the go-to place for all things 3D printing in Seattle.


Looking Through 3D Printed Eyes in Seattle

Helping The Sightless To See Without Eyes

3D bioprinting has made inroads into the varied fields of medicine providing solutions previously thought unfathomable. 3D bioprinting enables printing of cell patterns complete with the key architectural and compositional elements of a target tissue. The eyes, for example. But here, we don’t mean recreating the highly complex structure and functionality of vision of the eyes, rather, its mere form and esthetic, giving ‘sight’ where there is none. Such as in the conditions Microphthalmia and Anophthalmia.


Microphthalmia is an abnormal birth defect of infants born with very small or underdeveloped eyeballs. If the eyeballs are totally missing, the case is called anophthalmia. Both conditions can occur in one or both eyes and affect more than 10% of blind children globally. That’s as many as 30 in 100,000 children.

In the Netherlands, with the help of 3D technology, a team of of eye specialists and eye-care providers came together for a small study of 5 children to create artificial eye structures, called conformers. These are sculpted eyes, not to enable the blind child to see, but to provide that vital support of the eye sockets. Conformers are clear plastic shells fitted to hold the shape of the eye socket and allow the eyelids to blink over the shell without rubbing on the suture line.

Experts say that if the eyeballs are underdeveloped or missing, the sockets will not be stimulated to grow and the face and areas around the eyes cannot expand to their natural contour. Restoration of facial symmetry is the goal of conformers. But the making and fitting of such a prosthesis is a laborious process, requiring a lot of guess work, trials and fittings that take time and resources. It is particularly difficult with infants whose head sizes grow rapidly.

The Netherlands team made MRI scans of 3-month old babies, determined the extent of the malformation, eye socket size and depth, and devised an eye growth chart over the next 10 years of development. 3D printing then created customized conformers in a vast array of sizes matching the prediction of the growth charts. They are printed quickly, cheaply and in a range of sizes varying by less than a millimeter in diameter. It is individualized treatment. While only five patients have been treated, there’s a need to see the results of a larger group.

Providing Medical Solutions via 3D Printing

Find out from your 3D printing company in Seattle how we can be of help for a medical condition. If a bright idea comes to mind, we might just make it happen.


How 3D Printing Helps in Education

Planting Seeds of Wonder and Creativeness in School

You might say that 3D printed products can also help in the field of education but is it not just a matter of show-and-tell. 3D printing can help students and teachers alike in closing the gap between imagination and the real thing. In their hands, the object of concern is handled, inspected, analyzed or manipulated in the interest of learning and know-how. It becomes real learning as students develop world skills helped by resources that inspire and support ideas. Imagine what a student can make of himself or herself being able to dream and create.

What type of students benefit from the wonders of 3D printing and how does it affect their level of learning? For our youngest set of school learners it is the engagement of students with their subject, especially if a project-based strategic learning approach is used, that pricks their imagination and sustains their interest. For those in middle school, exposure to 3D printing develops problem-solving skills necessary to face more challenging work after graduation. Critical and analytical skills will thus be enhanced.

Those in technical schools can look forward to a bright future in manufacturing which is a globally important arena for talents. Various fields in manufacturing are in need of great minds to further their industries. Advances in cutting edge technology offered by 3D printing prepare colleges and universities for the challenges of a highly technical world in the immediate future. 3D printers enable students to gain critical academic experience, create cross-departmental collaboration and foster student entrepreneurship.

Bridging the Gap Between Raw and Real

3D printing experience can enable engineering and architectural students to print prototypes and 3D models. Graphic design students can print versions of their artwork. Historical artifacts for examination can help history classes, while printed topography, demographic, or population maps can aid geography. 3D models of molecules and compounds are essential tools for those who do chemistry and print out of cells, organs and biological artifacts are helpful for those in biology. Finally, in the field of research, 3D printing can expand research efforts by creating vivid prototypes to better illustrate ideas.

Become one of our many satisfied customers at 3D Composites. If you are a student with a bright idea, learn more from us and we might just turn it into something awesome.

skin cells

Bio-Printed New Skin: More than Skin-Deep

The Bio-Printer and the Bioprinted Skin

Half a world away in Spain, a new bio-printer claims to be able to make new skin. A team of experts at the Carlos III University of Madrid came out with a machine reportedly capable of 3D-printing sheets of functional human skin for use in research or even for transplants. If it breaks through, it can make possible skin grafting using a patient’s own skin obsolete.

The new 3D printer, or aptly bioprinter, uses bio-inks made up of skin cells, plasma, proteins, and other biological components known to exist in human skin, as fibroblasts and keratinocytes. By the principle of additive manufacturing, the computer will selectively and precisely deposit layers of biolinks on the print bed. Critical to the system is how to mix the components under certain conditions and the precise depositing to prevent deterioration of the cells.

The final product produced should consists of what natural skin is – outer layer called the epidermis and the deeper, thicker layer called the dermis, which contains collagen-producing fibroblast.

For purposes of research, as in the field of pharmaceuticals or of cosmetics, the bioprinted skin can be derived from any human skin cells, such as those obtained from skin biopsies . But if it is for therapeutic treatment, as in transplants, burns, and other forms of skin injury, the patient’s own skin cells are required. It takes approximately 2 weeks to grow new skin in the laboratory, and a day or two to print them.

Research facilities in other countries have also manufactured their own bioprinting machines and printed skin derived from patient’s own skin cells. One such facility is based in the University of Toronto and their reports were released in 2014.

These results demonstrate that 3D bioprinting is a suitable technology to generate bioengineered skin for therapeutical and industrial applications in an automatized manner.

Bioprinting Skin Not Too Far Off in Seattle

While bioprinted skin is still in its research stage, your 3D printing company in Seattle, 3D Composites, has its own contributions to medical science and therapeutics. Ask us about your ideas.

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