white glass architecture building

The New Look of Architecture: 3D-Printed Lattices

Light Construction Materials of the Future

It has now become practically impossible to develop stiffer designs after you see these 3D printed family of architectures that maximizes the stiffness of porous lightweight materials.

For lightweight construction, it is important that construction materials be made of internal components that are both light and with a degree of complexity, yet robust to be of maximum efficiency. 3D printing and other additive production techniques have now made it possible to manufacture materials with internal structures of previously unimaginable complexity.

A research team from ETH Zurich and MIT has developed and fabricated material architectures that are equally strong in all three dimensions, and that are simultaneously extremely stiff. They were able to show that it’s possible to determine mathematically in theory just how stiff materials with internal voids can become. For this research, the scientists are aiming to come up with stronger latticework. A characteristic feature of the design is that the stiffness in the material’s interior is achieved through plate-lattices rather than trusses.

Latticework is an openwork framework consisting of a criss-crossed pattern of strips of building material, typically wood or metal; the design is created by crossing the strips to form a grid or weave. Trusses, on the other hand, consist of triangular units constructed with straight members; the ends of these members are connected at joints, known as nodes which are able to carry significant loads.

Trusses are old designs, long been used, such as in the Eiffel Tower, and they are perceived to be lightweight. The scientists were able to use computer calculations, theory and experimental measurements, to establish a new family of plate-lattice structures that are up to three times stiffer than truss-lattices of the same weight and volume. They are not just stiff, approaching theoretical maximum values, but are also strong.

Via 3D printing, a micrometre scale was produced from plastic having all the constituent materials on all length scales that are universally applicable – from the very small to the very large.

Architectural Advances in Seattle

We at 3D Composites anticipate the advent of such fine advances in architecture where latticework is concerned. However, for now, when you have some need for parts or tools for construction purposes and you think they can be 3D printed, come see us, your experienced 3D company in Seattle.



How 3D Printing Revolutionized Medicine in 2018

3D Printing – Recreating Human Organs

The inroads 3D printing technology made in the field of medicine have truly been astounding. In just one year – 2018 – there have been many amazing breakthroughs and complex developments that advanced medicine to a state it is today. Let’s look at some of these groundbreaking inroads.

3D printed rib implant. A 3D printed polymer rib implant was received by a patient in Bulgaria whose 5th rib was removed due to a growth. An exact replica was implanted successfully without complications.

3D printed prosthetics. A reconstructive hospital in Jordan has, for 10 years now, been restoring missing limbs for patients who are war and bomb blast victims by 3D printed prosthesis.

3D printed ligaments. From the University of New Mexico 3D printed ligaments could represent a new breakthrough in the way these injuries are treated. Torn ligaments are common injuries and difficult to treat, carrying risk of future complications. A special electrospinning technique is used here.

3D bionic eye. Researchers at the University of Minnesota 3D printed photoreceptors on a hemispherical surface, a technique that could lead to an actual functional bionic eye, paving the way for curing blindness.

3D printed placenta on a chip. A miniature cell culture that behaves in the manner of a full-sized organ was printed to enable new insight into the way that conditions pass from mothers to babies.

3D printed artificial lung. This is the first truly wearable device that is compatible with human tissue and can provide both short- and long-term respiratory support for those suffering from COPD, especially prevalent among veterans.

3D printed neural scaffold. This could help patients with long-term spinal cord injuries, which cause loss of function up to and including complete paralysis, actually recover some function in the future.

3D printing an actual human heart is still to be accomplished in the future. BIOLIFE4D announced that it has successfully 3D printed cardiac patches, sooner than expected. A promising sign and one more step forward in the quest to 3D print entire new organs.


Looking Forward to Medical Breakthroughs in Seattle

Your 3D printing company in Seattle, 3D Composites, can help bring your ideas come to life when you think medical devices and tools, while looking forward to recreating human organs in the near future.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amazing, Epic 3D Printed Things in 2018

From Cars to Bridges to Space

You might not be hearing much hype about 3D printing but it’s still creating waves in manufacturing in 2018. Manufacturing companies are using the tech for things like weight reduction and cost savings. More interestingly, architects carried out a number of experiments that pushed the artistic limits of what 3D printing can do. Here are some of the standout achievements and creations from 2018:

3D printed bridge. The 40-foot (12-meter) structure was unveiled at Dutch Design Week this year, however, the pedestrian bridge (by MX3D) will be installed in Amsterdam in 2019. Four years to execute, the bridge’s production process can now be completed in six months. Intended to be initially built on site, certain logistical and environmental factors stalled the plan. Instead, it was hoisted into place after robotic arms and welding machines created it.

3D printed houses. Icon, a startup company, managed in March to print 650-square-foot house in 12-24 hours, unveiled in Austin, Texas, with new 3D printing experiments for construction this year, and a funding of $9 million for expansion. Next year, Eindhoven University of Technology will be opening up the first of their five planned 3D-printed homes to residents. 3D printing homes keep encountering roadblocks, like equipment failures or issues about how long walls should dry.

3D printed 1 millionth component of BMW. The car company hit a major milestone in 2018 with its one millionth component created in series production since 2010 (a window guide rail for the BMW i8 Roadster). The company has worked with 3D printing since 1990 for prototyping and development, but its use in production kicked into full gear over the last eight years. The company estimates it will complete over 200,000 3D-printed parts this year.

3D printing system for NASA. In 2014, NASA made important progress toward the in-space manufacturing necessary for deep space exploration by “printing” tools in space using a 3D printer on the International Space Station. In 2018, the space agency will launch a machine that can not only print plastic parts, but can also recycle them back into reusable raw materials to make more and/or different parts. The machine, coined the “Refabricator,” is a device that will accept plastic materials of various sizes and shapes and turn them to the feedstock used to 3D print items.

Self-tracking 3D printed plastic objects. The University of Washington researchers created objects such as prosthetics that can send information on how they are being used, without the need for batteries. Antennas embedded in the printed objects are activated when the object is moved in a specific way. The researchers believe their system could improve assistive technologies, making it possible to monitor exactly how people are using these devices.


Human heart graphic illustration

3D-Printed Human Organs: For Study and Testing

Lifelike Human Organs

Can you imagine a 3D bioprinting technique that works with natural materials to produce lifelike organ tissue models? Bioengineers at the University of California San Diego have developed such a technique that is easy to use, allowing researchers to study human organs or use them in a pharmaceutical trial setup. The goal isn’t to make artificial organs that can be implanted in the body. The work was published recently in Advanced Healthcare Materials.

The researchers want to make it easier for everyday scientists, who are not specialized in other 3D printing techniques, to make 3D models of whatever human tissues they’re studying. The models would be more advanced than standard 2D or 3D cell cultures, and more relevant to humans when it comes to testing new drugs, which is currently done on animal models. It doesn’t need a complicated laboratory.

The method is also simple. For example, to make a living blood vessel network, researchers first digitally design a scaffold using Autodesk. A commercial 3D printer printed the scaffold out of a water soluble material called polyvinyl alcohol. A thick coating of natural materials is poured over the scaffold, letting it cure and solidify. Then the scaffold material inside is flushed out to create hollow blood vessel channels, their insides coated with endothelial cells. To keep the cells alive and growing, the last step is to flow cell culture media through the vessels. The vessels are made of natural materials found in the body such as fibrinogen, a compound found in blood clots, and Matrigel, a commercially available form of actual mammalian extracellular matrix.

Using the right materials is important, yet challenging. They should be natural rather than synthetic, so that it’s close to natural body tissues and that they can be sustained for very long periods of time outside the body. They should be biologically derived materials to make ex vivo tissues that are vascularized.

In one of their experiments, the researchers used the printed blood vessels to keep breast cancer tumor tissues (extracted from mice) alive outside the body. Tumor cells stayed alive after 3 weeks, encapsulated in the blood vessel prints. This system can be used to test anti-cancer drugs outside the body, Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers and huge research is dedicated to its study.

In another experiment, they created a vascularized gut model. It consisted of 2 channels. One was a straight tube lined with intestinal epithelial cells to mimic the gut. The other was a blood vessel channel (lined with endothelial cells) that spiraled around the gut channel. Each channel was then fed with media optimized for its cells. Within two weeks, the channels has started taking on more lifelike. Moving forward, the team is working on extending and refining this technique.

Prototyping Bio-Related Ideas in Seattle

If you’ve got an idea that’s going to advance medical-biological science, contact us.



3D Printed Lithium-Ion Batteries: The Future of Batteries

The Beginnings of Customized Batteries

What are lithium-ion batteries? Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable batteries with high energy output and low maintenance and can handle hundreds of charge/discharge cycles. You can find them in laptop computers, PDAs, cell phones and iPods and other electronic devices. They are also used in electric vehicles. However, manufacturers have had to design their devices around the size and shape of commercially available batteries. But researchers have developed a new method to 3D print lithium-ion batteries in any shape.

Lithium-ion Batteries

Currently, most lithium-ion batteries are available in cylindrical or rectangular shapes. So when designing a product, like a cell phone, manufacturers must dedicate a certain size and shape to the battery. One of the challenges in creating smaller and smaller devices today, such as wearables and phones, is that the batteries can take up a lot of room. Cases are often designed around standard battery sizes, and it often creates wasted space. Hence, the disadvantage is not only space-consuming and but also limits design options. However, theoretically, 3D-printing technology can fabricate an entire device, including battery and structural and electronic components, in almost any shape.

From the American Chemical Society comes this report recently published in the ACS Applied Energy Materials. It concludes that it’s possible to 3D-print lithium-ion batteries into whatever shape is needed.

The problem in 3D-printing lithium-ion batteries is that the polymers or poly lactic acids (PLA) traditionally used in this kind of printing are not ionic conductors. The goal for researchers was to develop a process to print custom-sized lithium-ion batteries in a cost-effective way using a regular, inexpensive and widely available 3D printer.

The researchers increased the ionic conductivity of PLA by infusing it with an electrolyte solution, boosted the battery’s electrical conductivity by incorporating graphene or multi-walled carbon nanotubes into the anode or cathode, respectively. To demonstrate the battery’s potential, the team 3D printed an LED bangle bracelet with an integrated lithium-ion battery. The bangle battery could power a green LED for about 60 seconds only. The capacity is lower than that of commercial standards, not suitable for practical use. But they have ideas for how to improve capacity, with a lot of promise for the future of small gadgets.

Looking Into the Future of Batteries in Seattle

According to your favorite 3D printing company in Seattle, 3D Composites, it’s exciting to anticipate the day when any small tech gadget can be powered by the littlest of lithium-ion batteries. Thanks to 3D printing.

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