liquid drops

New 3D Printer: Builds Solids Out of Liquids

Shining A Light To Transform

“The Replicator” is the next generator 3D printer, the name shared with a Star Trek device that could make objects out of thin air. However, the 3D printer, built at the University of California in Berkeley, uses light to build solid 3D objects from a gelatinous solution.

The printer isn’t quite that advanced, but it is a step forward for 3D printing. What is its light source? It uses a repurposed digital video projector as a source to create objects that are smoother, more flexible and more complex than a traditional 3D printer. It uses just an ordinary, off-the-shelf video projector, plugged into a laptop and used to project a series of computed images, while a motor turns a cylinder that contains 3D-printing resin.

How does it work?

The projector holds a lot of 3D-computed models that it beams out as a series of light patterns directed at a gelatinous resin contained within a jar. The resin is composed of light-sensitive molecules and dissolved oxygen, and as the jar is slowly spun in place, the light beams at it. Oxygen is depleted, allowing the molecules in the resin to form cross-links. Those links are the key to the transformation, turning the liquid into a solid.

We know that traditionally, 3D printers use the typical layering process by which the printed object takes shape and form from the bottom up as horizontal layers are added one on top of the other.

The researchers have already created a number of different objects using the new printer, including a replica of Rodin’s Thinker statue, another is a smooth and highly flexible doughnut, and a model of the lower jaw.

Presently, the printer is limited to producing objects within a diameter of 4 inches (10.16 centimeters) and doesn’t produce any waste, the liquid can be reused in subsequent prints. Also, the replicator allows the fabrication of 3D objects around pre-existing structures. With these advantages objects can be mass-customized even more.


Exploring Ideas for 3D Printing in Seattle

If you’ve got an idea for 3D printing, just bring it over to us at 3D Composites, your 3D printing company in Seattle. We do traditional 3D printing of models as we look forward to new approaches in 3D technology.


Rockets To Space: Revolutionary and Fully 3D Printed

Space Ambitions Soon To Be Realized

Cape Canaveral in Florida is one of America’s busiest spaceport and soon it will become the new home of a startup company, Relativity Space, that has ambitious plans to have its very own launch site at the Cape for its future 3D-printed rockets. After a successful new deal with the US Air Force, Relativity will modify the site to suit its rocket technology. As of now, Relativity has done 124 test fires of its rocket engine, in pursuit of launching the company’s first rocket by 2020.

Since the way rockets have been built hasn’t really changed in the last 60 years, Relativity aims to upset the entire process of making rockets. The company wants to veer from the traditional way of using the assembly line of machines that are complicated and time-consuming, and workers piecing together the different machine parts. It’s going to automate the entire rocket-building process using giant 3D printers -everything from engines to the propellant tanks.

With headquarters in Los Angeles, Relativity has the largest metal 3D printer by volume, capable of creating parts up to 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Called Stargate, printers like this for manufacturing can produce about 95 percent of the vehicle through 3D-printed automation, while 5 percent will use human interaction – testing, shipping, and very small amounts of manual assembly.

Printers like Stargate are meant to save money by consolidating the parts needed for each vehicle, making incredibly complicated parts in just one piece. The company will be able to produce rockets with 100 times fewer parts than normal. For example, the engine injector and chamber are made of just three 3D-printed parts, when traditionally, such sections would require nearly 3,000 parts.

All the complexity is in the software; It’s able to make shapes of almost any complexity. The design can also quickly be adjusted if needed, simply by changing the software. 3D printing will allow the company to simplify the manufacturing process, shortening the time it takes to build each rocket. The goal is to get to a point where it only takes 60 days to manufacture one vehicle. That is achievable because of the robotic automation and 3D-printing technologies.


Looking To Be Part of Space Exploration in Seattle

3D Composites, 3D printing company in Seattle, has been in the business of supporting the aerospace industry for 30 years. We look forward to being a part of rocket launches in the near future.

Children’s Playground Equipment: From Virtual Reality to 3D

Just A Fun Project With A Purpose

In recent years virtual reality has gained a substantial amount of popularity. There are many games and software products in development or already released. A small portion of those focus on the creation of 3D models, for a variety of purposes such as game development, architecture and art.

Virutal Reality and 3D Model

There’s a thesis that argues the necessity of virtual reality in designing models in 3D. Entitled, “Designing Playground Equipment with VR and 3D Printing,” its author Christian Knaapen says that there is a break in the connection between the 3D model on the 2D screen and the final object. The final object should have the capacity to be interacted with, to be walked around; that’s why it needs virtual reality.

However, converting models made in virtual reality to 3D prints is not straightforward. 3D prints need to show some desired properties as, the object should consist of one connected component that touches the printing platform, it should be able to stand without falling over, and it should be structurally sound.

In the project, the author implements a program that analyzes these properties on models made in virtual reality. It is the first 3D print analysis program that works in virtual reality. To test this program, the author collated 35 students from a local school to design playground equipment in Google Blocks. Then the models were analyzed and 3D printed.

There were 16 groups formed in total, comprising children in groups of two or three. The children underwent three phases for this project: the first phase is introduction to Google Blocks and designing of their playground equipment. By the second phase, they have finished their designs. Lastly, they used the author’s software program to be able to analyze the models they’ve designed. They they’ve finalized everything, the designs were 3D printed and tested according to the desired properties – at least one connected component to the printing platform, standing without falling, and structural soundness.

Even though this project was an initial step towards understanding virtual reality-created models conversion to 3D printing, further study is necessary. While not the project’s main objective, the children had a great time designing their own playground equipment. They were thrilled being introduced to virtual reality and 3D printing.

Trying Kids’ Fun Models from Imagination

We might not yet be creating 3D printed playthings from virtual reality in Seattle, but your kids can have some fun designing their own stuff. If your kid has got an idea, let’s 3D print it.

3D-Printed Blood Vessels: Towards Saving Lives

In Aid of Cardiovascular Medicine

Can you imagine 3D printed blood vessels replacing hardened human arteries or veins in the treatment of cardiovascular disease? Some scientists are on the road to this possibility.

Engineers from the University of Colorado at Boulder have developed a 3D printing technique that allows for localized control of an object’s firmness, such as that of blood vessels like arteries, opening up new biomedical advances in the treatment of hypertension and other vascular diseases.

Looking for a Solution

We know that hardened blood vessels are associated with cardiovascular disease, but looking for a solution for viable artery and tissue replacement has historically proven challenging. However, in this study, recently published in the journal Nature Communications, outlines a layer-by-layer printing method that features fine-grain, programmable control over rigidity, allowing researchers to mimic the complex geometry of blood vessels that are highly structured and yet must remain pliable.

The scientists found a unique way to take advantage of oxygen’s role in setting the final form of a 3D-printed structure. As oxygen may cause incomplete curing, they used a layer that allows a fixed rate of oxygen permeation. With tight control over oxygen migration and its light exposure, there’s freedom now to control which areas of an object are solidified to be harder or softer while keeping the shape intact and the same.

The idea was to add independent mechanical properties to 3D structures that can mimic the body’s natural tissue. This technology allows to create microstructures that can be customized for disease models. There remains a challenge: to create an even finer scale for the chemical reactions. Tremendous opportunities lie ahead.

Looking back, some two years ago, out of a research by the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering, artificial blood vessels were bioengineered in the lab and implanted in young lambs. The vessels were observed to be capable of growth within the recipient. It was a groundbreaking new study. If confirmed in humans, these new vessel grafts would prevent the need for repeated surgeries in some children with congenital heart defects. The researchers were to determine the feasibility of requesting approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for human clinical trials within the next few years.

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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.