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3D Printing used in Dentistry

3D Printed Teeth Aligners

We know too well that orthodontic treatments are one of the more expensive modalities for teeth-straightening anywhere. The prohibitive costs can make most patients shy away from this option. San Francisco-based ArchForm, a developer of a teeth-aligner software may be changing the field of Multimedia and Design Software bringing affordable dental care to many. It is designed to import 3D scanned models, create, design, and purchase aligners or 3D print them in the office.

Making Aligners More Affordable

ArchForm is soon to open its own 3D printed aligner factory for orthodontists, competing against Invisalign, byte, Candid, and SmileDirectClub, at half the cost of these. The company’s manufactured aligners will be created using 3D printers and precision robotic engineering, capable of delivering aligners to orthodontist offices in 10 to 14 days.

Replacing the traditional metal braces of the 1970s, 3D printed invisible plastic aligners are the current alternative and the first choice for young and old patients alike. Orthodontics has delved extensively in 3D printing in the past 10 years. However, 3D printed alternatives tend to cost the same or more than metal braces, ranging from $3,000 to $8,000. On average, clear aligner costs run higher than metal braces (braces average $5,500 vs. Invisalign at $4,500).

Why is orthodontic treatment associated with high cost?

ArchForm says it’s the frequent doctor -performed chair time in adjusting brackets and wires, but Invisalign cut down on some of those costs. Yet there’s also the orthodontist´s profit margin controlled by the parent company, Align. Orthodontists currently pay about $1,700 per patient to Invisalign, and other clear aligner providers following the same regime. ArchForm brings down the cost to orthodontists at $542 to print a moderate-to-severe case in-office, and the company only charges $14 per patient.

How does the ArchForm aligner software work?

The 3D software develops a stepwise series of 30 to 40 designs meant to adjust a patient’s teeth based on scan data. The resulting models are then 3D printed and the actual aligners are made by thermoforming biocompatible plastic over the models. For offices with 3D printers, incorporating the software saves money and affords the specialists full control over treatment plans with automatic one-click features that can plan cases faster.

The ArchForm platform makes the product cheaper for both doctors and patients. Since 2016, it’s offering orthodontists the chance to 3D print their clear aligners in-office. The 3D software enabled specialists to customize treatments for thousands of patients. This new production facility combines the speed of 3D printing in-office aligners with the ease of outsourcing, making more accessible and affordable aligner therapy.


3D Printing The World’s First Unibody Bike

The New E-Bike: Extremely Strong and Very Light

If you’re passionate about biking, wouldn’t it be wonderful to drive a bike that’s as light as carbon, yet strong and tough in all terrain. That is soon to be a reality when AREVO, a Silicon Valley company dedicated to direct digital additive manufacturing of composite materials, and SUPERTRATA, a new California-based start-up, will 3D print the fully-unified carbon composite frames for its future e-bikes. AREVO has launched a range of carbon fiber and carbon nanotube materials, which were reportedly stronger than steel, paving the way into bike production. The company started 3D printing bike frames for California based Franco Bicycles, under the brand Emery Bikes, using Direct Energy Deposition (DED) 3D printing technology.

Custom 3D Printed Unibody Bike

Superstrata collaborated with AREVO to make the “world’s first” custom 3D printed unibody bike. Using AREVO’s continuous carbon fibre 3D printing technology, Superstrata built the frame in a single piece, not using glues or welding to hold its individual components together. It resulted in the bike frame being “extremely impact-resistant,” and using carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastics, it was lightweight, reportedly weighing less than two bottles of water or 1.3 kg.

AREVO’s 3D printing process allowed for significant customization on the bikes. Each frame can be individually crafted based on 18 precise measurements, ensuring a custom fit for riders from 4’7” to 7’4”. There are additional adjustable settings such as ride position and stiffness level, and over hundreds of thousand combinations. Two versions of the bicycle will be made available in later 2020, one can be fully charged in two hours, providing for up to a 55-mile range, while both bikes have integrated data and power wiring, enabling a variety of electronic upgrades. These include customization to have different riding styles (racing, street, gravel, or touring), wheel materials (metal or carbon fiber), or colorways (light or dark).
There are many other companies that have also 3D printed improved bike frames.

There’s Renishaw, a metal 3D printer manufacturer that worked with Lotus, British automotive firm, and bicycle engineering company Hope Technology, to design a new track bike for the Great Britain Cycling Team in 2019. Likewise, MX3D, the Amsterdam-based Robotic Additive Manufacturing (RAM) technology developer 3D printed from aluminum using Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) technology. There’s Quirk Cycles, a bespoke bicycle framebuilding company, also showcased a bike frame design at the Bespoked UK Handmade Bicycle Show in 2019, utilizing 3D metal printing, creating a stainless steel bolt and clamp system for the bike’s seatpost, resulting in a seamless metal design.


3D Printing

PETG Smoothing: For Better Looking and Shinier 3D Printed Products

Different Ways To Get The Perfect Finish

PETG is the most famous and used copolymer in the world of 3D printing. PETG stands for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic enhanced with glycol (G). The addition of glycol makes the base PET significantly less brittle and easier to use.

One of the reasons why PETG is used in 3D printing instead of PET is because during overheating, PET becomes cloudy and fragile, which is unfeasible for use with a 3D printer FDM / FFF, a problem that does not happen to PETG because it contains glycol. It is also more durable thanks to its greater resistance to wear and corrosion to oxidizing agents, aspects that are combined with a high resistance to impacts.

PETG smoothing is a great way to reduce layer lines and deformities in a print. Smoothing results in a more visually-pleasing part. PETG is a very popular filament in the 3D printing community. It’s strong, flexible, and durable, making it a great filament choice for a variety of applications.

What are the common methods for smoothing 3D printed parts:

Sanding is one of the most common ways as it works well on all kinds of filament. It eliminates protrusions on a part, like support marks and zits, as well as reduce the appearance of layer lines. But it can be time-consuming if the part is very large or intricate. Starting with a low grit sandpaper, you can sand the object gradually in even and circular motions until you progress to use the larger grit sandpaper. Here, sanding with water helps to prevent clogging.

Another way is using a polishing compound to smooth PETC prints which enhances the effects of sanding and further reduces the layer lines. Polish may not stick well to the part unless it is adequately sanded. Liquid metal polishes work well on most brands of PETG. Use a soft cleaning cloth with a small amount of polish and rub it on the entire part until it is completely absorbed. Use another cloth and buff to a shine. The disadvantage is needing to use force to rub, which may not be suitable for more fragile parts.

Coating your PETG print is another great way to smooth the surface and to hide deformities. Like with PLA and ABS, epoxy resin is a popular substance for coating PETG prints. Depending on your choice of epoxy, the results can be satisfying. XTC-3D is quite a popular choice of epoxy for 3D printing. It flows smoothly over the part and won’t show brush strokes as easily. It also provides a glossy finish once it’s applied, so you might not need to continue sanding after applying the epoxy. However, you need to prepare the epoxy-resin mix, then carefully apply it to the print with a small brush.

Heat treatment is a viable option for smoothing PETG parts. You’ll need a heat gun with very precise temperature control to do this. Recommended temperature is normally around 250 °C or else it can be difficult to heat treat your part without ruining the print. The idea of heat treatment is to melt a very thin layer of the print’s surface material, removing the layer lines and fill in any undesirable gaps. The result should be a smooth, professional-looking part.


NASA Partners With 3D Printing Systems To Advance Lunar Explorations

Fast-Tracking Future Moon Landing

NASA is accelerating its exploration plans, now gaining momentum to once again send men to the moon. This is an exciting development since the last Apollo lunar mission was in 1972. NASA’s ambitious Artemis Program will use innovative technologies to explore more of the moon surface. It is seeking partnerships to advance additive manufacturing – its technologies, processes, and materials – to speed up the development of space capabilities. Needed to make the program successful are: a 3D printing system for the Artemis Program; better engine designs through metal AM; advanced large- scale directed energy deposition (DED) of high-strength aluminum alloys for complex rocket components, and more.

NASA has selected 17 U.S. companies so far, in order to bring to fruition these companies’ own space technologies for lunar and other explorations. It will also make possible for these entities to offer their cutting-edge systems as a service to NASA for their mutual benefit. Another reason is to help reduce the development costs of space technologies and accelerate the coming-in of emerging commercial capabilities into future missions.

The selected projects will be governed by unfunded Space Act Agreements between the companies and NASA. In fact, to support the agreements, the businesses will gain access to NASA resources, like expertise and testing facilities, that carry an estimated value of $15.5 million. NASA will work with the selected companies, from small businesses to giant aerospace corporations that will gain access to and exchange of expertise in NASA’s unique testing facilities.

Some of the selected companies that will use 3D printing technology as the basis of their projects: New Jersey-based AI SpaceFactory, an architectural and technology design firm to construct Mars habitat and develop new material that mimics lunar dirt; leading aerospace manufacturer Blue Origin based in Kent, Washington will improve rocket engine designs with metal additive manufacturing; AM research and development company Elementum 3D from Erie, Colorado, will help to increase the performance and reduce the cost of additively manufactured aluminum materials; Cornerstone Research Group of Miamisburg, Ohio, will test and evaluate slurry-based thermoset resins performance in flight-relevant environments; IN Space of West Lafayette, Indiana, will explore the use of AM to produce a regeneratively cooled engine chamber for IN Space’s rotating detonation engine. These partnerships complement NASA’s Artemis program and help prepare the agency for its future exploration endeavors.



Two Giants Join Forces to Metal 3D Print Interstellar Rocket

NASA and Johns Hopkins APL: Into Deep Space

The edge of the solar system is termed, the heliopause. NASA says that it is the boundary between solar wind and interstellar wind. The solar wind blows outwards from the sun and forms a bubble of solar material in the interstellar medium. The heliopause is that part of the solar system which is exposed to particles and ions of deep space. Located around 11 billion miles from Earth, it is the point at which the sun’s influence as a heat source ends, and interstellar space begins. Now researchers from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) are working with NASA to develop technology for a metal 3D printed, solar-powered rocket to explore this space.

The twin spacecraft, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, are still exploring this space, reaching it after 50 years, travelling 30,000 miles per hour. With NASA and the APL’s new solar propulsion system, they hope to drastically speed up this journey time and explore further into this new frontier.

What is this solar propulsion system? It is their spacecraft system that will harness hydrogen from the sun, heat it up, and then blast it out through a nozzle to produce thrust. This is instead of using combustible fuel sources. It should speed up the journey and enable far-reaching probes to study the deeper space. To do this, metal 3D printing could be utilized for the rocket’s heat shield. The spacecraft must pass incredibly close to the sun in order to perform an Oberth maneuver. As the spacecraft loops around the sun, the sun’s gravity acts like a force multiplier that increases the craft’s speed when it fires its engines. The closer the spacecraft gets to the sun, the faster it will go.

In order to get just one million miles from the sun, the heat shield should be fortified with new materials to protect it. The solar propulsion engine is planned to be integrated within the spacecraft’s shield itself. The spacecraft will have to endure two and a half hours in temperatures of 4,500 degrees Fahrenheit near the sun, so new 3D printing materials coating the outside of the shield should be able to better reflect thermal energy. Also, new materials are needed to coat the inside of the shield’s channels to prevent hot hydrogen from exploding within the shield.

Additive manufacturing has played a significant role in the testing phase of these new materials, with the scientists able to 3D print metal in the lab. Yet since 2019, NASA and the APL have been working on their ideas for the interstellar mission. They will soon present their work to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Heliophysics decadal survey.


3D Printing’s Role in Deep Space

It is amazing how 3D printing technology is helping advance man’s search and exploration of the space and still deeper space outside our Earth.