3D printed skull shape

Amazing Things 3D Printing Has Accomplished

3D Printing Features You Might Have Missed

You might think you are pretty savy where 3D printing is concerned, but the technology has come to accomplish a lot more than you think. Here are some amazing developments in the technology.

Budget 3D printers can produce solid metal parts. Metal is much sought-after material in 3D printing and many ways has this been done already. However, it needs a company to do this and not for your regular budget 3D printer. Hence, even for small metal parts the price is very hefty. There are only a few options for direct metal 3D printing but most require extremely high temperatures or high-power lasers. Full-metal parts using a low-cost printer is possible using a process called lost PLA casting. The object is formed into a molded plaster, the plastic is burned out in a very hot furnace, then melted metal is poured into the plaster mold. After cooling, the object is removed and polished.

3D printers can produce iridescent surfaces. Molten plastic is deposited on a diffraction grating surface of the object (diffraction gratings are tiny optical elements that can redirect and separate light into various colors). The molten plastic conforms to the surface, making a reverse copy of the grating. This technique has been used both with diffraction grating film and CDs with the foil layer removed.

3D printing is coming under more and more scrutiny from federal regulators. The popular technology raises questions on safety, reproducibility, and whether or not strict regulation should be placed on those who own 3D printers.Three areas are being looked at – civil liability (who is liable if a 3D printed product causes injury?), – defence (what happens when 3D printed weapons becomes legal in the US?). – in medicine (what if an implantable medical device approved by the FDA has potential flaws that could cause undue harm to a patient using it?).

3D Printing can produce amazing, even “impossible” shapes. For example, optical illusions. Such as those found in Thingiverse: Word illusion that says “black” and “white”, permanently right/left facing arrow, Penrose triangle 1 and 2, the Squarcle. They are fun, challenging and, importantly, easily printable. There are fixed optical illusions and moving optical illusions.

Other amazing things than can be 3D printed are soft robots that have soft and flexible parts, usually with embedded sensors, to replicate the function of human hands and limbs performing surgery. Also 3D printing can make water filters using the chemical properties of plastic, optimizing the quantity of fluoride. Finally, did you know can 3D printing can replicate fingerprints, potential for investigative purposes.


3D Printing: The Meat of The Matter

New Meat Alternative: From Printer to the Plate

A 3D printing startup company, based in Israel, is developing a technology to 3D print meat that is plant-based. The company, Redefine Meat, has recently announced that it was able to raise $6 million in seed money from a variety of investors. The company will use its new capital to finalize its alternative meat 3D printer. It also aims to hit its release goal by 2020. By this period, Redefine Meat will begin to sell its 3D printer and the ingredient packs to a handful of meat processing partners and restaurants.

It was only recently that the company conducted its first public tasting of its 3D printed meat at a restaurant full of diners who had no idea of what was served to them.

The ingredients of the company’s meat are quite simple – three plant protein sources, fat, and water. The secret is in the printing production method, yet they are not telling. While extrusion or pressing is the usual method, Redefine Meat uses 3D printing to give their meat a more realistic texture and mouthfeel. The fibers of the meat are almost real and the way fat and water are trapped in the meat matrix give it the real meat taste.

The company initially plans to sell its meat to restaurants and eventually develop their own retail brand. However, now they plan to sell their 3D printing machine and shelf-stable plant protein ingredient packs to meat companies, In turn, these companies will print their own products to distribute to retail and restaurants. At $100,000 each, Redefine Meat’s 3D printers come exclusively with the company’s suite of protein packs. Starting with beef at first, the company intends to eventually expand to pork and tuna. They will go full blast by 2021.

Redefine Meat is not the only company that’s in this market. Novameat is cutting into the pie as well and is raising its own funding. With growing interest in meat alternatives 3D printing is really inviting serious investments.


Human heart graphic illustration

3D Human Organs with Blood Vessels

A Step Toward a Fully Functional 3D Printed Heart

We’ve heard about 3D printed organs – brain, kidney and heart – so-called “organoids” created by researchers and engineers in their labs, revolutionizing medicine and healthcare. While that is really great news, the real problem is that these organs are still tiny. They have been grown in labs for the last decade in order to be used to study diseases like dementia, cancer and heart attacks.

Additionally, the mini versions don’t have their very own blood vessels. It looks like they are still far from the life-saving organ transplants they were meant to be, needed by more than 100,000 people on US waiting lists.

Due to a critical ceiling, those organoids remained small, up to the size of a lentil. They lack tubes that mimic blood vessels and so researchers have struggled to get oxygen and nutrients into the organs’ core. How could they become full size transplant organs right in the lab, fashioned from patients’ own cells and not subject to rejection?

The answer came from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Researchers there came up with an ingenious way of creating tubes like real blood vessels meandering through the mini-organs. By making organ building blocks from human stem cells, they become mini hearts and brains mixed and compacted at low temperature to form a matrix of cells with the density of human tissue.

A 3D printer using red dye and gelatin will deposit its contents through the cell matrix according to a certain branch pattern. Once printed, the network is heated to 37 degrees Celsuis. As the ink melts it will leave channels lined with human endothelial cells. Through these channels the researchers perfuse the mini-organs with a liquid rich in oxygen and nutrients. In the end, the team was able to keep a 1.5cm mini-heart beating on its own for more than a week.

This development proved to be a huge step toward creating functional human organs outside of the body. The study appears in the journal Science Advances.


3D Printed Models: Saving Downstream Cost for Healthcare

New Study: 3D Printing Makes Medicine Cheaper

A new analysis published in Academic Radiology says that anatomic models created via 3D printing can be used during patients’ operative care to save health systems substantial downstream costs.

The study recognizes healthcare’s growing interest in 3D printing and in fact many hospitals have since adopted 3D printed models due to their potential “pay for itself” impact. What these ‘payments’ refer to are the surgeon’s superior confidence, the ability to perform complex procedures, and financial savings secondary to shorter, more efficient procedures.

In the study, the researchers reviewed operating room cost-per minute and quantified time saved when 3D printed models were used in orthopedic and maxillofacial surgery. A mean of $64 per operating room minute was used as reference standard. This is to create various financial scenarios. In conclusion. seven studies that used 3D printed models in surgical care showed a mean of 62 minutes saved time and 25 studies of 3D printed surgical guides revealed a mean of 23 minutes saved.

The study also pointed out that cost-savings can be substantial and financially feasible even at relatively low volumes of 3D printed anatomical models and surgical guides. This is good news for 3D printing labs that can keep their operational costs down with about 63 models or guides a year.

What will be the source or sources of the models/guides?

They can be drawn from CT, MRI and volumetric ultrasound images used in preoperative planning, intraoperative guidance, medical trainee education, and patient information and consent.

This study used literature-based financial analyses that were able to demonstrate the the representative of value and financial feasibility of 3D printing in preoperative planning and saving intraoperative time. Nonetheless, further studies are needed to validate the data because of the many mixed sources used for analysis.


rib cage and spine

3D Printing in Multi-Industries

The Potential Applications of 3D Printing

Big research , as well as investment, support continues to fuel the upswing of 3D printing technology around the world. That may be because many different industries realize the use of 3D printing within their own fields. There are some very interesting potential applications of the technology. Let’s look at them.

Medicine and Organogenesis

In medicine and science, 3D printing can create anatomical structures in cell cultures to mimic the growth of human organs. Imagine the many lives it can save. Organ transplants can be performed quickly, eliminating long waiting lists, and more importantly, removing the need of life-long anti-rejection treatments. Organogenesis is just one of 3D printing’s capabilities.

Still in the field of medicine, the next new wave of innovation is in personalized care. 3D printing is finding its way in precision medicine. It can create personalized organs, skin grafts or mechanical parts. It can also print specific nanoparticles as well as personalized food or pills of a patient’s unique physiology.

3D-Printed Food

3D printing might solve the problem of world hunger. 3D printers can make meals offering a sustainable solution to our growing population. In specific hunger-stricken areas, oil and powder cartridges will be used to create nutritional meals to enable people to thrive and survive. These cartridges have a shelf life of 30 years enabling zero food wastage.

Apparel and Fashion

Apparel can be customized by 3D printing. There is no longer any difficulty if one doesn’t fit in standard sizes; nothing is going to be too small or too big. A 3D printer can make it the exact size, fitting perfectly. Many companies and designers have incorporated 3D printing technology into their products and designs.


3D-printed homes may be the solution to a world without adequate or affordable housing. 3D printing has already produced houses done in less than one day for a cost of $10,000.

3D Printing in Space

3D printing has also invaded space. Space station teams and intergalactic explorers, without having to wait for replenishment, will utilize 3D printing to manufacture spacecraft components and products.


Reaching Out in Seattle

For your 3D printing needs, or if you want something customized, let 3D Composites know about your ideas.