3D printed objects

3D Printing Possibilities Today: From Small to Massive

Amazing Things 3D Printing Has Made

Scientists, thinkers, designers, engineers, and a whole lot of other innovators have come up and produced many amazing products from 3d printing. Let’s have a look at some of the more surprising innovations that also aim to make the world a better place.

3D Printing Technology

The so-called Hero Arm belongs to a new generation of prosthetics. It is the world’s first medically certified 3D-printed bionic arm, with multi-grip functionality and empowering aesthetics. Developed by UK-based Open Bionics, it’s a lightweight, affordable myoelectric prosthesis, custom-made using innovative 3D-printing and 3D-scanning techniques. It has made possible for thousands of children around the world to regain hand function.

3D printing can now bioprint replacement skin for wound and burn victims. The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) is creating a bioengineered BioMask that could be applied to people’s faces. It claims to deliver better results because existing techniques for grafting skin can often lead to scarring, infection or graft failure. This can prove life-changing for people who would otherwise have had to remain scarred forever.

A company named ICON is applying 3D printing to houses and whole communities, printing its first house in Austin, Texas in 2018. It took a few weeks to print and sparked the imagination of customers, investors, press, and the SXSW conference community. Now it has advanced the technology to get a house up in just a day and at a cost of just $4000. It believes that its 3D printing applied to concrete is the solution to low-income housing, both in the USA and abroad.

Airbus adopted 3D printing technology for plane parts a few years ago. In 2016 it began using titanium for engine components and since has extended its use of 3D printing plane interiors with parts made in partnership with a 3D printing company based in Belgium called Materialise. These parts are as strong as those traditionally made, but lighter and hence, more efficient.

Other applications of 3D printing include jewelry design and making. Already possible a decade ago but fashioned out of plastic. Now, thanks to advanced additive manufacturing techniques its possible in metal. The technology can design and execute delicate, metal necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings. Another application can be found in individual glasses frames. In some cases, the 3D printed concept prototypes mimic the exact same color and texture as the finished product. It eliminates the need to paint, as well as reduce the time to create a prototype in ⅕ the time.


3D Printing in Seattle Made Easy

If you got yourself an idea, big or small, and you want to know if we can 3D print it, contact us. Let’s talk about possibilities.

The Rise of An Entire 3D-Printed Village: First in the World

3D Printed Shelters for Everyone

Yves Behar is a Swiss designer, entrepreneur and founder and principal designer of Fuseproject, an award-winning industrial design and brand development firm, and also co-founder of Canopy, a new co-working space based in San Francisco. He is teaming up with non-profit New Story, which builds homes and communities, to build a 3D printed concrete village in rural Latin America.

Where exactly is its intended location will be announced but the construction is set to happen by later this year, 2019. The homes are designed as affordable housing for local farmers and weavers. Behar is planning an entire community of houses that will show how 3D printing be used in rural and low-income areas.

House Details

The plan is that each house will measure 55m², with an outdoor kitchen and a garden. Because the environment, weather included, is challenging, the homes will have slanted roofs that protect from heavy rain, and reinforced walls that can withstand earthquakes. Rows of houses will have contrasting shades of color. Natural ventilation is provided by a border of patterned concrete bricks. The white concrete walls inside will be left exposed, but owners will be able to choose the color of their home’s exterior.

Early last year, Yves Béhar has launched a flexible prefab that capitalizes on planning laws designed to alleviate California’s housing crisis. The structures are called ADUs or accessory dwelling units designed from 23m² to 111m² (also known as ‘granny flats’). The updated legislation was introduced to allow homeowners to build these compact AUDs in their backyard.

It takes less than two months to build and install and is delivered plug-and-go ready. It’s also highly customizable and can be tweaked for its setting, including the shape of its roof line, interior floor plan, windows and interiors. Prices start from $280,000 for the standard model, though Béhar has plans to develop a ‘sub $100,000’ range in the future.

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3D-Printing Complex Bio-Organs: The Lungs

3D Printing Parts That Breathe

3D bioprinting body organs may now look doable as advances in technology make mention those parts that have seen printing already – eyes, skin, heart, bone, among others. However, the more challenging aspect is how to print artificial versions of the body’s complex vascular networks, which mimic our natural passageways for blood, air, lymph, and other vital fluids.

Of late, scientists from the Rice’s Brown School of Engineering have already successfully printed the complex vasculature that can supply nutrients to densely populated tissues, such as the lungs. The team is the first to develop bioprinting technology that addresses the challenge of multivascularization in a direct and comprehensive way. They know that the vascular networks, like the lung’s blood vessels and airways, and the bile ducts and liver blood vessels are interpenetrating networks. They are physically and biochemically entangled, and their architecture is intimately related to tissue function.

SLATE, which stands for “stereolithography apparatus for tissue engineering”, was developed by the scientists which prints one layer at a time from a liquid pre-hydrogel solution which, when exposed to light, solidifies. They tested a lung-mimicking structure, complete with airways and blood vessels, that held up to recreate the breathing process.

What is the impact of creating functional tissue replacements in the medical field?

For one it is a high scientific priority because of its potential impact on organ donations. In the US alone there is a shortage of organ donors; at least more than a hundred thousand patients are on the transplant waiting list. Furthermore, there is the danger of organ rejection for even a successful transplant procedure. Bioprinted organs should be able to address the shortage of organs and the risk of organ rejection.

Reprinting human organs has other potential uses apart from as transplants. Scientists are using 3D printed organs to better understand how they are affected by cancer.


3D Printing Possibilities in Seattle

While 3D printing bio-organs are the next best possibility in some future time, our team at 3D Composites Seattle can be approached for your other immediate 3D printing needs. Contact us and let’s talk ideas.

old shoe

The Advent of the 3D Printed Material That Repairs Itself

Self-Healing Materials: The Correct Mix

Out of the University of Southern California (USC) researchers have developed a 3D printed rubber material that has the ability to repair itself. The rubber material, an elastomer, is able to potentially decrease manufacturing time and increase longevity for shoes, tires, soft robotics and electronics. The self-healable materials were 3D printed using a customized photopolymerization process. Photopoly- merization is a technique that uses light (visible or ultraviolet; UV) to initiate and propagate a polymerization reaction. It is a practical approach to produce micrometer sized 3D structures. In this process laser light excitation hardens an appropriate photopolymer.

The researchers say that self-healing and polymerization are two different behaviors. There is actually a competition between the two, but the researchers were eventually able to find the ratio that can enable both high self-healing and relatively rapid photopolymerization.

This research focuses on the photopolymerization reaction of the alcohol-analogous thiol chemical group present in the rubber materials. An oxidizer was added to the process which transformed the thiols into a different group of chemicals called disulfides. The new chemicals have the ability to reform when broken, enabling self-healing. However, when they gradually increase the oxidant, the self-healing behavior becomes stronger, but the photopolymerization behavior becomes weaker.

Healing Time & Temperature

Part of the research is a study where the material’s ability to heal on a range of rubber products. The different items were cut in half, and after 2 hours, at 60 degrees Celsius, the products were able to heal completely. The repair time is variable depending on the temperature. Under different temperatures – from 40 degrees Celsius to 60 degrees Celsius – the material can heal to almost 100 percent.

There have been studies on self-healing materials that are 3D-printable. There’s the conductive self-healing hydrogel developed at the University of Manitoba; it came from chitosan, which is found in the shells of crabs, shrimp and other crustaceans. At the University of Melbourne, a team found that synthetic benzaldehyde, typically obtained by extraction from cinnamon oil, was a key ingredient to developing a 3D printable healing gel. From the University of South Carolina a study was published titled Additive Manufacturing of Self-healing Elastomers about self-healing materials.


3D-Printable Ideas in Seattle

If you’ve got an idea and you think it’s printable, contact our team at 3D Composites. Possibilities are endless.

People inside building

The World’s First 3D Printed Meeting Space

Not Your Typical Meeting Space

If you are somewhere in Amsterdam and looking for a meeting place, we know just where you can find one. And it’s totally 3D printed. The building will be called De Vergaderfabriek, Dutch for “the Meeting Factory.” The structure is 1,000-square-foot but was originally supposed to be bigger and taller. It isn’t ready yet for occupancy, but it will be soon.

The Meeting Factory is located near a small airport and was designed to look like the rotating blades of a jet engine. The walls are curved to create a sense of equality and safety that will enhance communication. Those who will use the room or the “tent’ as they like to call it, will be able to choose from different 360-degree video projections set to their specified music. It’s not going to be a room with bare walls. There will be 12 ribbed walls in total.

The builders created a specific type of mortar that hardens within a day and that won’t shrink, expand, or collapse. They developed special algorithms to the double-curved walls, pre-researched to determine if they were feasible.

Those who operated the printer, controller, and mixing device were deep in concentration as they have only one chance to get it right. They prepared and checked everything – the temperature, the consistency of the material, the location of the wall, the electricity and water – before they finally press the button to go. There were many regulations to hurdle in order that a structure, just a hundred square meters in size, would be built.

How long did the construction of the Meeting Factory take? It was expected to take 10 days but it took a few more days longer. It is expected to finish imminently. It wasn’t the goal to do it as fast as possible. It was more important to do it right. In any case, the whole process will be much faster and cheaper next time. Several houses are set to be 3D-printed later this year in the Dutch city of Eindhoven, and the creators of the Meeting Factory believe 3D printing will become a reasonably standard building method within a short time.


Buildings of the Future to Rise in Seattle

While it might take a while for 3D printed structures to be common in key cities in the US, your 3D printing company in Seattle looks to the future that someday soon 3D printed buildings will change the landscape of city life.