During the festive season 3DPI authors and contributors have spent some time rounding up their personal, favorite 3D printing applications/developments that emerged during 2013. Here, it’s the turn of 3D printing writer Shane Taylor.
5. 3D Painting / 3D Aerosol Jet Printing
General Electric (GE) is experimenting with ‘3D painting’ or ‘cold spray technology’ to repair metal parts. The innovative process involves spraying metal powder at rapid speeds (up to Mach 4) to add material to an existing metal part for repair. Spraying of materials using the jetting process to form structures additively is already well known for DARPA-funded initiatives enacted by Optomec, where circuits are made additively by their patented 3D aerosol jet printing technology .
Optomec’s compliant aerosol jet printing is an existing digital fabrication technology for creating miniature electronic circuits and components, working with a wide range of functional materials: conductors, semi-conductors, resistors, dielectrics and encapsulation materials in virtually any Surfaces are printed on the material. This technique, which could potentially also be referred to as ‘3D painting’, has been around for some time now.
These additive manufacturing processes are quite different from most 3D printing processes. The potential range of applications is enormous. I would speculate that over time, using aerosols and other airborne particulate methods will have an impact in the extra-terrestrial environment. While gravity, pressure and atmospheric composition are important variables in such processes, metals can be guided by strata within the electromagnetic spectrum and formed into desired structures.
For more information on 3D painting, you can check out our coverage of GE’s 3D painting announcement here. GE’s fascinating new process can be viewed in video format here.
4. Bioprinting: 3D Printed Prothetics / Organs
Modified 3D printers developed at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in North Carolina, US, which print human cells in hydrogel-based scaffolds, supported by $24m (£15m) from the US Department of Defense, accomplished the feat of miniature printing has done. Human organs to test new vaccines in the laboratory. The “Body on a Chip” project replicates human cells to print structures that mimic the heart, liver, lungs and blood vessels.
The US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), a division of the US government, which combats nuclear, chemical and biological weapons – three of the four main categories of weapons capable of destroying cities as well as cyber attacks – has funded the project. Because it would “significantly reduce the time and cost needed to develop medical countermeasures” for bioterrorism attacks, said Dr. Clint Florence, DTRA Translational Medical Division branch chief of vaccines.
The applications of bioprinting that are of interest to me, however, are the potential to reduce the suffering of species (not just humans) by replacement organs and eventually eliminate animal testing, which make-up and other vanities in the context of testing. Product. The appalling amount of suffering inflicted on millions of living, breathing, feeling creatures for the sake of vanity in recent history is something that may soon be put to an end.
Recently we’ve seen the unveiling of the first human body part bio-printer, check out this brief from CNN on YouTube for the amazing success – and with it the vast array of ethical questions requiring rigorous debate – here.
3. Open-Source Home Metal & Electronics Printers
Let’s start by creating some definitions for newbies to 3D printing who are as much a part of the readership as we serve as the seasoned makers and industry insiders we know and love. More seasoned readers may want to skip to the first image to get a rousing insight into this exciting new home metal 3D printing phenomenon.
3D printing is now a generic term for what was once primarily referred to as additive manufacturing. If there is an oversimplification, the most basic way to communicate what it means is to build the bits by putting them together rather than taking them away.
There are many ways to create an object, a ‘thing’. Most things made by humans in our history have been made by ‘sweeping away’ bits from a larger piece to produce the desired look. Now, thanks to high energy forming processes, we can piece together pieces of things to make things.
There are many ways to do this. One is where ‘high energy’ potentials are used to ‘melt the plastic’, then to solidify again as we see in FDM/FFF processes, which is what you can see in most And currently most can use. Heard of 3D printers like RepRap, Ultimaker, Afinia, Stratasys-owned MakerBot, 3D Systems and hundreds of others worthy of your attention.
2. 3D Printed Renewable Energy
The 3D Printable File Repository has so far many innovations and design gems. One such innovation is Rob Martin’s Thing 53321: A Dual Axis Solar Tracker. This is a cool 3D printable kit. There is a growing range of 3D printable, open source and upcycled solar power solutions for home assembly, and more importantly, applications for the developing world.
Let us remember that by the middle of this century the population of Africa alone is estimated to be around two billion. It is simply unstable on the current trajectory. Although estimates suggest there is a plateau around the 9,100,000,000 mark for the world population of Homo sapiens sapiens, the essence is still very much ‘go ahead and multiply’ – no indication when to stop.
Rob’s Dual Axis Solar Tracker is a clear example of what can be achieved with a little knowledge, a little innovation, and a lot of dedication. The answer to a wide range of global problems is no longer in the hands of big companies and government officials alone to make decisions. More and more we are seeing every day that people take the initiative and show that it certainly doesn’t take billions of dollars/euro/yuan to make a difference in the world. Quite the opposite.
As the trend of open source hardware takes a firm hold, in line with the trend of open source software, large corporations as well as SMEs will feed on the innovations of the individual: otherwise known as crowd-sourcing. This isn’t necessarily a downside, it can be a highly productive synergy, until the intellectual property-oriented big business becomes a parasite on the open source designer and creator – and, indeed, the other way around.
1. 3D Printing in Space
Space. Amazingly beautiful in its reality, unimaginably vast, mind-bending. As a kid I loved camping in the garden of my childhood home for meteor showers. While the neighborhood kids were playing football, I was in my world of ogling books displaying images of the universe. Today I am blessed that I am being followed on Twitter by six NASA employees. I speak to a member of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab staff on social media. Private Space Enterprises read what I write. It’s still pretty new to me, and trust me, it’s out of this world.
The spacecraft had something to do with it. Watching the launch on TV was the highlight of my life. Also the Voyager probes were revealing surprising (for the time) new images. It may have been more than a decade since mankind last stepped on the Moon, but there was still a tangible novelty about mankind’s newfound ability to reach space.
We know more about its nature than the depths of Earth’s oceans or the human mind, but even so, this frontier is almost certainly final: the ultimate destination of our species. However, that’s not why I’m so excited about 3D printing in space. What is the most pressing problem of Homo sapiens sapiens? Some might say climate change. Some may say that most of the human beings are still idolaters/infidels/heretics etc.
Myself, I would say that the most pressing problems for homo sapiens sapiens are homo sapiens sapiens… endlessly multiplying mammals with a paranoid, innate belief that the earth’s resources need to be consumed without thinking about the consequences was kept here. It’s our most basic impulse, our most basic imperative, so, really, why would we think it last, we have to do at all?
Resources are limited though: pending peak oil, the rich biodiversity of the third planet from Seoul is collapsing in the fastest mass extinction event in Earth’s history. The space for agriculture is decreasing. All this and much more without even going to the climate change ‘debate’. Yet the predicted peak population plateau of 9.1 billion is still only a distant estimate: humans just keep on breeding and breeding. Is anthropocentrism – the subconscious belief that mankind is the center of the universe – the cause of this disease?
For one, we sincerely believe in the basic human right to reproduce, regardless of any and all variables. For another, even if we assume that there are other species on Earth only for humans to dispose of, those species are limited in diversity and population—the Earth and its life forms are intertwined in a complex way.
From the air we breathe in the food we eat; All is dependent on the other species being in the first place. Mankind is not an island. The more humans there are, the greater the destruction of Earth’s biomass and ecology. The greater the destruction of Earth’s biomass and ecology, the fewer humans there can be. Fall is inevitable on this course.