3D Printering Smartphone Resin Printers Actually Work

Last spring, the world saw somethingIt was a device that would revolutionize the planet, save the world, and turn your smartphone into a 3D printer. Kickstarters arent known for selling themselves short. I speak, of course, ofthe OLO 3D printer, later renamed theONO 3D printer, ostensibly because of a trademark dispute. While filament-based 3D printers … Continue reading “3D Printering Smartphone Resin Printers Actually Work”

Last spring, the world saw somethingIt was a device that would revolutionize the planet, save the world, and turn your smartphone into a 3D printer. Kickstarters arent known for selling themselves short. I speak, of course, ofthe OLO 3D printer, later renamed theONO 3D printer, ostensibly because of a trademark dispute.

While filament-based 3D printers are extremely capable and slicing software is only getting better, resin-based printers are able to produce prints of nearly unparalleled quality. If you want high-resolution objects and fine detail, a resin printer is the way to go. These resin printers, however, are a bit more expensive than your traditional filament printers. A few hundred dollars will buy you a serviceable i3 clone, and less than a thousand will get you a real Prusa capable of printing in four colors. The premier desktop resin printer, the Form 2 fromForm Labs, starts at $3500 USD.

The ONO (or OLO) changed all of this. Instead of lasers and galvanometers or DLP projectors, this $99 resin-based printer used your smartphone display to shine light on a vat of resin. It was brilliant, according to the backers of the OLO Kickstarter. It is a boon for democratizing 3D printing technology, according to one idiotic tech blog. People with more sense questioned the feasibility of a resin printer powered by a phone.

For people who are more familiar with 3D printers, there were a few questions concerning the ONO. The Kickstarter campaign showed light-sensitive resin stored in translucent bottles. Control of the Z-axis stage of this printer was apparently through the headphone port. Different models of smartphones have different thicknesses, and there is no documentation how this would affect the distance from the resin tank to the screen. If a print on the OLO takes an hour, you cant use your phone for an hour. OLO (or ONO) had a booth at this years World Maker Faire in New York, and I didnt see one of these machines actually working. Simply put, we dont know if the ONO actually works. For a 3D printer that made its debut on Kickstarter, this should come as no surprise.

However, just because the Kickstarter campaign doesnt make any sense, is several months late shipping to backers, and there was apparently no working model in September doesnt mean theres anything wrong with the technology. The idea of using an LCD to shine light directly onto the bottom of a resin tank is interesting, and at least deserves some experimentation.

Someone finally did it. In a YouTube video uploaded this week, [Ionel Ciobanuc] demonstrated a homebrew 3D printer that is pretty much what ONO pretends to be. Its a 5 inch LCD driven by a Raspberry Pi runningnanoDLPwith a simple motorized Z-axis pulling the print out of the resin. It works. Compared to a Form Labs print, or even a high-quality print off a filament-based machine it doesnt work terriblywell, but it works. In any event, its an experiment and proof of concept.

Whether or not the ONO works or not, and when it will ship is irrelevant. Weve seen cooler printers with more interesting technologyfail spectacularly. In any event, resin printers will, for the time being, be weird and exotic devices, powered by lasers and galvos or pricey DLP projectors.

However, this experimental 3D printer from [Ionel] shows what can be done with even the most minimal BOM. Its not unreasonable to think this experiment in resin printing could be built for less than $100, and further experiments could bring that cost down even more. The idea presented by the ONO printer putting a display at the bottom of a resin tank actually works.

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Modeling the Face of LondonHow Zortrax 3D Printers Work at Pipers

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Modeling the Face of LondonHow Zortrax 3D Printers Work at Pipers

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Modeling the Face of LondonHow Zortrax 3D Printers Work at Pipers

Modeling in architecture takes surgical precision. Customers expect a down to a tenth of a millimeter dimensional accuracy. To remain the world-leader in architectural model making,Pipers Model Makershas implemented the latest technological achievements in their workflow3D printing being among the notable examples. After all, innovation is what has gotten the company to the top in the first place.

Pipers Model Makers was founded by Barry McKeogh in 1977 and became one of the most innovative companies in the business within a decade. Back then, architectural model making was done by hand, says Stephen Fooks, a director at Pipers. We wanted to change that, we were full of new ideas on how to take it to the next level, he adds.The New London Model, 1:2000 scale, exhibited at The Building Centre, London, UK.

Taking it to the next level boiled down to automating model making processes. Pipers was the first company of its kind to employ CNC machining for making more precise models faster which in turn allowed for scaling up the operations. More satisfied customers led to more resources to growan opportunity Pipers successfully seized. Technology provided a competitive edge the company has managed to maintain till present day. Prestigious projects inevitably followed. Pipers made models ofLondon Spire, a wonderfully designed skyscraper, and stunningly futuristicGoogles HQin Great Britain, among many others, and worked for cream of the cropclientslike Zaha Hadid or Ferrari.Queen Alia International Airport 1:500 scale model for Foster and Partners.

Now though, the company has made a move to once again put itself at the technological forefront. We invested inZortrax 3D printers, says Fooks. And 3D printers made otherwise cost-prohibitive projects possible. One of them is the New London Model, a vast 1:2000 scale layout of central London currently on display atThe Building Centrein London, UK.

The layout is meant to show the past and future developments of the British capitals architecture. 12.5-meter-long model covers a hair above 85 square kilometers of London which include 19 Boroughs, more or less 170,000 buildings, and 34 kilometers of the Thames river with 21 bridges.The New London Model, 1:2000 scale, exhibited at The Building Centre, London, UK.

From Kings Cross in the north to Peckham in the south and the Royal Docs in the east to Old Oak Common in the west, the layout is updated every quarter of a year to include all architectural projects, small, big, and huge alike, constantly changing the face of London. But the New London Model is something more than just a static architectural mock-up.The New London Model, 1:2000 scale, exhibited at The Building Centre, London, UK.

Cleverly designed lighting creates video-mapping effects across the surface of the model with a tap on one of the touchscreens placed around the layout. Screens on the surrounding walls show films documenting capitals developments and the way the London Plan along with other major infrastructure makeovers and ongoing influence of Great Estates reshape the city. To keep up with all the changes, we use a combination of laser cutting and 3D printing, says Matthew Aitken, a Pipers team leader and 3D printing technician.

Pipers created the New London Model using data provided byOrdnance Survey Ltd., one of the leading British map making companies. Data including spatial relations and building dimensions was translated into thousands and thousands of digital models. For digital modeling we predominantly use Rhinoceros 3D modeler and the combination of both Rhino andZ-SUITEgives us the ability to print almost anything, says Aitken. We do occasionally come across an stl mesh that is not watertight or is damaged in some way Aitken adds. The stl files are sets of instructions and paths a 3D printers head has to cover to print out an object.The New London Model, 1:2000 scale, exhibited at The Building Centre, London, UK.

To address such issues, the latest version of Z-SUITE slicer, the software dedicated for all Zortrax 3D printers, has been fitted with an auto-mesh repair feature. Without it though, you can work around this by using the standard Windows 10 3D Builder app. It is very good at repairing non-watertight meshes, says the technician.The New London Model, 1:2000 scale, exhibited at The Building Centre, London, UK.

Once the model is uploaded to Z-SUITE, all thats left for a user to do is pressing a go button. Besides reliability, ease of use was one of the most important reasons behind choosing theZortrax Ecosystem, explains Aitken. All settings are predefined when you work with dedicated materials, so you dont have to know anything about the 3D printing intricacies to make this work. No knowledge about temperatures and extrusion rates and so on. Its very easy, he adds. Because of user-friendliness, the Zortrax Ecosystem can be used by non-technical people at the team without the help of tech support. At Pipers, Zortrax 3D printers are used by several people with no expertise in 3D printing. One of the most impressive things about Zortrax Ecosystem is that it is designed to remove human error from the equation. You simply cant get it wrong, says Aitken.City of London model, 1:500 scale.

Having a go button pressed, Zortrax M200 3D printers start doing their job. Printing time of buildings meant for the New London Model varies depending on size and number of shapes printed in one go. Obviously, larger buildings take longer to print. Same thing with batches of smaller ones, says Aitken. According to him, the 3D printers can work anywhere between an hour and 20 hours on a single model. Then there is post-processing. We do a little bit of sanding and sometimes glueing before spraying the models. For this project we useZ-ABS, as it can be post-processed and glued onto easily, claims the technician.

The main thing about results you can obtain with the Zortrax Ecosystem is that they come out right every time. We chose Zortrax for its reliability, says Aitken.Florya 1:150 scale model.

I used to have an open source 3D printer as my personal machine. In my opinion I never really wanted to leave it, because it just could fail anytime. But with Zortrax, we had maybe a couple of prints gone wrong in several years. Im quite confident I can just press go and the model will come out as intended. No worries about quality or whether its going to stop all of a sudden. We have a couple of Zortrax 3D printers, and theyve never had such issues, he claims. I also have my own personal M200 at home now too!

Before a move to 3D printing in-house, Pipers used to outsource the process to external vendors. Even with professional 3D printing companies though, the firm was getting mixed results. Most of the time they were of decent quality. Sometimes not so much. But all the time they were wes Masterplan 1:1000 scale model.

Doing the 3D printing in-house is faster and way cheaper, says Fooks. Given our scale of operations, the investment in Zortrax equipment paid off after a month, he adds. According to him, having an external 3D printing company on speed dial is still a good thing, although in specific scenarios.The New London Model, 1:2000 scale, exhibited at The Building Centre, London, UK.

We still outsource the process when the model to be 3D printed is very big. Another example is 3D printing with materials not supported by desktop machines, were talking metal or ceramics to name a few. Those obviously require big, industrial 3D printers. All the rest you can easily do in-house. At a profit, says Fooks.

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How 3D Printers Work

At NASA, Kari Byron uses a 3D printer to create an exact small-scale replica of a surfboard for the testing of a Lethal Weapon 2 scene.

The MythBusters take on a scene from the 80s classic Real Genius: What happens when you fill a house with popcorn … then make it all pop (with explosives, in this case)?

The MythBusters take on a scene from the 80s classic Real Genius: What happens when you fill a house with popcorn … then make it all pop (with explosives, in this case)?

The MythBusters take on a scene from the 80s classic Real Genius: What happens when you fill a house with popcorn … then make it all pop (with explosives, in this case)?

The MythBusters take on a scene from the 80s classic Real Genius: What happens when you fill a house with popcorn … then make it all pop (with explosives, in this case)?

During the MythBusters Comic Con 2009 panel, Adam Savage addresses why the team wont debunk myths like Big Foot, UFOs and crop circles.

The MythBusters take on a scene from the 80s classic Real Genius: What happens when you fill a house with popcorn … then make it all pop (with explosives, in this case)?

The MythBusters take on a scene from the 80s classic Real Genius: What happens when you fill a house with popcorn … then make it all pop (with explosives, in this case)?

The MythBusters take on a scene from the 80s classic Real Genius: What happens when you fill a house with popcorn … then make it all pop (with explosives, in this case)?

The MythBusters take on a scene from the 80s classic Real Genius: What happens when you fill a house with popcorn … then make it all pop (with explosives, in this case)?

Grant Imahara explains to Kari Byron why the MythBusters wont take on the viral video in which a series of cell phones cause popcorn to pop.

When tempers flare during a particularly complicated myth, Jamie offers up a simple solution.

Find out Jamies idea of a great name for a baby, as well as his preferred title for a romance novel (should he write one).

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See just what made Adam “Unflappable” Savage say, “I don’t want to DO this anymore. This is TERRIFYING!”

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See in super slow motion when — for the first time in MythBusters history — a rocket-propelled grenade is launched at a trailer just to see what it does.

During the MythBusters Comic Con 2009 panel, Adam Savage addresses why the team wont debunk myths like Big Foot, UFOs and crop circles.

The MythBusters take on a scene from the 80s classic Real Genius: What happens when you fill a house with popcorn … then make it all pop (with explosives, in this case)?

The MythBusters take on a scene from the 80s classic Real Genius: What happens when you fill a house with popcorn … then make it all pop (with explosives, in this case)?

The MythBusters take on a scene from the 80s classic Real Genius: What happens when you fill a house with popcorn … then make it all pop (with explosives, in this case)?

Find out whether Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savages duct-tape canoe can survive waves 3 to 4 feet taller than their bow, and see what made Adam cry, Uh oh! Dude! BLEEP.

Grant Imahara explains to Kari Byron why the MythBusters wont take on the viral video in which a series of cell phones cause popcorn to pop.

In their update of the snowplow split myth, Tory, Grant and Kari unleash 12 rockets and 75,000 pounds of thrust on an unsuspecting car. Will a ROCKET SLED succeed in splitting the car in two?

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The MythBusters take on a scene from the 80s classic Real Genius: What happens when you fill a house with popcorn … then make it all pop (with explosives, in this case)?

The MythBusters take on a scene from the 80s classic Real Genius: What happens when you fill a house with popcorn … then make it all pop (with explosives, in this case)?

Exuberant Excavators and Duct Tape Plane both generated SUCH exciting high-speed footage, we decided to offer it to you in one clip. Youre welcome.

The MythBusters take on a scene from the 80s classic Real Genius: What happens when you fill a house with popcorn … then make it all pop (with explosives, in this case)?

Its an incredible image to behold: Jamies flamethrower pitted against Adams fire-extinguisher in glorious super slow motion.

Watch in super slow motion as Adam and Jamie test whether, after a certain speed, the ride in a car with square wheels is just as smooth as with round ones.

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The MythBusters take on a scene from the 80s classic Real Genius: What happens when you fill a house with popcorn … then make it all pop (with explosives, in this case)?

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Self-Replicating 3D Printers Could Build Moon Bases Fight Global Warming

Self-Replicating 3D Printers Could Build Moon Bases, Fight Global Warming

A partially 3D-printed motor created by an engineering team at Carleton University in Ottawa. The team is trying to make self-replicating 3D printers from materials that can be found on the moon.

A 3D printer that could re-create itself from lunar material is in development at a university in Canada.

The technology could one day enable humans to3D-print lunar bases, as well as conduct in-space manufacturing of satellites and solar shields on the moon that could help fight global warming, according to Alex Ellery, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Carleton University in Ottawa, who is leading the project.

I believe that self-replicating machines will be transformative for space exploration because it effectively bypasses launch costs, Ellery told m. [How Moon Bases and Lunar Colonies Work (Infographic)]

The engineer envisions a single 3D printer could be delivered to the moon, where it would make thousands of its copies from surrounding lunar material. Once there would be enough 3D printers, the self-replicating factory would focus on building all other equipment and infrastructure needed for human exploration.

Ellery said he and his colleagues are close to being able to 3D-print a fully functioning electric motor from material similar to what can be sourced on the moon. Although some commercially available 3D printers can reprint some of their own parts, none of those printers can produce motors and electronics, according to Ellery.

An early attempt to 3D-print wires made of aluminium alloy on silicone plastic substrate. The 3D-printer prototype is being developed at Carleton University.

Our starting point is theRepRap 3D printer, which can print many of its own plastic parts, Ellery told Space.com, referring to the open-source device originally developed by the University of Bath in the United Kingdom. In order to fully self-replicate itself, it needs to print its metal bars, its electric motors, its electronics and software, and self-assemble.

Ellery and his team, who described the project inan article publishedin the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets last year, are using a mixture of a plastic material and iron filings to 3D-print two parts of the motor, the stator and the rotor.

We need to maximize magnetic threading through the rotor, which requires more iron, but minimize eddy currents in the stator, which requires less iron, Ellery said. So we have been varying the amount of iron in the plastic matrix.

Ellery said that elements needed for creating a similar mixture could beextracted from the lunar regolith. The lunar 3D-printer, fitted with a robotic arm, would scoop up the regolith and heat it to about 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit (900 degrees Celsius) using a so-called frensel lens to focus sunlight into a beam. The process would first remove volatile gases from the lunar soil. Subsequently, a component called ilmenite would be separated and used for extraction of iron, according to Ellery.

Although we are using [polylactic acid] plastic [to 3D-print components], I envisage replacing this with silicone plastic this can be manufactured from lunar volatile carbon compounds and lunar water, Ellery explained.

As a next step toward 3D-printing the motor, the researchers are aiming to replace the motors wire coils with aluminum coils printed onto a polylactic acid plastic substrate (the latter is a common material used for 3D printing). On the moon, the aluminum would be replaced with fernico (iron-nickel-cobalt alloy) and the plastic would be replaced with a ceramic substrate made from melted lunar soil.

The magnetic field produced by the aluminum coils printed on the plastic substrate is actually quite weak, so we are trying figure out ways to add more layers to increase the amount of current that goes through them, Ellery said. But eventually, what we will do is that we will integrate that into the motor so that will give us a complete core, which is 3D-printed.

Ellery believes that he will have a fully functioning 3D-printed motor in a few months. The other prerequisite for a fully self-replicating machine the electronics is a problem that will probably take much longer to solve, he said.

This small motor was made using some 3D-printed parts. Researchers at Carleton University are working to make the entire motor 3D-printable. Credit: Alex Elleryvia GIPHY

We have looked at vacuum tubes because trying to create solid-state electronics would be virtually impossible on the moon, Ellery said. If you use vacuum tubes, the only materials you need are nickel, tungsten, glass, essentially, and Kovar, all of which you can make on the moon.

Ellery says that the self-replicating machine would use a neural network a computing system modeled after the human brain because it would be smaller and easier to 3D-print than a typical computing system. The Carleton team has built a trial neural network and used it to control a small rover.

Once motors and electronic controllers can be 3D-printed, we can print any kind of robot, including a 3D printer, as well as milling machines, drills, lathes, excavating machines and so on, Ellery said. If you have a robotic self-replicating machine, you can grow an enormous manufacturing infrastructure on the moon robotically.

Such a machine could build habitats for astronauts before they arrive at a deep- space location. It could also be used to cheaply enablespace-based solar power, in which satellites equipped with solar panels turn sunlight into energy, and send that energy down to Earth. Humans could also build space shields to protect the Earth against solar radiation, which could further combat the planets warming trend Ellery said.

Follow gle+. Original article onSpace.com.

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3D bioprinting 10 things you should know about how it works

Using living cells to 3D print organs may sound far-fetched, but its happening. Bioprinting is quickly gaining traction. Heres how it works.

Using Organovos NovoGen MMX bioprinter, cells are layered between water-based layers until the tissue is built.Image: Organovo

The healthcare industry is trying to capitalize on 3D printing, and fast. From prosthetic limbs and various surgical devices made with plastics and metals, to using cells to print human organs, experiments in this industryare progressing quickly.

The world of bioprinting is still very new and ambiguous. Many of the innovations have been driven by either companies likeOrganovothat focus on bioprinting or specific researchers at universities, likeDr. Anthony Atalaat Wake Forest.

Confusion has swirled around 3D bioprinting. It can be a difficult concept to get your head around, and it has been misconstrued at times. Atala, for instance, was misrepresented in articles about aTED Talkhe gave. The articles said he printed a functioning human kidney, when in reality, it wasonly a prototype.

To help clear things up, weve compiled a list of 10 things to get you up to speed or to at least help you figure out how bioprinting works and where it is headed in the near future.

SEE:How 3D bioprinting is changing the world: Photos of 10 great projects

Instead of trying to create an organ or tissue model from the ground up, researchers and engineers can use a CT scan or MRI to create a 3D model to print. For example, the University of Louisville, when creating a 3D printed model of a young boys heart so doctors could use it for his surgery, the researchers used the CT scan from his doctor to make the 3D design model. Websites likeInstructableseven have tutorials to describe how to turn a CT scan into a 3D printable model to print.

Bioprinters:Organovo made the first commercially used bioprinter, calledNovoGen MMX, which is the worlds first production 3D bioprinter. The printer has two robotic print heads. One places human cells and the other places a hydrogel, scaffold, or other type of support.

Inkjet inspired printers:Experiments with bioprintingat Wake Forest University were inspired by traditional inkjet printers. The printer allows multiple cell types and components to be used for printing. In early forms of the technology, cells were placed in the actual walls of ink cartridges and the printers were programmed to place the cells in a particular order. Today, the university has adapted that technology so that skin cells can be placed in an ink cartridge and printed directly on a wound.

Six-axis printer:At the University of LouisvillesCardiovascular Innovation Institute, Dr. Stuart Williams is using a robot/printer that, instead of building the tissue from the ground up, as traditional 3D printers do, can build multiple parts of the heart tissue he is making at the same time and move them around accordingly.

Weve built a six-axis printer that can print layers but come back and start printing a new layer on the outside [of the heart], Williams said. The valves are in one spot, and we use robot to bring the valves in and puts them in parts of the heart.

Organovo thoroughly explains the 3D bioprinting processin this video. Basically, once a tissue design is selected, the company makes bio-ink from the cells. Using a NovoGen MMX bioprinter, the cells are layered between water-based layers until the tissue is built. That hydrogel in between layers is sometimes used to fill spaces in the tissue or as supports to the 3D printed tissue. Collagen is another material used to fuse the cells together. This layer-by-layer approach is very similar to the normal 3D printing process, where products are built from the ground up.


Cells are fused together with hydrogel to create tissue.Image: Organovo

Stem cells can adapt easily to tissues, so they are an attractive option for bioprinting different organs and bones.Researchers at the University of Nottinghamin the UK experimented with building bone replacements coated with stem cells that develop into tissues over time. The researchers said development of stem cell repair for complex tissues, like those that make up the heart or the liver. Its difficult to use stem cells to build these organs, but it may be possible with 3D bioprinting.

Lets explain this process in a bit more the case of Organovo, a bioprinter is used to create liver tissue, which is one of the original experiments in bioprinting by the company. Spheroids of parenchymal (or fundamental) liver cells are loaded into a syringe. In another syringe, nonparenchymal liver cells and the hydrogel, which fuses together to create a bio-ink, is loaded. The bio-ink makes a mold in the cell dish, and the liver cells fill up the rest of the dish. When the cells are put in an incubator, they fuse together even more to form the full liver tissue.

Cells dont have to be the end all, be all of bioprinting. Many people still consider biodegradable or biocompatible materials that can be used to build body parts or repair damaged ones as an aspect of bioprinting. Printing materials that can improve bones, cartilage, and skin is just as important for the future of this technology. Some of the materials include certain types of flexible plastic, like the absorbable one used to make 3D printedwindpipe splintsfor a baby who had a condition that caused his trachea to collapse; and titanium powder, which was used tocreate a jaw implantfor a woman who had an infection.


Titanium implants were used to reshape a mans face in the UK.Image: Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board

Since the technology is not advanced enough yet to create a full organ, the tissue samples are perfect to test drugs and other medical advancements. Instead of having to use human beings or animals as guinea pigs for pharmaceutical testing, bioprinting may provide a much more cost-effective and ethical option, while still being accurate because it the tissue samples are made from human cells.

For years, scientists have been growing cells in laboratories, including skin tissue, blood vessels, and other cell cultures from various organs. Replicating and growing cells in petri dishes is nothing really new, and the science surrounding this is constantly advancing. However, 3D printing offers an opportunity to print an entire organ, not just pieces of one. It also may drastically reduce the cost of these processes because of the cells and other materials used.


A 3D printer is used to accurately layer cells to make tissue.Image: Organovo

Vascularization is a big obstacle in the way of 3D printing organs, because they need to have a system of arteries, capillaries, and veins that support the system. They must be present to deliver nutrients and remove waste created by the cells. One option is to leave the space in the 3D printed tissue for veins to be added later on in the process, but researchers are now trying to figure out a way to print blood vessels as well.

One experiment at theUniversity of Pennsylvaniaused aRepRapprinter to make templates of blood vessel networks out of sugar. When they dissolve, the sugar was washed out without harming the cells and the space for the blood vessels is there. Researchers at Harvard have also started working on this issue, but they are trying to 3D print the blood vessels themselves by integrating them with skin cells.

In any transplant or surgery, there is always the risk of the body rejecting the organ or cells. This can even occur when tissue from one area of the body is put into another area of the body. The organ (or piece of tissue) also has to have time to integrate into the body after the implant. Since the technology for 3D bioprinting is so new, doctors and engineers have not even gotten to this point yet, but its important to recognize these risks well in advance.

How 3D bioprinting is changing the world: Photos of 10 great projects

Breakthrough: How scientists are 3D printing a human heart that will work better than yours

Photos: Awesome things you didnt know were 3D printed

3D printing: 10 factors still holding it back

Lyndsey Gilpin is a former Staff Writer for TechRepublic, covering sustainability and entrepreneurship. Shes co-author of the book Follow the Geeks.

Lyndsey Gilpin has nothing to disclose. She doesnt hold investments in the technology companies she covers.

Lyndsey Gilpin is a former Staff Writer for TechRepublic, covering sustainability and entrepreneurship. Shes co-author of the book Follow the Geeks.

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How does 3D printing work?

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From building sites through science labs to hospitals, 3D printing is turning up in more places and creating objects on demand. But how to get from a design on a computer screen to something you can hold?

There are three different ways 3D printers work but they all rely on the printer converting a design into individual 2D slices which are then combined to make the final 3D object.

The first method uses a pool of chemicals that turns solid when light, typically a UV laser, is shone on to it. The laser moves across a thin layer of liquid, drawing the required design. Once the first layer is finished the resulting solid is lowered to allow a second thin layer of liquid to be deposited on its surface. The laser is then used to outline and solidify the design. More and more layers are built up until the final product is finished.

A second method uses molten ink (or even chocolate or cheese) that becomes solid when it emerges from the printer head. Designs are drawn out by the ink and again built up layer by layer until the final product is complete. A final method uses layers of powdered material, held together with glue or heated to fuse the powder together, to translate the design into reality.

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How do laser printers work

ave you ever tried writing with a beam oflight? Sounds impossible, doesnt it, but its exactly what adoes when it makes a permanent copy of data (information) from your computer on a piece ofpaper. Thanks to sci-fi and spy movies, we tend to think oflasersas incredibly powerful light beams that can slice through chunks of metal or blast enemy spaceships into smithereens. But tiny lasers are useful too in a much more humdrum way: they read sounds and video clips off the discs inCD and DVD playersand theyre vital parts of most office computers printers. All set? Okay, lets take a closer look at how laser printers work!

Photo: A compact laser printer doesnt look that different to aninkjet printer, but it puts ink on the page in a completely different way. An inkjet printer uses heat to squirt drops of wet ink from hot, syringe-like tubes, while a laser printer uses static electricity to transfer a dry ink powder called toner.

Photo: Ink sticks to a laser printers drum the way this balloon sticks to my pullover: using static electricity.

Laser printers are a lot likephotocopiersand use the same basic technology. Indeed, as we describe later in this article, the first laser printers were actually built from modified photocopiers. In a photocopier, a bright light is used to make an exact copy of a printed page. The light reflects off the page onto a light-sensitive drum;static electricity(the effect that makes a balloon stick to your clothes if you rub it a few times) makes ink particles stick to the drum; and the ink is then transferred to paper and fused to its surface by hot rollers. A laser printer works in almost exactly the same way, with one important difference: because there is no original page to copy, the laser has to write it out from scratch.

Imagine youre a computer packed full of data. The information you store is inelectronicformat: each piece of data is stored electronically by a microscopically small switching device called atransistor. The printers job is to convert this electronic data back into words and pictures: in effect, to turn electricity into ink. With aninkjet printer, its easy to see how that happens: ink guns, operated electrically, fire precise streams of ink at the page. With a laser printer, things are slightly more complex. The electronic data from your computer is used to control a laser beamand its the laser that gets the ink on the page, using static electricity in a similar way to a photocopier.

When you print something, your computer sends a vast stream of electronic data (typically a few megabytes or million characters) to your laser printer. An electronic circuit in the printer figures out what all this data means and what it needs to look like on the page. It makes a laser beam scan back and forth across a drum inside the printer, building up a pattern of static electricity. The static electricity attracts onto the page a kind of powdered ink called toner. Finally, as in a photocopier, a fuser unit bonds the toner to the paper.

stream into the printer from your computer.

in the printer (effectively, a small computer in its own right) figures out how to print this data so it looks correct on the page.

The electronic circuit activates the

. This is a high-voltage wire that gives a static electric charge to anything nearby.

so the drum gains a positive charge spread uniformly across its surface.

At the same time, the circuit activates the

to make it draw the image of the page onto the drum. The laser beam doesnt actually move: it bounces off a movingmirrorthat scans it over the drum. Where the laser beam hits the drum, it erases the positive charge that was there and creates an area of negative charge instead. Gradually, an image of the entire page builds up on the drum: where the page should be white, there are areas with a positive charge; where the page should be black, there are areas of negative charge.

touching the photoreceptor drum coats it with tiny particles of powdered ink (toner). The toner has been given a positive electrical charge, so it sticks to the parts of the photoreceptor drum that have a negative charge (remember that opposite electrical charges attract in the same way that opposite poles of a magnet attract). No ink is attracted to the parts of the drum that have a positive charge. An inked image of the page builds up on the drum.

from a hopper on the other side of the printer feeds up toward the drum. As it moves along, the paper is given a strong positive electrical charge by another corona wire.

When the paper moves near the drum, its positive charge attracts the negatively charged toner particles away from the drum. The image is transferred from the drum onto the paper but, for the moment, the toner particles are just resting lightly on the papers surface.

The inked paper passes through two hot rollers (the

). The heat and pressure from the rollers fuse the toner particles permanently into the fibers of the paper.

emerges from the side of the copier. Thanks to the fuser unit, the paper is still warm. Its literally hot off the press!

Until the early 1980s, hardly anyone had a personal or office computer; the few people who did made hardcopies (printouts) withdot-matrix printers. These relatively slow machines made a characteristically horrible screeching noise because they used a grid of tiny metal needles, pressed against an inked ribbon, to form the shapes of letters, numbers, and symbols on the page. They printed each character individually, line by line, at a typical speed of about 80 characters (one line of text) per second, so a page would take about a minute to print. Although that sounds slow compared to modern laser printers, it was a lot faster than most people could bash out letters and reports with an old-styletypewriter(the mechanical or electric keyboard-operated printing machines that were used in offices for writing letters before affordable computers made them obsolete). You still occasionally see bills and address labels printed by dot-matrix; you can always tell because the print is relatively crude and made up of very visible dots. In the mid-1980s, as computers became more popular with small businesses, people wanted machines that could produce letters and reports as quickly as dot-matrix printers but with the same kind of print quality they could get from old-fashioned typewriters. The door was open for laser printers!

Fortunately, laser-printing technology was already on the way. The first laser printers had been developed in the late 1960s byGary Starkweatherof Xerox, who based his work on the photocopiers that had made Xerox such a successful corporation. By the mid-1970s, Xerox was producing a commercial laser printera modified photocopier with images drawn by a lasercalled theDover, which could knock off about 60 pages a minute (one per second) and sold for the stupendous sum of $300,000. By the late 1970s, big computer companies, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Canon, were competing to develop affordable laser printers, though the machines they came up with were roughly 23 times bigger than modern onesabout the same size as very large photocopiers.

Two machines were responsible for making laser printers into mass-market items. One was theLaserJet, released by Hewlett-Packard (HP) in 1984 at a relatively affordable $3495. The other,Apples LaserWriter, originally cost almost twice as much ($6995) when it was launched the following year to accompany the Apple Macintosh computer. Even so, it had a huge impact: the Macintosh was very easy to use and, with relatively inexpensive desktop-publishing software and a laser printer, it meant almost anyone could turn out books, magazines, and anything and everything else you could print onto paper. Xerox might have developed the technology, but it was HP and Apple who sold it to the world!

Dipping into the archives of the US Patent and Trademark Office, Ive found one of Gary Starkweathers original laser-printer designs, patented on June 7, 1977. To make it easier to follow, Ive colored it in and annotated it more simply than the technical drawing in the original patent (if you wish, you can find the full details filed underUS Patent 4027961: Copier/Raster Scan Apparatus).

What we have is essentially a laser scanning unit (colored blue) sitting on top of a fairly conventional, large office photocopier (colored red). In Starkweathers design, the laser scanner slides on and off the glass window of the photocopier (the place where you would normally put your documents, face down), so the same machine can be used as either a laser printer or a copieranticipating all-in-one office machines by about 2025 years.

Artwork: Gary Starkweathers orginal laser printer design fromUS Patent 4027961: Copier/Raster Scan Apparatus, courtesy of US Patent and Trademark Office.

The laser scanner creates the image.

The image is beamed through the glass copier window into the copier mechanism underneath.

The image is reflected by a mirror.

A second mirror reflects the image again.

The image is transferred onto the photocopier belt.

A developer unit converts the image into printable form.

The printable image is transferred to the paper.

The fuser permanently seals the image onto the page, which emerges into the collecting rack at top of the machine.

Printingtraditional ink printing

Epic take-apart: HP Color LaserJet 2600n: Evil Mad Scientist Labs presents loads of great photos of a laser printer being systematically dismantled! Be sure to check out the rest of this site.

Inkjet or laser printing: which is more cost-effective?by David Robinson, The Guardian, March 30, 2013. Can you save money by switching from an inkjet to a laser? According to this article, yes, if you print in relatively high volume (more than 2000 black and white pages per year).

Laser unprinter wipes photocopied ink from paper: BBC News, March 15, 2012. How a new, experimental printer uses short pulses of laser light to erase ink from paper.

Creation mythby Malcolm Gladwell. The New Yorker, May 16, 2011. The story of Gary Starkweathers laser printer invention and the corporate inertia he had to overcome.

The Allure of Laser Printersby By Peter H. Lewis. The New York Times, November 20, 1984. This old article from the Times archive describes the arrival of affordable laser printers in 1984.

The Underground Guide to Laser Printersby Flash Magazine. Peachpit Press, 1993. A practical guide to the nitty-gritty of making printers work. Old but useful, and still easy to find on secondhand book sites.

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14 Ways 3D Printing Has Changed The Art World

A 3D-printed portrait of President Obama dominated a few headlines last week, as theSmithsonian Institution welcomed the three-dimensional sculpturelike no other into its presidential collection. The boom in additive art has been building for several years, capped off now by a major art museums acceptance of the art-meets-science medium. In fact, it seems no corner of the art world remains untouched by 3D printings growing influence, from architecture to dance to painting to music.

[3D printing] is so disruptive, Developing Dreams Kati Byrne stated in a video for theBreak the Mould3D printing art project. It has the potential to change the way we create. With that in mind, here are 14 ways the technologies of 3D printing have already twisted and transformed the ways artists make.

1. 3D-Printed Masterpieces:Rob and Nick Carters Replica of Vincent van Goghs Sunflowers.

Vincent van Gogh is well known for his sunflowers, as well as his uncanny ability to capture their glowing color and beautiful decay. That must have been what artistsRob and Nick Carterwere thinking when they opted to 3D print the post-Impressionist heros flora. And theyre not the only ones with a desire to reproduce the imagery of classic figures.Dutch researcher and art enthusiast Tim Zamandeveloped a 3D photographic scanning system to do just that.

2. 3D-Printed Instruments:Joseph Malloch and Ian Hattwicks Wearable Instruments

McGill University researchers Joseph Malloch and Ian Hattwick created a series of 3D-printed, wearable instruments that employ advanced sensing technologies to transform movement, orientation and touch into music. We can only hope this is what some of the symphonies of the future will look like.

3. Sculptures Of All Sizes: Ioan Floreas 1971 Ford Torino

Ioan Florea, a Romanian-born artist, uses 3D-printed plastic molds to shape liquid nano-metals into massive sculptures, everything from a car to a covered wagon. Hes inspired by economist Jeremy Rifkin, who foretold the current age of mass customization.

4. 3D-Printed Public Art: Ji Lees Mysterabbit

Designer Ji Lee began Mysterabbit in 2013, a street art project involving 10,000 tiny bunny statues hidden in random spots across the world. From South Korea to Iceland to the United States, the small sculptures appear to be meditating and are meant to serve as miniature public artworks for passersby everywhere. Oh, and theyre 3D-printed.As we previously reported, you can download a blueprint for the tiny bunnies and create Mysterabbits of your own (with access to a 3D printer, of course).

5. 3D-Printing Sound:Gilles Azzaros Sculpture of Obamas State of the Union Address

French digital artistGilles Azzaro turned soundwave into sculpturewhen he 3D printed a sprawling visualization of Barack Obamas State of the Union address. The piece is aesthetically intimidating — it looks like a contained mountain chain of dark masses — as well as sonically intriguing. Admirers of the sculpture can actually listen to the 39-second sound bite and watch as a laser follows the peaks and valleys of the complex work. (Not into the State of the Union? Try thisJoy Division-inspired 3D sculpture.)

6. 3D-Printed Interior Design:Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburgers Digital Grotesque

Architects Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger3D printed an entire room, creating a 16-square-meter cube covered in unbelievable ornamentation ripped straight from the interiors of an alien house of worship. Titled Digital Grotesque, the style of architecture is meant to defy classification and reductionism, turning algorithms into tangible design.

7. 3D-Printed Stop-Motion Animation:Bears on Stairs

Yup, 3D printing has penetrated the world of stop-motion animation.Bears on Stairs, from the London-based studio DBLG, involved 50 small, 3D-printed sculptures photographed over a period of four weeks to produce a beautifully simple two seconds worth of moving beauty.

8. 3D-Printed Garments:Xuedi Chen and Pedro Oliveiras x.pose

Xuedi Chen and Pedro Oliveira created x.pose,a personalized wearable data-driven sculpture that links to a wearers smartphone to determine how much metadata is being collected at any given point. The 3D-printed dress then adjusts to that data, exposing skin as you expose yourself online.

9. 3D-Printed Artifacts:Adam Lowes Replica of King Tuts Tomb

British artist Adam Lowe spent five years making a perfect replica of the tomb of King Tut. And guess how he did that? Three-dimensional printing. Every bit of micro bacteria is in its place, every crack, every flake of paint. Its effectively like a portrait, or a performance, of the tomb from when we recorded it in 2009,he explained to National Geographic. (You can see an actual image of the3D-printing feat here.)

10. 3D-Printing Food Art:A Sugar Sculpture And A Saltygloo.

Artists employing the wonder of 3D printing do not have to confine themselves to plastic and metal media.Sugar Lab has printed sculptures made entirely of sugar, whiledesign studio Emerging Objects created an igloo crafted from salt panels.

11. Handheld 3D-Printers:LIX 3D Printing Pen

This captivating pen allows you to doodle in three dimensions, crafting sketches of sculptures that can serve as the blueprints for larger projects. Or, the minimalist 3D drawings can amount to finished products in their own right. The best part? This tool fits in your pocket. Imagine what Alexander Calder or Louise Bourgeois would have done with such a machine.

12. 3D-Printed Self-Portraits:Lorna Bradshaws Replicants

Lorna Bradshaw channeled her obsession with sci-fi into a strangely dystopian project titled Replicants, consisting of three 3D-printed self-portraits produced using varying digital processes. From pixelated blobs to quasi-mummified remains, the facial studies are a surreal take on portraiture that pushes an ancient form into the 21st century.

13. 3D-Printed Anatomical Self-Portraits:Joshua Harkers Sculptural Self-Portrait

We gave you deconstructed 3D self-portraits, now well raise you to3D anatomical self-portraits based on CT scans of skulls. Such is the macabre work of Joshua Harker, who makes custom printed masks based on 3D facial scans.

14. 3D-Printed Artists?:Diemut Strebes 3D Print of Vincent Van Goghs Ear

We doubt good ol Vinnie could have foreseen the ways in which he would affect the trajectory of 3D printing. Just this year, Diemut Strebe debuted his 3D-printed replica of van Goghs infamous left ear — you know, the one he chopped off with a razor back in 1888. Who knows, one hundred or one thousand years from now, artists might be 3D printing other artists. Why produce a masterpiece, when you can recreate an old master?

Senior Arts & Culture Editor, The Huffington Post.

14 Ways 3D Printing Has Changed The Art World

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How Does 3D Printing Work and What Are Its Different Technologies?

How Does 3D Printing Work, and What Are Its Different Technologies?

There are a number of different 3D printing technologies.

The technology is still developing rapidly and is still at a nascent stage.

Its too soon to say what the Inkjet of 3D printing will be.

Most of us have some idea about 3D printing by now, but although theres a lot of hype around the technology, the state in which it exists right now means that its still far from being the next big thing. There is more to it than meets the eye, and a lot of layers of complexity to the technology. Lets take a look at how 3D printing works, and what the different types of 3D printing technologies are in use today.

In 3D printing, materials like metal, plastic, resin, or ceramic are printed layer upon layer, until a solid object comes out. This is also known as additive manufacturing. There are many ways to carry out3D printing, but these all use computer aided design (CAD) files. These files are used to tell the printer how the objects being put together are to be layered.

These files are generally available in the STL file format – this is a standard file format for CAD software, and it describes the basic surface of the 3D model in the form of triangles. These files can be shared online and distributed, and you should be able to use them in any different 3D printing setup to get the same results.

If you want to optimize a design, or add some customisation, then you need to use specialised software. There are plenty of options in the market, and some of the popular ones include Catia, IronCAD, and SolidEdge.

Depending upon the model, printing material, size and budget one can choose from a variety of 3D printers. A company which makes consumer goods like mobile phone cases might opt for an entry level or a mid-level 3D printer. On the other hand an automobile manufacturer which decides to 3D print a particular part will probably go for a high-end 3D printer, even though both might use the same technology.

Different technologies used in 3D printing

Just like regular printing, 3D printing also involves a number of different technologies, although the basic idea is pretty similar in most cases. Some of these technologies are going to go extinct, the way you never see Dot Matrix printers anymore, while others will be more suited for home use, and some will be best used in specific tasks; again, a lot like normal 2D printers.

The most popular method of 3D printing right now is called FDM (Fuse Deposition Modelling). It uses PLA (polylactic acid) or ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastics as raw materials. In this method, hot plastic flows out of a nozzle to create layers, with each layer bonding to the previous layer. As each layer is deposited one on top of the other, your 2D layers turn into a 3D object.

When manufacturing using PLA there is no waste, as the leftover material can be recycled. But in case of printing done using ABS plastic, the leftover material cant be reused. This is one of the bigger problems with 3D printing as the technology exists today; the process causes a fair amount of waste, and its materials that cant be easily recycled either, which is a big issue, particularly if 3D printing becomes more popular.

In FDM, the molten plastic comes out of the nozzle, and this dries up and solidifies in seconds. What happens if there is an overhang? Lets assume we want to print a pyramid. With a bottom-up approach, the printing is quite simple. You have a larger base which becomes smaller as you reach the tip of the top. Now if you have to 3D print the pyramid upside-down (where the tip is down and the large base is on top) then what happens? In this case you will have to use some kind of support so that the entire structure doesnt fall. The printer will first print the support material, followed by the layer of the structure. The support material is fed to the printer through a different tip. In FDM the support material can be easily removed with the help of water or removed manually with the help to tools.

Some of the advantages of this technology are how inexpensive it is – not just to use, but also because it has large parts that are relatively easy to maintain. FDM also works with a variety of materials that are readily available in various colours, so for cheap and simple work, this is considered the best option by many.

Apart from FDM, another technique that is popular right now is SLS (Selective Laser Sintering). In this method, instead of liquid polymers, the printer uses aluminum or other materials such as polymer-metal powders, steel alloys, nylon, or glass in powered form. A nozzle spays this powder onto the printing surface. The laser in turn fuses the tiny particles layer by layer, turning it into a solid from powder. Excess material doesnt come in contact with the laser, and is left as it is. This waste can be vacuumed out and reused. The SLS technique finds its application in aerospace industry includingUAV manufactureandmilitary hardware. There is no support structure required in case of Selective Laser Sintering.

A minor drawback of this method is that the final product does not have a high quality surface finish. It can have a rough and porous surface depending upon the material used. The end-product is not very strong due to the presence of structural defects such as impurities, and gaps where the laser cant reach.

Despite this, its a very popular technique today, because of the range of materials supported, and the reliability of the method. It might not be ideal for small office or home use, as the initial cost is quite high, but some experts say SLS is a better option for manufacturers if they are looking for ready to use functional parts. Its for this reason that Boeing, for example, used a mixture of SLS and FDM printers tobuild a drone. In the future, dont expect every home to have one of these, but specialised shops, studios, and manufacturers will likely have use for SLS printers.

There are some less common methods of 3D printing which are also starting to gain ground. One is PolyJet printing method. This prints a layer polymer (in liquid form) onto the tray with the help of a support. Since the material is in liquid form it bonds with each layer. The thin layer of the photopolymer is then cured (hardened) using UV energy.

By the time the material is finished you get one big solid block. The end product does not require any further curing. The support material used can then be simply washed away with the help of water.

One of the biggest advantages of using polyjet printing method is that it allows multi material or hybrid printing. It also allows you to print multi-colour parts. PolyJet printing is good for printing small accurate prototypes like a tooth-mould, and not suited for large scale models. PolyJet 3D printing finds its application in the dental industry, and could potentially be useful in other similar applications, but is not likely to see the same kind of widespread use as the other technologies weve described.

Another method is called SL, which is short for Stereo Lithography. This uses liquid resin as a printing material. The resin provides the matrix for each layer, and the specific parts that you need are then hardened with an ultraviolet laser that hardens the parts you need while leaving the rest as liquid. This is followed by a fresh layer of resin that is again shaped by the laser, again and again until the process is complete. This means that unlike other methods, which involve pouring liquid on to the print surface, SLA uses excess liquid plastic, which is selectively hardened while the unused liquid washes off.

In case of printing complex structures building supports is required and the final product needs finishing touch. One of the biggest advantages of SLA is its speed. This method is used to build prototypes that would take much longer to build and cost more if traditional methods are used. In short – SLA produces functional parts in a short period of time depending upon the size and complexity of the desired product. However, a major drawback to this technique is the astronomical price involved in the printing process. If this changes in the future, we might see it becoming more widespread, but for now it has been used in a limited fashion.

Digital Light processing is another new form of 3D printing. This process is similar to Stereo Lithography. The main difference between the two is the light source used to cure the photopolymer resin. The light source can be as simple as an arc lamp.

In this process a layer of liquid crystal display panel is applied to the building material in a single go. The raw material (liquid plastic resin) is placed in a container. The container is exposed to light which in turn hardens the resin. Once the layer is finished the build plate moves down.

It is once again filled with liquid resin and then exposed to light. This process is repeated until the required 3D model is obtained. Products printed using the DLP technique provides higher resolution and smoother surface as compared to Stereo Lithography process. Another advantage of DLP over SL is that the amount of raw material required is much less which directly results into lower cost and less waste. However, there are limitations on how thick the printed object can be, and there are a limited variety of materials that can be used with this technology.

These different technologies are all being used in various ways; the jewelry industry is using DLP methods to build wax resins that can be used to make jewelry in shapes and designs impossible with traditional methods. Usind FDM and SLS techniques, Boeing was able tomake a dronein a matter of hours. And new technologies are still being developed and experimented upon, for uses in medicine, aerospace, and even construction.

Whats clear is that its still very early days for 3D printing – its too soon to identify the technology that will become as widespread as the desktop inkjet printer did. But its also increasingly clear that we are headed in this direction.

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3D3D Printers3D printing3D Printing techniquesCADDigital Light ProcessingFDMFuse Deposition ModellingPolyJetPolyJet 3D printingPolyJet printingSelective Laser SinteringSLASLSStereo LithographyStratasysStratasys Direct Manufacturing

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A Global Network Of Passionate Volunteers Using 3D Printing To Give The World A Helping Hand.

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