Browsing articles in "3D Printing"
Mar 30, 2012
Comments Off on Students at Vienna Institute of Technology create speedy 3d printer!

Students at Vienna Institute of Technology create speedy 3d printer!

Having recently developed the worlds smallest 3d printer, the Vienna Institute of Technology has once again made its way into the headlines, this the development of a polymer and laser technique that promises to speed up the printing of minute 3D objects.

The key to this technology lies in the fluid polymer developed at the university along with the use of mirrors to rapidly direct the light. When hit by the centre of the laser beam, the polymer absorb two photons which result in the activation of the molecules. This in turn leads to a chain reaction with other components of the resin (monomers) turning them into a solid.

While offering unparalleled speed this 3D printer does not compromise on accuracy with the team of students successfully building a detailed micro model of the Tower Bridge along with a 285µm Formula 1 speedster.

3D printed 285um scale model of Formula-1 Speedster

The team are hopeful that the increased speed and an ability to build much larder objects (relatively speaking) will lead to the adaptation of this speedy 3d printer in the medical industry. The 3D printer is likely to have further applications in the construction of parts of nano engineering.

Mar 2, 2012
Comments Off on Worlds smallest 3D printer unveiled.

Worlds smallest 3D printer unveiled.

A joint collaboration between the Mechanical Engineering and Chemical Research departments at the Vienna University of Technology has resulted in the development of the worlds smallest 3D printer.

Weighing just over 3lbs and no larger than the size of a shoebox, the micro- 3D printer is capable of producing layers to less than a twentieth of a millimetre thick. The use of LED technology has allowed for extraordinary precision as the high intensity discharge lighting can be focused on highly specific locations.

With build times for a 1cm high object projected at one hour, the micro-3D printer is significantly slower than its counter parts. The research collaboration aim to resolve this with researcher, Klaus Stadlmann stating “We’ve yet to optimise the process, as thsi device is simply meant to demonstrate that the technology can be produced at this micro level.”

Despite this design challenge interest has already been expressed in this technology, with a particular interest expressed by biologists and physicians who view the potential for this printer as a basis for promoting natural bone growth. Eager to maximise on this potential Stadlmann and the team of researchers, have already created models with the dense outer structure of the corical bone as well as the internal structure s that could support life. To ensure these implats would not be rejected by the patient, the team hope to develop a compoud that while structurally sound enough to help the body repair will dissolve 3-4 weeks after implantation, leaving no remnants in the body.

Watch Klaus Stadlmann’s presentation on the micro-3D printer at TEDx Vienna below

Feb 16, 2012
Comments Off on The Home of the future has arrived – and it has its very own 3D printer

The Home of the future has arrived – and it has its very own 3D printer

Upon entering, you be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled onto the set of a futuristic sci-fi movie, thanks to the range of high tech gadgets on display including a key-less entry system, autonomous robots and a mind control relaxation tool, the reality, you have just stepped into the Perera family home.

The Perera’s are a normal UK family who have had their home completely transformed as part of the Channel 4 Home of the Future series. Overseen by futurist Chris Sanderson the six week transformation project filled the home top-to-bottom with cutting edge technology and gadgets.

And what futuristic home would be complete without its very own 3D printer. Chris Sanderson said “The highlight for me, was the moment the 3D printer arrived at the house. It was like the moment a TV came to a village for the very  first time. To come face to face with it and get a real glimpse. It was hugely exciting to be able to design and object and see it being made in front of your eyes.”

While for some this Home of the Future may appear unrealistic much of the technology fitted is not really new at all, rather it is existing technology that has become newly almost affordable. The option for example of biometric entry systems for example has been around for a number of years however until now, it has been the preserve of large corporations. With economics and ease of use continuing to play a role it is more likely than you might think that one day we all might be living in the home of the future.

Jan 12, 2012
Comments Off on Rapid prototyping reaches the home

Rapid prototyping reaches the home

Despite the potential for 3D printing in the home, high machine costs and the bulky nature of 3D printing equipment have kept this technology out of reach for the regular consumer. However all that is set to change with the introduction of The Cube.

In 1986 3D Systems founder Chuck Hall, developed the worlds first Stereolithography machine, so it is only fitting that this revolutionary personal printer should come from the creative minds at 3D Systems. Ready to print straight out of the box, users can simply download their design onto the printer and watch as the The Cube prints small objects (within a 140mm build platform) in a variety of colours.

In addition to catering for cost and space constraints within the home, The Cube caters for users with all levels of design experience thanks to the complimentary membership to, an online community which allows designers and users alike to share experiences, inspiration and (most important for those with no design experience) their designs.

With The Cube expected to go on sale early in 2012 we look forward learning just how consumers choose to use this technology, until then why not learn more on it from Rajeev Kulkarni ( VP of 3D Systems)

Video: First look: 3D printing in the home with the Cube

Jan 4, 2012
Comments Off on Giving 3D Printing a human touch!

Giving 3D Printing a human touch!


Design Academy Eindhoven graduate, Joon Han Lee has married traditional craftsmanship and 3D printing with the creation of Haptic Intelligensia. A human/robotic hybrid, Haptic Intelligensia allows the user to transform virtual objects into physical representations using tactical feedback.

The apparatus consists of a closed box accessible through a pair of rubber gloves, and a glue gun attached to a haptic computer controlled arm. As with fully automated 3D printing technology, a computer drawn object is created and and algorithm devised, it is here the similarities end.

The glue gun, controlled by the user is then guided via the robotic arm, which alerts the user when they are touching the contours of the virtual object through haptic feedback. Overall control of the glue gun, rests with the user who can decide how much or little glue is to be used along with whether or not to obey the sensory guide.

Resulting objects are therefore entirely dependent on the individual, with no two objects ever the same.  See the video link to view the Haptic Intelligensia in action and to hear from creator Joon Han Lee.



Dec 20, 2011
Comments Off on Rapid Prototyping helps explore earth’s atmosphere.

Rapid Prototyping helps explore earth’s atmosphere.

Scientists involved in the University of Southampton’s ASTRA (Atmospheric Science Through Robotic Aircraft) Project have created the worlds first air vehicle to be entirely produced  through Rapid Prototyping technology.

The ASTRA project aims at demonstrating how a bespoke high altitude platform suitable for sending atmospheric monitoring equipment into the upper atmosphere could be developed and manufactured within days and at low cost. Currently researchers seeking to measure atmospheric parameters attach radiosondes to weather balloons, which while straight forward to deploy, limit the quantity of data that can be transmitted back to the ground.

Dubbed the ASTRA Atom, the balloon-borne platform has been designed to reach heights of 30km  and will include a tracking system that will allow it to be found after its 5-7 hour flight. This ability to track the Atom will prove crucial to unlocking the data it has accumulated and stored during its flight. Protected by two foam ‘orbits’ designed to  break on landing, absorbing the energy of the impact, the entire 700g structure has been printed on the university’s 3D printer, while the on board data-logging equipment has been built using Microsoft’s rapid electronic prototyping toolkit, .NET Gadgeteer.

Due for launch on the 7th of December at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, strong surface winds have lead to the decision to postpone the ATOM’s maiden flight until early in the new year.  In addition to the ATOM the scientists are working on balloon based gliders with the capacity to gather more data than a radiosonde.

Unmanned aircraft produced entirely with Rapid Prototyping

Unmanned aircraft produced entirely with Rapid Prototyping

Dec 13, 2011
Comments Off on 3D printing in space!

3D printing in space!

Dedicated to providing solutions to manufacturing in outer-space, US start up, Made in Space have recently been selected by NASA to build a 3d printer for the International Space Station.

Co-founder of Made in Space, Jason Dunn told Innovation NewsDaily that the long term goal of the project is for 3D printing to be used to create fully functioning spacecraft. The team estimate that objects “printed in space” would have a reduced structural mass (at least 30% less) than their earth made counterparts, as they would not need to survive the earths gravity or the extreme G-forces of launching into orbit.

Team at Made in Space test 3D printing in partial gravity

Team at Made in Space test 3D printing in partial gravity

To date two successful zero gravity test flights have been completed, with several commercial printers along with the teams own custom printer

design tested during two hours of aircraft dives, meant to simulate microgravity. Based on the results of these early zero-gravity tests, the team at Made in Space have decided to proceed with their own design, for an extrusion printer capable of printing objects in plastic polymers, rather than modifying an existing commercial printer.

Dunn believes that one-third of the space stations $1-billion worth of spare parts could be “built” on the zero gravity printer, with the team also starting to produce their own space-qualified polymers. “When a tool breaks, at the worst they space-station crew calls Houston and says ‘Send us a CAD file for that tool, and they’ll be able to 3D-print it. Ideally one day they will be able to design it themselves”

The project which has already seen success in the form of the worlds first partial gravity 3d printed tool, a small wrench, is eligible to receive up to $125,000 in NASA funding some time next year.

Dec 5, 2011
Comments Off on Scientists print skin, organs and now bone!

Scientists print skin, organs and now bone!

3d printed bone
Doctors will be able to order custom-built bone scaffolds within the next few years

Earlier this year researchers developed 3D printing techniques that can be used to “print” human organs and skin as well as blood vessels necessary to connect them to the recipient, now following four years of research, a team of engineers at the Washington State University have created a new 3D printing material that looks, feels and for the most part acts like bone.

Susmita Bose and her husband Amit Bandyopadhyay have been developing artificial bone-like materials since the late 1990’s, however it was the recent success of in vitro growing of actual bones around artificial scaffolds that attracted attention to the teams work.  Early testing on rats and rabbits have shown promising results with no apparent ill-effects noted.

This breakthrough came when the team discovered that by adding silica and zinc oxide it was possible to strengthen the main ceramic powder, making parts suitable for low load bearing application.  Using a customised printer this new bone-like material is printed in 20 micron layers with the process repeated layer upon layer until completed. The printed parts or scaffolds are then dried cleaned and baked for two hours at 1250C.  While real time application of this technology remains a number of years away, it is anticipated that doctors will be able to send a CT scan of the required body part to a specialist, who will produce a CAD file for 3D printing, once printed the surgeon would implant the “3D printed” transplant enabling surgeons to repair defects or injuries without taking a bone graph from elsewhere or using a synthetic mesh material that can have negative long-term effects.

Currently the team are trying to develop the controlled degradation of this new material. If successful the scaffold would dissolve in the body as the bone tissue grows over it. The future applications of this technology could revolutionise the medical industry particularly in the field of orthopedic procedures, dental work and the delivery of osteoporosis treatments.

Nov 30, 2011
Comments Off on Could Origo’s 3D printer be the last toy your child will ever need?

Could Origo’s 3D printer be the last toy your child will ever need?

Children embrace 3D printing at TEDxKids in Brussels

Easy design interface + 3D Printing = excited and engaged children, creating their own fun

As children our imaginations were often central to our daily activities from crafting rockets and houses out of old boxes to creating characters with play-dough or simply sketching our ideas on paper, anything we could get our tiny hands on could be turned into something amazing, with just a bit of creativity. While many of us have lost this childhood ability, a lucky few have managed to convert this creativity into a career in design. For designers 3D printing has become the modelling tool of choice. Impossible designs can be sketched up on 3D CAD software and converted to physical models within hours with the help of local Rapid Prototyping bureaus or desktop 3D printers.

Nowadays children’s toys are becoming increasingly hi-tech with i-pods, mobiles and games consoles often ranking high on Christmas lists however one feature remains unchanged and that is the natural creativity of children. Enter Origo, a 3D printer  suitable for use by children as young as 10 years old.

Origo Prototype 3D printer

Origo will allow children to print items about the size of a large mug or medium jar in a few hours.

The Origo project was created as part of Artur Tchoukanov’s masters degree and aims to make 3D printing more accessible to people. Research demonstrated that adults found it difficult to grasp the notion of 3D printing as they had lost their childlike ability to create and dream up ideas without inhibition, the decision was clear, Origo’s target audience would be children. In an interview with Develop 3D,Co-founder of Origo, Joris Peels, explained

“kids are still natural makers, they sketch, draw and dream without limits. They lack only the skills to execute their whimsy. Origo was conceived as a tool to let kids make whatever they want. It was aimed at kids because they are the most able to take advantage of 3D printing at home”

Designs are created in 3DTin for printing on Origo

3DTin allows 3D modelling using simple rules like "don't make anything thinner than two blocks"

One of central challenges faced by the project was the need for users of 3D printers to know how to create a 3D model in CAD, a challenge for even the most technically savvy adult let alone a 10 year old. This initial challenge was overcome thanks to the creation of 3DTin, a free online modelling tool that requires no installation and allows for 3D models to be design using individual blocks. Put in the hands of children at TEDxKids in Brussels this software was quickly adopted resulting in the creation of dozens of really cool products and most importantly a bunch of really excited children.

Currently the project is still only in the design stages however the team are hopeful of taking the Origo printer from concept to production in less than eighteen months. Althought I might not have a ten year old of my own, the child in me looks forward to hearing news of a launch date, until then I guess I better start perfecting my 3D Tin design skills.

Oct 31, 2011
Comments Off on Create your own doppelgänger with 3D printing

Create your own doppelgänger with 3D printing

3D printed masks.

3D printed masks have creepy realistic factor

This Halloween if you’re looking for the scariest mask possible, forget about visiting your local costume store for the usual blood and fangs; instead get the team at That’s My Face to print you off a photo-realistic face mask. Become your favourite celebrity, impersonate your worst enemy or simply become your friend’s doppelgänger with a creepily realistic mask of their face.

That’s My Face specialises in patent-pending technologies centred on transforming 2D photos into 3D sculptures and was founded by a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Using online facial analysis and reconstruction you can then adjust your 3D file to view changes in age, gender and race prior to purchasing your 3D mask.

Fortunately the masks are not likely to fool any border guards or security systems, but this technology can be viewed as a proof-of-concept for realistic full-face masks based on photographs. Some commentators have suggested that with a few advancements in materials as well as 3D printing, this technology’s next evolution could take the form of non-permanent cosmetic surgery.

For now thought this technology remains costly, with a life size mask costing around $300. It appears I might have to wait until 3D printing technology makes its way into our homes before I get a mask of my own!