Browsing articles in "3D Printing"
Oct 14, 2011
Comments Off on 3D printing now with criminal intent

3D printing now with criminal intent

With general awareness of 3D printing on the increase, new applications for this technology appear to emerge almost on a weekly basis. We have seen 3D printing morph from a chocolate printer to a device with the potential to print human tissue and with this technology still in its infancy rumours circle that similar to the Internet, 3d printing will make its way into our homes becoming something taken for granted, a part of everyday life.

Despite this early promise, little did I expect to come across a story of how an ATM skimmer gang used 3D printers to steal over $400,000 but then again being the enterprising businessmen that most gangsters are, should I really be surprised?
ATM skimmers are electronic devices typically attached to the card slot of ATM machines, steal credit and debit card information from unsuspecting ATM users.

The appeal of 3D printing for ATM skimmer gangs lies in the complex design nature of such devices, in order to avoid detection each unit has to be carefully crafted to blend in with the targeted cash machine in both form and colour, a laborious process considering each particular ATM would require its own unique device.
Throw a 3D printer into the mix and the labour required for each device is considerably reduced. Now its simply a matter of snapping a few photos, taking some measurements and accessing 3d modelling software prior to hitting print and allowing the 3D printer do all the hard work.

3D printers are however costly with a high end desktop printer costing anywhere between $10,000 to $20,000 and while outsourcing printing to a prototyping bureau may appear like the next best option, however with 3d printing bureaus ever more vigilant, you run the risk of detection
While this negative application may taint the glow of 3D printing somewhat it is important to remember that 3D printing is not encouraging anything new, and in reality with costs of 3D printers high it is still easier to gain access to 3D skimmer kits than a 3D printer and CAD engineer.

Oct 10, 2011
Comments Off on Artificial bood vessels created on 3d printer

Artificial bood vessels created on 3d printer


German scientists construct blood vessels on 3d printer

German scientists construct blood vessels on 3d printer

In 2009, Dr. Atala, the director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, explained how one day 3d printing technology might be used to print organs and thanks to a team of researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute this future may be closer than ever before.

Until now, the supply of nutrients to artificial tissue via capillary vessels has proven a major stumbling block in tissue engineering. In order for a lab-made organ to function, it needs to be equipped with tiny and extremely complex tubes or blood vessels, to carry nutrients.

Numerous attempts to create synthetic capillaries have been made, but it is the work carried out by the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany that appears especially promising. According to the head of the BioRap project at Fraunhofer, Dr. Gunter Tovar, “the individual techniques are already functioning and they are presently working in the test phase”.

By combining 3d printing  with two-photon polymerisation – shining laser beams onto the 3d printed material in order to stimulate molecules in a very narrow focus point, it was possible to create an elastic solid which would interact with natural human tissue. These synthetic vessels are then coated with modified bio-molecules to prevent rejection by the living organism.

While still a long way off, this latest development brings 3D printing of tissue one step closer to saving the lives.

Aug 11, 2011
Comments Off on The new manufacturing revolution .. 3D Printing?

The new manufacturing revolution .. 3D Printing?

Since the early 1900’s the manufacturing industry has been dominated by mass production and the moving production line. With greater access to information and a wider choice of suppliers now available at the touch of a button, a growing market has emerged for mass customisation of products. Take for example Dell Computers they have successfully created a business model which focuses on the mass customisation of laptops and desktop computers, consumers can log on and “build” a computer that matches their individual needs.

3D printing may unlock the potential of this new and growing market. Not a new concept 3D printing was traditionally constrained to the production of one off items from fused plastic or metal powder, but now very big corporations have begun to sit up take note of its potential.  Once such corporation is EADS, earlier this year the firms aircraft plant near Bristol announced  that they had produced a bike using additive layer technology. The firm also relies on 3D printing to produce complex satellite parts which are lighter and more cost effective than conventionally – machined components.

Further evidence of the future potential of Rapid Prototyping  can be found at Loughborough University where researchers have developed a 3d printer that uses concrete to “print” large (2m x 2.5m x 5m) components. Should the researchers be able to prove the reliability 3D concrete printing it could dramatically reshape the construction industry.

Concrete Printer

For designers 3D printing puts them at centre of the manufacturing process, ensuring the power of making this is firmly in the hands of the designers. For finance directors and managers the ability to reduce stock and working capital presents significant cost savings while for the consumer 3d printing presents the opportunity to source products that better meet their actual needs.

Jul 6, 2011
Comments Off on The 3D chocolate printer has arrived

The 3D chocolate printer has arrived

Researchers are University of Exeter develop 3D Chocolate Printer

Researchers are University of Exeter develop 3D Chocolate Printer

Thanks to the work of researchers at the University of Exeter, chocolate lovers are even closer to printing their own chocolate creations.

The research team lead by Dr. Liang Hao believe that what makes this technology special is that it will enable users to design and “print” their own products. In the long term it is anticipated that this technology will allow for the custom design of products in a range of different material, with chocolate initially chosen as it was readily available, low cost and non-hazardous.


3D Chocolate Printer

Source: The UK Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council

The project is currently at prototype stage, with several retailers having already expressed an interest in the 3d printing device. While future applications for this device appear promising, getting to the prototype stage has not been easy as getting a device to flawlessly print objects that taste good required the careful control of key parameters including temperature and cooling cycles. Since 2006 the team have been working on specially made temperature and heating control systems, which ensure the chocolate is maintained at the correct consistency to print.

Having developed the working prototype Dr. Hao and his team and in the process of designing an customer friendly interface for the design of chocolate objects along with a website where customers can upload their chocolate designs for 3d printing and delivery.

Hopefully this website will be up and running soon, as all this talk of chocolate is making me hungry…


Jun 20, 2011
Comments Off on Can 3D printing help save burns victims?

Can 3D printing help save burns victims?

3d printing of human skin

Researchers aim to save lives with 3d printing of human skin

Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine are working to unlock the healing benefits of 3d printing, with the aim of helping wounded soldiers.

The team have redeveloped a standard store bought 3d inkjet printer, to facilitate the printing of living cells as ink. Other modifications to this technology include the development of a 3D “elevator” and pressurized nozzles to allow a safe distance to be maintained between the printer and the patient.

Initial testing on mice has revealed an advanced rate of healing by the second and third week in comparison with the rate of healing in untreated subjects. A combination of skin cells, coagulants and collagen are printed directly onto the wounded tissue which are then topped by a layer of keratinocytes (i.e. skin cells) – also printed. On application to the wounded tissue the cells would mature to form new skin.

Future trials will be conducted on pigs, whose skin structure more closely resembles that of humans. While in reality 3d printing of human skin may yet be a long way off the promise of this technology is truly incredible. Research has shown that the longer it takes to cover a wound with skin, the higher the risk of infection, complications and death, should this technology reach local and field hospitals it is likely to have a significant impact on the survival rates of burns victims.


Jun 10, 2011
Comments Off on 3D Printing Science or Art?

3D Printing Science or Art?

Hare created by SculptCAD Rapid Artist Heather Gorman

Hare created by SculptCAD Rapid Artist Heather Gorman


A while back I came across an interesting project called SculptCAD Rapid Artists, which left me wondering if 3D printing is really science or merely an extension of traditional art techniques.

The SculptCAD Rapid Artists project invited 12 artists to diverge from their regular mediums to create something new using state of the art digitalising tools.

The result a contemporary approach to art, which produces high speed and on demand pieces, and allows even impossible geometries to become possible. Each artist interpreting the possibilities presented by 3D tools and prototyping to create sculptures representing their personal creative outlook.

When asked about his experience Brad Ford Smith revealed that one of his greatest surprises during the project lay not in the impact of using 3D tools, which as he expected “did not make the creative process any easier”, rather in the response of people to the project. While many welcome this technology’s use for the replacement of missing or damaged bones its application to the world of art was met with long discussions on the value and nature of art, and acted as further proof that art will be fabricated by the simple push of a button, and that our culture is going down the tubes.


May 23, 2011
Comments Off on Welcome to our new blog

Welcome to our new blog

Laser Prototypes is proud to announce the launch of their new 3D Printing News blog.

Laser Prototypes, the longest established Rapid Prototyping Bureau in the UK and Ireland, has set up this blog for everyone interested in the world of 3D printing, Additive Manufacturing and Rapid Prototyping. In our upcoming postings we will be bringing you details of new materials and processes, updates from leading 3D printing and materials manufacturers, emerging applications of this technology and of course some interesting case studies discovered along the way.

This blog is all about keeping you informed of developments within the Rapid Prototyping industry, and we are hoping that you get involved and share your thoughts. We would also like to invite you to join our Twitter account or visit our YouTube channel where we will be updating you on the latest happenings at Laser Prototypes.