New York City Meets 3D Printing

It was bound to happen: 3D printing has become front-and-center in New York’s fashion scene. The Big Apple hosted a three-day event that included a showcase on 3D-printed apparel. Designers included Catherine Wales of the UK, Kay Kwok of China, and the States’ own Frances Guevara. Jewelry, gowns, and shows were all on display, reflecting the fashion world’s eclectic style. Given how little of the high-end fashion scene ever makes it to production, there’s slim chance these flamboyant works will ever be seen on the street. (That may not be such a bad thing.) Even so, the whole event shows the imaginative scope that 3DP is taking on. News Source: 3DPrintshow.com Image Source: Fashion Ave – Manhattan | Flickr – Photo Sharing! www.GlynLowe.com | Attribution 2.0 Generic / CC BY...

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Back to the Future for Bio-printing

It’s funny how some of our high-tech tools and techniques borrow names from the past–just look at the tablet and bluetooth. Turns out that isn’t the only flash from the past finding newfound relevance today. Staff at the Houston Methodist Research Institute (HMRI) looked towards the ancient Chinese woodblock printing technique in order to develop a new form of bioprinting called Block-Cell-Printing (or BloC for short). The team use a silicon mold to press cells onto a surface, much in the way that ancient printers pressed an inked image or text onto paper. According to the HMRI team, the BloC method shows as much as a 100% better rate of cellular survivability over other methods of bio-printing. Even more shocking: HMRI projects that the cost of printing will be as little as 1/10,000th that of other methods. News Source: Engineering.com Image Source: Ancient Chinese printing press – China Science and Technology Museum | Flickr – Photo Sharing! IvanWalsh.com | Attribution 2.0 Generic / CC BY...

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3D Printing for Kids

Many of us recall a childhood fantasy of creating toys whenever we wanted. After all, there were limits to our parents’ wallets (and patience). Hasbro’s bringing us one step closer thanks to a partnership with 3D Systems. The two companies are teaming up to design and manufacture kid-friendly 3D printers. Though no model has been previewed, the printers would likely feature basic controls and a simplified (but restricted) program for uploading and printing designs. One can almost sense the déjà vu–it was three decades ago that the Commodore 64 became the kid-friendly computer. Ten years later, the personal computer became a must for every household. Could the 3D printer be far behind? News Source: CNET Image Source: 3D Systems Rock Hill | Flickr – Photo Sharing! Caspian Lenovo | Attribution 2.0 Generic / CC BY...

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3D Printing: Bigger, Faster & Better

3D Food Printer | Flickr – Photo Sharing! Playing Futures: Applied Nomadology Attribution 2.0 Generic / CC BY 2.0   Speed remains a hurdle in 3D printing. Producing a small object can require hours of waiting, a process that tests the patience of any user. While inroads are being made, speed remains the key inconvenience for 3DP. The federal government wants to change that. The US Department of Energy announced that it will invest in research-and-development to improve both the speed and scale of additive manufacturing. Asst. Secy. David Danielson made the announcement at the department’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., a move that signifies the Obama White House’s continued interest in 3DP as the key avenue for US industry. Danielson stated: “Developing innovative manufacturing technologies in America will help ensure that the manufacturing jobs of tomorrow are created here in the United States, putting people to work and building a clean energy economy.” As part of that development, the US Energy Department has forged a partnership with Cincinnati, Inc., a longtime manufacturer of machines and tools. Among its current list of products, Cincinnati produces advanced laser-cutting hardware and metal fabrication. Such expertise factored into the government’s decision to partner with the company. That expertise will be needed as the US Energy Department has set an ambitious goal for the partnership to achieve. The department wants to see the maximum size of printed objects increase tenfold—no small task. Even more challenging is the department’s goal for speed: The partnership is intended to improve 3DP speeds by two hundred times–minimum. And it’s not like 3D printers don’t need the boost: A typical, name-brand example prints at a rate of a tenth of a cubic inch per minute. Using that basis, an object that’s roughly 6 in.3 in size requires an hour of printing. What does this all mean for consumers? It means the world’s largest financier – the US government – will be pouring in a fortune to accelerate the capabilities of 3D printers. That increases the likelihood of a technological break, one that manufacturers of home 3D printers will use to advance their own products. Put simply: Bigger. Faster....

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3DP Turns the Automobile into DIY

A Do-It-Yourself (DIY) automobile is the fantasy of millions, yet one heretofore unachieved. That might be about to change as big-ticket and startup car companies increasingly turn to additive manufacturing. Could 3D printing be the catalyst that DIY carmakers have been waiting for? History’s littered with failed DIY cars, some by charlatans and others by wannabe-visionaries. They’ve come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and styles, targeting every demographic of every segment of society. (Just lookup up the 1910s’ “Lad’s Car,” a DIY automobile that targeted early adolescents.) There is one thing all these efforts share: Utter and complete failure. This “Second Industrial Revolution,” as enthusiasts have proclaimed it, has reinvigorated the imaginations of carmakers, established and aspiring alike. Big-dollar manufacturers have taken an inviting attitude, with Porsche and Honda both offering Computer-Aided Design (CAD) blueprints of their vehicles for 3D-printing. Ford engineers are using MakerBot 3D printers to create vehicle parts for pre-production testing. Aston-Martin printed scale-models of its vehicles for use in Skyfall. But it’s on the other end of the spectrum that one sees more creative forays being made in the field.   Rally Fighter Body (LocalMotors) / CC BY 3.0   Arizona’s fledgling Local Motors, founded in 2007, announced that it would 3D-print an electric variant of its “Rally Fighter,” making it available by fall of this year. The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) contracted Local Motors to develop the vehicle, which it hopes will showcase the maturing potential of additive production.   By 3dilla (Urbee 3D printed car | 3d Print Show | 3dilla.com) [CC-BY-2.0], via Flickr – Photo Sharing!   Canada’s Jim Kor is leading another 3DP auto effort. Kor, an engineer, has been on a crusade to 3D-print an ultra-light, ultra-compact vehicle called the “Urbee.” This ovular, three-wheeled car has its interior and exterior composed of 3DP material. Powered by bio-fuel, Kor aims to have the Urbee run across the United States on just 10 gal. of fuel.   By Sicnag (1961 Aston Martin DB4Uploaded by OSX) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons   In a true DIY-fashion, Ivan Sentch of New Zealand garnered international press when he started work on a 3D-printed replica of an Aston-Martin DB4, a vintage touring coupe. Sentch is using a Nissan as the basis for the replica, but he is printing interior components and exterior body-work for assembly in his humble little garage.   By Racingjeff (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons   The next stage in automotive development is approaching. MakeForge’s Mark 1 appears to be the first 3D printer to produce carbon-fiber. The relatively small, industrial-grade machine specializes in lightweight, high-strength composites as seen on exotic and premium automobiles, such as the $239,000 McLaren MP4-12C and $136,000 BMW i8. Composites appear to be an inevitable direction in automotive design: Rising fuel-efficiency standards have pushed automakers to build leaner and less consumptive vehicles. Carbon fiber, a material made of melded threads, is becoming common on automotive body-panels. High cost and labor-intensive production are the material’s setbacks, but the notion of an additive, low-labor alternative may be a breakthrough… Composites appear to be an inevitable direction in automotive design: Rising fuel-efficiency standards have pushed automakers to build leaner and less consumptive vehicles. Carbon fiber, a material made of melded threads, is becoming common on automotive body-panels. High cost and labor-intensive production are the material’s setbacks, but the notion of an additive, low-labor alternative may be a breakthrough… … or, at least, the start of...

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