Monday, 27 February 2012

3D Printing ideal for replicating important objects with 0.004 inch resolution

Scientists at Drexel University in Philadelphia have announced their intention to build working replica dinosaurs by using a 3D printer to create stand-in bones and tissue.

The team claim they will have a working dinosaur limb by the end of 2012 and a complete dinosaur within two years. And soon thereafter, their robot dino could be revealing how motion looked millions of years ago. [There are no details of which 3D Printer or technology will be used]

Read more: Jurassic Bot: How to Build a Robot Dinosaur With a 3D Printer - Popular Mechanics

In a similar story, The Smithsonian, which has 137 million exhibits in 19 museums, is using a hi-tech scanner to capture its most famous exhibits in high resolution. Once it has captured the item, it will then use an advanced 3D printer to painstakingly recreate the exhibit layer by layer.

Read more: No longer one of a kind: Smithsonian makes copies of artifacts using 3D printer to lend them to other museums

The Smithsonian are working on this project with RedEyeOnDemand - a 3D printing service within the Stratasys umbrella. They employ Fused Deposition 3D printers from Fortus (a brand now owned by Stratasys) but also the PolyJet technology from Objet Geometries which is not part of the Stratasys group of companies.

Resolution for these 3D printed precious object replicas is claimed to be 0.0004 of an inch in the original article. Should that be 0.004?

Thursday, 16 February 2012

3D Printing prototype LEGO Bricks

A LEGO brick designer turns a paper sketch into reality using an Objet 3D Printer.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Medical Applications of 3D Printing Expand - a 3D Printed Jaw

A 3D printer-created lower jaw has been fitted to an 83-year-old woman's face in what doctors say is the first operation of its kind. The implant was made out of titanium powder - heated and fused together by a laser, one layer at a time. The implant was built by LayerWise - a specialised metal-parts manufacturer.

As we pointed out in another article, with 3D printing, complexity comes for free. The Jaw implant is a complex part - involving articulated joints, cavities to promote muscle attachment and grooves to direct the regrowth of nerves and veins. Once designed, it only took a few hours to print.

"Shortly after waking up from the anaesthetics the patient spoke a few words, and the day after the patient was able to swallow again," said Dr Jules Poukens from Hasselt University, who led the surgical team. "You can build parts that you can't create using any other technique. For example you can print porous titanium structures which allow bone in-growth and allow a better fixation of the implant, giving it a longer lifetime."

Metal Additive Manufacturing is a new solution that enables designers to rethink the way complex parts are made. It is an additive technology similar to the conventional polymer Rapid Prototyping.

The advantages are that the surgery time decreases because the implants perfectly fit the patients and hospitalisation time also lowers - all reducing medical costs.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Impossible Creations and 3D Printing at the London Model Engineering Show

Impossible Creations were exhibiting at the London Model Engineering Show, Alexander Palace. The show is a regular annual event for anyone interested in the intersection between engineering and model making. Stacked full of model boats, trains, planes, tanks and trucks, the show is also host to a wide range of tool makers and engineering process experts, including ... Impossible Creations.

At the show I had the pleasure of meeting Ian Carter, founder, and was able to touch and feel various model parts that had been 3D-printed on their uPrint by Dimension 3D printers.

Dimension is a brand of 3D printers by Stratasys that offers CAD (computer-aided-design) users a low-cost, networked alternative for printing functional 3D models from the desktop. The printers build models layer-by-layer using ABS plastic, one of the most widely used thermoplastics in today's injection-molded products.

Ian Carter founded Impossible Creations after three decades of experience in product design in the automotive industry, and he now is aiming to bring these capabilities to a wider audience - including the hobbyist 'model maker' marketplace and offer a 'design and build' custom modelling service. For example, a model train enthuiast could use a computer to replicate an historic locomotive, and then 3D Print the plastic part as the body of a new engine for his model railway.

While at the Impossible Creations booth, one enthusiastic model maker was discussing the details of a small part which they had test printed using Impossible Creations service. They were brimming over with positive statements and were comparing the previous injection-molded part with the 3D Printed part.  They claimed that "The 3D print is of much higher quality. I can see these parts to my clients. I often have to apologize to my clients for the injection-molded parts."

The company is now moving to dedicated offices and workshop in Essex and we wish them every success for the future.