Apr 15, 2018 | By David
3D printing news keeps coming thick and fast, and it can be tough to keep up sometimes. That’s why we’ve got another round-up for you, so you can get back up to speed on everything that’s been happening recently. Stories this time around include the development of a pioneering new 3D bio-printing method at Finland’s Aalto University, an exciting partnership between Etihad Airways and 3D printer manufacturer BigRep, and many more.
1. Aalto University develops new 3D bio-printing method
(source: Aalto University)
A team of researchers at Finland’s Aalto University have come up with a new 3D bio-printing method, which could have a number of useful applications. Their simple technique makes use of bacterial cellulose nano-fibers to print a range of objects. The team’s material could outperform conventional synthetic materials, in terms of thermal stability and mechanical strength, as well as being bio-degradable and bio-compatible.
According to Professor Orlando Rojas, ”The developed process is an easy and accessible platform for 3D biofabrication that we demonstrated for the synthesis of geometries with excellent fidelity. Fabrication of hollow and complex objects was made possible. Interesting functions were enabled via multi-compartmentalization and encapsulation. For example, we tested in situ loading of functional particles or enzymes with metal organic frameworks, metal nanoparticles with plasmon adsorption, and capsule-in-capsule systems with thermal and chemical resistance.”
The results of the study were detailed in a paper entitled ”Biofabrication of multifunctional nanocellulosic 3D structures: a facile and customizable route”, which waspublished in Materials Horizons. Potential areas of application for the technique include food, cosmetics and biomedical sectors. It could be used for tissue regeneration as well as implants, wound dressing, burn treatments and artificial blood vessels.
2. Big Rep partners with Etihad Airways for 3D printed aircraft cabin parts
(source: Etihad Airways Engineering)
A major new partnership has been announced by two big names in 3D printing technology and aviation. German 3D printer manufacturer BigRep will be teaming up with Etihad Airways Engineering, in order to develop new 3D printed aircraft components. These will primarily be used for the interior passenger cabins, to improve customer experiences.
According to Berhard Randerath, vice president engineering, design & innovation at Etihad Airways Engineering, ”Our goal is to enable 3D-printing technologies for cabin parts – be it on new aircraft programmes or for retrofit installations – to serve our airline customers with innovative and smart solutions.”
Founded in Berlin in 2014, BigRep now has offices in Boston, New York and Singapore, and it is known in the industry for developing and manufacturing the world’s largest 3D printers. The company’s flagship BigRep ONE machine is supplemented by the smaller BigRep Studio. The company’s partnership with Etihad was facilitated by the impressive reputation it has built up over the years, and shows its commitment to continued growth.
Etihad Airways is continuing in a growing trend for implementation of 3D printing technology in the aerospace sector. Airbus recently installed its first 3D printed cabin part that will be visible to passengers, in an aircraft operated by Finnair. Additive manufacturing is increasingly being used for other types of mechanical and structural aircraft components, both at the prototyping and final production phases. The main factor preventing it from more widespread adoption is the lack of of high-performance 3D printing materials that are EASA and FAA-certified. This new partnership between Etihad and BigRep will be focused on developing new materials that are capable of passing the aerospace certification process.
3. Boston Marathon runner to compete in Wiiv’s 3D printed flip-flops
Pioneering footwear company Wiiv (pronounced ‘weave’) has been making use of 3D printing technology in order to develop an ambitious service that offers customers personalized sandals. To demonstrate how comfortable these 3D printed shoes can be, Wiiv footwear engineer Chris Bellamy will be running this year’s Boston Marathon in a pair of the company’s creations.
”We spent many sleepless nights driving fairly radical innovations in design and materials, and optimizing for biomechanics and comfort. So I am not worried at all about going the full 26.2 miles,” Bellamy said. ”We’ve reengineered every part of the traditional flip-flop to design the most comfortable, optimized sandal ever created, and I’ve had this marathon in the back of my mind through every decision we made.”
The Wiiv service involves customers downloading an app, which they can use with their smartphone in order to capture specific foot measurements. The app measures more than 200 points on an individual’s foot to create the perfect contour map, taking into account foot length, width, and volume, as well as toe spacing. The map is then used by the team to put together a pair of personalized 3D printed flip-flops, according to the customer’s choice of style. These will be delivered within 10 days. Wiiv already successfully launched a version of this service for 3D printing custom insoles, so providing personalized 3D printed shoes was the next logical step.
4. CellInk launches seven new inks and three new kits for 3D bio-printing
Leading 3D bio-printing company CELLINK has released a new range of 3D bio-printing materials, including both inks and kits, that are intended to address specific research needs around the world. The company’s latest products are the result of collaborations with researchers in over 40 countries on 6 continents, totaling over 400 labs and research groups.
The new inks are known as CELLINK GelMA A, GelMA C, GelMA H, Fibrinogen, and Fibrin. There is also CELLINK SKIN and SKIN+, two bio-inks that were specifically developed for the engineering of dermal tissues. CELLINK. As for the kits, the CELLINK VASKIT is optimized for the generation of vascular network geometry. The other kits are the GelMA Kit and the Support Kit.
As well as allowing for 3D bio-printing of more complex structures, these new bio-inks and kits will enable better drug screening processes for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. This means that companies will be able to quickly start their research, with bio-inks optimized for specific applications.
5. MIT collaborates with Boeing to provide online 3D printing education
(credit: MIT/Haden Quinlan)
MIT has announced a new educational partnership with aviation giant Boeing, which will provide online training in the use of 3D printing technology for professionals and businesses. As 3D printing continues to increase in accessibility, many recent graduates hired by Boeing will have a basic knowledge of the technology already, but more seasoned employees will have had limited exposure to it. This course will therefore provide a crucial way for them to get up to speed.
The nine-week online course is called ”Additive Manufacturing for Innovative Design and Production”. It explores the transformational capabilities of AM in the design, production, and service of products, as well as investigating its implications in restructuring production workflows and lowering manufacturing costs. Towards the end of the course, students will take on an in-depth case study, giving them the opportunity to apply their newly acquired technical and strategic knowledge of AM to a real-world problem.
”Additive manufacturing already has important implications throughout the product life cycle, yet, most importantly, we can now envision its use as a mainstream production technique. This compels us to accelerate our understanding of the unique advantages of AM, and rethink how we design new parts and products, and the metrics by which we define their importance,” says the course director, John Hart, associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT and director of the MIT Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity.
6. NAVAIR to approve 1,000 3D printed parts for use by end of 2018
According to a recent estimate from a logistics officer, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) will have approved around 1,000 different parts for 3D printing and use across its fleet, by the end of this year. This is nearly a tenfold increase from what is currently available.
The NAVAIR Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) in Jacksonville, Florida, first installed a 3D printer back in 2014. The center recently acquired some new, larger machines, in order to meet the growing demand as plant employees find more and more uses for 3D printing technology.
According FRCSE tool designer Randy Meeker, ”Turnaround time is the major improvement. You can print a part in a matter of hours and, if it doesn’t fit or is designed wrong, you can just fix the design and print another one.”
In the last 15 months, Meeker has printed more than 1,000 pieces. These include everything from a piece of air-duct tubing for a T-44 Pegasus trainer aircraft, to a debris cover for an F414 engine that powers the F/A-18 Super Hornet.
Posted in 3D Printer Company
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