3D printed eggs used to study the art of deception among birds

http://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/6777/20150528/scientists-use-3d-printed-eggs-to-study-the-art-of-deception-among-birds.htm

Scientists Use 3D Printed Eggs to Study the Art of Deception among Birds

3D printing has already established itself within the scientific community. It’s been used to produce tools aboard the International Space Station, replicate body parts for surgical procedures, and now it’s found a new niche among biologists studying bird behavior. It turns out, 3D printers produce mighty fine eggs.

Animal behaviorists at Hunter College of the City University of New York are using 3D printers to produce eggs used in experiments that examine nesting behavior among birds. They’re particularly interested in brood parasites – birds that lay their eggs in other birds’ nests, for the behavior of such birds offers insight into the evolutionary arms race between species.

Successful brood parasites are well-adapted to their deceptive practice, laying eggs that resemble those whose nests they target for takeover. But the foster birds have evolved means of detecting such eggs, based on their size, shape, color, and pattern, and will cast them out of the nests when the interlopers are identified.

“Hosts of brood parasites vary widely in how they respond to parasitic eggs, and this raises lots of cool questions about egg mimicry, the visual system of birds, the ability to count, cognitive rules about similarity, and the biomechanics of picking things up,” says Prof. Don Dearborn, chair of the Biology Department at Bates College, a brood parasitism expert who was not involved in the 3D printing study.

Biologists have been studying brood parasitic behavior for decades, but it was always a challenge to produce realistic eggs for use in their experiments. They tried a variety of materials, such as wood and plaster, but the eggs were expensive and time consuming to produce and a challenge to reproduce consistently.

And that’s where the 3D printers come in.

The scientists from Hunter College used a 3D printer to produce model eggs based on those of the Brown-headed Cowbirds, a North American brood parasite. Some eggs were painted beige to match real cowbird eggs; other were painted blue-green to match eggs of the American robin, a typical target of cowbirds. They were able to fill the model eggs with water or gel, so that the eggs retained the weight and properties of real eggs.

Their experiments were a rousing success. The robins accepted 100% of the blue-green eggs while they rejected 79% of the beige eggs. Similar results were achieved using plaster eggs, but the 3D printed eggs are more consistent and easier to produce. And since they are based on digital models, it makes for easy sharing across scientific communities, which improves the reproducibility of experiments.

“For decades, tackling these questions has meant making your own fake eggs — something we all find to be slow, inexact, and frustrating,” says Dearborn. “This study uses 3D printing for a more nuanced and repeatable egg-making process, which in turn will allow more refined experiments on host-parasite coevolution. I’m also hopeful that this method can be extended to making thin-shelled, puncturable eggs, which would overcome another one of the constraints on these kinds of behavioral experiments.”

“3D printing technology is not just in our future – it has already revolutionized medical and basic sciences,” says Mark Hauber, an animal behaviorist at Hunter College and the study’s senior author. “Now it steps out into the world of wild birds, allowing standardized egg rejection experiments to be conducted throughout the world.”

sciencetimes.com

by May 28, 2015 11:29 PM EDT

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Habitats for deep space missions

http://gadgets.ndtv.com/science/news/nasa-3d-printing-competition-to-help-design-habitats-for-deep-space-missions-693876

nasa_office_reuters.jpg

Nasa 3D Printing Competition to Help Design Habitats for Deep Space Missions

The US space agency has announced a new $2.25 million (roughly Rs. 14 crores) competition to design and build a 3D-printed habitat for deep space exploration, including Mars.

Along with the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (known as America Makes), Nasahas devised the multi-phase 3D Printed Habitat Challenge to advance the additive construction technology needed to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth and beyond.

It is part of Nasa’s Centennial Challenges programme.

“The future possibilities for 3D printing are inspiring and the technology is extremely important to deep space exploration,” said Sam Ortega, Centennial Challenges programme manager.

“This challenge definitely raises the bar from what we are currently capable of and we are excited to see what the maker community does with it,” he added in a Nasa statement.

In the first phase of the competition, participants are to develop state-of-the-art architectural concepts that take advantage of the unique capabilities 3D printing offers.

The top 30 submissions will be judged and a prize purse of $50,000 (roughly Rs. 31.5 lakhs) will be awarded at the 2015 World Maker Faire in New York.

The second phase of the competition is divided into two levels.

Level 1 focuses on the fabrication technologies needed to manufacture structural components from a combination of indigenous materials and recyclables, or indigenous materials alone.

Level 2 challenges competitors to fabricate full-scale habitats using indigenous materials or indigenous materials combined with recyclables.

Both levels carry a $1.1 million (roughly Rs. 7 crores) prize each.

Winning concepts and products will help Nasa build the technical expertise to send habitat-manufacturing machines to distant destinations, such as Mars, to build shelters for the human explorers who follow.

“We believe that 3D printing has the power to fundamentally change the way people approach design and construction for habitats, both on earth and off, and we are excitedly awaiting submissions from all types of competitors,” said Ralph Resnick, founding director of America Makes.

References:

gadgets.ndtv.com

http://gadgets.ndtv.com/science/news/nasa-3d-printing-competition-to-help-design-habitats-for-deep-space-missions-693876

3D printing revolutionising space travel

http://europe.newsweek.com/3d-printers-revolutionise-space-travel-within-two-years-324021

3D Printers to Revolutionise Space Travel Within Two Years

NASA are aiming to introduce 3D printers into spacecraft within two years, allowing astronauts to set up permanent habitats on other planets and even print their own food.

In an interview with Newsweek, NASA’s 3D printing chief Niki Werkheiser says the technology will revolutionise space travel by allowing astronauts to be away from year for years on exploration missions without relying on ground control.

Current costs for space transportation are $10,000 per pound of mass. The development therefore has the potential to save millions of dollars as astronauts can travel light and print essentials on demand whilst in space.

NASA is currently developing its largest rocket yet, the Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS is due to make its first test flight in 2017 and Werkheiser says her team are working to get a 3D printer on-board.

So far, Werkheiser’s team at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama have produced several rocket components and a small wrench with the technology and yesterday the team announced the first successful print of a copper engine part for rockets.

However, they are working on much more exciting projects, including printing parts for a small shelter using substitutes for Martian and lunar sand – the theory being that astronauts could one day use the printers to build themselves habitats on extraterrestrial surfaces.

“The bottom line is being able to print anything you need in orbit. When we live on the ground, we don’t think much about running to Home Depot if something breaks but when you’re in space, even tiny things make a difference,” says Werkheiser.

The space agency is also funding a Texas-based company which is researching printing food, and has already produced prototype results in the form of printed pizza.

Other projects include developing a recycler which breaks down food wrappers into filament which the printer could convert into useful tools like circuit boards and batteries.

Werkheiser is optimistic that commercial applications of the technology means 3D printing in space will not be a thing of the future for long.

3D products are already being touted as offering a solution to homelessness and a means of creating human organs for those in need of transplants.

“The beautiful thing about 3D printing is that you’re going to see a pretty rapid evolution of commercial development. It’s going to happen,” says Werkheiser.

NASA has spent some $3m on the In-Space Manufacturing project which Werkheiser heads up.

The prototype 3D printer used on the International Space Station is the size of a small microwave and prints objects the size of an iPhone 6.

It produces objects by a process known as additive construction, using plastic filament as ink and constructing objects by a layering technique. Instructions are uplinked to the printer from ground control via email.

Werkheiser’s team are working on introducing metal filament to allow the printer to produce sturdier tools.

However, they are still working to overcome certain challenges posed by manufacturing in microgravity – for example, whether the layers of heated plastic form strong bonds when layered on top of each other in the absence of gravity.

Nevertheless, Werkheiser believes the technology will provide the key to allowing astronauts to live in space with the same freedom as on earth.

“This suite of capabilities will enable us to operate and live in space as we do on the ground. You need to get that autonomy in space and this is the secret sauce to getting there.”

europe.newsweek.com

by  |  4/22/15 at 1:45 PM

First zero-gravity 3D printer!

Europe is set to send its first 3D printer into the final frontier this year to experiment with zero-gravity manufacturing on long space voyages.

The European Space Agency plans to deliver its new Portable On-Board 3D Printer (POP3D for short) to the International Space Station by the end of June, making it the second3D printer in space. The diminutive 3D printer is a cube that measures just under 10 inches (25 centimeters) per side and requires a small amount of power to operate.

“The POP3D Portable On-Board Printer is a small 3D printer that requires very limited power and crew involvement to operate,” said Luca Enrietti of Altran, prime contractor for the compact printer, in an ESA statement. [10 Ways 3D Printing Will Transform Space Travel]

In order to ensure the printer does not affect the space crew’s environment, Altran designed the machine to use a heat-based printing method and a harmless, biodegradable plastic.

The printer will be tested by Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA as part of her Futura mission on the International Space Station. She is one of six crewmembers currently living on the orbiting lab.

Europe’s Pop3D printer won’t be the first of additive manufacturing tool to reach space.

Last September, the California-based company Made In Space sent a 3D printer to the space station as part of a NASA experiment. That machine has already printed parts for itself and printed a working ratchet tool from a design beamed into space from Earth.

Made In Space’s 3D-printed objects, as well as anything POP3D produces, will eventually be returned to Earth and compared with identical items made with 3D printers on the ground. The comparison should help scientists determine whether 3D printed objects made in space work as well as they do on Earth.

Altran Portable On-Board 3D Printer

If the innovative approach to space manufacturing works, its implications could be vast for future space exploration, ESA and NASA scientists have said. The concept for Pop3D was unveiled last October during a conference attended by 350 3D printing experts from across Europe

The technology could allow astronauts to print delicate tools in space that could not otherwise survive the stresses of launching into space, Altran representatives explained.It could also reduce the need to pack spare parts on resupply missions, as well as lower total number of parts needed both on a spacecraft or the space station, therefore lowering the overall cost of spaceflight.

“In the case of a complex injector of a rocket engine, we are able to take the total number of parts needed from around 250 down to one or two,” one space 3D-printing advocate Steffen Beyer, head of Materials and Process Technology at Airbus Defence and Space, said in the ESA statement. “That represents a revolution in design and manufacturing.”

SPACE.COM
by Kasandra Brabaw, Space.com Contributor   |   January 30, 2015 11:02am ET

First 3D printed item in space by NASA

Some space history-in-the-making for you today; the first item has been successfully 3D-printed in space by NASA!

http://www.cnet.com/…/nasa-completes-first-successful-in-s…/

The 3D printer installed aboard the International Space Station has successfully printed its first object: a part for the printer itself.
The International Space Station’s 3D printer is installed, it’s operational — and it’s now produced the first object to be 3D printed in space, completed November 24 at 9:28 pm GMT.

The printer was installed on the ISS as a means of testing the feasibility of astronauts manufacturing their own parts and tools in microgravity; so the first object printed seems rather apropos. It’s a part for the printer itself — a faceplate for the extruder printhead, emblazoned with the logo for Made In Space, the company that designed and built the 3D printer for NASA, and the NASA logo.

“When the first human fashioned a tool from a rock, it couldn’t have been conceived that one day we’d be replicating the same fundamental idea in space,” said Made In Space CEO Aaron Kemmer. “We look at the operation of the 3D printer as a transformative moment, not just for space development, but for the capability of our species to live away from Earth.”

The idea behind on-board manufacturing is to minimise the shipping of parts and tools from Earth — the way astronauts currently receive such items — and expedite the space station’s self sufficiency. The 3D printer installed in the ISS’ Microgravity Science Glovebox is a model the ISS team is using to experiment with the concept.

The first phase of testing will see the astronauts printing out a variety of test coupons, parts and tools. These will be shipped back to Earth to be compared with the same objects printed by an identical printer on the ground, to see how well the printer operates in microgravity. They will be tested for tensile strength, torque, flexibility and other factors. The results of these tests will allow Made In Space to perfect the second iteration of their microgravity 3D printer, which will be shipped to the ISS in early 2015.

“This project demonstrates the basic fundamentals of useful manufacturing in space. The results of this experiment will serve as a stepping stone for significant future capabilities that will allow for the reduction of spare parts and mass on a spacecraft, which will change exploration mission architectures for the better,” said Made In Space Director of Research and Development Mike Snyder, also principal investigator for the experiment. “Manufacturing components on demand will yield more efficient, more reliable and less Earth dependent space programs in the near future.”

CNET.COM
by Michelle Starr | November 25, 2014 4:43 PM PST

First 3D printer in space

It’s not just about 3D printing objects FOR space, its now about 3D printing objects IN space!

http://www.foxnews.com/…/world-first-3d-printer-in-space-w…/

The first 3D printer ever to fly in space will blast off this month, and NASA has high hopes for the innovative device’s test runs on the International Space Station.

The 3D printer, which is scheduled to launch toward the orbiting lab Sept. 19 aboard SpaceX’s unmanned Dragon cargo capsule, could help lay the foundation for broader in-space manufacturing capabilities, NASA officials said. The end result could be far less reliance on resupply from Earth, leading to cheaper and more efficient missions to faraway destinations such as Mars.

“The on-demand capability can revolutionize the constrained supply chain model we are limited to today and will be critical for exploration missions,” Niki Werkheiser, manager of NASA’s “3-D Printing in Zero-G” project at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said in a statement. [3D Printing in Space (Photo Gallery)]

3D Printing in Zero-G is a collaboration between NASA and California-based startup Made in Space, which built the machine that’s heading to the space station this month. The microwave-size 3D printer was cleared for flight in April after an extensive series of tests at Marshall.

3D printers build objects layer by layer out of metal, plastic, composites and other materials, using a technique called extrusion additive manufacturing. NASA hopes Made in Space’s device works normally aboard the station, thus demonstrating that 3D printers can produce high-quality parts in space as well as on Earth.

If that turns out to be the case, replacing a broken part or tool aboard the orbiting lab could be a matter of simply pushing a button.

“I remember when the tip broke off a tool during a mission,” said NASA astronaut T.J. Creamer, who lived aboard the space station from December 2009 to June 2010. “I had to wait for the next shuttle to come up to bring me a new one. Now, rather than wait for a resupply ship to bring me a new tool, in the future, I could just print it.”

It will likely take the 3D printer from 15 minutes to an hour to print something aboard the space station, depending on the size and complexity of the object, researchers said. Blueprints for desired parts can be loaded onto the machine before launch or beamed up from the ground.

“This means that we could go from having a part designed on the ground to printed in orbit within an hour or two from start to finish,” Werkheiser said.

While the space station is the proving ground for this test, NASA officials see great potential for 3D printing beyond low-Earth orbit. For example, deep-space missions could benefit greatly from the technology, because it would be tough to ferry a spare part to a vessel already on its way to an asteroid or Mars.

“NASA is great at planning for component failures and contingencies. However, there’s always the potential for unknown scenarios that you couldn’t possibly think of ahead of time,” said Ken Cooper, principal investigator at Marshall for 3D printing. “That’s where a 3D printer in space can pay off. While the first experiment is designed to test the 3D printing process in microgravity, it is the first step in sustaining longer missions beyond low-Earth orbit.”

FOXNEWS.COM

by Mike Wall, Senior Writer | September 03, 2014