3D printed beef slices?

http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/do-you-still-need-cows-if-you-can-3d-print-beef-slices

Do you still need cows, if you can 3D print beef slices?

Two scientists look at how Singapore is preparing to embrace two leading technologies – 3D printing and robotics.

Additive manufacturing (AM) or 3D printing, as it is more commonly known, is a term that is becoming more familiar, used not only by large corporations and institutions but also smaller enterprises and even individuals.

Simply put, 3D printing refers to processes that produce a 3D part from a computer-aided design model by adding materials successively, usually in a layer-by-layer fashion. These materials can be made of paper, plastic, metal or even organic materials such as tissue from cells.

3D printing in itself is not new. It has been used for over three decades, such as for printing out prototypes for designs or architectural works. But today, its usage has expanded beyond prototyping. Many industries and people now use 3D printing to make things they want, which include producing unmanned aerospace vehicles (UAVs) used in Aerospace and Defence.

As technology continues to develop and become more widespread, we are led to potentially discover new or more extensive benefits to society. In building and construction, the ability to print complicated design structures within a shorter time and with fewer resources would help to reduce housing shortage in countries like Singapore. Globally, this could also help disaster-struck countries to quickly rebuild affected communities.

Due to its game-changing potential, AM or 3D printing is forecast by The Economist magazine to be the third Industrial Revolution.

Today, manufacturers are already witnessing the positive impact of 3D printing technology in terms of enabling greater customisation while reducing costs and waste.

As products are manufactured on demand, this reduces tooling costs and the need to maintain a massive product inventory typical of traditional manufacturing methods.

From a business perspective, we also see companies evolving towards more flexible and cost-effective business models. Some may choose to focus solely on design and leave customers to manufacture the actual product. Conversely, smaller players can now manufacture their own products instead of relying on larger manufacturing chains. Along with lower investment costs and risks, this has opened doors and created opportunities for new entrants within the manufacturing field. These will shake up manufacturing as we know it today.

Companies that now produce spare parts or equipment for big manufacturers may find themselves squeezed out if the manufacturers find it more worthwhile to 3D print the parts themselves.

Shipping too can change, if ships carry their own 3D machines to print parts, or 3D print their own supplies, eliminating the need to stop at ports for repairs and resupplies.

Even space travel can be revolutionised: One exciting area of potential application is 3D printing in space, which can be used to produce necessities such as food as well as essential tools and spare parts necessary for extensive space missions.

Over the coming decades, 3D printing technology certainly has tremendous potential to revolutionise our next phase of development.

The promise of bioprinting – or the printing of live tissue – is immense. This potentially allows us to 3D print a new organ for transplant. Bioprinting has the eventual goal of improving the quality of life whether for transplant patients or for society at large.

It also has clear applications in food. After all, 3D printing allows us to produce meat for consumption by printing them with layers of animal tissue – without the need for animal husbandry or slaughter.

Bioprinting food will also minimise the risk of diseases such as mad cow disease or bird flu by eliminating the need to rear livestock for human consumption.

With the aim of empowering the average home user, the Blacksmith Group invented the Blacksmith Genesis, the world’s first 3D printer-cum-scanner. As compact as a home printer, the Blacksmith Genesis allows users to scan, edit and print any item up to 6,650 cubic cm in 3D easily. This user-friendly device enables users without much knowledge of 3D software to engineer their own products.

The Blacksmith Group is a spin-off from the Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) newly established Singapore Centre for 3D Printing (SC3DP).

Supported by Singapore’s National Research Foundation, SC3DP was set up to drive research and collaboration towards growing Singapore’s 3D printing capabilities for the aerospace and defence, building and construction, marine and offshore and manufacturing industries.

Taking it one step further is 4D printing, which refers to the printing of three-dimensional materials with properties that will transform according to external or environmental stimuli, such as time, temperature or humidity.

Possible applications that would prove useful are using it to print the soles of shoes or sofas which can then be easily manipulated to fit the shapes and sizes of human bodies.

4D printing might also be useful for printing structures for transporting across dramatically different environments, such as from earth to space. In this case, imagine if we could print a piece of furniture in a compact format that can be subsequently assembled into a larger, complex structure in space.

Given the rate at which 3D printing technology is progressing, it is not difficult to envision that 50 years from now, we could be living in 3D printed houses, travelling on 3D printed airplanes, wearing 3D printed garments, consuming 3D printed food and much more.

The possibilities are limitless.

  • Professor Chua Chee Kai is the Executive Director, Singapore Centre for 3D Printing, at the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University.

References:

straitstimes.com

http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/do-you-still-need-cows-if-you-can-3d-print-beef-slices

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New optical fibre 3D printing technique!

http://www.itproportal.com/2015/07/03/new-optical-fibre-3d-printing-technique-being-researched/

New optical fibre 3D printing technique being researched

New optical fibre 3D printing technique being researched

The researchers at the University of Southampton are currently investigating a new way of manufacturing optical fibre. And that is through 3D printing, or, in other words, additive manufacturing.

This new research could potentially pave the way for more complex structures that can be capable of unlocking a host of applications in many different industries, such as telecommunications, aerospace, biotechnology, etc.

As of now, there are a couple of ways to manufacture optical fibre. One of them is with the help of a piece of glass from which the optical fibre is drawn. This gives manufacturers a consistent length and shape of the fibre. In the case of 3D printing, it is difficult to control the shape and composition of the fibre, which results in limited flexibility in design and the capabilities that the fibre can offer.

The new additive manufacturing technique is currently being developed by Professor Jayanta Sahu, along with his colleagues from the University of Southampton’s Zepler Institute and co-investigator, Dro Shoufeng Yang from the Faculty of Engineering and Environment. We believe that the new manufacturing technique will help manufacture preforms that are far more complex and have different features along their lengths.

Professor Jayanta Sahu says that “We will design, fabricate and employ novel Multiple Materials Additive Manufacturing (MMAM) equipment to enable us to make optical fibre preforms (both in conventional and microstructured fibre geometries) in silica and other host glass materials.”

Professor Sahu further says “Our proposed process can be utilised to produce complex preforms, which are otherwise too difficult, too time consuming or currently impossible to be achieved by existing fabrication techniques.”

One of the most challenging things of 3D manufacturing optical fibre, is making the preform, especially when it has a complex internal structure. Consider the photonic bandgap fibre for instance. It is a new type of microstructed fibre that is anticipated to revolutionise the telecoms and datacoms industries in particular.

With the help of the new additive manufacturing technique, the researchers will be able to design and manufacture the complex internal structure of the optical fibre using ultra-pure glass powder. And as is the case with 3D printing, the researching will be able to manufacture a complex preform, layer by layer, gradually building up the shape of the optical fibre.

There are still numerous challenges that they will have to face, such as the high melting temperature of glass, the need for precise control of dopants, refractive index profiles, waveguide geometry, etc. any changes in those things will result in the alteration of the fibre.

itproportal.com

by Nabil Ansari | 03/07/2015

Mainstream 3d printing

http://www.ibtimes.com.au/3d-printing-breaking-mainstream-1450988

3D Printing

3D Printing Is Breaking Into The Mainstream

Five years ago, the thought of “mainstream 3d printing” might seem a little far-fetched for the practical manufacturer. However, the technology has advanced in such a rapid pace that the number of industries applying the process continue to increase. At the moment, 3D printing can produce anything from human stem cells to airplane parts. Indeed, the possibilities with additive manufacturing are limitless.

Analysts at research company Gartner said that a technology has officially become mainstream when it reaches an adoption level of 20 percent. In 2014, a PWC survey revealed that more than two-thirds of 100 manufacturing companies were using 3D printing, with 28.9 percent stating that they were still experimenting on processes in which they would implement the in-demand technology.

Additionally, 9.6 percent of the companies revealed that they were in the stages of prototyping and production, and these companies include General Electric, Boeing and Google. Companies that belong to this tier testified to the advantageous effects of 3D printing, which include time saving and cost efficiency. Another survey held by the International Data Corporation, or IDC, revealed that 90 percent of the companies that use 3D printing are very satisfied with its benefits.

Large companies represent biggest buyers of 3D printer, but the high number of smaller and independent businesses opting to use 3D printing is still difficult to ignore. Keith Kmetz, vice president of Hardcopy Peripherals Solutions and Services at IDC, stated that companies that apply 3D printing are well aware of its positive benefits.

“These printers are typically acquired for a specific creation workflow, but once in place, the usage expands rapidly to other types of applications. The early adopters who recognized the substantial cost and time-to-market benefits of 3D printing have carried the day, but it’s their overall satisfaction and the ability to expand usage that will ultimately drive 3D printing to the next level,” said Kmetz.

In the next couple of years, more companies are expected to switch to 3D printing, and more materials will be used for a wide array of products. Currently, the most commonly used materials are basic plastics, ceramics, cement, glass and numerous metals such as titanium and aluminum. The demand for these materials will continue to increase, especially for titanium. Titanium is heavily used in the medical, aerospace, and automotive applications of 3D printing, in the form of personalised surgical implants and fuel tanks.

To sustain 3D printing’s use of titanium when it hits the mainstream, the global pipeline for the semi-precious metal should be secured for the following years. Thankfully, several mines in South America are already on their way to produce high-grade supply of titanium, such as White Mountain Titanium Corporation (OTCQB: WMTM) in Chile. White Mountain Titanium sits on a deposit in Cerro Blanco that contains 112 million tons of high-grade rutile. Companies applying 3D printing can benefit from it once the mine starts distributing the supply around the world.

ibtimes.com.au

by  | June 04 2015 12:11 AM

3D printing capabilities and drones

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/drones-might-be-getting-smaller-3d-printing-technology-can-make-them-faster-lighter-1498237

Boeing and Sheffield University's 3D printed UAV

Drones might be getting smaller but 3D printing technology can make them faster and lighter

The past two years has seen the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry transform from being a military tool and a niche aerial hobbyist aircraft to a technology that has a wide number of commercial and consumer use cases.

This has come about due to the advent of much smaller UAVs, or rather drones that weigh less than 20kg, which has finally convinced authorities around the world that they are safe enough for widespread use.

However, although they are light, drones are about to get a lot lighter still as 3D printing technology is now being trialled to speed up prototyping and production, and the materials being developed are even better than those used in consumer and professional drone rigs today.

In the UK, aerospace and defence manufacturer Boeing is working with the University of Sheffield to research and develop complexly designed UAVs more cheaply using 3D printing, which is also known as additive manufacturing.

The engineers have succeeded in using Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), a type of 3D printing technology, to print out all the components needed in a drone, including the catapult rig used to launch it into the air.

The drone consists of nine 3D printed thermoplastic parts that snap together. It features blended winglets and is powered by an electric ducted fan propulsion system incorporated into the airframe’s central spine.

“We’d like to use this kind of thing to show novel manufacturing methods. It’s still heavier than drones that use a foam wing, but the benefit is that you can quickly change it,” Dr Garth Nicholson, principal design engineer of Sheffield University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing’s Design Prototyping and Testing Centre, told IBTimes UK at the SkyTech 2015 drone trade show in London.

“We envision that in a humanitarian situation with a number of pilots who could only bring a limited number of spare parts of them, they could have a 3D printer in the field to print parts, or replace and put in different sensors that they need at the time.

“The benefit would be that you could also quickly rip it up, dispose of it safely and produce a new completely new rig in less than 24 hours.”

Using CarbonSLS to build drones

Other companies, such as Buckinghamshire-based firm Graphite Additive Manufacturing is looking into Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), another 3D printing technology, in order to produce lighter drones.

Drone 3D printed from CarbonSLS

“We’ve developed a material called CarbonSLS which uses a nylon powder with added carbon fibre strands. It was developed for use in Formula One racing cars, so it’s strong and it’s light,” Keith Haynes, project manager of Graphite Additive Manufacturing, told IBTimes UK, also speaking at SkyTech 2015.

“By using CarbonSLS, we were able to save at least 25% in weight by replacing the frame of this quadcopter drone with a frame made from our material.

“It flew just as well as the original, but even easier to control as it’s moving less weight around.”

The firm was set up two years ago by Kevin Lambourne, who formerly worked for Red Bull Racing to provide 3D printed parts to build Formula One race cars, so the materials developed have had to be very tough.

Haynes said: “We’ve come from a motor sports background and it’s not something we planned to go into, but we’ve had so many requests from the military, aerospace companies and small drone businesses about using our material to build drones that we’re now actively promoting it.”

ibtimes.co.uk

by at SkyTech 2015 | April 24, 2015 18:16 BST