3D printing and climate change

http://3dprint.com/71924/3d-print-climate-change/

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What is 3D Printing’s Role in Combating Climate Change?

We already have heard enough about climate change that I don’t have to drag you through the litany of weather-related changes we have already seen or the futuristic scenarios that anticipate rising sea levels and an increase in extreme weather events such as tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. There’s also been a lot of talk that humanity will not be able to work its way out of these issues via quick technological fixes: there needs to be a great shift in social priorities that seek ways to turn the situation around, and some think it may already be too late.

Well, although it would be a mistake to presume we can fix our way out of the problem, it is interesting to consider how 3D printing can be a positive part of the solution. But this makes sense when you consider how efficient 3D printing can be. As the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists explains, “the ability to print replacement parts for generators, water filters, or temporary shelters—on site—may become a critical and inexpensive tool of climate adaptation, particularly in zones of instability and conflict.” And another advantage 3D printing has in the fight against climate change is that it can allow for cost-effective greenhouse gas reduction for societies seeking greater energy efficiency in manufacturing processes and products.

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There are many examples of the military’s knowledge, testing, and use of 3D printing in extreme conditions; these conditions give us a glimpse of possible scenarios attached to climate related catastrophes. Since 1997, the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to predict and prepare for weather events in the Global South. (Some critics would say that this preparation is nowhere near what it should be today.) Recently, as an example of an application of 3D printing, 3D printed weather stations are cutting costs and increasing the ability to print replacement parts quickly in remote locations. This makes sense, right?

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But we don’t just want to kick back and think that it’s all in the military’s hands and that poor countries of the Global South can rest assured that wealthier countries have their backs when it comes to climate disaster preparedness.  In fact, the great thing about 3d printing is that it empowers civilians to take things into their own hands and design and print the devices and items they envision using to confront extreme weather conditions. The ability to share open-source designs and empower grassroots knowledge of the technology is probably 3D printing’s greatest overall contribution to combating climate change.

According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, there are other characteristics of 3D printing that make it amenable to climate change preparedness: it can de-globalize hazards, making it easier to enact on-site local production of parts instead of shipping costly items around the world. It can increase accessibility of goods in more remote areas that are difficult to reach. It can enhance energy efficiency since on average additive manufacturing uses 50% less energy and can save up to 90% in material costs. Also, it allows you to only print the parts required, and shipping costs are greatly reduced with on-site production capabilities. Also, 3D printed parts can be made lighter than original parts, and lighter objects require less fuel.

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While the verdict is still out on how seriously the world’s wealthiest governments are taking climate change science and recommended preparation measures, it’s clear that 3D printing can contribute in multiple arenas in helpign us prepare for the possibility of increasing catastrophic weather events. We only hope that all of this can be done in time.

Do you think that 3D printing will have a major role in combating climate change?  If so how?  Discuss in the 3D Printing and Climate Change Forum thread on 3DPB.com.

3dprint.com

by  | JUNE 22, 2015

 

The stories of 3D printing

http://3dprint.com/57322/stories-we-missed-april-11/

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3D Printing: The Stories We Didn’t Cover This Week – April 11, 2015

This week’s 3D printing stories we didn’t cover run the gamut from quite serious to whimsical, beginning with serious news of an MIT student’s use of 3D printing to document his brain tumor diagnosis and treatment, to a new Minecraft-inspired 3D design app, more Ultimaker files released, Taiwan’s new Fab Trucks, an Instructable for a homemade 3D scanner, and fun printed fashion and food news, too.

MIT Doctoral Student Documents Brain Tumor

Steven Keating, an MIT doctoral student in the Mediated Matter Group, used 3D printing to document his experience during the diagnosis and treatment of a tennis ball-size brain tumor. Keating’s experience and background in data management and additive manufacturing was used to create digital and 3D printed models of his tumor, brain, and skull surgery. Not only did he intend to share important medical knowledge with people in similar situations, but he also wanted to show how 3D printing can help people take charge and be centrally involved in their own medical treatment. And he did just this. His surgery was videotaped and he’s advocating an open approach to usually private medical information in the spirit of collaboration, with 3D printing centrally involved.

Minecraft-Inspired 3D Design App Launches

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A Minecraft inspired UNTITLED Creator app created by Thailand-based Treebuild makes 3D design more fun and user-friendly at the same time. You can use theLUBAS app to make pixelated artwork while also nostalgically indulging in Minecraft-esque imagery. Even better is that you can easily export your designs or choose to save the work into STL, OBJ, X3D, 3DDOM, HTML, or VRML. You can also send them to a 3D printing service that can print the design and ship them to your doorstep. We covered its beta release last month, and now the app is up and running.

Ultimaker Releases More Open Source Files

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3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker has gone out of its way to facilitate its customers’ central involvement in the making and upgrading of their 3D printers. The company continues to show its commitment to the open source movement and the maker spirit, recently launching its Ultimaker Original+ and Ultimaker heated bed upgrade files, which you can access on GitHub.

Printer manuals, assembly instructions, and mechanics are all improved with the launching of these files, and the company continues to express its dedication to customers as the 3D printing technology develops and evolves.

Taiwan’s Fab Trucks for 3D Printing High School Education

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Taiwanese officials have shown great support for 3D printing technology, and in a recent turn of events, the country has decided to dedicate resources over the next two years to ensure more high school age students gain exposure to 3D printing. Fab Trucks — maker labs on wheels — will visit almost 500 high schools throughout Taiwan, reaching 160,000 students and teachers. The Ministry of Education has spent $224K (USD) on the six laboratory trucks equipped with professional 3D printing-related equipment. This equipment includes DLP (light curing) and FDM 3D printers, laser cutters, a CNC milling machine, and additional accessories and materials. Students will be encouraged to use the trucks as much as possible when they are available on their campuses in the hopes that Taiwan and the world will see a new generation of makers and 3D printing innovators on the horizon.

FIT Student 3D Prints Captivating Fashion Piece

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The relevance of 3D printing for a growing number of students can also be found in a Fashion Institute of Technology student’s project that used 3D printing to make an elaborate neck and matching dress piece. Rachel Nhan took her class assignment theme “Mad Max Meets the French Court” to heart as she designed a piece that perfectly merges these seemingly disparate themes into one captivating design.

After considering 25 different design concepts, Nhan used Autodesk Maya to create the selected model, which was split into 14 pieces and 3D printed by FIT’s PrintFX Lab on a uPrint Stratasys Machine with a 6″ x 8″ x 6″ printing bed. Nhan reports having some difficulty fitting the different components onto the print bed, but you would never know she had any difficulties by looking at the finished product. Capturing the Mad Max/French Court theme quite well, Nhan’s piece is also a reminder of 3D printing’s growing popularity in the fashion design world, as more and more people rely on it to realize their own customized, outlandish, and futuristic fashion visions.

Danish Teacher Makes 3D Scanner

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While students (like FIT’s Nhan) continue to use 3D printing in a wide variety of applications, teachers are also a standout source of knowledge and innovation in the 3D printing scene. Using webcams, a video projector, and other household items, Danish teacher Hesam Hamidi has made a perfectly functional structured light 3D scanner — a scanning device that measures objects’ three-dimensional shapes using a camera system and projected light patterns. This project is called “HHSL3DS” and Hamidi, who has been working in Denmark’s Copenhagen Fablab for some time, shared all of his designs and even the software and code he has written for it online. You can find entire tutorial, as well as all the downloadable files, on Instructables.

World’s First 3D Printed Food Conference in Netherlands

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For those who get excited about the merging of culinary arts and 3D printing technology, good news: the world’s first 3D printed food conference will take place in Venlo, the Netherlands on April 21, 2015. This conference promises to bring printed food from “hype to reality,” while addressing important questions such as: “Which industries will be influenced by the technology?” “Which food components can be printed in the near future?” “Which aspects should be taken into account to ensure safety and maintainability of 3D printed food?” Also, topics to be explored, which are also listed on the official conference website, include: food components (protein, carbohydrates, and fats); custom nutrition; food processing and design; safety issues; new value chains; applications for the elderly and the health care industry; hardware and software developments; business models and legal issues. There’s still time to register on the conference website if you are in that growing group of 3D printed food fans!

That covers all the stories we missed this week! Let us know what you think of them in the Stories We Didn’t Cover forum thread at 3DPB.com.

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3dprint.com

by  | APRIL 11, 2015