3D printed ‘super batteries’ from graphene ink!

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2015-08/10/graphene-3d-printed-super-batteries

‘Super batteries’ to be 3D printed from graphene ink

Manchester Metropolitan University is embarking on a project to 3D print “super batteries” from graphene ink.

Wonder material graphene has been widely talked about in terms of its suitability for use in batteries, due to its impressive conductivity, but scientists have struggled with the fact it also has a relatively small surface area, which affects capacity.

3D printing, where layers of graphene are assembled on top of one another, maximising surface area in the process, offers a solution. Now researchers at MMU are analysing techniques for printing with conductive graphene ink, in order to try and create batteries, supercapacitors and other energy storage devices with the help of a grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

“We’re trying to achieve a conductive ink that blends the fantastic properties of graphene with the ease of use of 3D printing to be manipulated into a structure that’s beneficial for batteries and supercapacitors,” explains Craig Banks, a professor of electrochemical and nanotechnology and leader of the three and a half-year project. The batteries and supercapacitors would be used to power phones and tablets, or for solar, wind and wave power storage.

“Energy storage systems (ESS) are critical to address climate change and, as clean energy is generated through a variety of ways, an efficient way to store this energy is required,” says Banks, whose work on graphene’s conductivity has been cited over 9,000 times, making him one the world’s most-cited scientists. “Lithium and sodium ion batteries and super/ultracapacitors are promising approaches to achieve this. This project will be utilising the reported benefits of graphene — it is more conductive than metal — and applying these into ESS.”

The combination of the conductivity from the graphene and the 3D nature of the structures, which have “high surface areas, good electrical properties and hierarchical pore structures/porous channels”, should increase the storage capabilities of batteries to meet future demands.

As well as working on the graphene ink, the 3D printing process also must be refined. It currently relies on each layer of graphene being left to “cure” for an hour before the next layer can be applied. Banks is hoping to find a method to speed this process up, perhaps by using UV light. “Ideally, we could have the brilliant scenario where you just plug in and go — printing whatever structure you want out of graphene from a machine on your desk,” he says.

Graphene was discovered in 2004 at the University of Manchester, which has recently become the home of the National Graphene Institute — a £61 million building to house the university’s groundbreaking work. This particular research will be taking place at MMU rather than at the University of Manchester, but it is yet another project that shows the city remains a world-renowned centre for research graphene.

wired.co.uk

by KATIE COLLINS | 10 AUGUST 15

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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

Disney develops 3D printed 2-legged robot!

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150527-disney-develops-2-legged-3d-printed-robot-that-walks-like-an-animated-character.html

Disney develops 3D printed 2-legged robot that walks like an animated character

There are just a few companies in the world that need no introduction, and Disney is one of them. After all, who didn’t grow up watching Disney classics? But did you know that Disney does more than shoot box office hits, record terrible catchy songs and avoid theme park-related lawsuits? They also have an active Research Department charged with creating actual, rather than digital, creations which can be used for throughout the Disney imperium. And the department’s latest achievement is impressive: recreating the walking movements of animated characters in bi-pedal robots, which they have done using 3D printing technology.

As three scientists attached to the department in Pittsburgh – Seungmoon Song, Joohyung Kim and Katsu Yamane – explain, they set out to develop robotics that can be used to make Disney’s theme parks and toys more realistic and magical. After all, fit young heros from Disney’s movies and TV shows don’t exactly perform well when moving as stiffly as paraplegic grandmothers. ‘Creating robots that embody animation characters in the real world is highly demanded in the entertainment industry because such robots would allow people to physically interact with characters that they have only seen in films or TV. To give a feeling of life to those robots, it is important to mimic not only the appearance but also the motion styles of the characters,’ they write.

But this isn’t easy. As they write in an article entitled ‘Development of a Bipedal Robot that Walks Like an Animation Character’, the field of robotics struggles to capture life-like movement. ‘The main challenge of this project comes from the fact that the original animation character and its motions are not designed considering physical constraints,’ they write. And of course trying to tackle quirky and fast animated characters is even more difficult, as they movements are not typically designed to be physical correct. ‘[But in recent years] animation characters have evolved to be more realistic. Using computer graphic techniques, we can design 3D characters, and generate more natural and physically plausible motions with them.’

And you might be surprised to learn that their solution is somewhat similar to what you and I would do for a project: just 3D print it and add some servo motors. Of course it isn’t quite so simple, but to capture the exaggerated gait and movement of animated characters they first 3D printed leg components to match the structure of their potato-like character, which you can see in the clip below. ‘We start from animation data of a character walking. We develop a bipedal robot which corresponds to lower part of the character following its kinematic structure. The links are 3D printed and the joints are actuated by servo motors,’ they explain. All these parts were 3D printed using Stratasys’ Object 260 Connect 3D printer in RGD525 material.

Of course these need to be very specifically angled and positioned to ensure that 3D movement can be recreated. And Trajectory optimization software does most of the rest. ‘Using trajectory optimization, we generate an open-loop walking trajectory that mimics the character’s walking motion by modifying the motion such that the Zero Moment Point stays in the contact convex hull,’ they write. Now this process is more difficult than it sounds, but for a full description of data extraction and installing the mechanics you’ll have to dive into the full scientific article here.

But the results are obvious, though not perfect. The robot can definitely walk well, but doesn’t reproduce the digital models perfectly and has a tendency to wobble. ‘When we play back the optimized trajectory, the robot wobbles forward. It is because the robot does not produce the motion perfectly. For example, the stance leg flexes more and scuffs the swing foot at the beginning and end of the swing phase. This causes the swing foot to push against the ground and the stance foot to slip, which results in unstable walking,’ the scientists write.

One solution for this is slowing down the process. ‘We observed that the robot slips less as we play back the optimized motion slower, and the resulting walking looks closer to the optimized walking,’ they write, but conclude that the system just isn’t working optimal for now. While there are few options for more progress – including investigating structural materials and replacing 3D printed parts – it looks like we’ll have to wait a few years before running into mechanically-sound walking Disney characters at Disney world.

3ders.org

by Alec | May 27, 2015

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150527-disney-develops-2-legged-3d-printed-robot-that-walks-like-an-animated-character.html

3D printed eyelash curlers – something for ladies!

Ladies – Are You Frustrated With Your Eyelash Curlers? Look No Further.

http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/01/voir-creations/

This is an exhaustive solution to a (physically) small problem.

Biologist Adele Bakhtiarova had never been able to find an eyelash curler that fit her. She struggled with finding one that could reach out to the very last eyelashes on the edges of her eyes. She tried dozens of eyelash curlers. But they would pinch her skin or crimp the lashes into an ‘L’ shape instead of a proper curl.

So after working at Halcyon Molecular, a Founders Fund-backed startup that was trying to find a way to cheaply and quickly sequence the full human genome, she started working on a solution as a side project.

It was a 15-month endeavor. She learned how to design hardware in CAD, then found 3D-printing facilities in the East Bay to prototype some designs and built a mobile app.

The end result is $25 eyelash curler that she will 3D print to custom fit your eyes. It comes paired with a mobile app that you can use to scan your eye profile and then send data to her company Voir Creations, which will make a 3D model of your face. She’s currently in the process of raising $30,000 on Kickstarter to test if there’s consumer interest.

It may feel small. But more broadly speaking, there’s this question of whether 3D printing can usher in an era of mass customization.

We’ve seen a few beauty-related products already. Grace Choi debuted the Mink last year at TechCrunch Disrupt NY. It’s a printer that will make your own custom shades of make-up. I’ve also written about more serious, custom-printed health care products like YC-backed Standard Cyborg, which incorporates 3D printing into making custom fit prosthetic legs.

SOCIAL.TECHCRUNCH.COM
by  | Mar 1, 2015

First 3D printed jet engine

Meanwhile Down Under, Scientists Build the World’s 1st 3D Printed Jet Engine!

http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2015/s4187229.htm

Australian engineers create world’s first 3D printed jet engine.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Forget trinkets and toys – 3D Printers have now entered into the realm of jet engines.

Yes, Australian engineers have created the world’s first ever 3D printed jet engine.

Their work has attracted the attention of Boeing, Airbus even the chief scientist of the US Air Force and the researchers expect it will lead to cheaper, more fuel-efficient jets.

Some even see it as a potential saviour for the manufacturing industry.

From the Australian Air Show in Avalon, here’s the ABC’s science reporter, Jake Sturmer.

(Sound of F18 jets flying overhead)

JAKE STURMER: The cutting edge of military technology is on display here at the air show.

But it’s Amaero Engineering’s tiny booth that’s gathering a large amount of attention.

AIR SHOW VISITOR: Oh, might want show my son that. He’ll be impressed.

JAKE STURMER: Amaero’s CEO, Dr Robert Hobbs, and researchers at Monash University have created the world’s first 3D printed jet engine.

In reality, the breakthrough opens the door for engineers to make and test parts in days instead of months.

(Question to Robert Hobbs) What does that mean in dollar terms? Is that cheaper engines? Is that more efficient engines?

ROBERT HOBBS: Yeah. Particularly- Well, both actually, but particularly more efficient engines because it allows them to go through the development cycle much more quickly.

JAKE STURMER: It all started two years ago when French aerospace giant Safran challenged the researchers to make a 3D printed version of one of their old jet engines.

They passed with flying colours, shaving weight off the turbines in the process.

They’re now working on top secret prototypes for Boeing, Airbus and defence contractor, Raytheon.

There are potentially massive deals on the table and it’s all made in a lab in the suburbs of Melbourne.

(Sound of 3D printer working)

The small garage-sized facility is home to the world’s largest printer of its kind.

Technically known as additive manufacturing, it uses a high powered laser to fuse powdered nickel, titanium or aluminium into the shape of objects.

Monash University’s Vice-Provost for Research, Professor Ian Smith, says the potential is virtually limitless.

IAN SMITH: It’s opened the door. We’re only scratching the tip of the iceberg. We’ve talked about how it can be useful in the aerospace industry, we see enormous applications in the biomedical industry.

For, for example, if you’re unfortunate enough to have one of those serious car accidents, you can be scanned in the scanner, that information can then be taken to a 3D printer and while you’re in the operating table we can print those precise body parts that you might need.

JAKE STURMER: Spare parts for people and potentially cars too – a chance to stave off a decline in manufacturing.

IAN SMITH: We’ve all heard the demise of the motor industry and that’s bad but I think the real impact has been the demise of the supply chain industry that supports that motor industry.

We would like to think that revolutionary disruptive technologies like this, can take the place of some of the more traditional industries, and we can build new industries or we can regenerate existing industries with these kinds of technologies.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The ABC’s science reporter Jake Sturmer speaking to Monash University’s Professor Ian Smith.

ABC.NET.AU
by Jake Sturmer | Thursday, February 26, 2015 08:26:36

3D printed food for soldiers!

Feeling Hungry? Check out what’s on the menu for the future soldiers of America!

http://www.npr.org/…/361187352/army-eyes-3d-printed-food-fo…

Army researchers will try to find ways to 3-D print nutritious food with less heavy packaging than the current military meals.

Army scientists have spent decades concocting meals that last without refrigeration and survive high-altitude airdrops. And now, the Army is eyeing a new form of cooking: 3-D printing! Yes, food that comes fresh out of a printer, for our troops.

Lauren Oleksyk, a food technologist leading the team at the Army’s Natick research center, lays out the vision.

Imagine soldiers who are strapped, head to toe, with sensors that measure if they’re high or low in potassium or cholesterol.

“We envision to have a 3-D printer that is interfaced with the soldier. And that sensor can deliver information to the computer software,” Oleksyk says. “And then they would be able to have either powdered or liquid matrices that are very nutrient dense, that they have on demand that they can take and eat immediately to fill that need.”

“Liquid matrices” that are nutrient “dense.” And you print them?!

You read that right.

The Army is turning to 3-D printers for many purposes, including a nutrition project — to stamp out the equivalent of PowerBars, but personalized for the battlefield.

The Department of Defense has just approved research funding. And it’s going to take a lot of research. While regular printers put ink on paper, 3-D printers blast liquids and powders into complex shapes. But it’s not clear if printers could mold a solid like carrots — and what would happen to the food’s nutritional value.

“There’s synthetic types of meats, there’s real beef, there’s real meat,” Oleksyk says. “And we would see what that does in the printing process to that protein, whether it’s animal based or plant based.” She’s talking about this research with the MIT Lincoln Lab and NASA too.

Of course, the 3-D food will have to pass a taste test, just like the current rations — which are called MREs, or meals ready to eat.

Oleksyk mailed me a bunch to sample. I try a jalapeno pepper jack-flavored patty. It is full of flavor, and also very processed, like someone had to jam a lot into a little patty.

The kitchens that make this patty use flaming hot ovens and extreme heat to sterilize it. Oleksyk says if 3-D printers could use less heat, the patty could also taste better — less like a compact muscle and more like fresh ground meat.

“We hope so! It’s not being done, so it’s something that we will investigate in our project,” she says.

In the food world, 3-D printing is just getting started — and it’s a sweet start, literally.

Liz von Hasseln is giving me an online video tour of The Sugar Lab, a 3-D printing outfit in Los Angeles that turns sugar into sweet candy sculptures for wedding cakes and fancy cocktails. The startup was acquired by 3D Systems, which is sharing its technology with the military in informal talks.

She points to a printer that’s the size of an industrial photocopier and explains, “What the printer does is, a lot like making frosting in a bowl, it basically adds the wet ingredients of the frosting to the dry ingredients very, very precisely in very fine layers.”

Von Hasseln sent me some samples to try — and they’re very different from the military food. I unwrap a delicate sphere that’s a little bigger than a lollipop. It tastes like Sweet Tarts.

It’s hard for me to imagine this technology producing anything nutritious or durable. But von Hasseln husband, Kyle, co-founder of The Sugar Lab, says the printer’s ability to vary textures — to make food soft or hard — would be critical for soldiers who are injured or on the move.

“Dialing in the exact density of food could mean that they could eat more easily and because of that, as a consequence, they might even eat more or be healthier,” he says.

3-D printed food sounds sci-fi. But according to military scientists and 3-D experts, these meals for soldiers are on track to be ready by 2025.

References:

3D printed ears to transplant

3D printed ears are going to be transplanted on children in India, hopefully restoring their hearing!

At this rate it looks like in a number of years we might be able to order 3D printed body parts online and having them delivered to our local hospital/clinic for transplants 🙂

http://3dprintingindustry.com/…/scientists-transplant-3d-p…/

The BBC will be airing an exciting special BBC Inside Out London special in which the show’s host, Dr. Ranj Singh, pays a visit to the lab of Professor Alex Selfalian at University College London where he and his team are in the process of 3D printing ears made from real human tissue.

As you’ll see in the preview clip below, the lab uses uses accurate scan data to 3D print an ear replica from a nanopolymer.  The print is then sterilized and implanted under the skin of a patient’s forearm, where it acts as a scaffold for human tissue.  Skin and blood vessels grow in around the print over the course of four to eight weeks, at which point, a plastic surgeon removes the ear and places it on the head.

3D printed ear transplanted into rat skin

The scientists at UCL have already tested the growth procedure on rats and, in the next few months, they hope to perform their first human trials in Mumbai, India, where twelve children are awaiting the surgery.  If the implants are a success, the procedure could replace the current method for handling this congenital deformity, which requires shaping rib cartilage into the shape of an ear and three or four different surgeries.

3DPRINTINGINDUSTRY.COM
by  | OCTOBER 6, 2014