Will 3D printing work on fitness gear?

http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/workout-clothes-gear/will-3d-printing-work-fitness-gear

Will 3D Printing Work on Fitness Gear?

Will 3D Printing Work on Fitness Gear?

The perfect sneakers, custom leggings—we asked an expert if the 3D printing technology trend could really change the fitness world.

Of all the crazy new advances in tech—new wearable technology that helps you break bad habits, computers you wear on your wrist (hello,Apple watch), even sportsbras that combine wearable tech and fitness gear—hearing about 3D-printed wellness gadgets are one of those things that makes us feel like we’re living in the future. You’re telling me that you can use a printer to make actual, physical objects? It sounds like something straight out of sci-fi.

And while hearing about 3Dprinted houses and makeup is cool, what we’re most interested in is how the new technology will change fitness. Imagine a world where you could 3D print the perfect pair of running shoes, custom molded to your foot, for example.

In fact, Nike, Brooks, and New Balance have all already dabbled in 3D-printed athletic shoes. And custom-printed shoe insoles will soon be on the market: SOLS ($125, sols.com) has you take measurements of your feet using their app, then prints you insoles in any one of a number of fabrics (leather for work shoes, something sweat-wicking for sneakers). Plus, they’re, a fraction of the cost of many orthotics. (Whether you wear insoles or not, you should definitely be stretching your feet post-workout.)

But footwear isn’t the only thing that can benefit from 3D printing. EXO-L is a company that’s creating custom-made ankle braces, designed to keep athletes safer on the field or court. Other companies are offering molded-to-you mouth guards. You can even buy specially fitted, never-slip-out-again headphones ($200, nrml.com). All these products use 3D printing technology for ultra-customized end products. The benefits go way beyond personal comfort, though: 3D printing enables doctors to create comfortable, affordable prosthetics for people missing limbs too. (Check out Team Unlimbited’s e-NABLE blog for more information.)

“3D-printed fitness gear has some serious pros, the most obvious of which is customization,” says Pieter Strikwerda, the co-CEO and founder of 3DPrinting.com. “But also it requires less production time from the idea to the finished product.”

Still, can 3D printed products really stand up to traditionally-made gear, especially higher-end products? Strikwerda says yes. “Printing techniques are getting better every day, and so are the materials being used,” he says. “Look at NASA—they’re using printing techniques to print metal parts for their engines, not only because it’s lighter and more efficient but also because those parts are stronger.” (This fitness equipment just looks like science fiction.)

That said, cautions Strikwerda, “the whole process of 3D modeling and scanning, choosing the right material, and so on is still really complex. It’s not a plug-and-play machine yet.” So we’re not quite at the point where we’ll be able to print out a spare pair of running shoes or fit-like-a-glove leggings from the comfort of our own homes. But until we get there, at least we can finally get our hands on ear buds that won’t slip out during our workout, and insoles that make our run feel better without breaking the bank. That feels pretty futuristic to us.

shape.com

by  | Aug 31, 2015

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3D printing microscopic fish

http://phys.org/news/2015-08-3d-printing-microscopic-fish-team-method.html

These microscopic fish are 3-D-printed to do more than swim

3D-printing microscopic fish: Team demonstrates novel method to build robots with complex shapes, functionalities

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego used an innovative 3D printing technology they developed to manufacture multipurpose fish-shaped microrobots—called microfish—that swim around efficiently in liquids, are chemically powered by hydrogen peroxide and magnetically controlled. These proof-of-concept synthetic microfish will inspire a new generation of “smart” microrobots that have diverse capabilities such as detoxification, sensing and directed drug delivery, researchers said.

The technique used to fabricate the microfish provides numerous improvements over other methods traditionally employed to create microrobots with various locomotion mechanisms, such as microjet engines, microdrillers and microrockets. Most of these microrobots are incapable of performing more sophisticated tasks because they feature simple designs—such as spherical or cylindrical structures—and are made of homogeneous inorganic materials. In this new study, researchers demonstrated a simple way to create more complex microrobots.

The research, led by Professors Shaochen Chen and Joseph Wang of the NanoEngineering Department at the UC San Diego, was published in the Aug. 12 issue of the journal Advanced Materials.

By combining Chen’s 3D printing technology with Wang’s expertise in microrobots, the team was able to custom-build microfish that can do more than simply swim around when placed in a solution containing hydrogen peroxide. Nanoengineers were able to easily add functional nanoparticles into certain parts of the microfish bodies. They installed platinum nanoparticles in the tails, which react with to propel the microfish forward, and magnetic in the heads, which allowed them to be steered with magnets.

“We have developed an entirely new method to engineer nature-inspired microscopic swimmers that have complex geometric structures and are smaller than the width of a human hair. With this method, we can easily integrate different functions inside these tiny robotic swimmers for a broad spectrum of applications,” said the co-first author Wei Zhu, a nanoengineering Ph.D. student in Chen’s research group at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego.

These microscopic fish are 3-D-printed to do more than swim

As a proof-of-concept demonstration, the researchers incorporated toxin-neutralizing nanoparticles throughout the bodies of the microfish. Specifically, the researchers mixed in polydiacetylene (PDA) nanoparticles, which capture harmful pore-forming toxins such as the ones found in bee venom. The researchers noted that the powerful swimming of the microfish in solution greatly enhanced their ability to clean up toxins. When the PDA nanoparticles bind with toxin molecules, they become fluorescent and emit red-colored light. The team was able to monitor the detoxification ability of the microfish by the intensity of their red glow.

“The neat thing about this experiment is that it shows how the microfish can doubly serve as detoxification systems and as toxin sensors,” said Zhu.

“Another exciting possibility we could explore is to encapsulate medicines inside the microfish and use them for directed drug delivery,” said Jinxing Li, the other co-first author of the study and a nanoengineering Ph.D. student in Wang’s research group.

These microscopic fish are 3-D-printed to do more than swim

How this new 3D printing technology works

The new microfish fabrication method is based on a rapid, high-resolution 3D printing technology called microscale continuous optical printing (μCOP), which was developed in Chen’s lab. Some of the benefits of the μCOP technology are speed, scalability, precision and flexibility. Within seconds, the researchers can print an array containing hundreds of microfish, each measuring 120 microns long and 30 microns thick. This process also does not require the use of harsh chemicals. Because the μCOP technology is digitized, the researchers could easily experiment with different designs for their microfish, including shark and manta ray shapes.

“With our 3D , we are not limited to just fish shapes. We can rapidly build microrobots inspired by other biological organisms such as birds,” said Zhu.

The key component of the μCOP technology is a digital micromirror array device (DMD) chip, which contains approximately two million micromirrors. Each micromirror is individually controlled to project UV light in the desired pattern (in this case, a fish shape) onto a photosensitive material, which solidifies upon exposure to UV light. The microfish are built using a photosensitive material and are constructed one layer at a time, allowing each set of functional nanoparticles to be “printed” into specific parts of the fish bodies.

“This method has made it easier for us to test different designs for these microrobots and to test different nanoparticles to insert new functional elements into these tiny structures. It’s my personal hope to further this research to eventually develop surgical that operate safer and with more precision,” said Li.

More information: “3D-Printed Artificial Microfish” by Wei Zhu, Jinxing Li, Yew J. Leong, Isaac Rozen, Xin Qu, Renfeng Dong, Zhiguang Wu, Wei Gao, Peter H. Chung, Joseph Wang, and Shaochen Chen, all of the Department of NanoEngineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. This paper was featured as a cover on the Aug. 12, 2015 issue of the journal Advanced Materials. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1002/adma.201501372/abstract

 

 

Objects that couldn’t be made before 3D printers existed!

http://gizmodo.com/objects-that-couldnt-be-made-before-3d-printers-existed-1718072112

Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

Objects That Couldn’t Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

3D printing isn’t just for making unique stuffed animals or weird fake meat. It allows us to fabricate objects we never could with traditional manufacturing. Here are some of the incredible things we can print now, which were nearly impossible to make before.

Personalized Car Parts

3D printing can make car parts that are custom-built for the driver’s body and comfort: an ergonomic steering wheel, for example. Last month, Fortune reported Ford’s partnership with California-based 3D printing company Carbon3D. The automakers themselves can benefit from 3D printed parts, too. Instead of the ol’ Ford assembly line, engineers can make manufacturing and design more iterative with 3D printed materials, since prototyping suddenly becomes faster and cheaper and testing becomes more frequent and thorough.

You see, many products—from drinking cups to video game consoles to car parts—are created in a process called “injection molding.” That’s when a material, like glass or metal or plastic, is poured into a mold that forms the product. But with 3D printing, you can design a crazy object on your computer, and it can be turned into reality.

“3D printing bridges the gap between the digital and the physical world,” says Jonathan Jaglom, CEO of 3D printer manufacturer MakerBot, “and lets you design pretty much anything in digital form and then instantly turn it into a physical object.”

Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

Lighter Airplanes

There have been lots of materials used to make planes lighter, and thus more fuel efficient and greener. But 3D-printed materials can cut weight by up to 55%, according to Airbus, which announced its involvement with 3D printing last year.

In February, Australian researchers unveiled the first 3D-printed jet engine in the world.

Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

3D-printed polymers often have “high strength to weight ratios,” says Kristine Relja, marketing manager at Carbon3D, the same company that’s working with Ford on the 3D-printed car parts. 3D-printed plane parts use that strength-to-weight ratio to their advantage. It gives them an edge over traditional materials, like the aluminum often found in seat frames.

“If the arm rest of each seat of a plane were replaced with a high strength to weight ratio part, the overall weight of the plane would drop, increasing fuel efficiency and lowering the overall cost of the plane,” Relja says.

Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

Detailed Molds of Your Jaw

Possibly the arena 3D printing handedly dominates is personal health. Our bodies are unbelievably individualized, idiosyncratic flesh bags filled with biological items uniquely shaped to each person. Since customization is so critical, especially in surgical implants, 3D printing can really shine here.

Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

Let’s start with dental trays: Those molds of your chompers that’re made with gross cement stuff that you have to leave in your mouth for minutes on end. They’re useful because they can help dentists and orthodontists create appliances like retainers or braces, and can give them a three dimensional, kinesthetic mold of your mouth.

Over at Stratasys, the 3D printing company that owns MakerBot, 3D-printed dental trays are going from CAD file to model, blazing trails in orthodontics. It gives orthodontists and dentists a cheap, accurate glimpse into a patient’s maw. It’s way easier than those nasty physical impressions with the cement, and way less gag-inducing.

Customized Surgical Stents

Stents are those little tubes surgeons stick in the hollow parts of your body—a blood vessel or artery, say—to hold it open and allow it to function properly. Usually, they’re mesh, but stents that are 3D-printed can have an edge, since they’re able to be customized more and are made with cheaper, flexible polymers that can dissolve safely into the bloodstream in a couple years.

At the Children’s Hospital of Michigan in the Detroit Medical Center, a 17-year-old girl was suffering from an aortic aneurysm, a potentially fatal heart condition that was discovered with a precautionary EKG. That’s when Dr. Daisuke Kobayashi and his team turned to 3D printing. A 3D printed model of her heart allowed the doctors to know exactly where to put stents in an otherwise delicate operation for a young patient.

In other cases, the surgical stents themselves are 3D printed: University of Michigan doctors have also implanted 3D-printed stents just above infant boys’ lungs to open their airways help them breathe normally on their own. The advantage of using 3D printing here is that doctors were able to create custom stents that could fit the kids’ individual anatomies, quickly and cheaply.

Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

Buckyballs

No, not the tiny magnetic choking hazards. We’re talking about models of Buckminsterfullerene, the molecule. It’s every chemistry teacher’s dream. 3D printers can produce tangible, big models of molecules. And they’re accurate, too. This type of complex geometry is really hard to pull off with injection molding. The closest thing we had before was basically popsicle sticks and Elmer’s.

3D printing not only helps us learn more about what molecules look like by making lifesized models of them—it also helps us make actual molecules. Earlier this year, Dr. Martin Burke at the University of Illinois led the construction of a “molecule-making machine”: It’s a machine that synthesizes small, organic molecules by welding over 200 pre-made “building blocks” and then 3D printing billions of organic compound combinations. This could “revolutionize organic chemistry,” the paper in the journal Science reported, significantly speeding up the process to test new drugs.

What’s cool about 3D printing is that it makes ambitiously designed objects way more feasible. Specifically, 3D printing can make those “complex geometries” that injection molding can’t: That is, stuff that’s in obscure shapes, like long twisty mobius strips or zillion-sided polygons.

Replacement Parts for Your Organs

3D printing can be used to make surgically-implanted hardware that protects or supports damaged organs. This could lead the way to custom repairs for damaged tracheas or windpipes, for instance. Sometimes part of a windpipe needs to be removed, but the two remaining ends need to be joined together—if they can’t be joined together, the patient may die.

3D bioprinting to the rescue! It can replicate the mechanical properties of the trachea. That’s right: a living, biological tracheal replacement can be made from a mix of 3D printing and tissue engineering. That’s what the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research did. They modified a 3D printer to use a syringe filled with living cells that produce collagen and cartilage. Within hours, bioengineered tracheas can be created on-the-spot quickly and cheaply. And that’s a key strength for 3D printing: fast prototypes.

Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

Organs and Bones

The most futuristic use of for these magical printers? They could, one day, create internal organs. That’s a literal lifesaver for folks who need an organ transplant. Also possibly available: eyes, blood vessels, noses, ears, skin, and bones. Even hearts.

Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

And this isn’t just science fiction. In 2013, medical company Organovo started selling 3D-printed liver tissue. It’ll be a while before a fully functioning liver can be printed, but it’s a big step in the right direction, even if it just means prototypes and experimental liver-like structures.

As if that wasn’t incredible enough, we can also create replicas of people’s existing internal organs. With the help of CT scan data, docs can whip up three dimensional, touchable copies of individuals’ guts, in all their nuanced, unique glory. This can help medical professionals better find tumors or other irregularities. (Not to mention it could possibly take the gross awesomeness out of biology class dissections.)

And already, companies are creating cheap, 3D-printed prosthetic limbs for kids. A whole generation is growing up with 3D printing — not just as a toy, but a vital part of their bodies.

Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

gizmodo.com

by Bryan Lufkin | 8/11/15 4:34pm

New life for tortoise

http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_27785837/3-d-printing-tech-gives-tortoise-new-life

GOLDEN, CO - MARCH 25: Cleopatra, a leopard tortoise, whose shell is deformed because of malnutrition, wears a prototype 3-D printed prosthetic shell, March 25, 2015. Cleopatra, who now lives at Canyon Critters Reptile Rescue in Golden, Colo., got the prosthetic shell after a student from Colorado Technical University worked to design it for her. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

3D printing tech gives tortoise new life, is shaping manufacturing

Cleopatra doesn’t seem impressed with her new coat. But the red plastic shell probably will save the teenage leopard tortoise’s life.

“This is a very good feeling,” said Colorado Technical University design student Roger Henry, who spent 600 hours tweaking software and assembling prototypes of the custom 3-D-printed shell for the malnourished Cleopatra.

Made with a plastic derived from corn, Cleopatra’s new shell will protect her from other tortoises and allow her to right herself if she flips. After years of a protein-heavy diet, the herbivore’s shell had weakened with deep valleys and pyramid-type peaks. Holes had formed that threatened the shell’s ability to protect her from infection.

Rescued by Nico Novelli and his Golden-based Canyon Critters team, student designers at CTU in Colorado Springs working with the 3D Printing Store painstakingly created a solution that could extend Cleopatra’s lettuce-chomping life into her 80s.

The challenge was cajoling the design software — adjusting the influence of gravity in code — to make the plastic “drape like a piece of cloth” over Cleopatra’s ridged shell, Henry said.

“It’s fantastic to know this tortoise is going to be able to recover from its malnutrition,” Henry said.

The promise of 3-D printing goes well beyond rescuing tortoises.

Three-dimensional printers are using the same biodegradable corn-based plastic in Cleopatra’s new shell — a resin known as polylactic acid — to help people.

Doctors have printed a windpipe to help an infant breathe. They are implanting in people tiny beads that dispense antibiotics or cancer-fighting chemicals before dissolving. Designers are crafting custom prosthetics. Dentists are scanning and printing teeth. A 3-D-printed helmet wired to the brain of a paraplegic wearing a robotic exoskeleton enabled the man to kick a soccer ball to open the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, marking a scientific milestone.

GOLDEN, CO - MARCH 25: All attention is on Cleopatra, a leopard tortoise, whose shell is deformed because of malnutrition, as she wears a new prototype 3-D printed prosthetic shell, March 25, 2015. Cleopatra, who now lives at Canyon Critters Reptile Rescue in Golden, Colo., got the prosthetic shell after a student from Colorado Technical University worked to design it for her. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

“Yes, we can change the world,” said Debra Wilcox, whose four-store 3D Printing Store is bringing 3-D printing to the masses. Her design team scanned Cleopatra, which enabled Henry to engineer the tortoise’s protective shell.

The 3D Printing Store works on just about everything, from tortoise shells and pet lizard legs to secret, intellectually protected products for individuals and large corporations, to random doodads that can’t be found on a store shelf.

“In a single day, I can make something that has never been made before or something that hasn’t been made in 50 years,” Wilcox said.

In two years, the 3-D-printing industry has surged. Wilcox expects even more rapid growth, especially as printers work with materials such as carbon fiber and Kevlar.

“Any estimates you’ve heard about the future for this industry, they are probably low,” she said. “A lot of industries are using a manufacturing process that is 50 years old, that can and will be both cost-effectively and time-effectively replaced by 3-D printing.”

Colorado is at the forefront of the revolution, Wilcox said.

“Colorado is at the precipice of being the premier location for additive manufacturing,” she said, relishing Cleopatra’s new outerwear before heading to the National Renewable Energy Lab to show off lightweight, carbon-fiber equipment she prints in her shop.

The technology behind 3-D printing and its industrial counterpart, additive manufacturing, is riding the coattails of Colorado’s thriving aerospace industry, which has found new efficiencies in 3-D printing. But it’s not just industry that is uncovering new work for 3-D printers. Sales of home desktop 3-D printers are booming, too.

Jeff Moe’s Aleph Objects lab in Loveland has 135 3-D printers working around the clock five days a week, making printers and parts.

He sold $80,000 of parts in 2011, his first year. This year, he says he’s pacing toward $10 million in sales. Aleph is one of the busiest clusters of 3-D printing in the world, Moe said.

And in a rare twist for an in-demand, blossoming business, everyone has access to Aleph’s designs and strategies.

As soon as one of Moe’s engineers discovers something new, it’s on the Web, open for anyone to peruse and use. Every printer part that Aleph sells comes with a list of all the materials, the programming code and the precise drawings required to make the part on a 3-D printer. The company’s trove of data is updated with the latest additions every 30 minutes.

“This has led to a very rapid development of our printers,” said Moe, who offers three lines of printers that have evolved through as many as five versions in the past four years.

When his team struggled to find that perfect material for the very first layer of a 3-D printing, the community of Aleph users sprang to action and quickly determined that a rigid, insulating plastic called PEI worked best. Now, PEI is an essential first element of Aleph’s printing process.

“There is a great relationship between users and the companies when they all have the same amount of information. We are not holding anything back from our users,” Moe said. “Oftentimes, the first time I see some new development here, it’s already been made public.”

With printer sales doubling to tripling every year, Moe sees 3-D printing changing manufacturing, revolutionizing the prosthetic industry, delivering NASA-type technology to homes and, ultimately, changing lives.

He points to videos of an amputee fitted with a 3-D printed prosthetic hand controlled by subtle shoulder movements. Moe said 3-D printers are creating communications technology for hobbyists, allowing them to control antennas connected to satellites.

“It’s hard to keep up with all the amazing things that people are doing,” Moe said. “Three-D printing is really a great enabler. I hope it’s as great an enabler as the Internet has been.”

GOLDEN, CO - MARCH 25: Cleopatra, a leopard tortoise, whose shell is deformed because of malnutrition, wears a new prototype 3-D printed prosthetic shell, March 25, 2015. Nico Novelli, left, owner of Canyon Critters Reptile Rescue where Cleopatra now lives and Roger Henry a student at Colorado Technical University worked to design the prosthetic shell put the prosthetic shell on the tortoise. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

denverpost.com

by Jason Blevins, The Denver Post | 03/25/2015 05:04:00 PM MDT

 

4D printing ?

4D Printing Will Allow us to Morph a 3D Printed Object Into Any Shape!

http://goo.gl/n6XMnX

A grid was made by 4D printing.

Using a new technique known as 4D printing, researchers can print out dynamic 3D structures capable of changing their shapes over time.

Such 4D-printed items could one day be used in everything from medical implants to home appliances, scientists added.

Today’s 3D printing creates items from a wide variety of materials — plastic, ceramic, glass, metal, and even more unusual ingredients such as chocolate and living cells. The machines work by setting down layers of material just like ordinary printers lay down ink, except 3D printers can also deposit flat layers on top of each other to build 3D objects.

“Today, this technology can be found not just in industry, but [also] in households for less than $1,000,” said lead study author Dan Raviv, a mathematician at MIT. “Knowing you can print almost anything, not just 2D paper, opens a window to unlimited opportunities, where toys, household appliances and tools can be ordered online and manufactured in our living rooms.”

Now, in a further step, Raviv and his colleagues are developing 4D printing, which involves 3D printing items that are designed to change shape after they are printed. [The 10 Weirdest Things Created By 3D Printing]

“The most exciting part is the numerous applications that can emerge from this work,” Raviv told Live Science. “This is not just a cool project or an interesting solution, but something that can change the lives of many.”

In a report published online today (Dec. 18) in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers explain how they printed 3D structures using two materials with different properties. One material was a stiff plastic, and stayed rigid, while the other was water absorbent, and could double in volume when submerged in water. The precise formula of this water-absorbent material, developed by 3D-printing company Stratasys in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, remains a secret.

The researchers printed up a square grid, measuring about 15 inches (38 centimeters) on each side. When they placed the grid in water, they found that the water-absorbent material could act like joints that stretch and fold, producing a broad range of shapes with complex geometries. For example, the researchers created a 3D-printed shape that resembled the initials “MIT” that could transform into another shape resembling the initials “SAL.”

“In the future, we imagine a wide range of applications,” Raviv said. These could include appliances that can adapt to heat and improve functionality or comfort, childcare products that can react to humidity or temperature, and clothing and footwear that will perform better by sensing the environment, he said.

In addition, 4D-printed objects could lead to novel medical implants. “Today, researchers are printing biocompatible parts to be implanted in our body,” Raviv said. “We can now generate structures that will change shape and functionality without external intervention.”

One key health-care application might be cardiac stents, tubes placed inside the heart to aid healing. “We want to print parts that can survive a lifetime inside the body if necessary,” Raviv said.

The researchers now want to create both larger and smaller 4D-printed objects. “Currently, we’ve made items a few centimeters in size,” Raviv said. “For things that go inside the body, we want to go 10 to 100 times smaller. For home appliances, we want to go 10 times larger.”

Raviv cautioned that a great deal of research is needed to improve the materials used in 4D printing. For instance, although the 4D-printed objects the researchers developed can withstand a few cycles of wetting and drying, after several dozen cycles of folding and unfolding, the materials lose their ability to change shape. The scientists said they would also like to develop materials that respond to factors other than water, such as heat and light.

LIVESCIENCE.COM
by Charles Q. Choi, Live Science Contributor   |   December 18, 2014 12:22pm ET

3D printed garden !

Time to spruce up those boring city rooftops! 3D printed gardens are now becoming a thing of the present! 🙂

http://www.businessinsider.com/3d-print-plants-for-city-gre…

Patrick Blanc vertical garden

Too many city rooftops are barren, grey, and boring. Computer scientist Yuichiro Takeuchi, who works with the Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc. is out to change that.Takeuchi has found a way to print gardens filled with herbs and flowers. These gardens can then be planted on rooftops, or pretty much anywhere.

He uses a 3D printer and software that he designed to print yarn encasements that hold plant seeds that grow in to full-fledged plants in just a few weeks. His 3D printing technology can print gardens that conform to any shape you choose be it, triangular, rectangular, or even panda-shaped:

3d printing garden

The way Takeuchi’s method works is to first design your shape on a computer. Then you feed that design into the 3D printer, which prints yarn in the shape of your choosing.

Yuichiro Takeuchi, Sony Computer Science Laboratories3D printer prints felt in the shape you choose.

Once the 3D printer is finished, an attachment to the printer dispenses tiny seeds into the yarn.

Seed-dispenser attached to 3D printer releases seeds into felt.

Takeuchi’s approach hinges on a method called hydroponics where you grow plants with mineral nutrient material in place of soil. This is how some of those amazing vertical gardens are grown, like this one in France designed by French botanist Patrick Blanc.

Creations like the one above can run commissioners $1000 per square meter. Although it might be less expensive to build one yourself, it takes a lot of time and care. High prices and long hours of manual labor are the two factors that are hindering large-scale adoption and preventing greener cities, Takeuchi told Business Insider in an email interview. But 3D printing could be the key.

“The printing solution takes away much of those hurdles, and also provides a high degree of flexibility (one can print out a garden that fits snugly into any designated space) which hopefully will make hydroponic gardening more attractive for citizen living in dense cities with limited space,” said Takeuchi.

Takeuchi presented his ideas for a greener future last month at the Sony CSL symposium, at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Right now, Takeuchi can grow relatively small plants, like watercress and herbs such as arugula and basil. Below is an image of one of the plants he grew in about one month:

3d printing plant

In the future, Takeuchi wants to print yarn encasements large enough to grow fruits, vegetables, and trees. His current 3D printer is too slow for that large a scale, but he’s spending the next year on building a bigger, faster printer.

3d print plant

Ultimately, Takeuchi envisions his city of residence, Tokyo, lush with blooming rooftops. Plants have proven to increase productivity in the office and they’re ability to suck up carbon dioxide and output oxygen is one way cities could help mitigate their carbon footprint.

Takeuchi is interested in transforming Tokyo rooftops for another special reason, however:

“Here in Japan we love fireflies (they have a special cultural significance), but as they can only thrive in pristine environments we don’t see them in dense, built-up Tokyo,” he said. “I’m hoping that by installing a number of printed gardens on rooftops and walls throughout Tokyo, I can someday bring back fireflies to my neighborhood.”

Below is a a before and after image of what Takeuchi hopes to achieve, which he presented at the Sony CSL symposium:

greenroofs 3d printing

Before and after comparison of what rooftops currently look like and what they could look like in the future.

BUSINESSINSIDER.COM
by  | Oct. 23, 2014, 3:18 PM

Arrest for 3D printing?

The saga of the Japanese woman and her vagina selfie for 3D printing purposes continues!

Although released from police custody, it is still unknown whether she will face criminal charges for her her profile arrests for “distributing data that could create an obscene shape through a 3D printer”.

If found guilty, she could face up to two years of jail time or a fine of up to 2.5 million yen

Megumi Igarashi’s arrest on obscenity charges has triggered concerns of clampdown on freedom of expression in Japan.

A Tokyo-based artist known for her genital-inspired works has been released from police custody following her arrest on obscenity charges, her lawyer has said, in a case that triggered accusations of a clampdown on freedom of expression in Japan.

Megumi Igarashi, 42, also known as Rokudenashiko, which roughly translates as “bastard kid”, was arrested on Saturday for distributing data that allowed recipients to make 3D prints of her vagina.

“She was released today,” said her lawyer, Kazuyuki Minami, adding that Igarashi and her legal team were due to hold a press conference later on Friday.

It was not immediately clear if the artist would face criminal charges.

Igarashi had been trying to raise funds online to pay for the construction of a kayak, using a 3D printer, modelled on the shape of her genitals.

Her supporters said they were shocked by what they described as the police’s unusually broad use of Japan’s obscenity laws. Despite its pornography industry, Japan still forbids the depiction of actual genitalia.

The artist was arrested for “distributing data that could create an obscene shape through a 3D printer”, a police spokesman told AFP.

Before her arrest, Igarashi had collected about 1m yen (£5,770) through a crowd-funding website.

In exchange for donations, she supplied data to supporters that would let them create 3D prints of her genitals.

The artist’s arrest triggered protest among her fans and supporters, who started an online petition to demand her immediate release. If convicted, Igarashi could be jailed up to two years or fined up 2.5m yen, according to her lawyer.

References:

3D printed shape shifting materials

3D printed shape shifting materials have been developed at MIT, which might be a breakthrough in the creation of shape-shifting robots that may have an influence in surgery for instance, where a robot can shift and move through a patients body without harming it.

http://3dprint.com/9220/3d-print-shape-shifting/

Two 3D-printed soft, flexible scaffolds

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers, with the help of 3D printing, have developed a material that can switch between hard and soft. The material is described in a paper in the “Macromolecular Materials and Engineering” journal. It was developed by a team led by Anette Hosoi, a professor of mechanical engineering and applied mathematics at MIT, and is made of wax and foam.

The material was created based on the needs of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The agency wanted researchers to create robots that were octopus-like in that they could squeeze through tight spaces and then expand again. After much consideration, the research team decided that the only way they could meet DARA’s needs was to come with a material that could switch between being hard and soft.

“If you’re trying to squeeze under a door, for example, you should opt for a soft state, but if you want to pick up a hammer or open a window, you need at least part of the machine to be rigid,” Hosoi said to MIT News.

To create a material that was able to be “squishy” and rigid, the research team turned to foam and wax. They chose foam because it can be compressed, so that it is smaller than its normal size. They chose wax because it is hard when cool, but flexible when heat is applied. Creating the first batch of material was pretty simple. The research team dipped ordinary polyurethane foam in melted wax. Next, they encouraged the foam to soak up the wax by squeezing it.

During the next testing phase, the researchers 3D-printed the foam that they used in a lattice pattern instead of using regular polyurethane foam. They found that the 3D-printed foam worked better, perhaps because the research team was able to design the structure of the foam.  The way in which they enabled the material to harden or soften was by heated it via copper wires.

A potential application of the material is use in surgical robots. Because robots made of this material could change states at will, they would be able to move through a patient’s body without damaging it. Search and rescue missions are another potential use of the new technology. Robots made of the phase-changing material would be able to go where human emergency responders cannot, looking through rubble,  for survivors during catastrophes.

Now the research team is looking into using other materials that can be used for robotics in a similar way as the wax/foam combination. According to MIT News, the researchers are looking at fluids that have particles suspended inside them to see if they too can be made to switch from soft to hard in the presence of a magnetic or electrical field. Let’s hear your opinion on this 3D printed material in the shape shifting material forum thread on 3DPB.com.  Check out the video below showing the material in action.

3DPRINT.COM
by  | JULY 16, 2014

Headphones 3D printed

Customised 3D printed headphones designed around the shape of your ear! Using the Normal app, you can send photos of your ears Normal will make a customised headphone based on your ear’s shape and customisation choices, which will be shipped in 48 hours!

http://techcrunch.com/…/normal-makes-headphones-3d-printed…/

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 8.36.26 AM

Hello, world. Meet Normal, the customized, high-end earphone manufacturer that’s looking to bring 3D printing to the mass market. From its offices and manufacturing facility in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, Normal is looking to sell $199 customized ear buds made to the shape of an individual’s ear.

The brainchild of Nikki Kaufman, a former Quirky executive (and spouse of Quirky founder Ben Kaufman), Normal represents a new step in the evolution of manufacturing through 3D printing.

“People have been talking about 3D printing and mass customization as the new future of manufacturing, but there hasn’t been a really good consumer application for that technology,” says Kaufman.

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 8.32.34 AM

The evolution of Normal actually came from Kaufman’s experience at Quirky, where she was exposed to 3D printing, hardware sourcing and manufacturing. But she didn’t pursue developing the product through the Quirky platform, because as an executive, she said it would have been an abuse of community engagement — and Normal was its own, standalone business.

Kaufman began developing her business plan in earnest in August, just a month after the idea first came to her. By October she had secured financing from a slew of investors — both institutional firms and angels — and at just around a year since its inception, Normal will open the doors on its manufacturing facility and storefront.

Typically, if someone wanted a custom-built earphone for the exact shape of their ear, the process would cost thousands of dollars and take weeks to manufacture, according to Kaufman.

In fact, it would involve a trip to the doctor just to get a custom-built mold of your ear. Using the Normal app, that process is reduced to two days at the most (including shipping).

Users download the Normal app available on iOS orAndroid and are asked to take pictures of both ears using a coin as a point of reference so the app can size things correctly.

Once both ears have been documented for Normal, customers can further customize their headphones with different selections for cord length and color, and accent colors on the earphones’ hardware.

From the photographs, Normal will make a customized earphone for each ear, match it with the choices for cord length and hardware coloring, and make and ship those personalized earphones to a customer within 48 hours.

“When we set out to make Normal we wanted not just an amazing brand, and an amazing fit and a product that you design, but one that sounds incredible,” says Kaufman. “Anyone would really appreciate that sound. We went out to find the best components we could find and it’s about the engineering, too — how it’s engineered and manufactured. Because of the 3D-printed custom fit, it’s creating a seal for you which makes it sound that much better.”

Shoppers can order now through the app or head to the company’s storefront when it opens in August.

The company uses Stratasys Fortus 250mc printers to manufacture the earforms and is using undisclosed top-of-the-line suppliers for the audio components, according to Kaufman.

There’s certainly a market for high-end audio equipment (no matter the quality), and Kaufman says that the earphones are just the beginning.

“We are working on additional products,” she says. “The idea could be much bigger than headphones and earphones. [But] the economics and the timing makes sense for ear phones right now.”

With $5 million in the bank from a gaggle of prominent venture capital firms and angel investors, Kaufman isn’t alone in thinking that Normal could be that application.

The firms behind the new startup include RRE Ventures, Maveron, NEA, Social + Capital Partnership, Vegas Tech Fund (all heavy hitters).

And Normal’s list of angel investors includes a broad swath of the backers behind some of the most successful recent startups of the app era like Josh Spear and Jason Port (an investor in Quirky); media and sports moguls like Michael Ovitz and The Kraft Group (owners of the New England Patriots); and entrepreneurs like Donald Katz (founder of Audible.com).

TECHCRUNCH.COM
by  |  Jul 8, 2014

Self assembling robots

As a wise ‘man’ once said: “Autobots, roll out!”

3D-printed robots that assemble themselves?! Imagine the potential!

http://www.livescience.com/46010-robots-self-assemble-when-…

Assembling a future robot could be as simple as heating it up. Two new studies demonstrate how 3D-printed robots could fold into shape and assemble themselves after being exposed to heat.

To make a two-dimensional sheet of material assemble itself into a 3D machine, the researchers used heated sheets of a type of polymer known as polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. These sheets of material were placed between two rigid polyester films  that are full of slits.

When heated, the PVC shrinks and the slits eventually shut, pushing against each other and altering the shape of the PVC. This process bends the material into different shapes, based on the pattern of slits and how the heat interacts with the PVC.

As slits of different widths push against each other, the material will fold into 3D structures, the researchers said.

“You’re doing this really complicated global control that moves every edge in the system at the same time,” Daniela Rus, a professor of engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, whose group conducted the research, said in a statement. “You want to design those edges in such a way that the result of composing all these motions, which actually interfere with each other, leads to the correct geometric structure.”

One of the new studies examines how to create the 2D pattern of slits that make these foldable robots possible, while the other discusses building electrical robot components such as resistors and capacitors from “self-folding laser-cut materials.”

Shuhei Miyashita, a postdoctoral researcher at MIT, specially designed an aluminum-coated polyester sensor that could be attached to therobots once they are fully assembled. The sensor looks like a small accordion, with folds of material that compress and help electrical currents pass through the system.

To enable the robot to move, a motor could be made from a foldable copper-coated polyester coil, the researchers said.

The new studies build upon previous work done by Rus and  another MIT professor, Erik Demaine, on how origami folding techniques could be used to design robots.

The findings were presented at the 2014 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, which is being held from May 31-June 5 in Hong Kong.

Follow Elizabeth Howell @howellspace, or Live Science on Twitter@livescience. We’re also on Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

LIVESCIENCE.COM
by Elizabeth Howell, Live Science Contributor   |   May 30, 2014 05:45pm ET