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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Help of 3D printing for robots!

http://time.com/3957156/3d-printing-robot-help/

stairs

How 3D Printing Helps Robots Tackle Their Greatest Obstacle

One of the main challenges for robots is still traveling efficiently over rugged surfaces.

We’ve long attempted to recreate living creatures in robot form. From the very early age of robotics, there have been attempts to reproduce systems similar to human arms and hands. This has been extended to flexible and mobile platforms reproducing different animals from dogs to snakes to climbing spider octopods, and even entire humanoids.

One of the key actions performed by animals from mantises to kangaroos is jumping. But incorporating a jumping mechanism into autonomous robots requires much more effort from designers. One of the main challenges for robots is still travelling efficiently over rugged surfaces and obstacles. Even the simple task of going up or down a staircase has proven to be rather difficult for robot engineers.

A jumping robot could provide access to areas that are inaccessible to traditional mobile wheeled or legged robots. In the case of some search-and-rescue or exploration missions, in collapsed buildings for example, such a robot might even be preferable to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or quadcopter “drones.”

There has been increasing research in the robotics field to take on the challenges of designing a mobile platform capable of jumping. Different techniques have been implemented for jumping robots such as using double jointed hydraulic legs or a carbon dioxide-powered piston to push the robot off the ground. Other methods include using “shape memory alloy” – metal that alters its shape when heated with electrical current to create a jumping force – and even controlled explosions. But currently there is no universally accepted standard solution to this complex task.

A new approach explored by researchers at the University of California San Diego and Harvard University uses a robot with a partially soft body. Most robots have largely rigid frames incorporating sensors, actuators and controllers, but a specific branch of robotic design aims to make robots that are soft, flexible and compliant with their environment – just like biological organisms. Soft frames and structures help to produce complex movements that could not be achieved by rigid frames.

The new robot was created using 3D printing technology to produce a design that seamlessly integrates rigid and soft parts. The main segment comprises two hemispheres nestled inside one inside the other to create a flexible compartment. Oxygen and butane are injected into the compartment and ignited, causing it to expand and launching the robot into the air. Pneumatic legs are used to tilt the robot body in the intended jump direction.

Unlike many other mechanisms, this allows the robot to jump continuously without a pause between each movement as it recharges. For example, a spring-and-clutch mechanism would require the robot to wait for the spring to recompress and then release. The downside is that this mechanism would be difficult to mass-manufacture because of its reliance on 3D printing.

The use of a 3D printer to combine the robot’s soft and hard elements in a single structure is a big part of what makes it possible. There are now masses of different materials for different purposes in the world of 3D printing, from flexible NinjaFlex to high-strength Nylon and even traditional materials such as wood and copper.

The creation of “multi-extrusion” printers with multiple print heads means that two or more materials can be used to create one object using whatever complex design the engineer can come up with, including animal-like structures. For example, Ninjaflex, with its high flexibility could be used to create a skin or muscle-like outer material combined with Nylon near the core to protect vital inner components, just like a rib cage.

In the new robot, the top hemisphere is printed as a single component but with nine different layers of stiffness, from rubber-like flexibility on the outside to full rigidity on the inside. This gives it the necessary strength and resilience to survive the impact when it lands. By 3D printing and trialling multiple versions of the robot with different material combinations, the engineers realised a fully rigid model would jump higher but would be more likely to break and so went with the more flexible outer shell.

Once robots are capable of performing more tasks with the skill of humans or animals, such as climbing stairs, navigating on their own and manipulating objects, they will start to become more integrated into our daily lives. This latest project highlights how 3D printing can help engineers design and test different ideas along the road to that goal.

time.com

by July 14, 2015

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

3D printed the Microsoft HoloLens quadcopters

Our UAV is Online! Unmanned Drones Created By Holographic Design, Courtesy of Microsoft

http://goo.gl/GqhBkD

Two weeks ago Microsoft held another press event for their upcoming release of Windows 10, and this time their focus was on consumer possibilities. And for us 3D printing enthusiasts, there was enough to be excited about. For those of you who hadn’t noticed, Microsoft has been seeking to integrate 3D printing and scanning into the entirety of its product for a while now, and that trend is was continued in Redmond in January.

The main course of the press event? The Windows HoloLens, a Occulus Rift-type virtual reality device that should be a perfect tool for 3D design and 3D printing as well. As you can see in the video below, that cool feature was illustrated by the on-stage design of a futuristic quadcopter. Through a series of voice commands and taps in the air, the cool-looking device was realized in a matter of minutes, suggesting that 3D design could become easier than ever before by incorporating virtual reality.

Of course all of that is pure speculation – will it work as well in the hands of consumers? – for now, but the 3D printing community was certainly wowed by the quadcopter. The same can be said for the designers at Polish 3D printer manufacturers Zortrax, who have decided to 3D print a copy of that Microsoft design on their recently released M200 3D printer.

As the Polish team explained on their blog, “After seeing MS event, our designers became quite excited. The idea of holographic concept transferred into reality was tempting. They decided to recreate the quadcopter based on the video from the event. See for yourself and decide if it truly resembles the original one.”

While their design looks awesome, it’s not clear whether or not the Zortrax version can actually fly; no electronics have been shown, while the main body doesn’t appear to be hollow. As cool as it would’ve been to see it actually fly, this therefore seems to simply be a tribute to the possibilities that holographic design could bring to 3D printing. This is echoed by the Zortrax team, who said that the ability to imagine something and then sending it to your 3D printer is truly remarkable; ‘it seems like a quite promising concept for the 3D printing industry.’ And being reminded of that potential by this design is just making us more anxious about that slowly approaching release date.

3DERS.ORG
by Alec | February 4, 2015