AM thermoplastics can (and will) compete with metal counterparts (Authentise Weekly News-In-Review – Week 73)

Do you think that metal AM is the apex of mechanical performance we can achieve? There are many cases in which the humble thermoplastics are poised to match, and surpass, the benefits of metal-based AM techniques. Consider this: metal AM is still mostly happening thanks to high-powered lasers shone onto a powder source. This technique, and the powder preparation, is very resource intensive operation. With thermoplastics, on the other hand, you’ll seldom go above the 300°C mark. That doesn’t mean that you’d have to sacrifice in terms of performance. Arevo has shown through a bicycle frame that materials like PEEK can rival titanium in mechanical strength, showing a lot of promise in various fields. Research is also ongoing for new materials that offer a more flexible range of features, depending on the use case. AM lets us control these materials to allow for designs that exploit their natural properties in new and exciting ways.

International Consortium Delivers New Microgravity 3D Printer Prototype to European Space Agency

Over two years ago, the European Space Agency (ESA), looking to further develop its ability to manufacture and prototype new technology in outer space, set up a small consortium of European companies to create an advanced Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) breadboard machine. The consortium was formed by the agency’s Manufacturing of Experimental Layer Technology (MELT) project, which aims to explore, design, build, and test a fully functional 3D printer that can work in the microgravity conditions of the ISS.

Read the full article here.

3D-printed thermoplastic bicycle shows promise to replace titanium

This bicycle was made in a 3D printer.

[The Arevo bicycle] is being hailed as the first truly 3D-printed bicycle. The bicycle frame was made in one piece and eventually, other parts of the bicycle could be printed, as well. It took about two weeks to build the bike — which is a lot quicker than the usual labor-intensive method of piecing together carbon fiber strips. [CEO Jim Miller] was also excited about the material that’s stronger than titanium and really hard to break. It’s also recyclable and made from non-toxic materials, which seemed like important points to Miller. He noted that the frame uses the same material, polyether ether ketone, known as a PEEK polymer, used in spinal replacements.

Keep reading at Mashable.

Biomimicry in 3D printing

rotational 3D printing

Researchers at SEAS, Cambridge have come up with a new 3D printing method inspired by natural composites. The idea was to achieve the best arrangement of short fibers at each location of the part being printed.

“Being able to locally control fiber orientation within engineered composites has been a grand challenge,” says Jennifer A. Lewis, senior author of the study and Hansjorg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard SEAS. “We can now pattern materials in a hierarchical manner, akin to the way that nature builds.”

Read the full article here.

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Beyond Bioprinting: The Way Ahead In Biological AM (Authentise Weekly News-In-Review – Week 30)

Welcome to our 30th News In Review for 2017!

We’ve all heard of the 3D printed heart and ear tissue. There is much more to bioprinting than these initial steps and, thanks to new technologies, explorations and endeavors, the road ahead is looking a whole lot more exciting. New technologies enable researchers with nanoscale control of the manufacturing environment, both low-powered and more precise, to create bioprinted scaffolds for a variety of uses. Synthetic biologist will surely make good use of the new tech: 3D printed bioreactors can be manufactured to generate specific kinds of biologic products, like proteins of even antibiotics. Bioprinting is skyrocketing, beyond the confines of our atmosphere. NASA has revealed plans to bring bioprinted cancer cells to the ISS in order to study potential treatments in a controlled, zero-g environment.

Light-directed assembly using gold nano-rods opens up 3D bioprinting applications

Using gold nano rods and near infrared laser for bioprinting

[…] the use of high-powered lasers to pattern micro/nanoscale objects has drawbacks. In particular, the substantial energy required to move material or objects means that high throughput of material is not possible. Now a team at the National University of Singapore have announced another technique to engineer living tissue. In the paper “Effective Light Directed Assembly of Building Blocks with Microscale Control” a method for improving control over the micro structure with light-directed assembly is described. The researchers believe their method could have applications for bioprinting, tissue engineering, and advanced manufacturing. Working with microfluidic-fabricated monodispersed biocompatible microparticles the scientists were able to fabricate a structure.

Check out the rest of the article here.

A better way to make drinks and drugs

Carefully selected molds churn out antibiotics. Specially engineered bacteria, living in high-tech bioreactors, pump out proteinaceous drugs such as insulin. Some brave souls even talk of taking on the petroleum industry by designing yeast or algae that will synthesize alternatives to aviation fuel and the like. Dr Nelson’s bioreactors are composed of a substance called a hydrogel, which is about 70% water. The remaining 30% is a special polymer, infused with yeast. [It can] be extruded smoothly through the nozzle of a 3D printer.The fun starts when such a [hydrogel] cube is plopped into a solution of glucose. The hydrogel is permeable to this solution, so the yeast is able to get to work on the glucose, converting it into ethanol as if it were the sugar in the wort of a brewery. […] The surprise was that it keeps on doing so, day after day, week after week, as long as the fermented solution is regularly replaced with fresh. The team’s bioreactors have continued to produce ethanol in this way for over four months now, with no signs of slowing down.

Read the full article on The Economist’s website.

NASA to take cancer fight into space with bioprinted cells

A BioCell which can contain six samples. Photo via BioServe.

NASA has revealed plans to grow bioprinted cancer cells in space in a bid to advance cancer research. Utilizing the microgravity environment, NASA hopes to the cell structures will grow in a more natural spherical shape. Since, back on earth in vitro the cells have only able been able to grow in two-dimensional layers. However to harness the cells without the presence of gravity, NASA is hoping to employ magnets.

Read more about NASA’s plans here.

 

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