Modern industrial revolution

3D printing is an innovation that enables people from all over the world to design their own consumer products. Even if a person does not have the right equipment, access to 3D printers (through online services) is much more widespread than with conventional manufacturing techniques.

Offering efficiency, customization and accessibility to affordable production, 3D printing changes the dynamics of how we do things. Today, innovative 3D printing products and solutions range from previously impossible practical ambitions, designers and engineers used to the only dream of producing details in this way.

The following points shed light on just some of the 3D printed innovations that have contributed to this new industrial revolution!

  1. DIY, open-source customized prostheses

3d персонализирани протези

This is an advanced, open-source, wrist prosthesis created by volunteers! (Source: e-NABLE / Thingiverse)

Prostheses have long been an expensive and often inadequate replacement for lost limbs and other parts of the body. 3D printing changes all this, allowing virtually anyone to produce highly customized prostheses while consuming a small fraction of what would cost conventional options.

Different types of prostheses are designed by organizations and volunteers in the 3D printing community. These range from often lost limbs such as hands, hands and feet, to facial reconstruction prosthetics and even animal objects. By scanning and modeling a patient, custom-mounted prostheses can be designed and often printed with readily available printers and materials.

In addition to customized devices and lower costs, 3D printing also brings the ability to design lighter, stronger prostheses.

3D printing has led to the possibility of a design that is not produced exclusively by medical companies, which means that they are not only standard, “static” products. These prostheses, like many open-source products, are constantly evolving thanks to volunteers collaborating to continuously upgrade the design.

Engineers, scientists and volunteers around the world are collaborating to create innovative protematic devices that those otherwise in need would not have access to. In some cases, organisations and volunteers provide those in need in developing countries with prosthetics that they would not otherwise have access to.

  1. Medicine & Biotechnology

Although the technology is far from perfect, 3D printed organs are already on the horizon. At present, the technology is still largely limited to tissue cultures, such as those made by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, which use hydrogels and “components” of organs such as heart valves. Today, 3D printed living tissues have been manufactured by researchers, and in some cases have even been successfully implanted in laboratory animals.

To give you an example, the start-up company Prellis Biologics has printed 3D “vascular bundles” and other tissues. These capillary tissues are vital for the functioning of organs and the innovation of bioprinted capillaries is a serious step towards the production of fully 3D printed organs. They achieve this with the help of holographic technology for the simultaneous design and printing of tissue of biological material.

3D printed tissue cultures also change the way drugs are tested. Cells behave differently in two-dimensional cultures, making them inaccurate approximations for living, three-dimensional tissue cultures. Naturally, 3D printed cultures do not have this problem.

Another innovation in medicine is the emergence of 3D printed drugs. Among the first 3D printed drugs and approved by the FDA is Spritam. This remedy against seizures has the advantage that it quickly dissolves on the tongue, something that traditional drugs could not do.

  1. Implants and surgical manuals

3d Импланти и хирургически ръководства

These facial implants are 3D printed with titanium.

 

Thanks to 3D technology, the patient’s anatomy scan can be used to create incredibly accurate implants or guides to assist in reconstructive surgery. Both types of devices can be made with unprecedented accuracy and quality.

High-precision, personalized structures are not the only benefit. For example, 3D titanium implants can be made – using selective laser sintering (SLS) – to be porous or have special internal geometries. This allows for better ossification, which means that the bone grows and clumps with the titanium throughout the implant, making it more stable and functional.

This is a major advantage that significantly reduces the rejection rate of such implants. Conventional designs rely on porous surface coatings and other less effective methods.

Dental implants and matrices are also created with 3D printing. Scientists and dentists are adapting SLA and DLP technologies to achieve this. With modern dental 3D printers, implants or matrices can be practically identical to original teeth.

Some systems are so effective that they can work out a tooth on a CNC machine while the patient waits. One research project even uses UV-ray resins, infused with antibacterial quaternary ammonium salts, to successfully 3D printing antibacterial teeth!

 

  1. Custom production and design

Производство и дизайн по поръчка 3d печат

These parts are made to order thanks to 3D printing. (Source: javelin-tech.com)

Thanks to 3D printing, production and design are revolutionized around the world simply thanks to the fact that everything can now be done “on the go”.

The US military has been experimenting with 3D printing for some time. One advantage they focus on is the potential to produce custom parts and equipment and even parts for drones. In some cases, it may take a year to request a spare part, but now USAF has reduced this to days for some parts thanks to 3D printing. This allows them to maintain cars and gears to be maintained much more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Audi has also joined the action of 3D printing car parts, which effectively changes the way they are produced and distributed. The main advantage is the reduced waiting times that customers face when ordering complex parts. Using an SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) process, they can more efficiently and cost-effectively make lighter parts with complex internal geometry or functions.

3D printing not only made rapid on-demand production possible but also enabled people virtually anywhere to quickly bring their design to life. Even without a 3D printer, small and large-scale production can be accessed through online services such as vansi3d.com

  1. Modern materials

композитен материал от въглеродни влакна

This wing design is printed with carbon fibre composite material. (Source: kontinucomposites.com)

If you follow news about 3D printing, you may notice relatively quickly that advances in material science appear left and right thanks to the growing share of 3D printing. In addition to composite filaments that have carbon fibre or other additives to increase strength, 3D printing allows the creation of innovative new composite materials.

Continuous Composite, an Idaho company, uses 3D printing to produce continuous carbon fibre composites that have long strands of carbon fibre passing through the footprint. Other companies produce and develop innovative methods for the production of composites made of materials ranging from Kevlar and fibreglass to carbon fibre and other additives.

Even the US military is working on innovative modern 3D printed materials such as ceramic composite armour. Using two different ceramic materials and a double extrusion system, they produced a material that was better in performance than standard armour.

Metamaterials

Metamaterials are another area of materials science that benefits from 3D printing innovations. In particular, functional metamaterials, which work more like complex machines, are made possible by 3D printing. They can function as hinges, door handles and potentially much more, all without complicated moving parts.

At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, they have developed materials that shrink when heated (instead of expanding). They can also be “set” to meet specific temperature ranges.

Another team from the Delft University of Technology created auxetic metamaterials that should lead to better hip implants, more evenly distributing the strength and reducing the wear and tear of the surrounding bones. These materials are designed with an internal geometry that allows them to expand when applying pressure.

Continuing with the examples, researchers from Boston University have developed an innovative metamaterial that improves the quality and speed of MRI scans. This was made possible by 3D printing of plastic coils used in the material. They are also 3D printed metamaterial that blocks up to 94% sounds while allowing airflow.

Other teams have created metamaterials that also manipulate sound. A team from USC Viterbi created such a material that can be activated by a magnetic field. Having iron particles in a lattice structure, a magnetic field can be used to deform the structure into one that captures sounds rather than pass them through them.

 

  1. Housing and emergency shelters

Тази къща беше отпечатана чрез 3D печат за няколко седмици

3D printing brings various innovations to the construction industry. One is 3D printing homes and emergency shelters.

One project, called ICON, created a 3D printed home in just a few weeks from cement and a 3D printing system that they developed. As another example, though still in its infancy, researchers at the University of Nantes have developed a 3D printing system capable of building a completely insulated structure of the polyurethane foam housing in 20 to 30 minutes using a robotic arm.

Meanwhile, other companies are innovating in other ways. A company called Branch Technology is creating innovative 3D printed skeletons with 3D printers that can be used to create firmer and lighter structures. These structures can be used as they are in some cases, but they can be filled with inexpensive materials for creating custom housing or reinforced structures. These types of innovation have the potential to reduce costs, raise quality and safety standards, and speed up the construction of homes and other buildings.

 

7.   New structures and 4D smart objects

Нови структури и 4D интелигентни обекти

These bricks are designed to reduce cooling costs by creating a natural evaporative cooling effect. (Source: emergingobjects.com)

Like metamaterials, 3D printing enables the design and production of innovative structures and materials that have unique and interesting properties. Emerging Objects pioneers have created stunning work in this area. Their rain screens and evaporative cooling bricks, made possible by ceramic 3D printing, are truly innovative while being a low-tech solution to a common problem.

Another innovation that is evolving in this area are objects that respond to incentives. They are sometimes called “4D printed” or “smart objects”, as they can be made to react to the environment and even “self-assembly”.

For example, researchers have created objects that deform, fold or change shape in response to heat. In the future, this innovative technology can be used to create complex objects that can be combined, saving time, energy and resources.

 

 

  1. Drones and aeronautical parts

Това крило беше отпечатано 3D

This wing was printed 3D to create a fast light and strong BPLA. (Source: newatlas.com)

 

Drone enthusiasts have used 3D printing of drone spare parts when needed. This allows them to “return” their drone into the air faster, along with offering customization and all the other benefits that come with 3D printing.

3D printing allows completely sealed hollow structures that can be made lighter, stronger and more efficient than traditionally produced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This enabled Stratasys, for example, to create a jet UAV, 80% of which was 3D printed. If necessary, the company says they can produce a second in a few weeks.

The University of Sheffield has created a 3D printed aircraft system for UAVs that can be printed and launched in one day. These innovative designs drastically reduce the cost of testing and manufacturing UAVs, as well as the time required to create them.

Most recently, Titomic 3D printed a titanium drone using their innovative Titomic Kinetic Fusion process, which mechanically melts titanium dust. This innovative method of 3D printing allows them to combine different metals and materials, creating parts that exhibit unique properties and advantages of different alloys in the same material. It also eliminates welding seams and other damage points that give rise to traditional production.

Just the beginning

Тази схема се отпечатва 3D с Voxel8, първият в света електронен 3D принтер с много материали.

This scheme is printed 3D with Voxel8, the world’s first electronic 3D printer with many materials. (Source: voxel8.com)

 

3D printing has so far led to a massive bundle of innovation in various sectors. The world of tomorrow will perhaps be populated with 3D printed cars, drones, electronics, planes, doorknobs and any products we have either never had or have never been as accessible, adaptable and accessible.

There are many things in the world of 3D printing to be excited about – it’s a real wild west of possibilities. For better or worse, you could be the next life-changing innovator, industry or even the world.

For more information and opportunities, please contact the VanSi3D team.

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