3D printing of nanomaterials and implanted prosthetic limbs.

Long-time readers of my site no doubt know of my fascination with the field of 3D printing and tracking the advances that are made almost weekly to this technology. From simple plastic tchotchkes to replacement parts to materials that few ever dreamed would be used, 3D fabbers are fast becoming an integral part of manufacturing at all levels of complexity. A few months ago researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory published the results for a revolutionary 3D printer called the Optomec Aerosol Jet 500, a fabber which uses a range of nanomaterials as its feedstock. To cut to the chase …

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Fabbing components, parallel processing with rats, and synthetic neurons.

Life being what it is these days, I haven't had much time to write any real posts here. If I'm not working I'm at home studying because I'm back on the "get letters after my name" trail, and if I'm not studying or in class I'm helping get family moved out and set up on the west coast. Or I'm at the gym because I'm fighting alongside my essential vanity by trying to lose weight; people tell me that I look good these days but there's a fine line between looking healthy and needing new clothes. So there you have …

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Pulling 3D objects out of liquid, simplifying chemical synthesis, and Autodesk open sources its 3D printing feedstock

3D printing anywhere but in heavy industry comes with a whole host of common complaints that have given it something of a negative reputation. Fabbed objects require additional detailing to get rid of the ridges and imperfetctions (true), you can't really print entirely hollow objects because internal structure has to be in place to support the upper surfaces (also true), a lot of hacks have to be done to the printer to make them more reliable (true... heated beds come to mind)... there are others but I'll spare the electrons. In fact, I think I'll cut to the chase and …

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The world's first rigger, patching around the spinal cord, and a 3d printed violin.

In the tabletop RPG Shadowrun there is a character template that players either love or hate: The Rigger, characters who jack directly into vehicles or drones to pilot them as if they were their own bodies. As they are described, a rigger feels the engine of a vehicle as if it was their own pulse and respiration, sensors in a plane's aerodynamic surfaces replace the proprioceptive senses of their limbs, and sensor systems take the place of the senses of sight, sound, hearting, and taste. For all intents and purposes the rigger is the vehicle, android (let me tell you …

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3D printed jet engines, prosthetic limbs, and car engines.

The state of the art of personal 3D printing is still in a state of flux. Mostly, we're still limited to variants of low-melting point plastics and we're still figuring out new and creative ways of making more complex shapes that are self-supporting to some extent. What isn't getting a whole lot of press right now are some industrial applications of this technology, some of which date back a good decade.

For example, a research team consisting of personnel from Monash University in Australia, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and Deakin University recently unveiled the world's first 3D …

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3D printing circuit boards, photography-resistent clothing, and wireless DNI.

Now that I've had a couple of days to sleep and get most of my brain operational again, how about some stuff that other parts of me have stumbled across?

Building your own electronics is pretty difficult. The actual electrical engineering aside you still have to cut, etch, and drill your own printed circuit boards which is a lengthy and sometimes frustrating task. Doubly so when multi layer circuit boards are involved because they're so fiddly and easy to get wrong. There is one open source project that I know of called the Rabbit Pronto which is a RepRap print …

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Fabbing tools in orbit and with memory materials, and new structural configurations of DNA.

A couple of weeks ago before Windbringer's untimely hardware failure I did an article about NASA installing a 3D printer on board the International Space Station and running some test prints on it to see how well additive manufacturing, or stacking successive layers of feedstock atop one another to build up a more complex structure would work in a microgravity environment. The answer is "quite well," incidentally. Well enough, in fact, to solve the problem of not having the right tools on hand. Let me explain.

In low earth orbit if you don't have the right equipment - a hard drive …

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The first successful 3D print job took place aboard the ISS!

There's a funny thing about space exploration: If something goes wrong aboard ship the consequences could easily be terminal. Outer space is one of the most inhospitable environments imaginable, and meat bodies are remarkably resilient as long as you don't remove them from their native environment (which is to say dry land, about one atmosphere of pressure, and a remarkably fiddly chemical composition). Space travel inherently removes meat bodies from their usual environment and puts them into a complex, fragile replica made of alloys, plastics, and engineering; as we all know, the more complex something is, the more things can …

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Steps toward an open source microfacture shop and what could be the first recorded nanoparticle injury.

A common criticism of 3D printers is that they're not a panacea. They can't do it all - a limitation shared by every tool, when you think about it - and because of that some vocal people claim they're worthless. You can't really convince anyone who's dead-set against being convinced, so let's move on to more interesting things. A problem being worked on right now is developing a set of technologies and workflow for microfacture - extremely small scale automated manufacture, on the scale of a hackerspace or a home workshop. Most of the components exist right now, from 3D printers to lathes …

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3D printing circuitry.

Arguably, even more important than bringing the price of 3D printers down to affordable levels is making them more practical. A commonly cited limitation of 3D printing right now is that they can only fab with one or two materials and can't really reproduce their own circuitry. They're both fair points, I can't argue with them. I can, however, point doubters in the direction of the Rabbit Pronto, a new print head for RepRap-derived 3D printers that is capable of fabbing functional electronic circuitry in addition to structural plastic. The Rabbit Pronto incorporates a 10cc syringe that can be …

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