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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Printing memory circuits on paper and the first memristor based computer?

Computer memory chips are manufactured identically to any other kind of integrated circuit. Wafers of ultra-pure silicon are selectively doped, masked with layer after layer of circuit diagrams, etched.. you get the picture. The extreme sensitivity of the process is one of the reasons behind the cost of microprocessors and memory these days. What if, however, there was a less touchy and expensive process? A research team lead by Der-Hsien Lien, a graduate student at the National University of Taiwan in Taipei figured out how to print memory circuitry on paper with an inkjet printer. The team fabricated a form …

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Turtles all the way down: Fabbing circuit boards

This brings us right along to designing and fabricating the circuit boards that our bright, shiny new open source chips will plug into. This level of complexity is probably one of the best understood parts of the development process. Arguably electrical engineering has been around since the discovery of electricity, because a circuit of some kind is required to guide an electrical current to do useful work. You could make the case that the wet string that Benjamin Franklin's kite was tied to was one of the first electrical conductors (because the Baghdad battery hypothesis has too many holes in …

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New advances in 3D printing.

If you've been following my website for a while you've no doubt read me yammer on again and again about 3D printers that can only use low-melting point plastics as feedstock for manufacture. Usually ABS or PLA plastic, because they're cheap and relatively easy to acquire. Joshua Pearce and his research team at Michigan Tech announced late last year that they've developed an open source metal deposition printer for fabricating tools and components for which plastic isn't appropriate. Their printer lays down thin layers of metal instead of plastic to build up much stronger objects. The total cost to construct …

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Outbreaks of the future: 3d printing.

More and more in the year 2012 of the common era, I find myself noticing what Warren Ellis once called 'outbreaks of the future'. Advances and developments in technology that were once the thoughts of the dreamers of science and are now the fruits of the labor of shapers and makers of novel things. Perhaps it's due to my lack of 3d modeling ability that I tend to focus on the field of 3D printing, which has fascinated me since I helped build a 3d printer several years ago. So it goes.

The first thing that I noticed was that …

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Artificially constructed human organs on the horizon?

The liver is arguably one of the most complex organs in the body due to the list of functions it carries out. Not only does it help to filter the blood but it synthesizes an array of proteins, strips worn erythrocytes out of the bloodstream, and produces a number of hormones. That's just the first page of the list. It's also unusual in that it is capable of regenerating and becoming fully functional once again given enough time and proper conditions. Except when it doesn't; there are a number of diseases and chronic conditions that can render the liver nonfunctional …

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Unlocked achievement: macroscale buckytube fabrication.

The year 1985 was known for many strange and wonderful things: Misfits of Science was on prime time television, William Gibson was working on the novel Count Zero, and a scientific discovery flew beneath the radar of just about everyone except people working in the field of materials science. Three scientists in two countries working together discovered a brand new allotrope of carbon, a molecule comprised of sixty carbon atoms arranged in a spherical shape. The molecule was named buckminsterfullerene after the visionary architect R. Buckminster Fuller, due to the molecule's resemblance to a geodesic dome. Buckyballs, as they came …

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Gada personal manufacturing prize announced!

The Foresight Institute, a think tank concentrating on the possibilities and potential hazards of emerging and potentially disruptive technologies has announced the Kartik M. Gada Personal Manufacturing Prize totaling $100kus. Part of an effort to spur the development of rapid fabrication and manufacturing technologies at the grassroots level, the prize aims to help bootstrap the quality of life of people living in the twenty most poor economies on the planet. The idea is to lower the cost of entry to the field of manufacturing commodity personal goods by making use of recyclable materials and cheap to construct additive fabbers. The …

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AR contact lenses and 3D printed handcuff keys.

It’s long been a trope of science fiction where one of the characters has the capacity for superhuman access to data in realtime, usually through prosthetic eyes that incorporate heads-up displays that make geospatial coordinates and targeting information available without the distraction of having to look down at a monitor of some kind. In point of fact, this isn’t anything particularly new. Fighter jets like the FA-18 have long had transparent monitors positioned directly in the pilot’s field of vision that incorporate much of the information of the instruments on the panel. Players of first-person shooters like …

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Rapid prototyping a violin.

Rapid prototyping and fabrication are one of those technologies that you don’t appreciate (or even know are in use) until you walk into someplace like the Boston Fab Lab at MIT and run into them face-first. Things we buy in the store just sort of pop into being without the consumer knowing anything about how they were made, be it by injecting liquid plastic into a mold or using a robot to mill a block of metal into an intricate shape. Anyway, a student named Mark used a ShopBot CNC machine (the best way to describe one is a …

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