Tag Archives: MIT
Micro 3D printer Nanoscribe is revolutionizing 3D printing on a tiny scale.
Today’s 3D printers can do amazing things, but take a long time to actually create an object – a few hours for an iPhone case and 2,500 hours for a full car. A new desktop 3D printer called Nanoscribe can create complex microstructures incredibly fast – seconds instead of minutes and minutes instead of hours.
Michael Thiel, chief scientific officer at Nanoscribe (a spin-off from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany) recently spoke with MIT Technology Review about his company’s new 3D printing technology and the potential impact on producing medical and electronic devices.
Printing microstructures with features a few hundred nanometers in size could be useful for making heart stents, microneedles for painless shots, gecko adhesives, parts for microfluidics chips, and scaffolds for growing cells and tissue. Another important application could be in the electronics industry, where patterning nanoscale features on chips currently involves slow, expensive techniques. 3D printing would quickly and cheaply yield polymer templates that could be used to make metallic structures.
So far, 3D microprinting has been used only in research laboratories because it’s pretty slow. In fact, many research labs around the world use Nanoscribe’s first-generation printer. The new, faster machine will also find commercial use. Thiel says numerous medical, life sciences, and nanotechnology companies are interested in the new machine. “I’m positive that with the faster throughput we get with this new tool, it might have an industrial breakthrough very soon,” he says.
The technology behind most 3D microprinters is called two-photon polymerization. It involves focusing tiny, ultrashort pulses from a near-infrared laser on a light-sensitive material. The material polymerizes and solidifies at the focused spots. As the laser beam moves in three dimensions, it creates a 3D object.
Today’s printers, including Nanoscribe’s present system, keep the laser beam fixed and move the light-sensitive material along three axes using mechanical stages, which slows down printing. To speed up the process, Nanoscribe’s new tool uses a tiny moving mirror to reflect the laser beam at different angles. Thiel says generating multiple light beams with a microlens array could make the process even faster.
Nanoscribe plans to start selling 3D printers later this year.
Researchers from MIT have looked to an ancient fish for inspiration in modern warfare.
This fish, Polypterus senegalus, is a tough beast whose strong bite and sturdy exoskeleton has kept its species going for 96 million years. Each of the scales that cover its long body is made up of multiple layers; when the fish is bitten, each layer cracks in a different pattern so that the scale stays intact as a whole.
Scales near the flexible parts of the fish, such as the tail, are small and allow the fish to bend. Those on the side, protecting the internal organs, are larger and more rigid. Their joints fit together tightly so that each peg reinforces the next scale rather than allowing it to flex.
After performing x-ray scans of scales, Swati Varshney and her team turned to 3D modeling and 3D printing to develop body armor that would protect humans in a similar way.
The researchers created computer models of the different scale types and blew them up to 10 times their original size. Using a 3D printer, they printed a sheet of 144 interlocking scales out of a rigid material (an early prototype is pictured). The group hopes to eventually develop a full suit of fish-scale body armour for the US military that could replace the heavy Kevlar armour currently used, but Varshney says this is still some way off. Such a suit would mimic the fish: rigid and strong across the torso and more flexible towards the joints.
Dragon fish photo by kafka4prez used under Creative Commons license.
3D printing has been used to develop some new interesting fashion designs. At the 3D Print Show in London last October, there was a live catwalk featuring 3D printed wearables.
With Paris and New York Fashion Week in season, 3D printing is again on display.
In Paris, a Dutch designer exhibited 3D printed collections made on a Stratasys 3D printer:
Dutch designer van Herpen’s eleven-piece collection featured two 3D printed ensembles, including an elaborate skirt and cape created in collaboration with artist, architect, designer and professor Neri Oxman from MIT’s* Media Lab, and 3D printed by Stratasys. An intricate dress was also designed in collaboration with Austrian architect Julia Koerner, currently lecturer at UCLA Los Angeles, and 3D printed by Materialise, marking the second piece created together with Koerner and the ninth with Materialise.
The 3D printed skirt and cape were produced using Stratasys’ unique Objet Connex multi-material 3D printing technology, which allows a variety of material properties to be printed in a single build. This allowed both hard and soft materials to be incorporated within the design, crucial to the movement and texture of the piece. “The ability to vary softness and elasticity inspired us to design a “second skin” for the body acting as armor-in-motion; in this way we were able to design not only the garment’s form but also its motion,” explains Oxman. “The incredible possibilities afforded by these new technologies allowed us to reinterpret the tradition of couture as “tech-couture” where delicate hand-made embroidery and needlework is replaced by code.”
Van Herpen adds, “I feel it’s important that fashion can be about much more than consumerism, but also about new beginnings and self-expression, so my work very much comes from abstract ideas and using new techniques, not the re-invention of old ideas. I find the process of 3D printing fascinating because I believe it will only be a matter of time before we see the clothing we wear today produced with this technology, and it’s because it’s such a different way of manufacturing, adding layer-by-layer, it will be a great source of inspiration for new ideas.”
Learn more about Objet 3D printers at the company’s website.
In New York, designers will be sitting down with Shapeways to discuss Fashion in 3D.
Shapeways, a 3D printing design studio and marketplace that spoke at our Startup Showcase last fall, will host an interactive design experience and lectures on the future of fabrication at Manhattan’s Ace Hotel to explore how digital technology can revolutionize fashion.
Designers Michael Schmidt (famous for Lady Gaga’s bubble dress), Anna Sheffield, and Chris Habana will work with computer-aided design modelers to help guests create custom products using 3D printing on Feb. 9, in the hotel lobby. The all-day event will culminate with the unveiling of a 3D printed dress designed by Schmidt and Francis Bitonti.
At the Decoded Fashion Forum at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Shapeways’ Director of Marketing Carine Carmy will chat with designer Kimberly Ovitz about 3D printing on the runway. Ovitz will debut her first 3D printed collection for AW13, one of the few times a designer collection has incorporated 3D printing.
A roundup of the top news On 3D Printing brought you from November 26 to December 2.
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- Top 3D Printing Stocks Up 10%, Combined Market Cap Now Over $5 Billion
- MIT Team Uses 3D Printing to Invent the Smarter Baby Spoon
This Print Shop photo by tombothetominator used under Creative Commons license.
A pair of MIT grads are looking to reinvent the baby spoon, and they are using 3D printing to perfect their design.
The product is called Spuni, and it is inspired by how babies eat. Why are today’s infant spoons just shrunk down versions of adult spoons? Nothing is adapted to the ergonomic needs of a child.
The Spuni team set off to create the perfect design, first creating prototypes in wood and later employing 3D printing to refine the shape and fabricate spoons that they could test on real babies.
Now the team is ready to scale up manufacturing for fulfillment to customers in April 2013. To do so, Spuni is looking to raise $35,000 on Indiegogo.
Here’s the opening pitch from the team’s Indiegogo page:
There comes a point in a baby’s life when he or she starts eating solid food. For parents, this means more cleaning. For a baby, a face full of food that needs to be wiped. This eating is messy. One reason? Most baby spoons are smaller versions of adult spoons, and they are not ergonomically engineered to help a baby transition to solids.
Spuni is not just a small spoon. Spuni’s unique “tulip” profile is designed to trigger the instinctive latching reaction that babies develop during breast and bottle feeding. It allows a baby to suck food off the spoon with less spillover, making each meal a more pleasurable experience for all.
Although the original prototypes were created using 3D printing, the Spuni team expects to manufacture spoons that are in accordance with best practices for baby products.
The mass produced spoons will be made through a three-step injection-mold process. The rigid inner structure is made from colored Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) with a softer over-molded transparent TPE outer material. These materials are dishwasher safe, non-toxic and Phthalate (BPA & BPS) and PVC free. We believe that Spuni will offer the best spoon for babies when it comes to contemporary material selection, safety and tactile experience.
And watch their full video here: