3D Printing Industry

The Week in 3D Printing: A Medical Revolution, Crushing a 3D Printed Building, a Prehistoric Revival, and Print Safety Check

We changed all the rules of the medical game, watched 3D printed space habitats be built and crushed, solved an ancient mystery, and discovered just how safe FDM is, all this week in 3D printing.

Print a New Rulebook

We talk a lot about medical advances enabled by 3D printing, but it’s rare to step back and really take in how transformational it all is. Scientists at the University of Melbourne released a study this week outlining how disruptive 3D printing technology will be to the medical profession, changing everything from how we replace organs and how we rehearse surgeries to the number of pills we’ll have to take and where we’ll get medical care. Read more at Futurity.org, and, in the meantime, contemplate this gorgeous 3D printed tumorous kidney:

bioprinting medical 3D printing, prosthesis

So pretty (Credit: Austin Health 3D Medical Printing Laboratory via U. Melbourne)

Crushing It

We’ve been following NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge like some people follow sports. So, we were super excited that this latest, second phase of the challenge saw two competitors duke it out to create beams, cylinders, and domes for an extraterrestrial building — using 70% indigenous soil. As TechCrunch reported, to complete the circle of creation and destruction, the building elements were then CRUSHED, er, well, “compressed to failure.” If the future means making houses out of mud and then crushing them, it’s basically going to be a day at the beach.

NASA 3D printing challenge

First place winners Foster + Partners looking at their crushed achievement (Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Steampunk Scientist Solves Prehistoric Mystery

That header was fun to write. Even more fun is watching the impeccably steampunk gentleman in question explain his PhD research into just how a scary/cute ancient sea creature, the Pleiosaur, moved through the water with its very odd flippers. While he may look capable of time travel, it turns out that he wasn’t actually able to go back in time to see how the feat was accomplished. Can you guess what he did? That’s right — he 3D printed it! Watch the video below, delightfully narrated by said gentleman, for the full story on the results of his research and how they might make boats more efficient. Or time machines.

But… Is It Safe?

When you’re working with fused-deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printers, you’re doing something pretty unusual for an average person: essentially, melting plastic all day. Researchers recently discovered that this releases volatile organic compounds, aldehydes, and nanoparticles that could, if ingested in high enough quantities, have negative effects on humans. As CE Mag reported, this led one group of researchers to ask, “How do we keep this from hurting anyone?” They discovered that a combination of enclosures around the printers, using low temperatures, and using low-emitting materials like polylactic acid (PLA) eliminates up to 99.5% of emissions. Phew.

About me
Editor in Chief, Shapeways Magazine + All Things Content, Shapeways
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