Technology

Recent advances in 3D printing technology

3D printing has made tremendous steps ever since it was first introduced. Thanks to the rapid growth of interest surrounding this technology, manufacturers are working around the clock to make it more accessible to enthusiasts and expand its application across the board.

While it was a reserve for big corporations with the financial backing to afford these sophisticated machines, nowadays, it is possible to own a personal 3D printer and use it for your hobbyist interests. The printing materials have also multiplied and the printing speed is a tiny fraction of what it used to be when the technology came to be.

In this article, we look at the various advancements to have come from the 3D printing world in recent years and what they imply to the new 3D printers.

3D Printed Blood Vessels and Heart

A German institute has managed to create blood vessels with the help of artificial biological cells, 3D printer, and a laser for molding them into shape. Furthermore, researchers at Germany’s University of Rostock, University of Sydney, and Harvard Medical Institute are developing technology to repair the heart or some kind of a heart patch made out of 3D printed cells.

Recent advances in 3D printing technology - 3d heart

These human cell heart patches have been subjected to successful tests on rats, and have involved artificial cardiac tissues development that successfully imitate the biological and mechanical functions of an actual heart

The thing is there are more developments taking place as far as bioprinting is concerned, but one key hurdle involved is finding software that is sophisticated enough to satisfy the challenge of developing the blueprint.

While it may be simple to come up with the blueprint of something like a doorknob and quickly produce it, the same isn’t true for creating digital prints of a heart or liver at this stage.

Vacuum Additive Manufacturing

This is another development that promises to impress even the most advanced 3D enthusiasts. Made in Space has made some significant inroads as far 3D printing in a vacuum is concerned.

Even though the company is yet to conduct proper testing, the success of this project may just be on the brink and would be a tremendous step for space exploration.

Cultivate3D

With the increasing popularity of 3D printing technology, companies are beginning to capitalize on bringing their creative ideas into fruition without necessarily breaking the bank. This is thanks to the spotlight that 3D manufacturing is getting in the crowdfunding space.

The “Beast” is the latest 3D printer to benefit from this. This desktop printer has the capacity to simultaneously print four identical models at up to 10 times the speeds we have on conventional printers.

This is a big step towards mass-producing 3D print products. However, the benefits are not only for manufacturers as far as spending goes. Even budget printers have come a long way, and users can now own a practical 3D device by spending less than $200.

Controlled Drug Release and Customized Pills

Information from GovInsider shows that the National University of Singapore has created software that enables physicians to customize pills based on their patients’ needs. One of the pioneers in the research, Dr. Soh Siow Ling, revealed that the technology can be applied at individualized settings.

This way, doctors can create customized drugs on the spot for the patient. Alternatively, the pills can be produced in bulk production settings by companies in the pharmaceutical industry. The research group holds a patent for the new method of creating a multi-drug pill with the application of 3D printing.

Additionally, the Institute of Chemicals Technology in Mumbai is developing a 3D printing technology that prints pharmaceuticals tablets. And although the study is still in its infant phase, they aim to combine several additive manufacturing technologies to come up with tablets with regulated drug release.

In a recent conference in Mumbai hosted by the Controlled Release Society, the team presented their work and won the best poster award, beating 249 other participants.

Mediated Matter Group; G3DP

When it comes to 3D printing materials, glass might just be the next big thing. MIT, in collaboration with Glass Lab is developing a 3D printing process that uses glass, inspired by the old coiling method. This is designed to produce optically transparent glass and the whole platform is based on the concept of a dual heat chamber.

This is a great step towards the diversification of the printing materials and making 3D printing possibilities limitless in various industries.

Carbon 3D- CLIP Technology

This is a case of technology deriving inspiration from science fiction. The technology would have seemed impossible a few years ago, but the potential it offers is unheard of if it gains traction. CLIP technology involves a staggering number of new materials that offer more elasticity and other properties on the models.

Besides, this process involves a 25-100 times printing speed increase, with 1000 times increase if we are talking about liquid printing materials. It also hopes to aid in the streamlining of the manufacturing digital thread to make for a more seamless process from CAD print models to the final productions.

This is a great improvement from the snail-pace of some printers currently in the market, and if successfully adopted, CLIP technology could transform 3D printing into a more practical option for mass production needs as it has shown on the Carbon M1 3D printer.

3D Printing Drones

The application of 3D printing has transcended across all industries recently, whether on land or sea. Very soon, printing a new part could be as quick as making a sandwich.

As the industry develops, so does the need for teaching. 3D printing advanced projects can be complex and daunting, and detailed courses on online learning platforms like Udemy have been developed to solve this problem.

Recent advances in 3D printing technology - 3D Printing Drones

The US Navy has been experimenting with 3D printing possibility of creating drones on demand while out in the open water. This is the same plan for many companies who want to print replacement parts and components on demand.

What’s impressive here is not the innovation of the technology; rather, the convenience of being able to print parts on-demand when you are on the move. This can be a game-changer for both land and sea missions in the military.

Final Thought

These are just a fraction of the advancements we have recently witnessed in the 3D printing space. But the current trend of innovation promises even more sophisticated machines with greater capabilities. The future of 3D printing looks bright!

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Ruaan Nel

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