3D Printing Practical Applications: The Peg

3D Printing Practical Applications: The Peg

Today’s blog post is brought to you by the one and only Robert Nipper, a practical 3D applications guru who has also taught us how to repair a broken Crock Pot and build a basic holiday ornament. No Need to Run to the Store – 3D Printing Practical Applications. As I was on my way out the door this morning, my darling wife shared some information with me: “The shelf in the white hutch fell down. “ The white hutch is a catch-all piece of furniture that resides in the breakfast nook, housing everything from craft supplies to cookbooks to small hand tools and greeting cards. Imagine a junk drawer on steroids. I went to investigate with her. The shelf had fallen last night, and she had already done her best to triage the situation. I asked where the shelf was now. “Right there” she said. I then asked about the pegs that the shelf was resting on. She handed me two small white plastic pegs. Two. Just two. “There are supposed to be four of these” I commented. She informed me that there were only two, and asked if I could have it fixed before our neighbors came over for dinner. Since Christmas was just a couple of weeks away, we both had a full schedule. I didn’t really have time to go across town and look for replacement supports from the home supply store. Then a smile crept across my face. I am not sure she knew what I was thinking, but she was very familiar indeed with what I had to say next: “I can 3D...
3D Printing News

3D Printing News

While 3D printing is not as new as some may think, it is in a stage of rapid growth with new printers, materials, and applications being released all the time. Here is a quick list to get you caught up on the most recent innovations in the world of 3D printing. “3D Printing Soft Body Parts: A hard problem just got easier” by Nala Rogers – Recent 3D printing news is full of stories about medical advancements, but one of the limitations has always been that is difficult to print softer materials. Recently, however, two different research teams have devised ways to solve this problem. Now, researchers have been able to print miniature organs with materials like collagen and fibrin that are naturally found in the human body. “Cheers: This 3D printer filament is entirely made out of beer dregs” by Duncan Riley – For you true beer lovers out there, you can now actually make prints out of beer byproducts. Known as “Buzzed.” this new filament prints similarly to PLA and boasts a wood-like finish with the appearance of natural grains. “Nike’s 3D Printing Ramp Up: Which Companies Will It Partner With?” by Beth McKenna – Nike has been one of the first large companies to really embrace 3D printing as a means to customize its products. Now, Nike is seeking to expand its use of 3D printing, with some suggesting that the company intends to use 3D printing as part of its general manufacturing process. “How 3D Printing Could Blow Up the Luxury Dining Model” by Eustacia Huen – Part of a four part series on 3D...
3D Printing in Manufacturing: Boeing

3D Printing in Manufacturing: Boeing

Boeing and 3D Printing in Manufacturing The First 20,000 If you want a true testimony that 3D printing in manufacturing is here to stay, all you have to do is look at the growing importance of 3D printing at Boeing. In the early days of 3D printing, Boeing began using the technology for rapid prototyping and creating parts that would be difficult to produce with traditional manufacturing processes, especially parts that have intricate grooves or openings embedded in the interior. By June of 2013, Boeing’s use of 3D printing had become so widespread that they had installed more than 20,000 printed parts in their aircraft. These 20,000 parts were all non-mechanical and were used in ten different commercial and military planes. The Dreamliner, one of Boeing’s prized luxury planes, included 30 different 3D printed parts. The Next Steps – Jet Engines and Earth’s Orbit In April of 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the first 3D printed part to actually be used in the jet engine itself. Designed by GE Aviation, the part houses an engine sensor. Boeing and GE will now be working together to retrofit engines for the 777 to include the 3D printed parts. While this is the first part to make its way into the engine, GE indicates that it will not be the last. In fact, GE has detailed a plan to use 3D printed fuel nozzles in the LEAP engine for the Boeing 737MAX and Airbus A320neo. There will also be 3D printed nozzles in the GE9X for the Boeing 777X, which will be the largest jet engine in history. In October,...
3D Printing Basics: Printer Build Volumes and Tolerances

3D Printing Basics: Printer Build Volumes and Tolerances

How big do you want to print? Last week in our 3D printing basics series we discussed the history of 3D printing. Today, we are going to explore the wide variety of printer build volumes and tolerances that allow you to create prints ranging from very tiny to quite massive. While all printers work by building a part layer by layer, the machines can vary significantly in terms of quality and functionality. When searching for a 3D printer for your home or office, you can really distinguish one printer from another based upon the printer build volumes and tolerances. Printer Build Volumes The build volume, quite simply, determines how big your machine allows you to print. For years, analysts believed that limited build volumes were the biggest obstacle standing in the way of widespread adoption of 3D printing technology. Today, we are starting to see the design of 3D printers re-imagined in ways that allow them to build full-scale structures, effectively eliminating this critique. Starting at the true desktop level, the printer build volumes for a 3D printer can be quite limited. Many of the entry level printers, especially those around or below the $1,000 mark, have rather small build volumes, mostly less than four inches by four inches by four inches. This means that you can only print something that would fit inside of a four inch cube. While this is enough space to play around with the technology and build little trinkets, if you want to make actual, usable parts, you will find a four-inch limitation to be rather cumbersome. Moving into the next level of printers,...
3D Printing Basics: The History of 3D Printing

3D Printing Basics: The History of 3D Printing

The History of 3D Printing Do you think of 3D printing as a brand new, cutting edge technology? Well, you are half right. While it is true that 3D printing is cutting edge and has only entered the mainstream in recent years, the history of 3D printing actually dates back more than three decades. In fact, the first recorded design for rapid prototyping (RP), the technology that 3D printing is built upon, was developed by a Japanese lawyer, Dr. Hideo Kodama, in 1980. Rapid prototyping is simply any technique that uses computer aided design (CAD) programs to quickly develop a 3D model. The term rapid prototyping is often used interchangeably with additive manufacturing. Unlike traditional prototyping techniques that could take many weeks to complete, rapid prototyping technologies allow businesses to receive their prototype within hours of creating the design. The Breakthrough and the Rise of 3D Systems The first big breakthrough in 3D printing took place in 1983 when Charles “Chuck” Hull invented the first stereolithography apparatus. Hull would go on to found 3D Systems, one of the highest grossing 3D printing companies in operation and a company that we are proud to be a re-seller for. Hull came up with the idea for his machine while he was working on lamps for UV-curable resins and realized that the process could be used to create bonds in the resin that would build objects layer by layer. Remarkably, the first inkjet printer had just been invented in 1976. There was only a period of eight years separating the invention of the first machine capable of printing in 2D and the...
Gizmodo Highlights Things That Couldn’t Exist without 3D Printing

Gizmodo Highlights Things That Couldn’t Exist without 3D Printing

Recently, Gizmodo put out a great article highlighting things that couldn’t exist without 3D printing. While you should definitely check out the full article for yourself, here are some of the highlights: When Airbus announced that it was getting in on the 3D printing game last year, they explained that 3D printed parts could reduce the weight of their planes by as much as 55%. If you have ever had braces or a retainer, you know that one of the most unpleasant parts of the experience is suffering through the impressions of your teeth. Today, dentists can use CAD files to create detailed 3D prints of your teeth and gums. Doctors have been using 3D printing to assist with the placement of stents in two ways. In some cases, they have used a 3D printed model of the patient’s organs to properly place the device. In other cases, the doctors have 3D printed the stents themselves so that they perfectly fit the patient’s individual anatomy. Speaking of cool medical advancements. Doctors have rigged a printer to print living cells that form collagen and cartilage. With this printer, doctors were able to create a living trachea replacement. In fact, the potential for more advanced medical applications is so exciting that they may someday even be able to weld together organic molecules to print organic compounds, which, among other things, could make it much easier to quickly test drugs. 3D printing is truly revolutionizing the way that things are made. Learn more about the amazing advancements in 3D technology by signing up for our newsletter.  ...
Animals Saved by 3D Printing

Animals Saved by 3D Printing

With robotic hands, custom-printed splints, and medicine that can be printed to specific doses, the news is full of ways that 3D printing can help humans live healthier, more productive lives. But, if you look close enough, there are also some really amazing examples of how 3D printing has also been helping some adorable members of the animal kingdom.  Here are a few of our favorite stories about animals saved by 3D printing. 1. A pelican’s new beak. When a pelican began acting strangely at the Dalian Forest Zoo, staff members soon realized that the bird’s beak was damaged. Because a beak is vital to both food gathering and determining a pelican’s social status, a beak is crucial to a pelican’s survival. After two attempts at repairing the beak through other methods, zoo workers decided that they would try to use a 3D printer to make the necessary repairs. Because it appeared that there was already some new growth, doctors determined that it wasn’t necessary to print the entire beak. The final product is a 3D printed extension that screws into the pelican’s original beak, allowing the pelican to feed normally once more. 2. A turtle’s new home. A turtle’s shell protects them in a number of ways, including from bacteria and infection. In some cases, poor nutrition can lead to a bone disease which can cause the shell to wear away. When that happens, a turtle can be left painfully exposed. This is the fate that turtle Cleopatra was facing. Luckily, however, Cleopatra was taken in by Canyon Critters Rescue. Here, founder Nicola “Nico” Novelli determined that he...
Benefit from a 3D Printer at Home, no Experience Required

Benefit from a 3D Printer at Home, no Experience Required

When we bring our 3D printers to an event, we always have a great time meeting new people and talking about the potential of 3D printing. While most people are really excited to see the printers in action, one of the observations we hear most often is, “it’s neat, but I don’t think that I have any use for it,” or “it doesn’t seem very practical.” While I can certainly understand why this is often a first reaction, here is why I truly believe that everybody can benefit from having a 3D printer at home For beginners When you skim through the hundreds of thousands of downloadable files available online, you will definitely see a bunch of knick-knacks and things that most homes just don’t need. But you will also find a whole lot of items that are extremely practical. Do you need new organizers for your drawers? How about a wrench for a project? Just download the files and hit print. Not only are these items fully customizable to your own unique space or project, but you also get to avoid a trip to the store. Some of those knick-knacks are actually really cool. There are some true artists at work on these sites who create beautiful vases that make fantastic centerpieces, one-of-a-kind pencil holders, Thor statues that your little ones are sure to love, and much more. When your kids are bored, you can print out a brand new board game, or open up one of the customizable files and let them have a great time tweaking their own ornament or action figure. If you are in...
Print Yourself in a 3D Portrait

Print Yourself in a 3D Portrait

Have you ever envisioned yourself as a real-life action figure? With the new 3D portrait booths, possibly coming to a store near you, you can create your exact replica in amazing detail. Step into the Booth Designed by the Artec Group, a manufacturer of 3D scanners, the Shapify Booth is a high tech scanner that maps your entire body in just 12 seconds. If you’re not sure exactly what pose you want to be printed in, don’t worry, the booth provides you with as many free test scans as you would like. Once you choose the perfect scan, the results are sent off to the company and turned into a printable file within 15 minutes. Then, all you need to do is either print the file with your own printers, or use a print service, such as the official Artec print service. See the booth in action: What moment would you immortalize? So far, the majority of the booths are placed in grocery stores, which means that most customers will be capturing their miniature 3D self in their everyday attire. Artec does, however, point out that the prints are a fantastic way to capture life’s special moments, such as weddings, birthdays, and pregnancies. One of Artec’s advertisements focuses on this idea as it tells a couple’s love story through their shapies. With a suggested starting retail price of $99 and going up to $199 depending on the size, the shapie isn’t necessarily a trinket that everyone can bring home from the grocery store on a whim, which brings the whole business model into question. What do you think? Would...
A 3D Printed Pill at a Pharmacy Near You

A 3D Printed Pill at a Pharmacy Near You

This week, the FDA approved the first 3D printed pill. While the medical community has long dreamed of the potential of 3D printed pharmaceuticals, and there have been multiple 3D printed medical devices already approved, this decision marks the first time that a pill will be officially manufactured on a printer. Developed by Ohio-based pharmaceutical company Aprecia, the drug in question, Spirtam Levetiracetam, is designed to control seizures. Although there are already similar drugs on the market, the unique design of the 3D pill provides for a more effective delivery system. Why 3D Printing? The primary benefit of a 3D printed pill is simply that the nature of the print causes the medicine to dissolve quickly. Aprecia’s trademarked technology, which is known as ZipDose, creates a more porous pill. Once liquid enters the equation, the pill quickly dissolves away. This makes the pill much easier to swallow, especially in high doses. Another reason that the potential for 3D printed medicine is so exciting is the ability to have minute control over the dosage. This allows pharmacists to customize the doses for each individual based upon their unique needs. While Spirtam Levetiracetam is only available in one shape, another potential benefit of printing 3D pills is that the medication could be produced in a wide array of shapes that aren’t possible with traditional medical manufacturing methods. As research has shown that the shape of a pill can determine how the medication is released, having greater control over the shape of the pill itself gives doctors greater control over how the patient receives his or her medication. The FDA’s decision to...