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Unlocking the secrets of nanoscale 3D printing(Nanowerk News) Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have discovered novel ways to extend the capabilities of two-photon lithography (TPL), a high-resolution 3D printing technique capable of producing nanoscale features smaller than one-hundredth the width of a human hair.
|The findings, recently published on the cover of the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces("Radiopaque Resists for Two-Photon Lithography To Enable Submicron 3D Imaging of Polymer Parts via X-ray Computed Tomography"), also unleashes the potential for X-ray computed tomography (CT) to analyze stress or defects noninvasively in embedded 3D-printed medical devices or implants.|
|LLNL researchers can print woodpile lattices with submicron features a fraction of the width of a human hair. (Image: Jacob Long and Adam Connell/LLNL)|
|Two-photon lithography typically requires a thin glass slide, a lens and an immersion oil to help the laser light focus to a fine point where curing and printing occurs. It differs from other 3D-printing methods in resolution, because it can produce features smaller than the laser light spot, a scale no other printing process can match. The technique bypasses the usual diffraction limit of other methods because the photoresist material that cures and hardens to create structures — previously a trade secret — simultaneously absorbs two photons instead of one.|
|In the paper, LLNL researchers describe cracking the code on resist materials optimized for two-photon lithography and forming 3D microstructures with features less than 150 nanometers. Previous techniques built structures from the ground up, limiting the height of objects because the distance between the glass slide and lens is usually 200 microns or less. By turning the process on its head — putting the resist material directly on the lens and focusing the laser through the resist — researchers can now print objects multiple millimeters in height. Furthermore, researchers were able to tune and increase the amount of X-rays the photopolymer resists could absorb, improving attenuation by more than 10 times over the photoresists commonly used for the technique.|
|“In this paper, we have unlocked the secrets to making custom materials on two-photon lithography systems without losing resolution,” said LLNL researcher James Oakdale, a co-author on the paper.|
|LLNL researchers printed octet truss structures with submicron features on top of a solid base with a diameter similar to human hair. (Image: James Oakdale/LLNL)|
|Because the laser light refracts as it passes through the photoresist material, the linchpin to solving the puzzle, the researchers said, was “index matching” – discovering how to match the refractive index of the resist material to the immersion medium of the lens so the laser could pass through unimpeded. Index matching opens the possibility of printing larger parts, they said, with features as small as 100 nanometers.|
|“Most researchers who want to use two-photon lithography for printing functional 3D structures want parts taller than 100 microns,” said Sourabh Saha, the paper’s lead author. “With these index-matched resists, you can print structures as tall as you want. The only limitation is the speed. It’s a tradeoff, but now that we know how to do this, we can diagnose and improve the process.”|
|By tuning the material’s X-ray absorption, researchers can now use X-ray-computed tomography as a diagnostic tool to image the inside of parts without cutting them open or to investigate 3D-printed objects embedded inside the body, such as stents, joint replacements or bone scaffolds. These techniques also could be used to produce and probe the internal structure of targets for the National Ignition Facility, as well as optical and mechanical metamaterials and 3D-printed electrochemical batteries.|
|Through the two-photon lithography (TPL) 3D printing process, researchers can print woodpile lattices with submicron features a fraction of the width of a human hair. (Image: James Oakdale/LLNL)|
|The only limiting factor is the time it takes to build, so researchers will next look to parallelize and speed up the process. They intend to move into even smaller features and add more functionality in the future, using the technique to build real, mission-critical parts.|
|“It’s a very small piece of the puzzle that we solved, but we are much more confident in our abilities to start playing in this field now,” Saha said. “We’re on a path where we know we have a potential solution for different types of applications. Our push for smaller and smaller features in larger and larger structures is bringing us closer to the forefront of scientific research that the rest of the world is doing. And on the application side, we’re developing new practical ways of printing things.”|
|Source: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory|
Scientists 3D-Printed Squishy, Brain-Like Tissue for the 1st Time
A new 3D-printing technique can create tissues as soft as a human's squishy brain or spongy lungs — something that has not been possible before.
"Additive manufacturing," or 3D printing, promises to allow doctors to produce tailored organs for patients using the patients' own cells, which could help bring down the severe shortage of organs available for people who need transplants.
However, the technology still has significant limitations. To create these organs, bioengineers need to 3D print scaffolds that mimic the structure of the organs, which are then populated with the cells. So far, only relatively stiff materials can be 3D-printed. But some organs in the body, such as the brain and the lungs, have an extremely soft structure. [The Strangest Things That Were 3D-Printed in 2017]
"We have used a very soft material, which is a composite hydrogel, and printed the softer tissues similar to the brain and possibly lung as well," Tan told Live Science.
But the problem with 3D printing very soft materials is that the underlying layers tend to collapse as additional layers are added on top of them during the 3D-printing process, Tan said. Indeed, the process of 3D printing involves creating an object layer by layer, which means that the lower layers need to be able to support the weight of the growing structure.
To get around this problem, the researchers cooled things down — literally. "We are using a cryogenic printing process, which means that the previous layer is frozen," Tan said. “Freezing makes the layer very solid and stable so that the next layer can be printed on top of that and the 3D object doesn't collapse under its own weight."
After the printing is complete, the engineers can slowly thaw the object, and it keeps its shape, she said.
To 3D print the scaffold, the researchers used a novel composite hydrogel that consists of two components: a water-soluble synthetic polymer polyvinyl alcohol, and a jelly-like substance called Phytagel.
Then, they coated the resulting structure with collagen and populated it with human cells. For the purposes of the experiment, however, the researchers used skin cells instead of brain cells on scaffold designed to mimic the human brain.
So far, the researchers have been able to create only small samples of the brain-like tissue, and not the entire brain. [11 Body Parts Grown in the Lab]
"If you try to 3D print a full brain with a standard commercially available 3D printer, it's going to be very challenging," said senior study author Antonio Elia Forte, a research associate in the Department of Bioengineering, also at Imperial College London.
"When you get into complex structures, the softer you go with material properties, the greater risk that the geometry will collapse on itself," Forte told Live Science.
The current cryogenic technique the researchers use cools the material through the 3D-printing plate, Forte said. That means that layers further removed from the plate would thaw before the entire object was printed, and the whole cryogenic effect would be lost.
In the future, the researchers could further evolve the technique by using a chamber that would keep the whole object cold, Forte said.
Still, the new technique is a step forward. "Now we are finally able to print very soft materials, and this wasn't achieved before," Forte said. Moving forward, the researchers aim to improve the technique to be able to print larger objects.
Forte added that bioengineers are probably still decades away from creating fully functioning complex human organs such as brains or lungs using 3D printing. Nonetheless, the current technique could be used to help researchers study how brain or lung tissue behaves under various conditions — for example, in impact situations, such as traumatic brain injuries.
The paper was published in November 2017 in the journal Scientific Reports.
This amazing 3D-printed radio works, despite having no battery or outlet plug
Did you know you can build your very own working 3D-printed radio — without any soldering, electronics experience, electric cord, or even batteries? That’s exactly what talented Houston, Texas-based 3D-printing and electronics enthusiast Sage Hansen has created. And he’s willing to show you how to do it, too.
Called a crystal radio receiver, or sometimes a “cat’s whisker receiver,” this is an incredibly simple type of radio receiver that was popular in the earliest days of radio. The only power it requires to work is the received radio signal, which is used to produce sound. It is named after its most important component, the crystal detector or diode.
“AM radio was one of the first ways of transmitting audio to a very broad audience in the early 1900s, but it is still very popular today,” Hansen told Digital Trends. “It starts with the radio station converting their audio sound waves into electromagnetic waves, which can travel great distances. Each radio station uses a specific frequency that is constant, but the sound waves are mixed so they amplify and modulate the base radio wave. What makes the crystal radio so exciting is how simple the circuit is, and how it can be made out of normal household items. What I wanted to do was use my 3D modeling software to design a simple form that presents the components in such a straightforward way that it’s easy for the viewer to follow the circuit and understand how this is working. The radio waves received by the antenna pass through the coil of wire, which is acting as an inductor that determines the frequency. Then the diode will convert the receiving alternating current into direct current, which will vibrate the piezo speaker creating sound waves.”
Like a true gent, Hansen isn’t keeping the design to himself. “I always had the idea that this project was for the public,” he said. “I have uploaded the 3D files for people to download, as well as step-by-step instructions. I also recorded and edited an instructional video on YouTube with 3D animations to help people assemble, step by step. I hope that people will find this entertaining, educational — and have fun using this radio.”
Well, that’s your weekend busywork taken care of, then!
Aiming high: Australia makes world’s first 3D-printed jet engines
Using a gas turbine engine as a template, researchers from Melbourne's Monash University, and staff from the CSIRO and Deakin University, congratulated themselves for successfully printing an “aircraft quality” product, which could revolutionize the way aircraft are built in the future.
"The significance... is the recognition by major manufacturers and engineering companies like Safran and Airbus that the material you can print using 3D metal printing is of aircraft quality and I think that's hugely significant," Monash university's vice provost for research, Ian Smith, told AFP.
"It's a disruptive technology. We've seen a lot happening in the plastics and polymer space, but this is exciting because it's now metals and light metals and things like titanium, nickel and aluminum."
3D printing can slash production times from three months to just six days, researchers say.
Chinese firm 3D-prints 5-story house using construction waste 'ink'
Xinhua Wu, director of the Monash center for additive manufacturing, said her team tediously scanned the separate parts of the template engine, with the project taking about one year to finish.
One of the jet engines is on display at the Australian International Airshow in Melbourne with the other being featured in Toulouse at the French aerospace company Microturbo.
Smith predicted the new technology could be used to build a variety of customized parts quickly and cheaply, specifically in the field of medicine.
"Where we see some of the big opportunities are in the medical space where you can make bespoke parts for the body – replacement joints and hips designed specifically for that individual," he said.
"A lot of surgeons want to make their own instruments that are customized for them or a particular surgical procedure."
Engineers at Monash University have teamed up Amaero Engineering, the private company established by Monash to deliver the product to market. The Monash-led research group is making top-secret prototypes for Boeing, Airbus, Raytheon and Safran in a move that could be the “savior of Australia's struggling manufacturing sector,” Reuters reported.
New 3D food Printer makes Edible Cookies
"This will allow aerospace companies to compress their development cycles because we are making these prototype engines three or four times faster than normal," said Simon Marriott, CEO of Amaero Engineering.
Marriott said his company wants the 3D-printed engine components in flight tests within the next year and licensed for commercial application within the next two to three years.
Australia, which has one of only three large-format 3D metal printers in the world (France and Germany have the others) is in a position to corner the market on the new technology, providing a much-needed boost to its economy.
Market researcher Gartner forecast in 2014 that global spending on 3D printing will surge from $1.6 billion in 2015 to about $13.4 billion in 2018.
Around since the 1980s, products created by 3D printing technology have included everything from bikinis to assault weapons.
3D printers poised to be next must-have gadget for shoppers
Are you ready for your child, the 3D printing genius?
Very good Miss, but how do I print a gun?
In his new National Curriculum for schools in England, announced this week, Education Secretary Michael Gove pledged to modernise design and technology education. This is thought to include introducing 3D printers into schools to help the next generation of children become creators rather than users.
Gove’s plan, together with the news yesterday that high-street retailer Maplin will be the first to sell 3D printers to the public for just under £700, reaffirms once again that this technology is on its way to being embraced by the general public.
The government is to be applauded for wanting to adopt a new technology like 3D printing in schools. The next generation of engineers, scientists and manufacturers will need to be highly skilled in computing, coding and equipped with technical knowledge to work with this kind of technology. It is an exciting thought that children will learn from an early age how to produce almost anything they like with the use of a 3D printer. Even at this early stage, 3D printers have already been used in the medical, transport, toy and hobby and food industries, amongst others, to great effect.
At the same time, this is yet another example of technology marching forward ahead of policy and legislation. It is equally important to introduce students to the regulation of 3D printing as it is to give them the equipment they need to carry it out.
The controversy over the 3D printing of a gun this year led to questions about the need for regulation. The US government responded in the only way it knew how by seizing the blueprints to the weapon and claiming control of the files containing them. However it was too late to stop the information being shared across the internet. The case taught us that when it comes to regulating this technology, we are in uncharted territory. The need for a structured policy framework is becoming ever more pressing. This was demonstrated to dramatic effect last week when journalists managed to smuggle a 3D printed gun past security and into the Israeli Parliament.
It is not just the extreme cases of 3D printed guns that need to be thought about; students should also be educated to some extent on the protection and exploitation of 3D printed products. Undoubtedly, getting children interested in these issues will be a challenge but it is a challenge that needs to be addressed.
Regulation can be in the form of legislation; however students could also be encouraged to think about new business models in dealing with this technology. We probably do not need to worry about ten year olds producing 3D printed weapons but they may be keen to print out a new toy in the model of another they have seen in the shops.
Learning lessons from the past and from the challenges faced by the entertainment industry, should, in theory, assist us in dealing with emerging technologies. More than a decade ago, Napster opened up the doors to a new world of file-sharing which was immediately dealt with through litigation. This has been the trend ever since. Similar to what took place during the Napster revolution, the recent surge in 3D printing sites such asThingiverse, have the potential to enable or at least encourage users to infringe products protected by intellectual property laws.
In 2011, Games Workshop a British game production company served a notice and takedown orde on Thingiverse under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act 1998. This was in response to users producing models similar to those sold in Games Workshops. Although the dispute took place in the USA and was settled out of court, it is a prime example of the issues that need to be tackled if 3D printing continues its meteoric rise.
It is therefore important that whilst adopting this technology, the future generation is also educated and made aware of the regulatory and legislative challenges which come with new technologies. There are also other areas relating to 3D printing that need a more structured policy framework. If, for example 3D printing becomes “standard” in schools, we will also need to develop standards for the technology, including parts, processes and safety.
We should not dampen Gove’s enthusiasm for exciting new technologies, but it is imperative to think ahead before our children outsmart us again.
Today Tonight : The future of 3D printers
The power of 3D printers extends beyond their ability to print life-saving human body parts. The printers can also print almost anything from cutlery to complex machines.Mark Pestkowski sells 3D printers in Australia and says the printers could fundamentally change society."In 10 years' time, everyone will have a 3D printer. It will change the way we buy products because much of what we need, we can make at home.Watch the full interview with Mark Pestkowski from the 3D Printer Superstore on Today Tonight.
Published Friday, January 10, 2014 1:19PM EST
Oct 02, 2013
Australian company working on giant-sized 3D printer
3D Printing Industry reports that ART 3D’s first (and smallest) giant-sized machine will be 1 metre wide, 1 metre deep and 400 mm tall, and will have a footprint of 1,400 mm by 1,400 mm.
The company was started by Jason Simpson and his father to create components and machinery for the manufacturing industry.
“In the mid 90′s we started building our first robotic X-Ray system for Berthold Australia, end customer being ASIO (The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation),” Simpson told 3D Printing Industry.
“With the success of that, we started to do many things from medical imaging equipment to equipment to aid the manufacturing of radio pharmaceuticals, including radiation protection equipment.”
The machine that the Simpsons are currently working on “has 4 separate zones for heating using less than 2000 watts in total for all 4 zones heating up to 120 degrees,” as well as a 12-rail system for the x and y-axes, with four extruders printing with 3 mm and 1.75 mm filaments, and uses a Windows 8 operating system. They aim to keep its price below $100,000.
source: Manufacturers' Monthly by
A 3D printing trend playing out at the Consumer Electronics Show bodes a future in which shoes, eyeglass frames, toys and more are printed at home as easily as documents.
Music star will.i.am even made a debut here as creative officer for 3D Systems, predicting that the technology will do for many basic items what iTunes did to the way people get songs.
He predicted that within a decade, 3D printers will be common in homes and people will print out things like shoes, belts, eyeglasses and accessories instead of dashing to a shop to buy the items.
"3D printers will be in your house like refrigerators, TVs and microwaves," will.i.am said.
3D printing has been around for about 25 years but has seen a surge in popularity as the technology improves and costs drop to a point accessible for hobbyists, artists and entrepreneurs.
Printers aimed at the home market typically use corn-based, biodegradable plastic layered and shaped using lasers and heated plates.
"Think of it as laying microscopic bricks; layers and layers of these bricks," said Roger Chang, chief executive of Singapore-based Pirate 3D, which makes a Buccaneer home printer that sells for $497.
"Eventually, if you put enough bricks you get a building."
Brooklyn-based MakerBot was the only 3D printer company at CES five years ago. Now, it is surrounded by rivals on a large section of show floor devoted to the trend.
"We feel like this is the year of 3D printing," MakerBot spokeswoman Jenifer Howard told AFP.
"Now, entrepreneurs without major financial backing can create prototypes themselves and even do small-scale manufacturing. It changes the whole picture."
Along with objects such as figurines, chess pieces and appliance handles, printers can pump out ball bearings, gears and components for creations with moving parts.
"3D printing really is limitless," Howard said.
She noted that aerospace and defense contractor Lockheed Martin used MakerBot printers to make a part for a telescope set to launch into space in about four years.
MakerBot printers have been used in Africa to make prosthetic hands at a fraction of what they might typically cost, according to Howard.
Digital plans for the "robo-hand" have been downloaded 55,000 times, according to MakerBot, which makes a vast library of digital blueprints available free at its website.
Fifth-generation Makerbot printers range from $1,375 to $6,500.
"Once you start 3D printing, you actually look at the world differently," Howard said.
"Instead of thinking of going to the store, you say you can make it yourself."
3D printing has gone from languishing to being an attention-getting trend, but it will take "killer use cases" to get them into homes, according to NPD Group analyst Stephen Baker.
"Most people aren't printing their own cellphone cases or backpacks," Baker said.
"You can make an argument that 3D printing was languishing and now there is energy in a category that was pretty dull. We are probably a ways away from disrupting manufacturing."
3D Pirate's Chang thinks independent toymakers will be among those leading to making 3D printing mainstream.
"The same way iTunes allowed independent musicians to flourish by posting digital songs, indie toy designers can let their customers just print out the toys without worrying about economies of scale or distribution deals," Chang said.
Andrew Boggeri of Las Vegas-based Full Spectrum Laser cited a study indicating that the average US home could save up to $2,000 annually by printing their own replacement for 27 commonly broken household items.
"The US is a hotbed of 3D printing right now," Boggeri said.