How 3D printing is reshaping the future of supply chains

Supply chain disruptions continue to plague global economies, especially within the manufacturing industry. In Australia, manufacturers with offshore operations are experiencing significant supply chain issues that threaten productivity and financial stability.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), more than a third of all businesses experienced supply chain disruptions in February 2022. Of those businesses, 88 per cent reported increased time to receive products from suppliers, while 80 per cent reported that existing suppliers were unable to provide products.

Recent changes to the supply chain emerged shortly after the global pandemic was announced, particularly during COVID-19 lockdowns, due to abrupt shifts in demand that created bottlenecks at ports worldwide. Australia’s strong reliance on international trade and foreign investment has made the impact on some supply chains significant. This reflects temporary trade restrictions, reduced transport options, and increased port loading and unloading times.

Supply chain issues started with COVID-19; however, they’re also affected by intensifying geopolitical tensions, increased consumer demand, labour shortages, inflation, depleted inventory levels, and increased freight costs.

The Australian manufacturing sector was, and continues to be, impacted in several ways. According to data from the ABS, the most common supply chain issue facing businesses is domestic and international delivery delays, followed by supply constraints and increased prices. However, soaring transport costs and a significant shortage of parts and raw materials also affect the industry.

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We just built the world’s largest 3D-printed aerospike rocket engine.

Algorithmically engineered aerospike rocket engine printed in copper at AMC

Last night, EOS sister company AMCM completed the print of the world’s largest aerospike rocket engine. It was engineered completely in Hyperganic Core using advanced software algorithms and has never seen a single piece of manual CAD. It’s likely the most complex AM part ever produced — it broke all conventional workflows. AMCM printed it in copper in their massive 1m build volume machine. The engine stands at 80cm tall.

This aerospike rocket engine is a demonstration of what’s possible when you combine the power of software algorithms with the world’s most advanced Additive Manufacturing systems. 

People have been trying to build aerospikes for a long time. The Space Shuttle was supposed to have a linear one. But nobody could make it work at the time, given the manufacturing methods. The aerospike has significant advantages over traditional bell nozzle designs. It’s altitude compensating and does away with the heavy nozzle extension, with a spike in the middle instead. It’s easily 15-20% more efficient than bell nozzle engines. This is a dramatic improvement in the field of rocketry where even fractions of percentage points are worth pursuing. The challenge was always cooling the spike in the middle of the extremely hot exhaust gas.

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Surgeons Grow 3D-Printed Nose on Patient’s Arm

And then grafted it onto the patient’s face.

The ENT and Cervico-Facial surgery teams of the Toulouse University Hospital and the Claudius Regaud Institute carried out a surgical intervention at the Toulouse-Oncopole University Cancer Institute consisting in completely reconstructing a patient’s nose from a synthetic graft previously implanted in the patient’s forearm to pre-vascularize it.

The patient had been treated in 2013 for nasal cavity cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. As a result of this treatment, the patient lost a large part of their nose as well as the front part of their palate.

For more than four years, the patient lived without a nose, facing failures in nasal reconstruction by skin flap grafting and difficulty coping with wearing a facial prosthesis.

The patient was thus offered a nasal reconstruction using custom-made biomaterial, based on a surgical procedure carried out in two stages by Prof. Agnès Dupret-Bories and Dr. Benjamin Vairel.

This type of reconstruction had never before been performed on such a fragile and poorly vascularized area and was made possible thanks to the collaboration of the medical teams with the company Cerhum, a Belgian manufacturer of medical devices specializing in bone reconstruction . This new technique also makes it possible to overcome certain limitations presented by other techniques.

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A Fleet of Robots is Building a Huge Community of 3D-Printed Homes

All the homes will be powered by rooftop solar panels.

By Ben Munson

An entire community of homes is currently being 3D-printed in Georgetown, a city north of Austin, Texas.

Lennar and ICON are partnering to construct 100 homes in a planned community called Wolf Ranch using only 3D printing.

The homes are being constructed using ICON’s Vulcan robotic construction systems, software and advanced materials.

“For the first time in the history of the world, what we’re witnessing here is a fleet of robots building an entire community of homes,” said ICON CEO Jason Ballard.

“In the future, I believe robots and drones will build entire neighborhoods, towns, and cities,” he added.

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A California Startup Says 3D Printing Batteries Could Double Capacity

By Edd Gent

Solid-state batteries could be more energy dense, safer, and faster charging than today’s technology, but finding a way to make them commercially viable is challenging. One company thinks 3D printing holds the answer.

In recent years, the lithium-ion batteries that power everything from smartphones to electric vehicles have seen huge improvements in their safety and energy density (a measure of how much power they pack in per pound). But progress is slowing, and it seems likely that we will need to switch to novel battery designs if we want to banish the gas-powered car to the history books.

Solid-state batteries, which replace the liquid electrolyte found in today’s cells with a solid one, are some of the most promising candidates in the near term. They would not only make batteries safer by removing the flammable liquid electrolyte, but could also boost energy density and allow faster charging.

A number of startups have developed promising prototypes, but working out how to manufacture these kinds of batteries at scale is a major challenge. California-based startup Sakuú thinks the answer is to use 3D printing, which would allow them to make much more efficient use of space and therefore produce batteries with much higher capacity than competitors.

Batteries are made up of three key components: a positive electrode called an anode, a negative electrode called a cathode, and an electrolyte that allows ions to travel between the two. In today’s most advanced lithium-ion batteries, the electrodes are made using a production process known as “roll-to-roll” manufacturing.

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Human Tissue 3D Printer Headed to Space Station

A view of the BioFabrication Facility and its ADSEP counterpart.

We can print soft tissues on Earth but gravity is a problem.

WALLOPS ISLAND (VA) – Bioprinting human tissues for implantation in patients to treat injury or disease could be game-changing. However, it’s difficult to print soft tissues on Earth because gravity causes them to collapse under their own weight, and scaffolding is required to keep them upright. To remove this hurdle, researchers are going to the International Space Station (ISS).

When Northrop Grumman’s 18th Commercial Resupply Services (NG-18) mission launches to the ISS, it will carry an upgraded version of Redwire Space’s BioFabrication Facility (BFF), a 3D bioprinter capable of printing human tissue. The project, sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory, will pave the way for in-space bioprinting of tissues (and possibly organs) that could one day help patients back on Earth. 

The materials needed to make prints using the BFF will follow on a subsequent flight, and the first tissue the bioprinter will produce is a human meniscus, a protective piece of cartilage between the bones in the knee.

Printed tissues could not only be implanted in patients but also used as models for drug discovery, providing new avenues to test therapeutics. “Using the BFF, we can create true tissue-like structures in a better way and larger than you can terrestrially,” said Rich Boling, a Redwire vice president. “We can also use the BFF to print organoids, which could be used to test drug efficacy and reduce the need for laboratory animals.”

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Ogle brings Airo concept car to life with Neo 800 SLA 3D printer

An innovative EV that not only removes pollutants as it travels but can also be used as an office and bedroom

Multi-award-winning British design and architecture studio Heatherwick Studio had been approached by IM Motors to create Airo, a vehicle that has driver and autonomous controls. It is an innovative electric car that not only removes pollutants as it travels but can also be used as an office and bedroom, could be in production next year.

Eagerly watching from the sidelines will be Ogle Models which played a key role in the creation of the pioneering Airo.

Heatherwick, founded by the world-renowned designer Thomas Heatherwick, has a long-established relationship with Ogle and asked the specialist team to make a fully hand-finished and painted model for their clients.

Philip Martin, director of the Herts-based company, said: “We have a long-running relationship with Heatherwick. Over that time, we have worked on numerous projects with them. We offer the high level of quality they look for with quick turnaround times. They appreciate being able to talk to us, knowing that any problem can be overcome with an efficient solution.”

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TEAM USES LIVE PLANT CELLS IN 3D PRINTING

Above, Arabidopsis thaliana leaf protoplasts.

BY MICK KULIKOWSKI

Researchers have developed a reproducible way of studying cellular communication among varied types of plant cells by “bioprinting” those cells with a 3D printer.

Learning more about how plant cells communicate with each other—and with their environment—is key to understanding more about plant cell functions and could ultimately lead to creating better crop varieties and optimal growing environments.

The researchers bioprinted cells from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and from soybeans to study not just whether plant cells would live after being bioprinted—and for how long—but also how they acquire and change their identity and function.

“A plant root has a lot of different cell types with specialized functions,” says Lisa Van den Broeck, a postdoctoral researcher at North Carolina State University and first author of a paper describing the work. “There are also different sets of genes being expressed; some are cell-specific. We wanted to know what happens after you bioprint live cells and place them into an environment that you design. Are they alive and doing what they should be doing?”

The process of 3D bioprinting plant cells is mechanically similar to printing ink or plastics, with a few necessary tweaks.

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Fast-as-lightning 3D microprinting with two lasers

In light sheet 3D printing, red and blue laser light is used to print objects precisely and quickly on a micrometer scale. Credit: Vincent Hahn, KIT

Printing objects from plastic precisely, quickly, and inexpensively is the goal of many 3D printing processes. However, speed and high resolution remain a technological challenge. A research team from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Heidelberg University, and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has come a long way toward achieving this goal. It developed a laser printing process that can print micrometer-sized parts in the blink of an eye. The international team published the work in Nature Photonics.

Stereolithography 3D printing is currently one of the most popular additive manufacturing processes for plastics, both for private and industrial applications. In stereolithography, the layers of a 3D object are projected one by one into a container filled with resin. The resin is cured by UV light. However, previous stereolithography methods are slow and have too low a resolution. Light-sheet 3D printing, which is used by the KIT researchers, is a fast and high-resolution alternative.

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UAE unveils the first prototype of its Smart 3D Printed Bridge that can build and design itself

Autodesk & Dar Al-Handasah collaborate to design a smart 3D printed bridge

Dar Al-Handasah, a Lebanese engineering firm, collaborated with American software company Autodesk to create a smart 3D printed bridge that builds and designs itself using 3D printing, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI). The bridge was unveiled recently in the UAE.

The five-metre bridge’s first prototype was designed in the UAE as part of the engineering firm’s efforts to introduce a safer, more sustainable, and smarter design to the country as a result of its digital capabilities and innovations.

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First 3D printed multi-storey home in North America completes

After 80 hours of printing concrete, Ontario-based Nidus3D has finished a two-storey 3D printed home in a test of how technology could speed up construction and ease a shortage in trade skills.

The home, Nidus3D’s second, is a 2,300 sq ft space with a studio on the ground floor and residence above.

Using a COBOD BOD2 printer, the company cut construction time by more than half from its first 3D printed home, which took 200 hours to build.

Another innovation, it said, was 3D printing a horizontal beam on site and lifting into place by a crane.

Although there are other 3D printed homes in the US and Canada, these have either been one-storey houses or included a second non-3D printed storey.

In Europe, a company called Kamp C built the continent’s first two-storey 3D printed house in July 2020. Created entirely on site, the building in Westerlo, Belgium also used a BOD2 printer.

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This startup 3D prints tiny homes from recyclable plastics

And their method is faster, cheaper, and more sustainable.

By Nergis Firtina

Recently, many projects have been carried out using recyclable materials for sustainability. One of these projects was implemented by the Los Angeles-based architectural startup Azure.

Azure is using recycled plastic to 3D print prefab homes. The startup is now selling many house models ranging from a backyard studio to a two-bedroom ADU.

“The construction sector is the largest global consumer of raw materials, responsible for approximately 11 percent of the world’s total carbon emissions. Our responsibility to our customers and future generations is to use the most sustainable practices imaginable,” said Ross Maguire, the CEO of Azure, in April.

Azure also unveiled what it called the world’s first 3D printed “backyard studio” made with recycled plastic materials in the same month. 

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