Telemedicine Has a New Tool: World’s First 3D-Printed, Connected Stethoscope

Ultrafast polymer 3D printers from Nexa3D and performance-matched materials developed by Henkel are key to achieving annual production goals of 100,000 units. 

By Norbert Sparrow

The Chinese word for “crisis” is composed of two characters, one meaning “danger” while the second one signifies “opportunity.” One can feed off the other, in other words. That came to mind as I learned about the world’s first additively manufactured, connected stethoscope developed through a partnership between Nexa3D, a startup that makes ultrafast polymer 3D printers; global giant Henkel; and French medtech startup WeMed. The medical device OEM saw an opportunity in the rapid adoption of telemedicine and remote diagnostics as COVID-19 — the crisis — marched across the globe.

Produced on the NXE400 ultrafast 3D printer using performance-matched Henkel materials, the WeMed Skop is the world’s first connected stethoscope to be additively manufactured in its entirety at scale. Annual production volumes will exceed 100,000 units, according to Nexa3D, which will showcase Skop at RAPID + TCT 2021 at McCormick Place, Chicago, on Sept. 13 to 15.

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THESE MODULAR PREFAB HOMES COULD BE THE WORLD’S FIRST TO USE A STEEL 3D-PRINTED “EXOSKELETON” CONSTRUCTION SYSTEM!

BY SHAWN MCNULTY-KOWAL  

Located in Orani, Sardinia, Exosteel comprises the world’s first housing development to use a steel 3D-printed “exoskeleton” construction system that supports and distributes all the functional elements of the building, inspired by the sculpture work of Costantino Nivola.

Museums are social hubs for travelers. They’re cultural and artistic landmarks first, yes. But they’re also guaranteed spots where tourists can take some respite from long hours spent wandering the city. Near the Nivola Museum in Sardinia, Italy, international design studio Mask Architects visualized a cluster of homes to function as a housing development for the surrounding community. Conceptualized as a small village of modular prefabricated steel houses, Mask Architects is the world’s first architecture and design firm to use a steel 3D-printed “exoskeleton” construction system to build the small village, calling it Exosteel.

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3D-printed rocket engines: the technology driving the private sector space race

The volatile nature of space rocket engines means that many early prototypes end up embedded in dirt banks or decorating the tops of any trees that are unfortunate enough to neighbour testing sites. Unintended explosions are in fact so common that rocket scientists have come up with a euphemism for when it happens: rapid unscheduled disassembly, or RUD for short. 

Every time a rocket engine blows up, the source of the failure needs to be found so that it can be fixed. A new and improved engine is then designed, manufactured, shipped to the test site and fired, and the cycle begins again – until the only disassembly taking place is of the slow, scheduled kind. Perfecting rocket engines in this way is one of the main sources of developmental delays in what is a rapidly expanding space industry. 

Today, 3D printing technology, using heat-resistant metal alloys, is revolutionising trial-and-error rocket development. Whole structures that would have previously required hundreds of distinct components can now be printed in a matter of days. This means you can expect to see many more rockets blowing into tiny pieces in the coming years, but the parts they’re actually made of are set to become larger and fewer as the private sector space race intensifies.

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An entire street of 3D printed homes in Texas are move-in ready

Written by KC Morganon

This is East 17th Street, a collection of homes that range in size and style. It’s got beautiful construction, lovely walkways and landscaping. But what truly makes this Austin, Texas project unique is that these are the first 3D-printed homes for sale in America. Yes, you read that correctly. These homes were all made with a 3D printer.

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ICON Completes 3D-Printed Houses In Austin

By Andreea Cutieru

Developer 3Strands and construction company ICON have completed new 3D-printed houses for sale in the United States, showcasing the possibilities of additive manufacturing for mass-market housing. Located in Austin, Texas, within a fast-growing neighbourhood, the East 17th St Residences development is designed by Logan Architecture and comprises four units with 3D-printed ground floors whose tectonics reflect the construction technology.

The project was first announced earlier this year and was constructed using ICON’s proprietary technology and an “advanced building material”, which the company claims to be stronger and more resilient than conventional ones. The technology is set to provide safer dwellings, better equipped for withstanding hazards and natural disasters. 

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A new nanoengineered bioink allows scientists to print 3D, anatomically accurate, multicellular blood vessels.

Researchers have designed a 3D-bioprinted model of a blood vessel that mimics its state of health and disease, thus paving the way for possible cardiovascular drug advancements with better precision.

Vascular diseases such as aneurysms, peripheral artery disease, and clots inside blood vessels account for 31% of global deaths. Despite this clinical burden, cardiovascular drug advancements have slowed over the past 20 years. The decrease in cardiovascular therapeutic development is attributed to the lack of efficiency in converting possible treatments into approved methods, specifically due to the discrepancy between studies that take place outside the body compared to inside. 
 
The team’s research aims to remodel current methodologies to minimize this gap and improve the translatability of these techniques by directing 3D bioprinting toward vascular medicine. This interdisciplinary and collaborative project was recently published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials
 
Bioprinting in 3D is an advanced manufacturing technique capable of producing unique, tissue-shaped constructs in a layer-by-layer fashion with embedded cells, making the arrangement more likely to mirror the native, multicellular makeup of vascular structures. A range of hydrogel bioinks was introduced to design these structures; however, there is a limitation in available bioinks that can mimic the vascular composition of native tissues. Current bioinks lack high printability and are unable to deposit a high density of living cells into complex 3D architectures, making them less effective.

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From Exploration to 3D Printing Colonies: NASA Wants 3D Printing Simulation Included in ISS Cargo for Materials

By Aubrey Clarke

NASA is including the Redwire Regolith Print (RRP), a printing system, in their preparation for the future Artemis lunar missions. They intend to use the moon’s dusty soil (officially known as regolith) as a printing raw material. Instead of hauling tons of heavy equipment from Earth, the plan is to use readily available resources on the moon to build what is needed.

Engineers want to 3D print with regolith from the moon for a long time, and in fact, they have proven the procedure on Earth possible. Bringing a 3D printer to ISS for testing is a significant step toward making the technology suitable for deployment. The researchers would like to know if printing without gravity is possible and what the strength of the printed material should be.

NASA is including the Redwire Regolith Print (RRP), a printing system, in their preparation for the future Artemis lunar missions. They intend to use the moon’s dusty soil (officially known as regolith) as a printing raw material. Instead of hauling tons of heavy equipment from Earth, the plan is to use readily available resources on the moon to build what is needed.

Engineers want to 3D print with regolith from the moon for a long time, and in fact, they have proven the procedure on Earth possible. Bringing a 3D printer to ISS for testing is a significant step toward making the technology suitable for deployment. The researchers would like to know if printing without gravity is possible and what the strength of the printed material should be.

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Concrete 3D Printing to Make UK’s HS2 High Speed Rail Infrastructure

by Michael Molitch

It’s abundantly clear that fossil fuel-driven transport needs to be replaced, but more rail infrastructure is only as “green” as the materials and energy it uses. Currently under construction, the UK’s second high-speed rail network, HS2, may use concrete 3D printing technology to build concrete slabs on-site. The contractor, Skanska Costain STRABAG Joint Venture (SCS JV) claims that it will reduce the project’s carbon footprint by up to 50 percent.

Dubbing the technology “Printfrastructure”, SCS JV says that it will be using a mobile concrete 3D printer to 3D print elements of the rail network on-site, rather than transporting pre-cast slabs by road and lowering them into place via crane. This will allow for the construction of pieces in physically-restricted spaces, prevent disruption of public spaces and roadways that would be required by traditional methods, and make it possible to work during normal daylight hours, rather than at night, when the trains have stopped running.

SCS JV is a joint venture between Costain, a century-old British construction firm involved in the building of the Chunnel between France and England, and Skanska, a century-old Swedish company that’s renovated U.N. headquarters, built the World Trade Center Transportation Hub and MetLife stadium, among other notable projects. Their legacies should be ample evidence that they can take on HS2 and additive construction, but their legacies have also provided ample breeding ground for controversies and corruption.

CyBe Robotic Arm for additive construction. Image courtesy of CyBe.

Working on the project are ChangeMaker3D, a UK-based firm that collaborates with additive construction company CyBe, which has developed a mobile industrial robotic arm that deposits the firm’s own concrete material. ChangeMaker3D will be teaming with Versarien, a material expert, to incorporate graphene into the 3D printing process. So far, the use of graphene has not been used in additive construction, but the project team says, “Concrete with microscopic strands of graphene only several atoms thick running through it like stripes in a stick of rock replaces traditional steel to help drive improved site safety, greater construction flexibility, shorter build time and a smaller carbon footprint.”

This, in turn will reduce the carbon footprint by up to 50 percent, according to SCS JV, in part due to the lack of steel, cranes, and delivery trucks. Another factor contributing to reduced CO2 emissions is the type of pattern that can be produced with 3D printing. Unlike casting, additive construction is capable of making lattice structures that reduce total material use overall.

The CyBe robotic arm 3D printing the drone laboratory in Dubai. Image courtesy of CyBe.

SCS JV Temporary Works Manager, Andrew Duck, said: “Automation enabled by Printfrastructure’s 3D reinforced concrete printing creates a factory-like environmental that delivers a high-quality product that both increases efficient use of materials, and reduces our carbon footprint. It is important that we give technologies such as Printfrastructure the opportunity to flourish because of the possibilities it offers the industry to make a step change in how projects are delivered.”

Numerous studies have suggested that tends to have a much lower carbon footprint than car or air transportation. During the construction phase, emissions may go up, however. China Dialogue suggested that coal use associated with steel and cement production increased two years in a row in 2018, with CO2 emissions thus going up. Though construction of high speed rail infrastructure can result in 58 t– 176 t of CO2 per km of line and year, an analysis by International Union of Railways determined “that the carbon footprint of high speed rail including operation, track construction and rollingstock construction is about 14 to 16 times less than transport by private car or airplane.”

Carbon emission in t CO2 due to construction per km of line and year for high speed rail. Image courtesy of International Union of Railways.

Carbon Footprint of traffic modes on route Valence – Marseille in France for high speed rail. Image courtesy of International Union of Railways.

The amount of greenhouse gasses that can be reduced, however, is determined by the energy source for electric trains. According to Railway Technology, “The high-speed trains between Spain and France run on renewable electrical energy and have a low carbon footprint, with every 100km travelled enabling an emission reduction of around 15kg of CO2.”

HS2 is also aiming to use alternative fuel sources at its construction sites, including hydrogen power. If the HS2 project really does deliver, then even the construction process may use fewer fossil fuels. That may be a big “if”. Not only do we have to see that graphene can be incorporated into the 3D printing process, but we also have to see the HS2 project actually stay on track. In the U.S., high speed rail projects have been regularly derailed by such large oil interests as the Koch brothers. In the U.K., the eastern leg of HS2 has been attacked as “unachievable”.

For those who believe rail may be the answer to decarbonizing transport, let’s hope that that’s not the case. Proof of concept trials for the additive component of HS2 are scheduled to begin in Spring 2022. Meanwhile, Changemaker 3D is also working with the British government to possibly 3D print wastewater distribution chambers in the country.

Via 3Dprint.com

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Terran Mars Habitat Being 3D Printed by ICON for NASA

By Sarah Saunders

Texas-based additive construction company ICON just announced that it’s been charged with creating a 3D printed habitat, called the Mars Dune Alpha, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, also in Texas. The company received a subcontract through Jacobs supporting the NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) for its Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) sequence, and will use its next-gen Vulcan concrete 3D printing system to fabricate a 1,700 square-foot structure that will simulate a realistic Martian habitat that can support long-term exploration science missions in outer space.

The structure is being designed by architecture firm BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, which is based in Copenhagen, Barcelona, New York, and London.

“Together with NASA and ICON, we are investigating what humanity’s home on another planet will entail from the human experience. The data gained from this habitat research will directly inform NASA’s standards for long-duration exploration missions, and as such will potentially lay the foundation for a new Martian vernacular. Mars Dune Alpha will take us one step closer to becoming a multiplanetary species,” said Bjarke Ingels, the Founder and Creative Director of BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group.

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Nanotech-built armor could replace Kevlar, steel for soldier protection

Recent laboratory experiments using novel 3D printing approaches with nanotechnology yielded a lattice structure that stopped projectiles better than Kevlar or steel at a much lighter weight. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) 

A recent breakthrough by Army-funded researchers may lead to a new material that could yield lightweight body armor, blast shields and more for future soldiers.

Testing at the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, is an Army-sponsored research center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, showed a polymer patterned in a “lattice-like” structure using nanotechnologies could withstand more force than Kevlar or steel.

The paper, recently published in the scientific journal, Nature Materials, showed that the nanotechnology-built material prevented objects from tearing through and was “more efficient” at stopping penetration than traditional materials.

The “fiber computer” cloth has already accurately tracked user activity solely on body temperature readings.

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U.S. 1st 3D commercial ship under construction

by Fatima Bahtić

American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), Robert Allan (RAL), Signet Maritime Corporation and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) have developed a commercial vessel using an end-to-end 3D design process.

The vessel, which the companies claim is the U.S.-first, will receive its certificate of inspection from the USCG and will be built and operated by Signet to ABS Class.

As disclosed, the companies have developed the project using only 3D models in design and construction for all structures.

“This landmark achievement sets the bar for future projects both in the U.S. and internationally. Together with our forward-looking partners, we have realized a long-held dream of the industry to leave behind 2D paper plans and move to the next generation of vessel production,” said Christopher J. Wiernicki, ABS Chairman, President and CEO. 

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