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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3D Printed, AI Controlled BioPods Can Grow Food in Space

Artistic depiction of BioPods deployed in space

By  Ameya Paleja

BioPods use inflatable membrane and need no supervision.

As we prepare for a future in space where crewed missions are expected to reach Mars and we begin settling on our Moon and other planets, the issue of supplying food in space crops up. Carrying large quantities of food aboard spacecraft might not be feasible and the environment on these space rocks is likely to be hostile to agriculture. French- American company Interstellar Lab may have found the right answer in their BioPods, the most advanced greenhouses ever built. 

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NEW AI ALGORITHM UNLOCKS RAPID HIGH-RESOLUTION COLOR 3D PRINTING

Three color 3D printed models created using the team’s new ML software. Image via Charles University. 

By PAUL HANAPHY  

Researchers from Charles University’s Computer Graphics Group (CGG) have developed a machine learning (ML)-based technique that could help unlock the potential of high fidelity color 3D printing.

By continually simulating the printing process, the team have managed to train an algorithm to iteratively find the optimal parameters for limiting color bleeding, and improving part accuracy. The program is ultra-efficient too, requiring only one GPU, making it up to 300 times faster than similar AI approaches, while reducing print preparation times from tens of hours down to just a couple of minutes. 

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Wake Forest teams win a NASA prize for 3D printing human liver tissue

By A. Tarantola

Skinks think they’re just sooooo cool. Through no shortage of effort on our part, humans still lack the physiological capacity to regrow lost limbs and damaged organs. Well, we didn’t until this week, at least. A pair of research teams from Wake Forest University’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine have topped NASA’s long-running Vascular Tissue Challenge by 3D printing a biologically viable chunk of human liver.

The teams, respectively dubbed Winston and WFIRM, each managed to produce a centimeter-square hunk-o-meat capable of surviving and nominally operating for a span of 30 days, albeit using divergent methodologies. Yeah, granted, even NASA admits that both teams relied on similar “3D printing technologies to create gel-like molds, or scaffolds, with a network of channels designed to maintain sufficient oxygen and nutrient levels to keep the constructed tissues alive,” they differed on their printing designs and materials. 

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Super productive 3D bioprinter could help speed up drug development

The high-throughput 3D bioprinting setup performing prints on a standard 96-well plate. Credit: Biofabrication

by University of California – San Diego

A 3-D printer that rapidly produces large batches of custom biological tissues could help make drug development faster and less costly. Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego developed the high-throughput bioprinting technology, which 3-D prints with record speed—it can produce a 96-well array of living human tissue samples within 30 minutes. Having the ability to rapidly produce such samples could accelerate high-throughput preclinical drug screening and disease modeling, the researchers said.

The process for a pharmaceutical company to develop a new drug can take up to 15 years and cost up to $2.6 billion. It generally begins with screening tens of thousands of drug candidates in test tubes. Successful candidates then get tested in animals, and any that pass this stage move on to clinical trials. With any luck, one of these candidates will make it into the market as an FDA approved drug.

The high-throughput 3-D bioprinting technology developed at UC San Diego could accelerate the first steps of this process. It would enable drug developers to rapidly build up large quantities of human tissues on which they could test and weed out drug candidates much earlier.

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