3D printing gets bigger, faster and stronger

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HARP in action as it vertically and continuously prints a large 3D object.

Research advances are changing the image of a once-niche technology.

A resin printer from Chad Mirkin’s lab at Northwestern University in Illinois can create structures as large as a person in hours (image sequence sped up). Credit: Northwestern University

As a metal platform rises from a vat of liquid resin, it pulls an intricate white shape from the liquid — like a waxy creature emerging from a lagoon. This machine is the world’s fastest resin-based 3D printer and it can create a plastic structure as large as a person in a few hours, says Chad Mirkin, a chemist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The machine, which Mirkin and his colleagues reported last October1, is one of a slew of research advances in 3D printing that are broadening the prospects of a technology once viewed as useful mainly for making small, low-quality prototype parts. Not only is 3D printing becoming faster and producing larger products, but scientists are coming up with innovative ways to print and are creating stronger materials, sometimes mixing multiple materials in the same product.

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A Modular, 3D printed dog house made of 1000+ tennis balls

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CallisonRTKL + an idea + two 3D printers + 1,019 tennis balls = a clever dog house auctioned off to benefit the SPCA of Texas. The Dallas-based architecture and design office designed Fetch House with a continuous facade made up of over 1000 tennis balls held by a 3D printed modular support structure. The balls stay in place by compression but can easily be pulled out for a game of fetch with your pooch. When play time is over, the balls can be returned to the walls of the dog house.

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Construction completed on largest 3D-printed building in the world

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Largest 3D-printed municipality building in Dubai

At 31 feet tall and 6,900 square feet, a new building in Dubai is the largest 3D-printed building in the world — and the first two-story structure of its kind.

The most impressive part of the project? U.S. company Apis Cor built the structure using only three workers and one printer.

Proving that the printer could handle a harsh environment, Apis Cor did the printing outdoors where there was no temperature or humidity control.

However, there was a logistical issue the printer did have to tackle: The square foot area of the building was larger than the printing area of the stationary machine. To solve this technological obstacle, a crane moved the 3D printer around the site.

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This is the world’s largest 3D-printed house

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Largest ‘permitted 3D-printed home’ was built at an incredible pace

SQ4D has just 3D-printed an impressively large home, and indeed is claiming that the 1,900 square foot abode is the ‘largest permitted 3D-printed home in the world’, no less.

While larger buildings have been constructed with 3D printing – including this two-storey affair in Dubai, which at almost 7,000 square feet holds the official world record – this is certainly one of the biggest houses we’ve heard about, and it was created at an impressive lick of speed.

SQ4D printed the house in 48 hours, albeit spread across eight days, and it was created right there on-site. That’s quick when you compare it to previous projects such as the 3D-printed houses in Mexico which were 500 square feet and took 24 hours to make.

Furthermore, SQ4D pegs the cost of the construction materials at less than $6,000 (around £4,600). The building work was carried out by the company’s Autonomous Robotic Construction System (ARCS).

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3D Printing and the murky ethics of replicating bones

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Bone scan databases offer scientists new ways to study human remains. But some worry they could be misused.

Ten years ago, it wasn’t possible for most people to use 3D technology to print authentic copies of human bones. Today, using a 3D printer and digital scans of actual bones, it is possible to create unlimited numbers of replica bones — each curve and break and tiny imperfection intact — relatively inexpensively. The technology is increasingly allowing researchers to build repositories of bone data, which they can use to improve medical procedures, map how humans have evolved, and even help show a courtroom how someone died.

But the proliferation of faux bones also poses an ethical dilemma — and one that, prior to the advent of accessible 3D printing, was mostly limited to museum collections containing skeletons of dubious provenance. Laws governing how real human remains of any kind may be obtained and used for research, after all — as well as whether individuals can buy and sell such remains — are already uneven worldwide. Add to that the new ability to traffic in digital data representing these remains, and the ethical minefield becomes infinitely more fraught. “When someone downloads these skulls and reconstructs them,” says Ericka L’Abbé, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, “it becomes their data, their property.”

Digital bone repositories already exist around the world, and while viewing those bones in a computer environment is often an option, most such repositories keep the underlying data — which could be used to print new, physical bone replicas — private. The repositories that do make the data open access typically only include human remains that are older than 100 years because of the legal issues surrounding the potential to identify a person from their remains, as well as the value of the data their remains might yield.

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Micro-angelo? This 3D-printed ‘David’ is just one millimeter tall

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3D printing has proven itself useful in so many industries that it’s no longer necessary to show off, but some people just can’t help themselves. Case in point: this millimeter-tall rendition of Michelangelo’s famous “David” printed with copper using a newly developed technique.

The aptly named “Tiny David” was created by Exaddon, a spin-off company from another spin-off company, Cytosurge, spun off from Swiss research university ETH Zurich. It’s only a fraction of a millimeter wide and weighs two micrograms.

It was created using Exaddon’s “CERES” 3D printer, which lays down a stream of ionized liquid copper at a rate of as little as femtoliters per second, forming a rigid structure with features as small as a micrometer across. The Tiny David took about 12 hours to print, though something a little simpler in structure could probably be done much quicker.

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World’s first 3D-printed neighborhood unveiled in Mexico

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The project, which was created in partnership with Icon and Échale, is located in Tabasco, southeastern Mexico

 We’ve followed New Story’s efforts to create affordable 3D-printed homes for a while, including its first prototype model and ambitious plan to build a community in Latin America. That plan has now been put into action and the non-profit has revealed what it calls the world’s first 3D-printed community, which is currently under construction in rural Mexico.

The project, which was created in partnership with Icon and Échale, is located in Tabasco, southeastern Mexico. The team aims to produce 50 homes for families in the area who are living in extreme poverty, often in dangerous and rickety makeshift shelters. So far, two homes have been completed and the families chosen will receive them at a zero interest, zero profit mortgage costing around 400 Mexican Pesos (about US$20 per month), which will run for seven years.

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Multimaterial 3-D printing manufactures complex objects, fast

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Multimaterial multinozzle 3D printheads. Credit: Nature (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1736-8

3-D printers are revolutionizing manufacturing by allowing users to create any physical shape they can imagine on-demand. However, most commercial printers are only able to build objects from a single material at a time and inkjet printers that are capable of multimaterial printing are constrained by the physics of droplet formation. Extrusion-based 3-D printing allows a broad palette of materials to be printed, but the process is extremely slow. For example, it would take roughly 10 days to build a 3-D object roughly one liter in volume at the resolution of a human hair and print speed of 10 cm/s using a single-nozzle, single-material printhead. To build the same object in less than 1 day, one would need to implement a printhead with 16 nozzles printing simultaneously!

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Watch a massive 3D-printed building take shape

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Dubai is now home to the world’s largest 3D-printed two-story building.

On Wednesday, officials in the city’s Warsan neighborhood unveiled the building, which is 9.5 meters (31 feet) tall and has a total area of 640 square meters (6,889 square feet). The structure’s concrete walls were constructed in place using a massive 3D printer — and the entire building serves as a testament to the power of 3D printing in construction.

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Massive, AI-powered robots are 3D-printing entire rockets

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To make a 3D-printable rocket, Relativity Space simplified the design of many components, including the engine.PHOTOGRAPH: RELATIVITY

Relativity Space may have the biggest metal 3D printers in the world, and they’re cranking out parts to reinvent the rocket industry here—and on Mars.

For a factory where robots toil around the clock to build a rocket with almost no human labor, the sound of grunts echoing across the parking lot make for a jarring contrast.

“That’s Keanu Reeves’ stunt gym,” says Tim Ellis, the chief executive and cofounder of Relativity Space, a startup that wants to combine 3D printing and artificial intelligence to do for the rocket what Henry Ford did for the automobile. As we walk among the robots occupying Relativity’s factory, he points out the just-completed upper stage of the company’s rocket, which will soon be shipped to Mississippi for its first tests. Across the way, he says, gesturing to the outside world, is a recording studio run by Snoop Dogg.

Neither of those A-listers have paid a visit to Relativity’s rocket factory, but the presence of these unlikely neighbors seems to underscore the company’s main talking point: It can make rockets anywhere. In an ideal cosmos, though, its neighbors will be even more alien than Snoop Dogg. Relativity wants to not just build rockets, but to build them on Mars. How exactly? The answer, says Ellis, is robots—lots of them.

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Watch the world’s largest 3D-printer spit out a 25 foot boat

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…and how this is really about using wood to replace metal

If you’re shopping for a 3D printer, a key consideration is bed size; what’s the largest object you’d realistically need to print?

For the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, size limitations aren’t so much of an issue. That’s because they’ve got a gantry-style 3D printer that can spit out pieces that are 22×100.

Twenty-two by 100 feet. And ten feet tall.

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An Austin startup can 3D-print tiny homes in 24 hours for a fraction of the cost of traditional homebuilding — here’s how Icon could revolutionize affordable housing

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Icon will 3D-print six more tiny homes at a property in Austin housing the city’s homeless population. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Icon is an Austin startup that designs 3D-printing technology capable of building tiny homes in about a day for a fraction of the cost of traditional construction methods.

Icon cofounder Evan Loomis told Business Insider that pinpointing an exact cost estimate is tricky, but the company successfully printed a 350-square-foot proof-of-concept home for $10,000 in 24 hours in 2018.

The company isn’t the first to design 3D printing technology for home building, but its unique customization and on-site construction could be revolutionary feats amid a growing demand in the US for affordable housing.

Icon’s latest 3D printer, the Vulcan ll, is available for purchase and is already being put to use.

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