In the course of my diligent efforts to keep you good people up to date on the state of additive manufacturing (AM), I come across many interesting news items. I’ll gather them up every so often and present them in a Rapid Ready Roundup (like this one). You can find the last Roundup here.
If you follow AM news you’ll almost certainly be aware of the controversy surrounding Defense Distributed’s successful firing of a 3D printed firearm. The US State Department apparently heard about it as well and sent the company a takedown order, along with a suggestion the “Liberator” breaks international gun control laws.
“Until the Department provides Defense Distributed with final CJ determinations, Defense Distributed should treat the above technical data as ITAR-controlled. This means that all such data should be removed from public access immediately.”
If the notion that 3D printing can accomplish more than just manufacturing weapons appeals to you, Michigan Tech is in full agreement. The university has launched an AM design contest called 3D Printers for Peace. The contest calls for submissions that advance leveraging the power of AM in the areas of low-cost medical devices, objects that improve energy efficiency, and other peaceful uses of the technology. The winner of the contest will receive a free 3D printer.
From the 3D Printers for Peace site: “3D printing is changing the world. Unfortunately, the only thing many people know about 3D printing is that it can be used to make guns. We want to celebrate designs that will make lives better, not snuff them out.”
Moving on to another non-violent subject, researchers are considering how AM could be used to build individually tailored meals. By using alternative ingredients and a 3D printer, entire meals with specific caloric limits or nutritional values could be created.
“Once you have the automatic collection of what you’re eating and when, you can predict – based off your activity levels, your planned diet and your health records – exactly how much and what types of food you should be eating. That’s really ultimately the long-term potential of food printing,” Jeffrey Lipton, a doctoral candidate at Cornell University’s Creative Machines Lab said during a lecture at the Inside 3D Printing conference. “It’s going to be about this automated production of food where you have the entire cloud of information helping to guide you forward.”
Last for today, it was inevitable that 3D printing would eventually be linked to the Star Trek universe. 3D Systems has launched a Star Trek app for its Cubify system that allows people to be printed up as a figurine in their favorite Trek outfit. The 5.5 in. figurines are printed in full color and cost $69.99.
“We’re delighted to offer Star Trek fans the chance to join the crew of the Enterprise in a way that was never before possible – by replicating themselves in 3D as a crew member,” said Sarah W. Stocker, Senior Director of Cubify for 3D Systems.