The design constraints of additive manufacturing (AM) are mainly centered on build space, rather than complexity. People can (and do) design all kinds of crazy geometries to be produced via AM, but larger parts or prototypes require the object be built in multiple parts for later construction, or simply a larger 3D printer. This is one reason why a move toward larger AM systems has been an industry trend for the last few years.
The old maxim says to work smarter, not harder. What if, instead of building larger and larger 3D printers, we could develop a method of building large-scale objects inside the restricted dimensions of existing 3D printers? Researchers at MIT have developed a new method of printing large objects in limited build envelopes that they call Hyperform. Continue reading
Everything can be broken down into its component parts. You are composed of cells, your car is made of a pile of metal and plastic, and even your pen is built from multiple components. When it comes to truly large-scale construction of buildings or machinery, the number of parts involved runs into the thousands.
Scientists at MIT want to simplify construction by, paradoxically, increasing the number of parts required to build something. Kenneth Cheung and Neil Gershenfeld have developed a system of identical interlocking composite parts that can be assembled to build just about anything. Continue reading
I don’t really like covering the whole 3D printed guns fiasco. The whole thing seems to be begging for a knee-jerk reaction from lawmakers and is based more on fear than an actual threat. Low tech guns have been around for a while, and that’s pretty much the status of 3D printed guns.
No, if I’m going to cover the less than savory uses additive manufacturing (AM) has been put to, I’d much rather look at less dangerous aspects. Like printing keys, for example. A group of MIT students have developed a method to replicate high security keys using a 3D printer. Continue reading
Some of the most exciting breakthroughs in additive manufacturing (AM) don’t revolve around the newest 3D printer to hit the market. Nor do they revolve solely around the properties of the newest material. Simplifying and expanding on the manner in which materials can be used have the potential for the greatest impact on the industry.
Researchers at MIT have developed two new methods for dealing with multi-material objects built with AM. These projects are named OpenFab and Spec2Fab. OpenFab offers a “programmable pipeline” for the actual printing process, while Spec2Fab focuses on simplifying the composition of a multi-material object. Continue reading
Syfy’s show Eureka aired an episode in which bio additive manufacturing (AM) systems printed out entire bodies to create clones of people. Of course, the show used the idea to perpetuate the old pod person trope of clones replacing the original people, but the technology isn’t entirely fictional. Bioprinting has been used to print ears, synthetic human tissue, and is being developed to produce vasculatory systems and organs.
Put together, those advances almost provide enough material to reproduce a human, minus the skeleton. Now, researchers at MIT have figured out a method to print synthetic bone using a mix of a soft polymer and a stiff polymer in a brick formation. The findings were reported in Advanced Functional Materials titled “Tough Composites Inspired by Mineralized Natural Materials: Computation, 3D printing, and Testing.” Continue reading