Rapid Ready Research Roundup

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.

As might be gathered from the header, today’s Roundup is all about research news. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has handed out $7.4 million in grants for continuing AM research. Out of the total, $5 million will go to NAMII and the other $2.4 million to Northern Illinois University (NIU). Continue reading

NASA Invests $100,000 in Bioprinting

Some of the most impressive parts built through additive manufacturing (AM) won’t be designed for planes, trains or automobiles. Bioprinting could build new organs, skin and various other body parts, revolutionizing how medicine is practiced. As more and more organic materials find their way into other fields (such as electronics), bioprinting could end up being the most important field of AM.

NASA, already an early adopter of AM, is now ready to back bioprinting with a $100,000 grant. Unlike other forms of bioprinting, the project being backed would eventually be able to print nearly anything by pulling the ingredients from thin air. Continue reading

3D Printing is What’s for Dinner

Additive manufacturing (AM) seems to have its fingers in almost every pie these days. From rapid prototyping to large-scale production to medical and dental usage; 3D printing is everywhere. With that in mind, it shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise that AM has designs on your dinner plate.

Systems and Materials Research Corporation (SMRC) has received a six month, $150,000 grant from NASA to investigate the potential of using AM to build meals. The basic idea follows the standard pattern of AM. In this case, instead of slowly building up layers of metal or plastic, the RepRap style printer will build up layers of protein, sugar and carbohydrates. Continue reading

Recreating Vintage Spacecraft

For the first time, Europe has had the chance to see the hardware and technology behind some of NASA’s projects. Called “NASA: A Human Adventure,” the exhibition, which launched in January 2011, has assembled a collection of instruments, artifacts, and spacecraft.

NASA’s space exploration equipment has moved from Stockholm, Sweden to Madrid, Spain, and to Istanbul, Turkey, through the space act agreement. White Room Artifacts used a variety of materials and processes, including 3D printed models produced by Solid Concepts, to manufacture the necessary pieces. Continue reading

Made in Space Focuses on 3D Printing That’s Out of This World

Additive manufacturing (AM) has a whole lot going on in the world, and, increasingly, has a lot going on out of this world as well. 3D printing in space is an idea that excites a lot of people. Both NASA and the ESA have notions about building moon bases using AM, and a proposal has been put forward to use the technology to build satellites in orbit.

Clearly, there are a lot of ideas floating around about using AM in space, and most of those ideas require ongoing research and development. That’s where Made in Space comes in. Founded in 2010, the company combines NASA research veterans, astronauts and entrepreneurs all brought together to explore the possibilities offered by off-planet 3D printing. Continue reading