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
Being honest, a great number of hobbyist 3D printers are little more than RepRap builds that have been prettied up for consumer appeal. I’m not saying the systems are necessarily bad, but they don’t offer anything new to additive manufacturing (AM), even when compared to other home 3D printers. In theory, anyone with a fair grasp of mechanics can put together a RepRap printer. That’s kind of the point.
So, when I look at a new 3D printer, regardless of whether it’s a hobbyist model or not, I’m looking for something at least slightly innovative. A RepRap printer that glows in the dark is not innovative, it’s gimmicky (I hope I made that up). The EZ3D printer fulfills my desire for innovation by paying attention to details intended to make the 3D printing process more user friendly. Continue reading
A fair amount of the Apple’s success has been based on branding. The company convinces its audience that its product is superior and easier to use than competing products. This results in an almost cult of personality level of devotion from Apple fans. Devotees eagerly follow each new release and update, happily ditching slightly outdated tech for the newest thing.
Some people might argue (I’m not judging here) that you don’t really need a MacBook Air to surf the web, but you can sure look cool doing so. At this point, 3D printing is a niche product for the home market. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to compare the efforts of companies like MakerBot to sell the maker idea to efforts of Apple to sell the iPad experience.
It’s hard to get anything done if you don’t have the right equipment. I spent plenty of less-than-fruitful hours staring at my computer because I was interrupted on a regular basis by my wife or the dogs. The solution was a laptop that allowed me to hide in the spare room that eventually became my home office.
Scientists around the world don’t always have the tools they need for the job at hand. By way of analogy, they need their own spare room and laptop to really get anything accomplished. I’m not even talking about high-tech equipment. Plenty of scientists (and teachers) don’t have access to basic tools.
In the course of my diligent efforts to keep you good people up to date on the state of additive manufacturing, 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.
We’ll begin in Aachen, Germany, where the International Laser Technology Congress (AKL) was held in early May. The main star of the show was breakthroughs in the use of ultrashort pulse lasers (USP).