3D Printing: The Stories We Didn't Cover This Week — January 24

This week’s news stories we didn’t have time to cover run the spectrum of 3D printing heavy-hitters, from top industry leaders to the desktop geniuses who populate the 3D printing space. While industry leaders seek to cut production time and improve performance using innovative approaches, exceptional designs and 3D prints also emerge from diverse places and aspire to make great contributions that can also change lives (and make a little cash on the side, too).

Laser printing DNA for cheap tops the list of more outlandish advances, while we also saw more practical printed brain replicas, robots, racetracks, metal detectors, and new PLA filament to remind us of the creative spirit that drives 3D printing. Two other developments this week recognize exactly this spirit: the beginning of Science Channel’s new “All-American Makers” show and Singapore’s Centre for 3D Printing’s 2015 Competition, which wants to give you cash awards for your innovations in “Vintage Toys” and “Center Logo Design” categories. While industry giants speed up, makers (and doctors) are digging in and coming up with some great new 3D printed creations.

Boston Children’s Hospital Uses 3D Printed Models

We begin with uplifting medical news, as Boston Children’s Hospital has entered the 3D printing medical scene, and recently used one of their own 3D printers to aid a brain surgeon in a complex surgery to remove more than one ounce of a 16-year-old teen’s brain tissue. Boston Children’s Hospital has printed more than 170 models of blood vessels, ribbrain cages, skulls, spines, and in this case, brains. (It has one Stratasys printer that runs there ’round the clock to aid medical teams.) The models help the surgeons practice surgeries before the real thing and can be used to explain the procedures to loved ones. Boston Children’s Hospital reportedly will spend over $1.2 million on 3D printing related activities by the end of the year, and it also plans to study the effects that 3D printing can have on the medical field.

Unilever Uses Stratasys 3D Printer and Cuts Production Time by 40%

Speaking of Stratasys 3D printers, Unilever has recently announced that by using Stratasys’ PolyJet 3D printing technology to manufacture its consumer goods, the company — which owns Dove, Lipton, Ben & Jerry’s, Axe, Vaseline, Surf, Domestos, Hellman’s, and Comfort brands to name a few — can cut by 40% its lead times for prototyping toiletparts. The company’s division in Italy uses Stratasys’ Objet500 Connex for household/laundry products. It prints injection molded tools for items such as toilet rim blocks, bottle caps, and closures.

Unilever uses strong Digital ABS material for 3D printing. It also uses an FDM-based Fortus 360mc 3D Production System, using ABS-M30 production-grade plastic, to print thermoforming, flexible mold prototypes that can endure product testing. So next time you buy a bottle of Surf detergent, a jar of Hellman’s mayonnaise, or one of those toilet cleaners you hang inside the toilet rim, just remember that 3D printing may have played a role in the making of that product!

3DSIM and Additive Industries Partner to Save Time and Money in 3D Printing

Like in any business, and as Unilever’s own experience has shown us, time is money in 3D printing/additive manufacturing. And money can be lost when prints go wrong. Louisville’s 3DSIM has developed software that Netherlands-based Additive Industries plans to use. This software optimizes metal 3D printing processing simulation tools based on the actual geometry, material properties, machine behaviors, and process parameters of additive manufacturing protocols. 3DSIM software claims the time required to simulate a 3D printing problem can be cut drastically. There’s no doubt that the 3D printing space can use an improved simulation model, and this symbiotic collaboration between software designers and manufacturing may provide great improvements that can benefit the entire industry eventually.

Cheap Printable DNA Gets Major Funding Boost

In other 3D printing business news, San Francisco-based start-up Cambrian Genomics has received $10 million in funding to realize their science fiction vision of making 3D printable DNA an affordable consumer item. Making DNA and selling it will be easier for the company now that they challenge the expenses involved. Ccgreating one set of human chromosomes by traditional printing methods can cost billions of dollars, but Cambrian Genomics uses laser printers to sort DNA strands (the costly time consuming requirement). Lasers aid the sorting process, significantly cutting down time, rendering the 3D printing of DNA more of a household activity where anyone can be a genetic designer. Forget mice with human ears attached, people. CEO Austen Heinz is talking 3D printing dinosaurs. Stay tuned.

Dad 3D Prints Hot Wheels Racetrack Parts for Son, and Himselfdad-designs-3d-prints-whole-hot-wheels-drag-race-track-1

While little children dream of dinosaurs, they also dream of traintracks and racetracks in almost equal measure. Far less ambitious than the 3D printing of dinosaurs, but nonetheless impressive, an electrician father has designed and 3D printed a Hot Wheels racetrack for his 3-year-old son. Using a desktop 3D printer, he printed almost all of the parts for this racetrack except the track itself (he used Blu Track for that).

Man 3D Prints Functional Robotic Arm

Robots also top the list of the stuff that younger children’s (and older kids-at-hearts’) dreams are made of. Andreas Hölldorfer wanted to 3D print his dream of a functional robot arm and this is exactly what he did. On his blog and in various YouTube clips, he shows how he made the arm, which consists of several joints and a gripper. He 3D printed all of this on his Delta 3D printer in about a week using more than 1.2 kg of ABS. He designed and printed using the slic3r honeycomb infill at about 12%. The design of the robot arm can probably be accommodated by most 3D printers, but be warned: the printing and assembly process is quite complicated, so you may want to read all of his directions carefully before you try this at home.

Hölldorfer is also working on an ongoing project to develop a 3D printed, multi-limbed gripping robot arm on a rotary plate. This robot can move in all directions and is user-controlled. It’s a plastic industrial robot capable of holding a cup of coffee — and of course, much more in due time.

Beach Metal Detector is 3D Printed

Another functional device that has been 3D printed is your handy beach metal detector. Paulo Bubolz has 3D printed the entire body, handle, pole, and coil enclosure of a detector that has been assembled and tested as a working prototype. It took him three prototype attempts to get the now ergonomically correct handle right, and Bubolz states that the metal_detector_3dphardest part of the project was the design’s electronics and battery pack. After trying out various options, he 3D printed the enclosure in two parts that are screwed together; this makes the box easier to print and makes the electronics more accessible. He also 3D printed an arm brace, three knobs used to control the device, and made sure to model openings for a battery charger and even a headphone jack! The detector’s rod portion is made from four smaller pieces that are easily assembled with screws. This easy assembly makes the device easy to transport, and it appears from the little treasures Bubolz found in his test run of the detector — it works!

Singapore International 3D Printing Competitions’ Categories Announced

Nanyang Technology University announces two categories in its annual Singapore Centre for 3D Printing (SC3DP) Competitions. This year features Vintage Toys and Logo Design competitions. The Vintage Toys singapore-international-printing-competitions-have-been-%20launched-2competition encourages makers to get inspired by toy designs of bygone eras. Here they are looking for the “unique cultural and historic significance of the toys” while also injecting them with cutting edge engineering elements. For the Logo Design competition, participants are invited to submit “innovative and futuristic functional logo designs” that capture the spirit of this $113 million research center’s mission to be the “world’s leading 3D printing research institute.”

The top prize is $10,000 in the open division competition. There’s also a $5,000 prize in the elementary-high school student division, and a $5,000 prize in the polytechnics and university student division. Your last day to submit entries is April 24, 2015, so get started on your vintage toy and logo design ideas today!

Science Channel’s “All-American Makers” Premiered This Week

Makers! Your Science Channel“American Idol” has arrived. If cash prizes haven’t inspired the maker in you yet through the SC3DP competition, perhaps you can get your creative juices flowing again by taking in Discovery Science Channel’s latest series, “All-American Maker.” Every week makers compete for the attention of the judges — Printbot’s Brook Drumm, mechanical whiz Brian Roe, and venture funder Marc Portney– in order to get the funding needed to realize their inventions. The six episodes that have been filmed so far leave no stone unturned, covering: robots, hybrid vehicles, thermal radar, dog toys, and stain repellant. The show airs Wednesday nights on the Science Channel.

German RepRap Announces New Performance PLA Filament

For some reason, I am always compelled to end our weekly reviews by covering filament. I think it is because it’s such a behind-the-scenes but elemental aspect of 3D printing. It’s the substance of the printing: and it’s what is usually thdeveloping without great fanfare. Well, this week German RepRap introduced its optically smooth PLA filament designed specifically for 3D printing. The Performance PLA is available in 2.1 kg (3 mm) and 750 g (1.75 mm) spools from German RepRap international sales partners. The filament requires a lower heating temperature that guarantees less warping and better adhesion, and it has a smoother surface.

That’s this week’s stories we didn’t cover: the entrepreneurial spirit lives on in 3D printing, and it looks like more makers have opportunities to get rewarded for their hard work and inventive worldviews. Let us know what you think about these developments in the Stories We Missed forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

3D Printing: The Stories We Didn't Cover This Week — January 10

This week it was especially difficult to keep up with all the news since we participated in the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Given that the CES event only added to the usual stream of 3D printing news we encounter each week, we feel we did a pretty good job covering the stories relevant to our growing 3D printing audience.  For the stories we missed, here’s our weekly review.

Stratasys Launches Direct Manufacturing

Stratasys, which acquired Harvest Technologies and Solid Concepts last year to add to its RedEye On Demand services, has launched Stratasys Direct Manufacturing–officially marking its 3D ssprinting shift from prototyping to end-product manufacturing technology. Stratasys’ 3D printing services will still offer prototyping, but this announcement indicates the increasing ability to focus on production. For manufacturing purposes,  Stratasys’ turn to Direct Manufacturing means the company no longer wishes to be seen just as simply a 3D print leader, but it also plans to expand its capabilities to the global manufacturing process. With 700 employees and 9 manufacturing services throughout the US, it is definitely in the position to make major contributions to the manufacturing side of the 3D printing industry.

Leapfrog Partners with Ingram Micro11

Netherlands based Leapfrog has announced a partnership with Ingram Micro technology solutions Europe after closing several deals in the U.S. Ingram Micro is a Fortune 500 Company serving customers in over 170 countries and it provides tech and supply chain optimization solutions. Ingram Micro adds Leapfrog’s new Creatr HS 3D printer for consumers and educators, and the Xeed which has a temperature controlled environment and larger build volume.

NOMOON Speaker

Rich Olsen has posted OpenSCAD files for a 3D printed, customizable, parametric speaker that can be adjusted using the Thingiverse Customizer. What is a parametric speaker? It uses specificnomoon_bench geometric shapes to focus sound in one specific direction, rather than blasting sound waves out as widely as possible, like most speakers. Parametric speakers work great at desks, in office spaces, and home theater systems. You can adjust the speaker’s wall thickness, speaker opening, bass port, internal diameter, and wire openings, and the sphere size can be altered as well.

Matter and Form Scanner Arrives

In other scanner news, after debuting at London’s 3D print show, the user-friendly and affordable Matter and Form scanner has been sent to its Indiegogo supporters.  The Indiegogo campaign raised $500,000 after setting an early modest goal of $81,000–revealing the high demand that an affordable 3D scanner has.  So far, the review are overwhelmingly positive at only $579, and it is lightweight, portable and can export files for print on any 3D printer.

Sculpteo Announces FinalProof Service for Printing Preview

sculThe 3D printing company based in San Francisco and Paris, Sculpteo, has launched their most advanced 3D printing preview feature–FinalProof. Sculpteo provides easy-to-use online 3D printing services and cloud-based solutions, encouraging users to take control of their 3D print creations. Sculpteo’s website has optimization tools and a platform that offers the ability for users to upload and print 3D designs, and share models and information. Just announced at this year’s CES, FinalProof is an innovative online service that predicts potential losses during a 3D printing project and gives a realistic preview of the layering effects on a project. This product simulates a full 3D print, and provides a highly detailed rendering of the physical object. The real selling point is the FinalProof process happens in seconds instead of the hours it takes to physically print something.

FinalProof is available for all Sculpteo users at no cost. From the website’s print page, users can get a full breakdown of every characteristic of the 3D print. This includes scale blueprints, a solidity check, and even a delivery quote. This information can be sent to the user as an email or a PDF.

 3D Printed Model of the Eta Carinae Shines Light for NASA

The Eta Carinae is an astronomical phenomenon that is relatively close to Earth and highly luminous–a sort of binary star system mystery that has been baffling scientists since the 1840’s.  Recently, a new 3D printed simulation of a computer model based on the system’s spiraling pattern has been used by NASA Ames Research Center to help illuminate this system on the brink of exploding as a supernova. This is caused by two massive stars circling around each other that are slowly blowing themselves apart.  One star is approximately 30 times our Sun’s mass and the other bigger star is around 90 times the Sun’s mass. The two stars orbit around each other every 5.5 years, producing winds that create high energy x-rays that heat up gas surrounding the stars.  Colored bright orange, the 3D printout shows “spine-shaped lumps protruding from the spiral that resulted from the stars’ close approach to one another” and these results were presented at the recent winter meeting of the American Astronomical Association.


Bradley Rothenberg Brings Unique 3D Printed Textiles to NY Fashion Week

3D printed cellular structure

3D printed cellular structure

With the semi-annual New York Fashion Week coming to an end, there were a few particular designs which left many people quite intrigued. With 3D printing becoming more and more a part of fashion, at least on runways as of late, it was no surprise to see 3D printed textiles on display at one of the more popular fashion events in the world.

Fashion designer Bradley Rothenberg had quite the showing at this year’s event, with several new 3D printed garments. Some of the pieces included a fully wearable 3D printed tank-top that was designed in collaboration with designer Katie Gallagher, and was printed entirely in one piece. Rothenberg also 3D printed details for skirts, and jackets, as well as helped designer Katya Leonovich incorporate 3D printing into her SS15 line.

The 3D printed tank-top. Printed in SLS nylon in one piece.

The 3D printed tank-top. Printed in SLS nylon in one piece.

The most talked about piece was the 3D printed cellular tank-top which incorporated a new textile pattern that Bradley has been working on, and has been very excited to see come to life. It is 3D printed using a selective laser sintering machine, that prints using a nylon powder. When the laser hits the powder, the nylon is solidified. This is done, one layer at a time, until the garment is completely printed. When finished, it comes off of the 3D printer fully assembled.


The cellular structure in the design makes for an interlocking pattern which provides flexibility and comfort. One very unique feature that this cellular structure provides is its ability to change the overall textile properties throughout the garment. The flexibility of each section can be different, simply by thinning or thickening parts of the individual cellular units.

“Bradley continues to push boundaries to create never before seen 3D Printed textiles and is focused on how changing the properties of a textile on a local level can create different performances throughout the entire textile such as opacity, flexibility, and stretch. The studio is also currently in the process of developing tools to grow textiles around any shape, be it a 3D scan or modeled dress,” explained Bradley Rothenberg’s PR firm.

3D printed skirt details

3D printed skirt details

It seems as though 3D printed textiles have become common among runway shows, and it is no longer surprising to see such pieces shown off by some of the most talented fashion designers on this planet. It seems as though 3D printed clothing was considered “futuristic” just a year ago, but now it appears to be on its way to becoming the ultimate fashion statement of the decade. It won’t surprise me to see this continue to become more of a trend as time goes on, with 3D printing becoming a norm within the industry.

What do you think about Bradley Rothenberg’s designs? Discuss in the Bradley Rothenberg 3D printed textile forum thread on 3DPB.com.  Check out some more photos below:

Katya Leonovich's dress with 3D printed features

Katya Leonovich’s dress with 3D printed features

Katya Leonovich's garment with 3D printed features

Katya Leonovich’s garment with 3D printed features

Bradley Rothernbergy & Katie Gallagher's tank-top featuring the 3D printed cellular pattern.

Bradley Rothernbergy & Katie Gallagher’s tank-top featuring the 3D printed cellular pattern.

iPhone 6 is on it's Way Next Week And so Are 3D Printed Personalized Cases

dar-3If you are anything like me, then you can’t wait to see just what Apple will be announcing next Tuesday. We’re certain it will be the next version of the company’s smartphone, the iPhone 6, but just what features will it have, and will any other groundbreaking products be unveiled as well? We’ll have to wait and see.

Over the past year we have seen numerous 3D printed smartphone cases, both for the Apple’s iPhone as well as various Android devices. In fact, even MakerBot got in on the trend, teaming with a company called Fraemes a couple weeks back to enter the market for customized 3D printable iPhone cases.

Today, we got a bit of news from a relatively new company, Darby Smart, a San Fransisco based maker marketplace where consumers can launch, discover and buy DIY projects and pre-tested craft supplies. The company has announced that they are now making available, customizable 3D printed products at affordable prices via their web interface.

“Darby Smart scours the Internet for unique projects and packages them up for consumers in a collection of kits. All Darby Smart projects are super easy and accessible, no matter what a person’s DIY skill level. Projects are pre-packaged with everything you need – and in various categories, e.g., home décor, fashion, food, kids and holiday,” stated Kristin A. Martell from K21 Communications, a PR firm representing the company.


The new 3D printing section strays just a bit from the rest of the marketplace, as the products offered within the new 3D printing section are created on the site, rather than at home. For now, the company has made available, their customizable 3D printed bracelets where users can change the font, lettering, and color of the bracelets before having them printed and shipped to their doorsteps. Darby Smart, however, will be one of the first to offer iPhone 6 cases. On the day that dar-1Apple announces the iPhone(s), September 9, Darby Smart will begin offering cases for the highly anticipated device, fully customizable within their 3D editing platform. Once users customize their cases by choosing the color, symbols, letters and words they wish to include, they can pay just $9 and have their case shipped to them within about a week.

It’s a given that when next week comes around we will begin seeing other companies, as well as designers, begin offering models and physical 3D prints for a variety of different cases for the new iPhone. Darby Smart hopes to be a bit ahead of them all.

Let us know if you decide to create a 3D printed iPhone 6 case at Darby Smart, and be sure to post pictures in the 3D printed iPhone case forum thread on 3DPB.com.