Ted Noten - example of 3D printed limited edition jewelry
Ted Noten - example of 3D printed limited edition jewelry

3D Printer - In 1983, American engineer Chuck Hull developed a process he called “rapid prototyping,” where models could be designed and created in a matter of hours. Today it’s called 3D printing, and it’s used to make everything from prosthetics to Hollywood props.

Colin Consavage, an 11-year-old kid made his own prosthetic hand with a 3D printer

3D printing - "additive manufacturing" -- a process of assembling products by sending a digital file to a machine that stacks layers of plastic, resins, ceramics, metal, or other materials on top of each other.
  • 3-D printing - New devices may one day allow people to manufacture almost anything from their home or office. For 3-D printing, someone must create a computer file that describes a desired object in three dimensions. This blueprint includes the size, shape and color of the thing to be printed. Then someone tells the computer to digitally “slice” that object into virtual slivers. The printer then builds each slice, one thin layer at a time.

Some printers spit out metal. Others spray a liquid that will harden into plastic. Some manufacturers are using special printers to spray out chocolate, cheese or other foods to make custom products.


In the biomedical field there are experiments going on now to print with cells, and droplet networks designed to fold themselves into different shapes after printing, cartilage, bone and other tissue.
  • a 3D-printed replica of the piece of the boy's spine, did not require surgical cement or screws upon implantation. Simplifying the procedure in this way means he will not only be able to recover more quickly from the procedure, but also maintain a greater range of motion in his neck. The vertebra was printed out of titanium powder and with small pores throughout so that his future bone growth will bond with the device.

'Printing out new ears and skin
In the field of 3D printing, the possibilities are practically limitless. Researchers are seeking ways to use the technology to make body parts with biological material, such as cartilage, bone, and skin.

"Up to 30% of all injuries and casualties that occur from the war involve the skin, and using bioprinting we thought that we could address some of the challenges they're facing with burn care." James Yoo, of the Institute of Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University, and his team are working to develop a way to print skin directly onto burn victims.
  • Ask - They are developing a portable system that can be brought directly to burn victims. Why does the system need to be portable? How practical is a portable system?
  • Imagine - What are all the considerations for printing skin? What are other treatments being used for burn victims? What treatments are most successful?
  • Plan, Create - The device has a scanner system that can identify the extent and depth of the wound, because every wound is different. How does the system assess the new skin requirement? The scan gets converted into 3D digital images; that determines how many layers of cells then need to be deposited to restore the normal configuration of the injured tissue.
  • Improve - This just the beginning. There are experiments going on now to print with cells, and droplet networks designed to fold themselves into different shapes after printing, cartilage, bone and other tissue. Does the skin printing solution improve patient recovery? How does it compare with conventional treatment? Are there applications where the printed skin is preferable?

That's engineering
  • inorganic - material that is not carbon-based, not part of a living organism.
  • inorganic - being or composed of matter that does not come from plants pr animals either dead or alive: mineral; of a branch of chemistry concerned with substances that contain little or no carbon
  • ceramic - inorganic non-metallic materials which are formed by the action of heat. Up until the 1950s or so, the most important of these were the traditional clays, made into pottery, bricks, tiles, along with cements and glass.
  • ceramic - of or relating to the manufacture of a product (as earthenware, porcelain or brick) made from a nonmetallic mineral by heating at high temperatures
  • titanium - a very strong metal. It is used in making the strongest and lightest parts of modern fighter jet planes and medical equipment. It does not corrode, including resistance to sea water and chlorine.
  • titanium - a silvery gray light strong metallic element found combined in various minerals and used especially in alloys such as steel

Engineering ideas
  • materials, additive manufacturing, plastic, resins, ceramics, metal, inorganic

Do it
Here are some challenges for you to work on...
  • design an article of clothing that could be "manufactured" with 3-D printing
  • find a design for a 3D printable object. There are lots of sources of predefined 3D printer instructions. Thingverse
  • Year One With a 3D Printer: 17 Tips - lots of example of printed objects, tips for using your 3d printer

News, updates
  • Goopy tech leaves older 3-D printing in its wake - Speedy process creates objects using oxygen, ultraviolet light and liquid resin
  • Intel Capital Funds 3D Braille Printer Created by 13-year-old - Braille, a system of raised bumps that was developed to enable the blind to read on their own, is something that has transferred particularly well to the world of 3D printing.
  • Dino night light powered by algae (video 2:08) - A 3D-printed dinosaur filled with bioluminescent algae glows in the dark, fueled by photosynthesis.
  • Shapeways Brings 3-D Printing to the Masses A new 3-D printing facility in New York City brings the Dutch spin-off closer to its customers
  • Smart pebbles make replica models video (1:36) - a network of tiny self assembling robot ‘pebbles’ detects the shape of an object buried within them. The robots then determine the shape of the object and link themselves together into a replica of the object. also... - Shrinking the cubes remains the biggest challenge. Gilpin believes that they could eventually achieve dimensions of about 1 millimiter, in effect transforming their smart pebbles into smart sand, but that will take time.
  • Doctors Save Life Of Kaiba Gionfriddo, Ohio Boy, By 3-D 'Printing' Him An Airway Tube - Because of a birth defect, the little boy's airway kept collapsing, causing his breathing to stop and often his heart, too. Doctors had been researching artificial airway splints but had not implanted one in a patient yet. They "printed out" 100 tiny tubes, using computer-guided lasers to stack and fuse thin layers of plastic and implanted one of these tubes so the baby could breathe normally for the first time.

Learn more...

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