Highlights from 3D Printing News – February 3, 2024: 3D Printed Bridge, Furniture, Prosthetic Sockets and More Innovations


We’re starting with molecular design and 3D microprinting research today, before moving on to a robotic 3D printer partnership. Then it’s on to a variety of applications, including a 3D printed concrete bridge, 3D printed furniture, 3D printed shoe soles, and finally 3D printed prosthetic sockets.

Researchers Use Molecular Design for Additive 3D Microprinting

Representative SEM images of 3D microstructures printed with 2PLP with alternating (blue), triblock (red), and block (gray) oligomer inks printed with 0.25 wt.% DETC demonstrating versatility of the oligomers as inks for 3D microprinting. Scale = 10 µm. (Reprinted with permission from Wiley-VCH Verlag)

You can find macromolecules with complex, defined structures in nature, but not often in synthetic macromolecules. Sequence-defined approaches enable more precise control of the macromolecular structure, but other than niche sectors like data encryption, there aren’t many applications. But, a team of researchers from Heidelberg University and the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research used rational molecular design to direct sequence-defined materials as 3D printable inks. By combining two-photon laser printing (2PLP) at the microscale with sequence-defined macromolecules, they could program print resolution, mechanics, and fabrication limits to develop precise, intricately structured materials.

The research team developed three unique inks through the synthesis of oligomers, enabling them to 3D print highly detailed “buckyball” structures. The team utilized sequence-based control to guide the printing process, resulting in detailed microprints of plants, mammals, and birds. The manipulation of photocrosslinkable units along an oligomer backbone permitted the programming of significant differences in the topology, print resolution, mechanics, and fabrication windows of the microscale prints. This capability of sequence design to tailor 3D printable inks holds promise for the creation of specialized devices, such as targeted drug delivery vehicles, lab-on-a-chip and bio-integrated electronics, labeled cell growth scaffolding, and even molecular circuit components. More information about their work can be found in their published paper.

TGS Offering Flexbot Research XL for Czech Republic Customers

CEAD, a Dutch company at the forefront of robotic large format additive manufacturing (LFAM) solutions, has announced a partnership with the advanced engineering firm TGS, based in Mýto, Czech Republic. In December, during an open house, TGS unveiled its new Flexbot Research XL platform that the CEAD team had installed in September. Attendees were treated to live demonstrations of the Flexbot Research XL, printing with Airtech Advanced Materials Group’s Dahltram T-100GF, a fiberglass composite reinforced with recycled-grade co-polyester resin. With a print volume of up to 3 x 1 x 2.5 meters as well as flexibility with composite materials — including PEEK and glass- or fiber-reinforced — the innovative large-format printer will allow TGS to offer 3D printing services to its customers in the Czech Republic. Further, TGS will also act as a reseller for CEAD’s Flexbot and extruders in the region.

“The open day event highlighted once again the importance of the strategic partnership between CEAD and TGS. This synergy will leverage our competencies to support customers in the implementation journey for large-format additive manufacturing solutions in Czeck and Slovakia markets,” said Andrea Baldolini, sales team lead at CEAD.

Holcim Unveils Circular 3D Printed Concrete Bridge

Sustainable building solutions leader Holcim launched a bridge that’s said to be the first of its kind: Phoenix, a circular, 3D printed concrete masonry bridge that stands through compression without reinforcement. The bridge, located at Holcim’s Innovation Hub in Europe, was built using its proprietary ECOCycle circular technology and a custom concrete ink with 10 tons of recycled materials inside. Holcim partnered with the Block Research Group at ETH Zurich, Zaha Hadid Architects Computation and Design Group, and incremental3D to create the bridge, which demonstrates how combining circular construction and 3D concrete printing can enable low-carbon infrastructure applications. As Holcim explained, “Phoenix resulted from the partial recycling of aggregates” from the original blocks of 3D concrete printed bridge Striatus, launched by these same partners during the 2021 Venice Biennale of Architecture.

“I am thrilled to unveil Phoenix, a monument to sustainability and the result of a fruitful collaboration with our partners to meet a common goal: demonstrating that essential infrastructure can be designed and built in a way that is circular and lowcarbon today,” stated Edelio Bermejo, Head of Global R&D, Holcim. “This project showcases the impact that innovation can have in Holcim’s mission to decarbonize building for a net-zero future.”

OZRUH Launches Furniture Collection Made with 3D Printed Sand

London-based architectural design firm OZRUH, established in 2019, is known for their distinct and thoughtful designs. These designs are characterized by divergent evolution, advanced computational processes, and innovative manufacturing techniques. One of their latest launches, PRIMITIVES [1] is a furniture collection made with 3D printed recyclable quartz sand particles. Every nightstand in the collection reflects the company’s experiment with voxel-based shell geometries created through controlling erosion. The printing method, binder jetting, is melded innovatively with aesthetics and sustainability. Quartz sand is the main material which can be recycled multiple times and a dissolvable material helps bind the sand without any need for high temperatures.

“The aim is to create designs that merge archaeological with geological forms and aim at longevity more than typical modernist geometries. This lets the pieces adapt to unexpected conditions, external pressures, and erosion. This range of sculptural furniture showcases how 3D printing can be used for formal experimentation and innovative uses of ancient materials creating lasting functional art,” explained Levent Ozruh.

“Our studio holds the belief that the concept of antifragility* in architectural design offers a unique chance to discover novel ways to forge shapes and structures, while also making designs sustainable. This mindframe also aligns with how natural materials are perceived, considering a rock as whole even with irregularities. This is in contrast to modern design philosophy where even a small chip on a cube’s corner is considered as damage.”

Made Plus Inc Using ETEC Xtreme 8K for Planet-Positive Footwear

Footwear company Made Plus Inc. (made+), a Desktop Metal client, leads the way in eco-friendly manufacturing. They employ the ETEC Xtreme 8K DLP 3D printer for crafting shoes. The manufacturing process also involves digital modeling and machine knitting in their one-off production model. The complete product customization platform allows customers to select from a multitude of color options for their shoes. The customers have the option of selecting a traditional polyurethane cushioning system or an exclusive 3D printed lattice insole. The promising Skiff design from the company’s debut collection is crafted in Maryland, includes azo-free dyes, and boasts a modern, trendy design. A 10% discount on the next custom order is available by following made+ on Instagram using the promo code M+instagram.

The firm claims on their website, “Our revolutionary shoe making approach promotes quality, fit, and performance while also catering for a responsible, ecologically aware lifestyle.”

“Selecting made+ shoes means making an ecologically friendly choice without giving up look and feel.”

Snapform & Create it Real 3D Printing Prosthetic Sockets with FDM

The Snapform prosthetic clinic, part of the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), is devoted to enhancing the lives of amputees by reinventing the manufacturing of inexpensive, tailored prosthetics through cutting-edge digital technology, including the use of its prosthetic fitting engine SimFit. The company recently shared its successful venture into exploring the potential of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) in crafting prosthetic sockets. While this method is frequently assumed insufficient for prosthetics, with Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) being more popular, Snapform collaborated with fellow Danish firm Create it REAL to study and evaluate the prospects of FDM printing for prosthetic sockets. Having tested the strength of an FDM printed socket from Create it REAL, Snapform announced in a LinkedIn post that the socket had passed the maximal strength test as per ISO 10328.

“The potential impact of this achievement is enormous. With Snapforms Simfit program combined with Creat It Real’s printing technology, there’s a significant opportunity to dramatically reduce the cost of prosthetics. This breakthrough opens doors for countless amputees worldwide who currently lack access to high-quality prosthetics.”

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