January 2023: An Annual Review of the 3D Printing Industry


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Interested in reading more about the year’s biggest 3D printing news? You can access our full 3D Printing Industry Review of the Year series here.

Stepping into 2023, January started off with advancements in the medical sector, aiming to make people’s lives better. Although news from the medical sector saw a steady rise, technological applications from defense, construction, and aerospace also hit the headlines.

Read on for the novel developments in January, from the likes of Open Bionics, National Eye Institute (NEI), Essentium, Mark3D, Indian Army, Creatz3D, and more.

3D Printing Growth in the Medical Field

As a response to Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, companies specializing in 3D printing have been lending their support to the embattled nation.

The prosthetics specialist Open Bionics has provided its Hero Arms to a German facility caring for Ukrainian soldiers injured by land mines, for instance. The Hero Arm, regulated by sensors in the forearm, enhances the ability to grasp. The device has been commended by users like Vitalii Ivashchuk for its functionality. Open Bionics is also working with both the Superhumans foundation and Mastercard to fundraise for a specialized hospital in Lviv, Ukraine, set to treat landmine injuries within the 82,000 sq. km. affected area.

In related news, researchers at the National Eye Institute (NEI) have developed a 3D bioprinting technique using stem cells from patients to create eye tissues. By bioprinting three choroidal cell types onto a biodegradable structure, the NEI hopes to create an unlimited number of patient-specific tissues. This major advancement aids researchers studying retinal degenerative conditions, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

CollPlant’s 3D bioprinted breast implants made significant progress in January, passing animal testing. The implants, which use plant-based rhCollagen, showed successful tissue regeneration without any adverse reactions in porcine hosts. This points to these implants as safer alternatives to the commonly used silicone, for both aesthetic and reconstructive purposes. Progressing with the positive results, CollPlant is planning larger studies before human trials in hopes to provide a novel and safer solution, especially for postmastectomy patients. It is crucial to note these implants are remarkable as they can promote regeneration and gradually dissolve into host tissues, thanks to the collagen alternative grown on tobacco plants.

In the same month, micro-scale 3D printing company UpNano introduced UpFlow, a photopolymerizing material designed for IVF processes. This material, developed by IVF specialist Fertilis, supports the precise and quick creation of micro-environments for dynamic cell culture, thereby reducing stress on embryos during the pre-implantation phase. Paired with the NanoOne 2PP 3D printer, UpFlow can speed up production, improve quality and eliminate the need for manual cell movement. Importantly, Fertilis has reported a reduction of 30-40% in implantation cycles, signifying considerable emotional and financial benefits for IVF patients.

January also witnessed significant developments in the defense sector pertaining to 3D printing. For instance, a strategic partnership formed between the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment’s (FFI) spin-off company Fieldmade and Mark3D UK. Consequent to this partnership, Mark3D UK will be the exclusive supplier of Fieldmade’s Nomad LW portable 3D printers in the UK. The Nomad LW, based on Markforged’s Mark Two, offers in-field additive manufacturing capabilities backed by a sustainment pack and service agreement. This partnership aims to consolidate offerings in the UK defense and energy sectors, leveraging Mark3D UK’s expertise in Markforged machines, known for their strength in printing aluminum-grade parts.

Moreover, Essentium unveiled the Maine Air National Guard‘s utilization of its High-Speed Extrusion (HSE) 3D printing platform and Essentium PCTG for flight control repair training aids. Given the speed, precision, and cost-effectiveness of the platform, it assists guardsmen in honing their skill sets. The 101st Air Refueling Wing(ARW) engineers were able to effectively produce a critical outboard aileron balance tab with the Essentium’s HSE 180 ST 3D Printer to address the issue of limited spare parts. Essentium PCTG, selected for its affordability and desirable qualities, facilitates quick access to rare parts, ensuring accurate and repeatable training for guardsmen.

Similarly, Liberty Defense planned to conduct a beta test of their HEXWAVE screening portal at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with the aim of detecting both metal and non-metal weapons, inclusive of 3D printed ‘ghost guns’. The system employs millimeter-wave, 3D imaging, and AI technology to promptly detect threats without requiring the surrender of personal items. After successful beta tests at Toronto Pearson International Airport and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the University’s Police Department is planning to evaluate HEXWAVE for heightened security during large-scale events.

Advancement in Construction Industry

Dubai’s Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD) recently made headlines in the construction sector with its announcement to construct the world’s first 3D printed mosque in Bur Dubai by 2025, with a capacity of 600 worshippers. Although initial costs are higher, IACAD expects expenses to normalize over time. Al Shaibani, the project overseer, highlights sustainability with a unique concrete mix and a ‘robotic 3D printer’ to minimize waste material. The mosque construction is scheduled to begin in October 2023 with the aim to finish in four months, followed by a year-long outfitting phase. Local authorities will review and approve the design, targeting the mosque’s opening in two years.

Furthermore, the Indian Army introduced its first 3D printed dwelling unit at Ahmedabad Cantonment. The unit, built by the Military Engineering Services (MES) and MiCoB Pvt Ltd, a Gujurat-based 3D concrete printing firm, is disaster-resistant and complies with Zone-3 earthquake standards and green building requirements. The 71-square-meter unit, including garage space, was completed in 12 weeks. The unit, constructed using 3D Rapid Construction Technology, symbolizes the army’s commitment to quick, modern construction. It fulfills accommodation needs, aligns with the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan,’ and has various operational applications.

Creative Cosmos: 3D printed container redefines space launches

In collaboration with Qosmosys and NuSpace, Creatz3D has unveiled a new, lightweight 3D printed satellite launch container. This innovative piece was created to house 50 gold-anodized artworks that SpaceX launched into space. Notably, this structure has succeeded in reducing the overall mass by more than 50%, leading to significant savings in costs and time. In comparison to the original sheet material design costing between $4,000 to $5,000 and requiring a lead-time of three weeks, this 3D printed structure can be produced in just 2-3 days, thus demonstrating its cost-effectiveness and efficiency, according to Ng Zhen Ning, the CEO and Co-founder of NuSpace.

2023: Review of trends and news in the 3D Printing Industry.

2022: Review of trends and news in the 3D Printing Industry.

For all the coverage from Formnext 2023 in the 3D Printing Industry, read here.

What does the future of 3D printing for the next ten years hold?

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“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”


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Meet the mastermind behind NozzleNerds.com: GCode-Guru, a 3D printing wizard whose filament collection rivals their sock drawer. Here to demystify 3D tech with a mix of expert advice, epic fails, and espresso-fueled rants. If you've ever wondered how to print your way out of a paper bag (or into a new coffee cup), you're in the right place. Dive into the world of 3D printing with us—where the only thing more abundant than our prints is our sarcasm.

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