3D Printing in the World of Electronics

It has taken numerous years to develop the technology to mass-produce electronics via 3D printing. However, several companies today are working together to construct a new 3D Printed electronics system.

Neotech's 3D Printed Electronics System

Neotech’s 3D Printed Electronics System

One company in particular, Optomec, has developed the Aerosol Jet process, which applies conductive nano-particle inks onto the component. This technology has helped other companies like German-based Neotech AMT GmbH, to develop the light beam sintering (LBS) 45XE, which is able to produce complex circuitry on almost any 3D surface.

Neotech then took this technology and created a new 3D Printed electronics system based on three key modules: Motion 3D Tool-path Generation Software, 5 axis CNC Motion Platform and Optomec’s Aerosol Jet Print Engine. Dr. Martin Hedges, Managing Director of Neotech states, “This platform will assist customers to develop novel 3D Printed Electronics structures on low temperature substrates. The LBS 45XE has been designed for mass production with low operating costs. The system will be a very useful compliment our current range of 5 axis printing platforms to advance 3D Printed Electronics.”

Neotech's complex circuitry

Neotech’s complex circuitry

Today Neotech is using the technology to print 3D antennas for mobile phones and heater patterns for the automotive industry. The new system can print millions of parts and is a low cost solution to mass-producing electronics. Additional applications are being progressed in for Automotive and Industrial markets. To learn more visit: Neotech


3D Printed Prosthetic Parts by YouBionic

3D printing is revolutionizing the medical field as new ways to print prosthetics emerge. Italian startup YouBionic has recently developed the first electronic 3D printed bionic prosthetic hand.

YouBionic Prostheitc Hand

YouBionic Prostheitc Hand

The initial product is still under development, however the YouBionic prosthetic will be low cost and easily customizable. The idea is to use revolutionary mechanics to print the nylon hand in a single piece using selective laser sintering.

The team is also experimenting with using FDM 3D printers to create the hand structure. This will bring down costs and make the artificial hand more available to the general public. Federico Ciccarese, designer at YouBionic says, “The goal is to create a hand at a cost much lower than those commercial products today, which cost about 20 thousand Euro.”

Prosthetic Parts by YouBionic

Prosthetic Parts by YouBionic

A price has not yet been set for the 3D printed bionic prosthetic hand, however YouBionic assures customers that is will be cheap. The team is taking the next steps forward in prosthetics stating, “We hope to see Youbionic Hand for sale in 2015.” For more information visit: YouBionic 


3DRnano & 3DRmega Delta 3D Printers Released

After 6 months of product testing, the UK based engineer Richard Horne has just released his newest 3D Delta printers: the 3DRnano, a portable Delta printer, and the 3DRmega, a 1.80m Delta operated 3D printer that uses extra tiny parts to stay portable.

3DRnano

3DRnano

The printer uses LM4UU bearings and 4mm rod to keep the structure sturdy and maneuverable. The 3DRnano is around 160mm in height and can fit on a 200mm x 200mm bed; most of the components are small making the printer lightweight and easy to assemble.

On a much larger scale, the 3DRmega Delta 3D printer is 1.8M tall, and is reinforced with 10mm rods and a 30mm aluminum box-section.  It runs on a bigger motor, and has larger drivers, electronics, and print head. The frame uses around 2kg of filament to build a platform. The motor is also mounted at the top to allow more flexibility and freedom of design. The 3DRmega can print on almost any surface and the center carriage can move in any direction allowing endless customization.

3DRmega

3DRmega

Motor: NEMA 23

Driver: Dedicated 3A 128microstep

Electronics: ARM based Smoothie board

Rods & Frame: 10mm Rods and 30mm Aluminum box-section

Parts: 100+mm is size

Creator Richard Horne will upload the design files of 3DRnano and 3DRmega on Youmagine in the upcoming months. Details about the new Delta printers can be found on his website, for more information visit: 3DRnano & 3DRmega Delta


New High Resolution 3D Printing Technology – Heliolithography

Helios One by orange Maker

Helios One by orange Maker

3D printing technology startup Orange Maker has announced the discovery of a new high resolution printing technology – Heliolithography. Similar to conventional Stereolithography, Heliolithography is a photopolymer-based process that uses UV light to harden liquid resin.

Orange Maker has started working on their first prototype Helios One, which will have a greater printing speed, a variety of printing materials, and a smoother surface finish than other desktop 3D printers.

Doug Farber, co-founder of Orange Maker said “In addition, HL technology represents a major breakthrough in process scalability, allowing the printing process to be carried out from the micro-scale through theoretical size limits greater than current large-scale industrial printers.”

Founded in 2011 by Kurt Dudley and Doug Farber, Orange Maker led by executive team Dudley, Farber, and Chris Marion has been developing this ultra-high resolution printing process for years. They are proud to announce that the Helios One, equipped with Heliolithography technology, will provide an efficient and continuous build process, outfitted with a large scalable build area, and printed in ultra-high resolution.

Today, Orange Maker is preparing to manufacture the second generation of prototypes for field-testing. The Helios One is still in its research and development stage so a price has not been determined. The Helios One project will be available in 2015. To learn more visit: Orange Maker


World’s largest 3D Printer used to Construct Houses in China

Chinese developer, Qingdao Unique Products Develop Co Ltd, has unveiled the world’s largest 3D printer at the 2014 World 3D Printing Technology Industry Conference and Exhibition in Qingdao.

World's Largest 3D Printer

World’s Largest 3D Printer

Wang Hong, the company’s founder and CEO has big plans for the new printer that took nearly 6 months to develop. The 3D printer resides at the High-tech Zone of the local 3D Printing Industrial Park. The project will be open to the public to view the first task of printing the “Temple of Heaven,” the largest temple in China.

Model of Temple of Heaven

Model of Temple of Heaven

The company wants to eventually print entire houses using 3D printing. With the use of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and a build volume of 12 m x 12 m x 12 m, developers will be able to construct the Temple of Heaven, a 100 square meter structure reinforced with graphene glass fiber.

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

According to Qingdao Unique Products Develop Co Ltd, “It will take at least 6 to 8 months to build up the structure layer by layer, just like building a house. Once built, it will become the world’s biggest structure constructed by 3D printing technology.”

In the future the company plans on using this printer for disaster recovery and reconstruction. For more information visit: Qingdao Unique Products Develop Co 3D Printing 


3D Print with Minibuilders

For years researchers at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), based in Barcelona, have been developing a way to 3D print objects by combining robots with 3D printing technology. What limits most 3D builds’ is the physical size of the 3D printer. IAAC has gone around this by producing three separate robots capable of constructing objects larger than itself.

IAAC Minibuilders

IAAC Minibuilders

Minibuilders, are the new generation of complex 3D printing. The three robots work in stages. The first stage is the Foundation Robot, which lays the foundation of the structure. The robot sprays continuous layers on a circular path to ensure smoothness. Sensors located on the inside of the robot allow the predetermined path to be followed.

Foundation Robot

Foundation Robot

The second robot is called the Grip Robot, which grips to the foundation with four rollers and starts dispensing the second round of layers. Curved walls are created with the precise nozzle and built-in heater making the process much faster.

Vacuum Robot

Grip Robot

The last robot is the Vacuum Robot, which attaches to the surface of the second previously printed structure with a vacuumed suction cup. The robot prints and finishes the 3D structure, reinforcing the walls and ceiling with deposited material.

Vacuum Robot

Vacuum Robot

The 3D objects built by the three robots are not limited by scale. In theory, this system can build structures in any size. However, Minibuilders are still in the developmental stage after seven months of research. The IAAC team is more determined than ever to see their project grow. For more information please visit: Minibuilders


3D Printing for All Ages

Mission Street Manufacturing, a California based 3D printing manufacturer has released the first 3D printer targeted at kids. Printeer is an easy to use 3D printer designed especially for children K-12.

Printeer 3D printer for Kids

Printeer 3D printer for Kids

As the digital age progresses children’s toys will be replaced with technology such as 3D printing. The Printeer is designed for starters with an easy step up run on an iPad. The software can be learned in 30 seconds with no intermediate steps between designing and printing.

The printer uses PLA plastic filament and features a 150 x 100 x 125 mm build envelope. The build platform itself is removable making it easier to remove finished parts. A clear case prevents contact between moving and heated parts making the process both visible and safe. Children are then able to see all the moving parts such as motors, pulleys, and belts working together as a complex machine.

Printeer 3D printer for Kids

Printeer 3D printer for Kids

Printeer Specs:

  • Exterior dimensions: 16 inch wide x 9 inch deep x 12 inch high
  • Build volume: 6 inch wide x 4 inch deep x 5 inch high
  • Material: PLA plastic 1.75 mm filament
  • Weight: 12 lbs
  • Fully enclosed
  • Removable print bed
  • Auto bed leveling
  • Wireless access
  • Spool capacity: 1 lb of filament
  • Built using a variety of open-source software & hardware

The Printeer is on Kickstarter for $549, and the company is seeking $50k in crowdfunding to run the first production line. A customized version of the Printeer will be available for $999. To learn more visit: Printeer Kickstarter 


Next Level Bioengineering – Bioprinting Blood Vessels

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, Massachusetts have been developing a three-dimensional bioprinting technique used to create artificial blood vessels. Teams of bioengineers are working on constructing lab-grown organs with the new bioprinted artificial blood vessels using hydrogel.

BWH blood vessles

Blood Vessels in Hydrogel

With the use of a fiber template, researchers can produce a mould for the blood vessels to form. The mould is made out of agarose fibers that eventually become the blood vessel channels. The last step is to cover the mould with hydrogel, a gelatin-like substance that hardens like a cast preserving the photocrosslinks.

Ali Khademhosseini, director of BWH and biomedical engineer says, “Engineers have made incredible strides in making complex artificial tissues such as those of the heart, liver and lungs. However, creating artificial blood vessels remains a critical challenge in tissue engineering. We’ve attempted to address this challenge by offering a unique strategy for vascularisation of hydrogel constructs that combine advances in 3D bioprinting technology and biomaterials. Our approach involves the printing of agarose fibers that become the blood vessel channels. But what is unique about our approach is that the fiber templates we printed are strong enough that we can physically remove them to make the channels. This prevents having to dissolve these template layers, which may not be so good for the cells that are entrapped in the surrounding gel.”

Blood Vessel Construction

Blood Vessel Construction

Researchers at BWH are able to construct microchannel networks that are functional in various hydrogels, such as methacrylated gelatin. This fabricated vascular network can improve mass blood transport, cellular differentiation, viability, and successful formation of monolayers within fabricated channels.

Bioengineering in the next few years will drastically change as new 3D printing techniques are developed. One day transplantable tissues will be customizable and tailored to meet each patient’s needs. For more information visit: BWH


Neon Printers from QU-BD starting at $199

3D printing for the masses just got more affordable. QU-BD, an Arkansas-based company released a new neon printer on Kickstarter for $199. Since November 2013 until now, their $199 One Up 3D printer campaign has raised over $400,000, which is around 50 times larger than the initial goal of $9,000.

Neon One Up 3D Printer

Neon One Up 3D Printer

QU-BD unveiled the world’s cheapest 3D printer at the Bay Area Maker Faire in California last weekend. This low-cost, ready-to-assemble home 3D printer comes in several neon colors and is sent unassembled to cut down on cost. The One Up printer is a basic unit that is easily modified with a heated bed to support ABS as an optional extra.

The original design has no frills, comes in kit form, and is open source. The One Up prints 1.75mm PLA filament with a layer height of 50 microns, and a maximum speed of 100 mm/s. The kit also includes a small amount of PLA filament with the 3D printer.

Today, Qu-BD is busy filling orders for 1,400 backers. However, many customers have not received their printer due to high demand. The family operated company did not expect to reach their goal so quickly, so they did not have many printers in stock ready to ship. QU-BD assures its backers that they will receive their printer as soon as possible.

One Up 3D Printer

One Up 3D Printer

The rapid growth in popularity among desktop 3D printers has pushed the team to release a second printer, the QU-BD Two Up. The only difference is that the Two Up has larger build area than the One UP otherwise they are identical. To learn more about QU-BD 3D printers visit: QU-BD.com 


Slice, Store, and Print from your Smartphone with AstroPrint

3Dagogo, a California-based startup announces the release of a software platform capable of controlling any printer with the use of a smartphone or tablet.

AstroPrint Wireless 3D Printing

AstroPrint Wireless 3D Printing

The AstroPrint platform is designed to perform all the functions of a printers slicers and controllers. The power comes from a small stylish box and acrylic case that connects to any 3D printer via USB cable. The AstroBox also comes stock with the pcDuino v2, which is a faster version of the Raspberry Pi. It comes with wifi, 4GB of flash memory, and buttons.

AstroPrint Software

AstroPrint Software

Drew Taylor CEO and Cofounder of 3DaGoGo, Inc. explains, “The pcDuino2 is a natural choice for us due to the fact that it is faster than the Raspberry Pi, and will need less modifications than a Beagle Bone Black.”

Printing made easy once you plug your 3D printer’s USB cable into the AstroBox. Through the wifi network you can control your printer wirelessly from a smartphone, tablet, or computer. The AstroPrint network also offers a way to store, slice, and organize designs on their free cloud platform.

AstroPrint Interface

AstroPrint Interface

Developers behind AstroPrint designed the platform to be a 1-click-print program for beginners. However, you can change advanced settings in Slic3r for a more modified interface.

The AstroBox will start at $75 on Kickstarter, which includes everything you need plus a Lifetime Pro Plan to AstroPrint.com. Once the companies goal is reached the AstroBox will retail for $149, and a Pro Plan for $10 a month.

The AstroBox will also be customizable, allowing customers color choice for the case and laser etching.  Customers will also get the choice to upgrade to a pcDuino3S with a steel case, and the choice to participate on a special beta testing panel. The team has also offered a way to download SD card images to run AstroPrint on your own Raspberry Pi, Beagle Bone Black or pcDuino. To learn more about the Kickstarter project visit: AstroPrint