3D Printing advancing rapidly

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As I have pointed out before, there should be more appreciation of the key role that chemistry is playing in today’s high tech world. The most obvious areas are in electronics where a multitude of polymers and other chemicals are used in the manufacture of today’s more and more complex computer chips and in television and computer monitor displays that depend on several rare earth elements and other chemicals. In the case of 3D printing, many different polymers are used, taking the place of the printing inks in the 2D ink-jet printers that preceded the newer technology.

3D printing is advancing rapidly. I first posted an article on this technology in July 2014, but it’s time to take another look at this triumph of material science and engineering! Automotive and other industrial manufacturing, Aerospace, Pharma/Healthcare, Retail and Sports are the main areas for 3D printing today.

Do you have problems finding shoes that fit? The Feetz App may be your answer. Take three pictures of each foot on this app which generates 3-G models within 2 millimeters accuracy in 60 seconds.  Fill in additional personal information and choose your color and style. Feetz designers insert the code into a printer, using durable Noogaflex printing material. The finished shoes are sent to the customer within a few days.

At the MIT Glass Lab it is now possible to print optically transparent glass by the additive 3D manufacturing process. An upper chamber heats the glass and a lower chamber heats and steadily cools the glass as it exits the device to prevent internal stress. Novel glass structures with numerous potential applications can be created.

3D printing has become almost mainstream for creating models of human heads or entire bodies.

And great advances are being made in printing actual body parts, such as substitute human ears from cell material. Printing a substitute heart seems to be not far away.

3D printers are still relatively slow, but are becoming much faster as development proceeds.  Larger nozzles for faster  polymer deposition, high speeds laser cutters, more printing heads, some using different materials, and higher speed motors will create systems capable of printing components as much as 10 times larger and 200-500 times faster than current machines! By jetting two or more materials in different combinations, and using multiple colors, much more diversity can be created. Printed parts can have 14 distinct material properties and 10 color palettes, according to a paper published by PwC Technology.

In Brooklyn, a 3D brand MakerBot now has a 17,000 square foot manufacturing center specializing in 3D printing with classes to teach you how to make a pair of bespoke bike pedals or a one-of-a-kind lipstick in your living room.

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