We’re talking about everything from business and 3D printing materials to outer space in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs. Using a new digital platform, thyssenkrupp has connected all of the machines in its materials division, and a German medical manufacturer has acquired an extensive patent portfolio for 3D printed expandable spinal fusion cages. An Australian cyclist is racing with shoes he 3D printed on his own, while the PancakeBot 3D printer is now commercially available and two Dutch universities have developed a 3D printing material for use in home construction. Bioengineering may help recycle astronaut urine into 3D printable material, and HRL Laboratories will be 3D printing ceramic rocket engine components, thanks to a NASA contract.
thyssenkrupp Connects Machinery with Digital Platform
Industrial group thyssenkrupp has developed a new digital platform, toii, which will connect all the machines, regardless of generation and make, in its materials division. The name, pronounced ‘toy,’ spells IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) backwards, and indicates how easy the platform, developed entirely in-house, makes it to link heterogeneous machines to existing IT structures. Using toii, all of the division’s machines can communicate with each other and the IT systems, so processing is able to be planned and coordinated across locations. The scalable platform simplifies data analysis, and can integrate up to several hundred machines a year.
“We’ve created an end-to-end solution that is tailored specifically to our needs. It will enable us to accelerate the automation of our production operations and make our processes much more efficient. We are now taking the digital transformation to the core areas of our business: our production shops, our machinery and equipment, and our materials. Our customers will feel the benefit – and so will we,” said Hans-Josef Hoß from the board of thyssenkrupp Materials Services.
There are various ongoing projects with toii in Germany, and there are also plans to deploy the platform in the US and the UK.
EIT Acquires Full Patent Portfolio for 3D Printed Expandable Cage Technology
German medical device manufacturer Emerging Implant Technologies GmbH (EIT) has acquired a patent portfolio of 22 issued and pending patents for 3D printed expandable spinal fusion cages that are based on living hinges from Morgan P. Lorio, MD, an expert in spine policy and technology with Hughston Clinic Orthopaedics in Nashville. EIT focuses exclusively on implants for spinal alignment, which are designed based on optimal bone ingrowth in porous titanium scaffolds and 3D printed. The company’s implants are made of EIT Cellular Titanium, and last month EIT received FDA approval to commercialize its spinal interbody products for ALIF, Cervical, PLIF, and TLIF procedures.
“This IP is our platform to take fully 3D printed fusion cages to the next level by adding functionality to our EIT cellular titanium® cages,” said Guntmar Eisen, the CEO of EIT. “This will give the surgeon more options intraoperatively, reduce inventory and support MIS techniques – and at the same time reduce cost of expandable cages.”
The first functional spinal fusion cages based on EIT’s patent portfolio acquisition will be launched next year.
Australian Cyclist 3D Prints His Own ShoesAdam Hansen, the 36-year-old Australian cyclist who beat the long-time record of 12 consecutive Grand Tours by completing 17, built a kit factory at home in the Czech Republic to make his own cycling shoes. Hansen installed a cutting room, a 3D printer, and seven vacuum pumps to make what he calls the lightest cycling shoes in the world. He uses molds that create casts of each of his feet, and a combination of Kevlar, boron and carbon-fiber cloth to make the shoes, which would cost about €2,500. Each shoe weighs approximately 76 g. Hansen makes the 3D printed shoes because weight savings are extremely important in a sport that is influenced by marginal gains.
Hansen said, “It’s about rotational mass. A mechanical engineer told me it makes a huge difference.”
PancakeBot Available through Amazon and Other Retaliers
The open source PancakeBot 3D printer was available for purchase from product innovation company StoreBound in 2015 and then through a Kickstarter campaign last summer. But now, finally, the PancakeBot, a robot that makes breakfast fun and easy by 3D printing custom pancakes, is commercially available through Amazon and other retailers, like Storebound. Civil engineer and devoted father Miguel Valenzuela developed the PancakeBot back in 2014 to entertain his daughters, and it’s now available in red and black for $299.99 (or less on Amazon). The black PancakeBot 2.0 version even comes with an SD card and can change printing speed.
“So what pancake-ified pictures can you print with your PancakeBot?” Clare Olshansky asks on Food & Wine. “The short answer is pretty much anything. The longer answer is that there’s a database on the PancakeBot site of user-uploaded designs that are ready to go, where categories include places, characters, animals, logos and symbols, and miscellaneous, so you can make anything from a Volkswagen minibus pancake to a Jack Sparrow pancake with the click of a download button.”
You can also check out the PancakeBot tutorials to learn how to create your own unique pancake designs.
Spong3D Printing Material Developed for Applications in Home Construction
Thanks to a collaboration between students at the Delft University of Technology and the Eindhoven University of Technology, a new way to 3D print a facade system that’s viable for home construction was discovered. The new material, called Spong3D, could make future homes more energy efficient – the students used the facade to optimize a building’s thermal performance. Spong3D, which is installed inside a wall and not actually used to build one, is able to be adapted to different climate conditions, and provides ventilation in hotter regions, while trapping heat inside in colder regions.
The material is easy to print, and gives people inside a building more control over how much heat is exchanged between the exterior and the interior, saving on electricity and heat in the long run. However, while an initial test of the material in a controlled environment was successful, Spong3D is not yet ready for mass production, as it still needs to be optimized and modified.
3D Printable Material from Recycled Astronaut Urine
Researchers have been working on discovering novel ways to generate compounds from astronauts’ waste products, so they will be able to survive the long journey to Mars and not have to stockpile extra supplies and food. Yeast strains of Yarrowia lipolytica, which naturally feed on a compound found in urine, have been bioengineered to make omega-3 fatty acids for human health and polyesters that can be made into moldable shapes; the results were presented at the 254th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.
The researchers engineered the yeast to make 50 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain, eye, and heart health. The goal is to be able to engineer the yeast to accumulate a large percentage of weight as only omega-3s, so that astronauts can hopefully find some way of consuming them. The team also used the genetically engineered waste to produce molecules which link together inside the yeast to form polyester polymers. They were able to make 250 mg of plastic that could potentially be mixed with a solution and used to make a 3D printable material. The research could also help people on Earth in areas where there are limited resources, like military outposts.
HRL Laboratories Gets NASA Contract to 3D Print Ceramic Rocket Engine ComponentsAs part of NASA‘s Space Technology Research, Development, Demonstration, and Infusion program, HRL Laboratories, LLC has been awarded a two-year contract to develop 3D printed ceramic rocket engine components. This winter, the company developed a 3D printable ceramic resin with the potential to 3D print hypersonic jets, and NASA will support HRL in developing the technology further to 3D print reinforced ceramic rocket propulsion components. HRL will subcontract with micro satellite launch company Vector Space Systems, which will assess any performance improvements to its launch vehicles enabled by 3D printing, and investigate rocket engine designs. The program will end with hot-fire ground testing at Vector of rocket engines with 3D printed ceramic, heat-resistant components.
Tobias Schaedler, the project’s program manager, said, “High-temperature ceramics are notoriously difficult to process with conventional methods. 3D printing could completely change what ceramic parts look like and where they are applied in rocket engines.”
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