3D Printing News Briefs, April 8, 2021: Thermal Compaction Group, Anrich3D, American University of Sharjah & CyBe Construction

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In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, a company in Cardiff created a device that can recycle and reuse PPE. A firm in Singapore that 3D prints food has revealed its intention to go commercial in the near future. Finally, we take a look inside what’s being touted as the first functional 3D printed house in Sharjah, the third most populous city in the United Arab Emirates.

Device for Recycling PPE

According to estimates, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, some hospital trusts in the UK have been using a combined 10 million items of personal protective equipment, or PPE, a day, most of which are single-use plastic. In order to tackle this massive amount of waste, South Wales company Thermal Compaction Group (TCG) has created an innovative device, called the Sterimelt, that can recycle disposable plastic PPE at source. This patented device heats and then thermally compacts polypropylene (PP) surgical tray wraps and drapes, as well as medical-grade surgical face masks and other types of PPE, and re-engineers it all so it can be used to make new products, such as medical waste bins and 3D printed arm casts. TCG is working with another Cardiff company, FFP3-grade mask-making facility Hardshell, to test the efficiency of the device, and the Sterimelt is also currently being used in seven hospital trusts across the UK.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted just how much waste is generated from disposable plastics and has also shown how unsustainable current waste management practices are on a global scale. The technologies and solutions that we’re working on will mean that single-use plastic does need not be single-use going forward,” stated Thomas Davison-Sebry, chief sustainability officer at Thermal Compaction Group.

“As well as using the blocks from the Sterimelt to make hospital bins, we’re working on developing the technology to be able to 3D print items such as arm casts and therefore reduce the gypsum waste that is now banned from landfill sites in the UK. The responses we’ve had from not only the UK, but across the world including Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the US has been phenomenal. We know the need for this technology is out there, so we’re excited to continue growing and supplying our machine internationally.”

This technology not only reduces single-use plastic waste, but will also help hospital trusts majorly lower their carbon emissions by decreasing the volume of waste that has to be moved off-site.

Anrich3D’s Food Ready for Commercialization

3D food printing company Anrich3D, a spinoff of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, is developing food 3D printing for personalized nutrition together with the university and the Allspice Institute. The company recently announced that it plans to go commercial, and bring its “mathematically optimized meals” and personalized nutritional profiles to the market for businesses and consumers alike. Anrich3D is well on its way to commercialization, with revenue stream strategies in both B2B and B2C areas, and is currently testing its food printer, before planning to release an updated version of the system by early 2022 at the latest for testing purposes with actual commercial customers. The firm is also working to create its own app, in which users can enter their dietary and lifestyle information to have their own personal nutritional requirements computed. Anrich3D will launch initially in Singapore, because of the country’s variety of foods and healthier eating trend, though it plans to go further in the future.

Founder Anirudh Agarwal told FoodNavigator-Asia, “There are many health apps, dieticians, websites etc. available today that are able to give personalised nutritional advice, but the hardest part is to implement that advice into actual food and meals.

“[What I am looking at doing is] to create a platform for everyone to produce personalised meals based on [this nutritional advice], so using food 3D printing, we just print out the precise amounts of required ingredients for optimal nutrition, to get the ultimate mathematically optimised meal.”

A Look Inside 3D Printed Sharjah House

In December of 2020, engineers in Sharjah, the third-most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, began work on a 3D printed traditional Emirati house at the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park, as part of a project backed by the American University of Sharjah. The walls of the single-story, two-bedroom prototype home, 3D printed using eco-friendly cement, were built in less than two weeks using a CyBe Construction robot imported from Holland, and only three to four skilled workers were needed for the build, as opposed to the normal team of over 50. The SRTI Park’s chief executive, Hussain Al Mahmoudi, said costs for this prototype house were roughly 40% higher than a traditionally built house, but that the price would surely come down, thanks to the “considerable savings in labour and material.” Abdul Kareem, a reporter for the Khaleej Times, took YouTube viewers on a quick walk through the functional 3D printed house, and it looks pretty nice, with a bathroom, kitchen, living room, and lovely furnishings throughout.

“Well, I’m not a real estate agent, but given how sturdy this building seems, it looks like this might be the future of the world of construction,” the reporter said from on top of the house.

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