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3D Printing News Briefs, January 14, 2023: ImplementAM, Bioprinted Eye Tissue, & More

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In 3D Printing News Briefs today, we’re starting with the launch of a case study-based AM workshop called ImplementAM. In business news, the latest distribution partner for Meltio’s wire laser metal 3D printing technology is EXBuild, and Thangs, MatterHackers, and 3DJake are partnering to form a rewards program. Finally, researchers from the National Eye Institute (NEI) are using patient stem cells and bioprinting to fabricate eye tissue in order to better understand blinding diseases.

ImplementAM Launching Series of Nationwide Events for AM Adopters

Industry veterans and former HP 3D Printing co-workers David Tucker and Kristin Mulherin, the President of Women in 3D Printing, have often worked together across the additive manufacturing ecosystem, and recently collaborated to form ImplementAM, a case study-based series of small, collaborative AM workshops designed to educate new adopters on how best to implement the technology in their businesses. There will be one event per month, with very limited capacity to ensure attendee interaction, and each one is divided into a morning and afternoon session. The morning will consist of a keynote from a local 3D printing expert practitioner, as well as technical presentations on common industrial AM methods, while the afternoon will focus on a case study workshop and group work. Each event will be in a different city, and the inaugural one will be in Detroit this Thursday, January 19th, from 8:30 am until 6 pm EST, at the Atwater Brewery & Tap House. Additionally, Tucker and Mulherin have partnered with MatterHackers to donate a MakerBot Sketch 3D printer prize package to one school in every city they visit; schools can apply to be on the shortlist here.

“As the Additive Manufacturing industry continues to grow, there is abundant interest in implementing 3D printing for industrial manufacturing, but a glaring lack of education for new adopters on how to do it in the right way. We want to utilize real-world case studies, in a small collaborative environment, to provide the knowledge and unbiased insight that’s needed to successfully bring AM into their organizations,” explained Mulherin, ImplementAM Co-Founder and Head of Operations.

You can register for this week’s ImplementAM event in Detroit here. Use discount code “AM-4MFG-2023” at checkout for a 10% discount.

Meltio Announces EXBuild as Official Sales Partner 

Wire laser metal deposition technology manufacturer Meltio announced that EXBuild is now an official sales partner in the United States. EXBuild provides sales, services, training, hardware, and software for industrial resin, composite, and metal 3D printing applications, and will play an important role in distributing Meltio’s AM solutions in the Midwestern and Mountain West market. Meltio’s metal 3D printing solution is built around welding wire, which is said to be the market’s cleanest, safest, and most affordable metal feedstock, and the process enables industrial applications. EXBuild will work to build up a supportive ecosystem for the technology in the Midwestern and Mountain West territory, and will drive business opportunities for Meltio’s solutions with tooling machine companies, technology centers, industry, academia, robotic integrators, and more.

“We are thrilled to be working with companies like EXBuild as their expertise as well as customer-centric approach are exactly what we are looking for when incorporating partners in the Meltio partner ecosystem,” said Michael Humphrey, Sales Manager for North America at Meltio. “Together, we will be able to cater to the ever-growing needs of the Midwestern & Mountain West market for, and ease the adoption of metal additive manufacturing.”

Thangs, MatterHackers, & 3DJake Launch 3D Printing Rewards Program

3D model repository and designer/AM enthusiast community Thangs has partnered with MatterHackers and European online maker shop 3DJake to launch an exciting new global rewards program. The Thangs Weekly Creator Contest gives digital designers a weekly opportunity to earn points and win store credit to 3DJake or MatterHackers by uploading their original model designs to the Thangs website. Additional points can be earned when others download and like a designer’s models, and if they get more followers. Users can check out the Leaderboard to see the weekly standings and find out what reward position they’re in currently. Up to 1,500 points are awarded amongst the top 30 designers each week, with positions 11-30 winning $30, 2-10 winning $70, and first place winning $150. Winners can fulfill their weekly rewards with 3DJake and MatterHackers, and they can purchase whatever they want, from accessories and materials to 3D printers and other equipment.

“When considering the Thangs Weekly Creator program, we wanted to do something big that celebrated our creators and their central role in the 3D community. So we created something much larger in terms of creator value, number of creators impacted, and without delayed gratification – so it both runs and resets, weekly,” explained Dennis DeMeyere, Co-Founder and CTO of Thangs. “Partnering with MatterHackers and 3DJake was a natural choice – our users know and love them, today. Together, they are global leaders with an unbelievable selection of products, exceptional service, and in most cases free or low-cost shipping. We couldn’t be more excited to be working with them to show the 3D creator community how much they are valued!”

NIE Researchers 3D Bioprinting Eye Tissue to Study Diseases

A research team from the National Eye Institute (NEI) is working to advance understanding of the mechanisms of certain blinding diseases by using patient stem cells and bioprinting to fabricate eye tissue. The team printed tissue cells that form the outer blood-retina barrier (oBRB), which supports the retina’s light-sensing photoreceptors, and their technique, outlined in a research paper in Nature Methods, can create a basically unlimited supply of patient-derived tissue that others can use to study degenerative retinal diseases, like age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This barrier is made up of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), which is separated from the blood vessels in the choriocapillaris by Bruch’s membrane. In the case of AMD, lipoprotein deposits called drusen will form outside this membrane, impeding its work regulating the exchange of waste and nutrients between the RPE and choriocapillaris. Eventually, the RPE break down, which leads to degeneration of photoreceptors and ultimately vision loss.

The researchers combined fibroblasts, which give tissues structure, with pericytes and endothelial cells—key components of capillaries—and then printed the resulting hydrogel on a biodegradable scaffold. Soon, the cells started to mature into a dense network of capillaries, and RPE cells were seeded on the other side of the scaffold on day 9. By day 42, the bioprinted tissue had reached full maturity, and analysis and tests showed that it looked and behaved much like native oBRB. The printed tissue, when placed under stress, exhibited patterns of early AMD, as well as progression to late dry stage AMD, and drugs typically used to treat the disease were able to suppress the vessel migration and overgrowth and restore tissue morphology. Now, the team is continuing its experiments by adding other cell types, like immune cells, to the printing process.

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