3D Printing News Briefs, August 19, 2023: Geopolymer Construction, FDA Clearance, & More


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In 3D Printing News Briefs today, Carbon has announced several improvements to its platform, and Renca printed a house with its geopolymer 3D printing mortar. In medical news, Axial3D has received FDA clearance for its medical image segmentation platform, and researchers at CHI Health found that 3D printed models of babies can help improve parents’ attachment. Finally, a YouTuber 3D printed a life-sized clone of himself.

Carbon Announces Platform Improvements

Double unicorn Carbon, well-known for its digital light synthesis (DLS) 3D printers, recently announced several improvements to its digital manufacturing platform, which aims to help users at all stages of digital product development and fabrication. First is an expanded range of functional materials, thanks to inert bake ovens improving their performance. Carbon’s EPX 82 and EPX 86FR feature strength, temperature resistance, and toughness, but for applications that need even higher levels of toughness, this can be improved by baking parts in a low-oxygen environment. Carbon now has recommendations for two inert ovens, as well as a nitrogen source, which is necessary for maintaining a low oxygen environment for baking.

Its other platform improvements have to do with advancing design tools to ensure better part quality, such as adding additional core capabilities to both the Carbon Design Engine Pro and CogniCAD. CogniCAD can now add buckling as a constraint, in addition to capabilities for vibration, static, and FEA, while new Hex Meshes and lattice types have been added to the toolbar in Carbon Design Engine Pro to increase performance and aesthetic options. Users can choose from new lattice types in the Strut Lattice operation, and upload and populate custom unit cells while using Hex Mesh; for the later, you can learn more in the Hex Mesh section of the Design Engine Tools & Features Carbon Academy lesson.

RENCA Reaches 3D Printed Geopolymer Construction Milestone

Joint venture Renca provides a range of geopolymer technology services, including construction consultancy, scientific and technological services, R&D, and product development based on raw materials. The company has been working on geopolymer materials since 2015, trying to keep construction more sustainable, as building materials and sites are big contributors to pollution. 3D printing has helped, as it reduces the amount of materials used and waste generated, and in 2016, Apis Cor was the first to print with Renca’s geopolymer mortar. The material doesn’t contain any Portland cement, which is in all other 3D printing mortars and adds to carbon dioxide emissions. The company announced a new milestone for both technologies: its zero-cement mortar was used to 3D print a full geopolymer house structure. This a big step in the company’s efforts to promote sustainable building methods and materials and methods.

Genuine geopolymer-based mortars and concretes are non-hydraulic binders and offer several benefits for construction 3D printing, including high strength, fire- and corrosion-resistance, fast setting time, and 90% more sustainability than Portland cement. They do have to be mixed in a batch mixing system using a specific approach, unlike cementitious-based products, this milestone by Renca is a big deal and could open new doors. The company worked with Strong Print 3D and Geopolymer International to conduct the project in the western desert of the U.S. It was a harsh environment to work in, with temperatures quickly dropping from 110 to 50°F, strong winds, and hardly any humidity, but the team’s strong engineering skills and hard work made it possible to 3D print the structure out of Renca’s zero-cement geopolymer mortar.

Axial3D Receives FDA Clearance for Automated INSIGHT Platform

Moving on, Irish medical segmentation and 3D solutions company Axial3D announced that it’s received FDA clearance for its automated, AI-driven Axial3D INSIGHT medical image segmentation platform. It’s the second FDA clearance the company has received for the cloud-based platform, and should be a big help in scaling up production processes for medical device companies. Axial3D is used for cardiovascular, orthopedic, maxillofacial, and orthopedic trauma applications, automating the conversion of 2D DICOM images, like MRI and CT scans, into 3D visualizations, 3D mesh files, and 3D printed anatomical models with its AI algorithms and advanced machine learning techniques. This makes it easier, and quicker, for healthcare professionals to access 3D patient data, which can then be used to improve treatment planning, diagnostic accuracy, and surgical procedures. As the medical sector continues to embrace the use of AI and automation to personalize patient care, this FDA clearance for Axial3D INSIGHT is a big win.

“Our FDA clearance for Axial3D INSIGHT™ is a testament to how far Axial3D has come. From our humble beginnings as a startup to now being recognized as a leading medical technology company, this achievement showcases our dedication to pushing the boundaries of innovation in healthcare,” said Dan Crawford, Founder and CSO of Axial3D. “We are immensely proud of our team’s commitment in delivering exceptional patient care using advanced automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning technologies.”

Parents Experience Increased Attachment with 3D Models & Images of Babies

3D models of Mary Jones baby’s face, created from a 3D ultrasound by Dr. John Coté. She’d learned several months prior that the child she was carrying has a lethal medical condition. (Image: Bailey Nielsen, CHI Health)

Dr. John Coté, an obstetrician/gynecologist with CHI Health, took his personal interest in 3D printing and brought it to his practice to help patients facing difficulties in their pregnancies, like Mary Jones, who found that the daughter she’s carrying has anencephaly, a lethal condition that will likely take the baby’s life soon after birth. Dr. Coté gifted her with 3D printed models of her baby’s face so she’d have something to help her bond with the baby now, and remember her later. This turned into research into a concept called maternal-fetal attachment, testing whether 3D printed models can help strengthen the bond between a mother and her unseen baby. This attachment often grows during a pregnancy, and the theory is the baby’s movement is related, which corresponds with attachment scores. Over the last few years, Dr. Coté and his partners have conducted several studies to determine whether 3D printing in different forms can improve these scores, as well as help moms make healthy choices about alcohol consumption and smoking.

In a new study, the team randomly chose parents to receive either a 3D printed model or 3D image, and found that both increased the attachment scores for moms and, for the first time and by the same amount, for dads as well. But, there was no measurable difference for these increases in either parent depending on whether they got the 3D picture or 3D printed model. This was a surprise to Dr. Coté, who thought the 3D printed models would have a greater effect on parents’ attachment scores than the pictures. He says more research is needed to determine if 3D images or 3D printed models should be given to every patient. In the meantime, the team continues its research to improve pregnancy outcomes by studying if pregnant women who smoke will do it less after receiving a 3D print of their baby.

YouTuber Built “Largest” DIY 3D Printer, Creates Life-Size Clone

YouTuber Ivan Miranda has completed a life-sized 3D print of himself by assembling a gigantic 3D printer and the results are incredibly impressive.

Finally, YouTuber Ivan Miranda is “into digital fabrication, 3D printing, electronics, woodworking, instrument making, metalworking, and anything geeky in general,” and recently built a huge DIY 3D printer. To test it out, he went about 100 steps further than the typical Benchy boat and 3D printed a life-sized plastic clone of himself. The Big 3D Printer MKV is made out of aluminum and features a massive 1110 x 1110 x 2005 mm build volume, a heated bed, many motors to help with movement across each axis, and plenty of 3D printed elements as well. 4,375 layers of red PLA plastic make up the giant clone, which took 108 hours to print and encountered several failures along the way, including a motor failure, misaligned layers, and even a couple of catastrophes. It’s completely hollow, weights 6.2 kilograms, and stands 1.7 meters tall. If you’re interested in trying to print your own clone, or some other massive object, Miranda is selling a design of the printer for just $30, though you’ll need to have a decent amount of technical knowledge yourself.

“There’s no support included in this files. None. I will not reply to any questions or help you solve any issues with this build as it is impossible for me to do it for every person that buys the files. There will be a link to a discord channel for the people that are attempting this build to share progress and troubles,” Miranda said.

“If you want to build this 3D printer as a production unit, don’t. This is not it, this is a hobby project. A huge one but a hobby project.”

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