3D Printing News Briefs, September 23, 2023: Research Awards, Dental Veneers, Gaming, & More

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In 3D Printing News Briefs, technologies developed by ORNL researchers won six R&D research awards, Rolls-Royce delivered its first of four Coach-built Droptail models with 3D printed elements, and Boston Micro Fabrication will market the thinnest cosmetic dental veneer. An electronics engineer used an old gin bottle and 200 3D printed parts to build a Rube Goldberg-inspired marble run kinetic sculpture. Finally, there’s a new handheld gaming PC that you can 3D print and build at home, and a model kit artist on YouTube 3D printed the ‘hover bike’ design from “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” video game.

Technologies by ORNL Researchers Receive Six R&D 100 Awards

Researchers pictured here at the DOE Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL developed the R&D 100 Award-winning hybrid additive manufacturing-compression molding, or AM-CM, technology. Credit: ORNL, US Dept. of Energy

Technologies developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researchers have won six 2023 R&D 100 Awards from R&D World magazine. For 60 years, these awards have honored science and technology research and development that leads to new materials, commercial products, and technologies that are available for sale or license. The DOE Office of Science provided funding for three of the projects: “Additively Manufactured Thermally Conductive Collimators for Neutron Instrumentation,” developed by ORNL and PolarOnyx; “Physics-Informed, Active Learning–Driven Autonomous Microscopy for Science Discovery,” developed by ORNL and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and “SuperNeuro: An Accelerated Neuromorphic Computing Simulator,” developed by ORNL. Another winner was “Precise, Continuous, & High-Speed Manufacturing of Thermoplastic Composites Using Additive Manufacturing-Compression Molding, AM-CM,” developed by ORNL with funding from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO). “OpeN-AM: A Platform for Operando Neutron Diffraction Measurements of Additive Manufacturing,” developed by ORNL, also won, and received funding from DOE Laboratory Directed Research and Development, Digital Metallurgy Initiative. Finally, ORNL supported the development of CANDLE (CANcer Distributed Learning Environment), which was a collaboration between several DOE laboratories and the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.

“ORNL strives to deliver technological solutions for the nation’s toughest problems. This year’s R&D 100 Awards are a reminder of how hard our scientists and engineers work to accomplish that feat,” said Jeff Smith, Interim Director of ORNL.

First Rolls-Royce Coach-built Droptail Model has 3D Printed Features

Rolls-Royce La Rose Noire Droptail. Credit: Rolls-Royce

At a Pebble Beach automotive event, Rolls-Royce delivered its first custom coach-built Droptail model. Only three more of the two-seat convertibles will be made, and each one costs over $33 million CAD. Each of the Droptails will also be unique, as owners pay for a high level of customization; for instance, this first one is named La Rose Noire, in honor of the Black Baccara, which is the commissioning family’s favorite flower. The flower is also the basis of the car’s design, with “petals” represented by red veneer triangles embedded within the black woodwork extending from the instrument panel to the rear deck. Additionally, the body of La Rose Noire is painted in a special shade of metallic red called True Love, with accents like the hood, wheels, and removable roof painted in a darker red called Mystery.

Once again, Rolls-Royce turned to 3D printing to create some of the Droptail’s customized features. The car has a lower intake manifold that was 3D printed out of composite material, which was then augmented with over 200 stainless steel ingots, also painted in True Love. The twin-turbocharged 6,75-liter V-12 engine is behind the intake, and there’s also a champagne chest in the car made specifically for the owner’s own vintage of Champagne de Lossy. Finally, an exclusive watch, commissioned by the owner’s family from Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet, adorns the dashboard, secured by a motorized holder. It can also be worn by the owner, and once removed, a titanium blank with an engraving of the Black Baccara can be installed in its place.

Boston Micro Fabrication Enters Dental Market with UltraThineer

Microscale 3D printing solutions provider Boston Micro Fabrication (BMF) develops applications where its highly-precise projection micro stereolithography (PµSL) technology can reduce cost and production time, and is launching UltraThineer, which it calls the world’s thinnest cosmetic dental veneer. Veneers currently require a lot of preparation to the existing teeth, which is invasive, uncomfortable, and non-reversible. Developed in collaboration with Peking University, these new durable veneers are only 100 µm thick, which is three times thinner than traditional ones, and dental professionals need much less preparation with them, which allows for preservation of the patient’s enamel. 3D printing, with its ability to offer on-demand, custom solutions, is used in multiple dental applications, and UltraThineer veneers are just the latest, featuring a production workflow, advanced zirconia material, and the necessary finishing process to create more comfortable, less invasive veneers.

“The ability to print ceramics at minimal thickness will be revolutionary. Our current processes for producing minimal prep veneers can be labor-intensive when compared to milled, full coverage crowns in zirconia. Conservative reduction of the patient’s enamel should be practiced whenever possible,” said Jessica Love from Capture Dental Arts, a leading U.S. provider of cosmetic dental service. “I’m looking forward to the start of this new technology, allowing intricate, ultra-thin veneers to be printed. BMF’s advancements and innovation will continue to push the boundaries of dentistry and inspire innovation worldwide.”

Following a review by the FDA, UltraThineer veneers should be available in the U.S. by the spring of 2024.

Rube Goldberg-Inspired 3D Printed Marble Run Kinetic Sculpture

This kinetic sculpture is almost entirely 3D printed, and serves as a homage to the creator’s favorite gin.

Electronics engineer David McDaid was inspired by the machines of Rube Goldberg when creating a 3D printed marble run kinetic sculpture, which also pays homage to his favorite gin by the Isle of Harris Distillery. With the idea of creating a piece of kinetic art that could be mounted on the wall in a box frame, he designed the 2D marble run in Fusion 360. It features around 200 individual 3D printed parts, including the lightweight links of a roller chain that brings the marble back to the top after it completes a run, which he called “an absolute pain.” The marble run uses about 250 screws, nuts, and washers, and the empty gin bottle forms part of the structure’s driving mechanism. There’s also a Trinamic TMC2208 stepper motor driver connected to a NEMA17 stepper motor for reducing the noise, and several LEDs, and the whole thing is driven by an Elegoo Nano V3.0 Arduino-compatible microcontroller board and some custom PCBs. It took McDaid about three months to finish the project.

“There’s only so much testing you can do within a CAD environment, which meant there was a lot of “print, test, repeat” required for each individual component for this build. Revisions ranged from a version one working first try, right up to a version 15 for some non-cooperative parts,” he wrote. “The total amount of filament used during development was around ~2.5kg [around 5.5lbs]. The total required for the final build is only ~0.66kg [around 1.5lbs].”

3D Printable NucDeck Handheld Gaming PC

Maker Dan McKenzie created the NucDeck, a handheld gaming PC that you can 3D print and build for yourself in the comfort of your own home. It features a 7″ touchscreen display, gyroscopic aiming, analog triggers, RGB joystick surrounds, a battery/controller information screen, and a 4s 3,000mAh Li-ion battery. Pair of all that with a 7th-generation Intel Core-i5-7260U CPU, 16GB of DDR4-2133 RAM, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640, custom PCBs, and a 3D printed housing, and you can make your own NucDeck for around $370. McKenzie made two different versions of the housing, and while the standard version includes RGB joystick surrounds, the NoRGB does not, in order to make the 3D printing easier. He also notes in GitHub that the PCBs and software are incomplete, so you should take this project on “at your own risk!”

“There are two different versions of the buttons, membrane and clicky. The Membrane buttons are shorter and are designed to be used with silicone membranes,” McKenzie wrote on GitHub. “I’ve included files for molds to make the membranes. If you have a resin printer I encourage you to give this a try as it improves the feel of the buttons dramatically. FDM printers will struggle to produce the accuracy required to make these parts. The clicky version is slightly taller and can be used without the membranes.”

3D Printed Zelda Hover Bike

A few months ago, “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” video game, also known as “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2,” was released for Nintendo Switch, and it’s just as popular as you’d expect. Fans are either busy playing the game, or paying homage to it. In one example, a model kit artist from Hong Kong known as ‘qshyj‘ on YouTube turned to 3D printing and an airbrush to recreate the popular hover bike design from the game. It’s one of the top transportation modes in the game because it’s easy to put together: you only need two fans and a stick to switch from riding a horse in the game to riding a hover bike.

From the video, it appears that qshyj used a Creality HALOT-MAGE PRO resin 3D printer to print all the parts for the hover bike, which she designed so they’d all fit in one build. The supports looked pretty easy to remove, and then the parts were UV cured and sanded before she used the airbrush to paint everything. All of the smaller details were added with paintbrushes and nozzles, and then everything was glued together or snapped into place. It looked to be pretty intricate, time-consuming work, but it was worth it in the end. While it’s definitely not a full-sized vehicle, the handheld replica itself is stunning and lifelike—even featuring the Ultrahand’s “sticky substance” that’s used to connect the devices of the Zonai in the land of Hyrule.

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