3D Printing Industry research CrAMmed: MIT, National Academy of Engineering, Aalto University, Optomec

As additive manufacturing continues to enable researchers worldwide, CrAMmed, 3D Printing Industry’s academic and AM research digest, shares the latest innovations and literature demonstrating its capabilities.

Controlling sounds waves with 3D printing

Engineers from Aalto University in Helsinki and collaborators from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, have used 3D printed tubes to create a meta-mirror surface capable of reflecting acoustic waves. Ana Diaz-Rubio, a Postdoctoral researcher at Aalto’s Department of Electronics and Nano-engineering, stated:

“Existing solutions for controlling reflection of waves have low efficiency or difficult implementation.”

“We solved both of those problems. Not only did we figure out a way to design high efficient metasurfaces, we can also adapt the design for different functionalities. These metasurfaces are a versatile platform for arbitrary control of reflection.”

With this development, the researchers plan to create devices for controlling sound waves which can then be applied to electromagnetic fields. “Power flow–conformal metamirrors for engineering wave reflections” is published in Science Advances.

The 3D printed ABS acoustic metasurface. Photo via Aalto University.
The 3D printed ABS acoustic metasurface. Photo via Aalto University.

Additive manufacturing to observe pollination

Corneile Minnaar, a pollination biologist in the Department of Botany and Zoology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, has used quantum dots and a 3D printed box to track and label individual pollen grains. This novel, inexpensive method is designed to fully understanding floral function, evolution, and ecology.

Quantum dots are luminous, water-soluble nanoparticles produced by breaking down larger carbon structures such as graphite and nanotubes. Such particles are non-toxic to living organisms, meaning they are finding a range of applications in medicine.

“I decided to design a fluorescence box that can fit under a dissection microscope,” explained Minnaar. “And, because I wanted people to use this method, I designed a box that can easily be 3D printed at a cost of about 5,000 Rand ($355 US), including the required electronic components.”

Using quantum dots as pollen labels to track the fates of individual pollen grains” is published in British Ecological Society.

A 3D printed piezoelectric microphone

Researchers from the Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, have demonstrated the possibility to create a functional electro-acoustic microphone by embedding 3D printed piezoelectric and conductive parts.

The device, made using an Asiga Pico 27 plus DLP 3D printer, integrates biologically inspired sensors and mechanically sensitive membranes with thicknesses down to 35 μm and tunable resonant frequencies for acoustic communications.

Piezoelectric microphone via a digital light processing 3D printing process” is published in Science Direct.

The design and 3D printed Piezoelectric microphone. Image via University of Strathclyde.
The design and 3D printed Piezoelectric microphone. Image via University of Strathclyde.

In other news, Optomec, a New Mexico metal additive manufacturing specialist, has analyzed the mist flow patterns in its additive manufacturing process Aerosol Jet Printing.

Dr. James Q. Feng, Principal Engineer at Optomec, has published the findings in the study Mist Flow Visualization for Round Jets in Aerosol Jet® Printing.”

3D printed foot braces

Researchers from the University of Sydney have explored the possibilities of 3D printing  for Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO). As such, the team gathered 11 studies of AFO’s made through additive manufacturing from 1985 to 2018. Factors including personalization, effectiveness, biomechanical function, mechanical properties, patient comfort, pain, and disability were analyzed.

The researchers concluded that “The use of 3D printing to manufacture AFOs seems to have many potential benefits over traditional methods, including the development of novel designs that optimize stiffness and energy dissipation, improve walking biomechanics, comfort and fit,” concluded the team.”

“Feasibility of designing, manufacturing and delivering 3D printed ankle-foot orthoses: a systematic review”is published in BMC Biology. The first author of the study is research student Elizabeth Wojciechowski.

ActivArmor 3D printed casts. Photo via ActivArmor.
ActivArmor 3D printed AFO’s. Photo via ActivArmor.

3D printing pharmaceuticals

The BIOMAT Research Group of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Spain, have 3D printed gelatin inks to manufacture drug-loaded scaffolds for medication such as dexamethasone – which is used to treat arthritis, blood, hormone, and immune system disorders.

According to the authors, “Gelatin scaffolds loaded with dexamethasone sodium phosphate (DSP) and crosslinked with lactose were fabricated by 3D printing. The viscosity of the gelatin solution was adequate to control the shape of the printed structures where reproducible scaffolds were obtained.”

The group aimed to preserve gelatin structure and provide support to cells for tissue formation. The study,“3D printed lactose-crosslinked gelatin scaffolds as a drug delivery system for dexamethasone” was published inScience Direct. The first author named in the research is Alaitz Etxebide of the Faculty of Engineering, UPV/EHU.

The process of 3D printed gelatin inks for drug-loaded scaffolds for dexamethasone. Image via University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU).

Similarly, scientists from Keimyung University(KMU), South Korea, have explored the capabilities of FFF/FDM 3D printing for pharmaceutical applications. The researchers stated that the technology “allows dosage forms to be precisely printed in various shapes, sizes and textures that are difficult to produce using traditional techniques.”

Nevertheless, the team recognized the challenges associated with the proper application of 3D printing in the pharmaceutical sector. This includes material limitations, printing accuracy, and additive manufacturing hardware for large-scale production.

The journal article “Complex formulations, simple techniques: Can 3D printing technology be the Midas touch in [the] pharmaceutical industry?” is published in the Asian Journal of Pharmaceutics on Science Direct

The effects of 3D printing pharmaceuticals. Image via Keimyung University.

MIT researchers for the National Academy of Engineering

Six researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have been elected for the to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Of the electees is Christopher A. Schuh, Professor in Metallurgy in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, for contributions to design science and application of nanocrystalline metals. Professor Schuh recently contributed to a study demonstrating the possibility of 3D printing amorphous metals.

FFF 3D printing BMG rods. Photo © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier.
FFF 3D printingof amorphous metal BMG rods. Photo © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier.

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Featured image shows the CrAMmed logo over the 3D printed ABS acoustic metasurface. Photo via Aalto University.