How 3D Printing is Poised to Revolutionize

Initially viewed as little more than a novelty, 3D printing is a technology that promises to make a sweeping impact across many different industries. From medical applications to industrial manufacturing, the latest trends in 3D printing promise a valuable glimpse into the many changes and possibilities that may be just over the horizon. Streamlining, upgrading or even outright replacing conventional production methods will soon allow manufacturers to enhance their output and efficiency while drastically reducing their overhead and operational costs.

Made-to-Order Parts and Components

Conventional methods of component fabrication often required numerous resources and entailed a production process that was both time and labor intensive. Ordering raw materials, machining parts on-site and putting the finishing touches on any components utilized during the production of end-line consumer goods typically involved a number of cost and logistical obstacles. For many businesses that have been unable to overcome production limitation, 3D printers that are able to produce finished metal goods and high-quality parts and components more quickly and for less overall cost promises to be a real game changer. Eliminating the delays and costs needed to machine parts or assemble production components will soon allow both new manufacturers and more established businesses to take advantage of an expanded range of options, choices and solutions.

Streamlined Production

Inefficient workflow processes can impede the overall efficiency of an organization. More convenient and affordable ways to fabricate the items and resources they need ensures that manufactures will be able to streamline their production process in order to boost output and optimize their profitability. 3D printers that are able to work with a wider range of materials and substances are likely to revolutionize many aspects of manufacturing within the near future. Businesses that will have the opportunity to print what they need rather than fabricating parts and components through conventional methods will be able to enjoy a number of key benefits.

Breakthrough Made Building Synthetic Soft Brain Tissue With 3D ‘Bioprinting’

Scientists have taken a leap forward toward the goal of growing artificial human organ replacements thanks to a new application of 3D printing technology. The new method has successfully created material that is soft and spongy like human brain and lung tissue.

Using a 3D printer, researchers create shapes similar to human organs using a synthetic composite hydrogel. Once these organ “scaffolds” are completed, they are “populated” with living cells which grow on the spongy material to fill out a complete organ.

There’s still a lot of bugs to be worked out of the process, however. For example, developers of the technique have yet to work out a way to prevent underlying layers from collapsing when additional layers are added. Because 3D printers work by spraying on layer after layer, each additional layer puts more pressure on the lower sections.

But there’s considerable reason for optimism. A fix has been developed that involves cooling down the lower layers with a cryogenic freezing technique. This makes them more stable and able to accept additional layers of material. After printing is completed, the frozen layers can be thawed slowly. The key is to maintain the integrity of the shape desired once fully warmed.

So far, brain-shaped 3D-printed organs have been populated with skin cells which are added over a layer of collagen applied to the hydrogel. The method is not yet ready for real brain cells, although smaller brain parts have been successfully populated using genuine neurons. Making a whole brain “scaffold” with the 3D print method has yet to be perfected.

This cutting-edge 3D bioprinting research is being conducted by the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London in cooperation with the Tissue Engineering and Biophotonics Division of King’s College London.

It’s unclear when cryogenic bioprinting will be ready for actual human transplant. However, the ability to produce soft-tissue structures with this technique is a significant accomplishment.