What’s New In 3-D Printing: Capabilities, Partnerships, and Printers

To keep up with the pace of 3-D printing, you’d better have on your sneakers—which could come from a 3-D printer. With more breakthroughs and innovations occurring regularly, 3-D printing is revolutionizing industries and even biology.

New Vision for 3-D Printing Capabilities

Earlier this year, Britain’s Newcastle University reported that it printed the first human corneas, which is a beacon of hope for the millions of visually impaired individuals across the globe.[1] The process works by using stem cells from a healthy donor’s cornea, mixing them with alginate and collagen, which creates a “bio-ink” for printing. They are then printed on a 3-D bio-printer that is relatively simple and cost-effective. They print in around 10 minutes, according to the university.

Print It and Drive It

The concept of printing car parts is not new, but the first mass-producible 3-D printed car debuted in Shanghai, China this year. The Italian electric car start-up XEV partnered with the Chinese 3-D printing material company Polymaker to introduce the LSEV. For it to be mass producible, they companies had to work together on three main challenges:

  • Reducing the number of components (2,000 to only 57)
  • Visible, printed parts were made from Polymaker materials, allowing for a 70 percent reduction in costs
  • New designs can be completed in three to 12 months rather than years

Manufacturing 3-D Gets Boost from New Partnership

BigRep, a 3-D printing manufacturer, and engineering company Bosch Rexroth have launched a joint venture. This new partnership will implement advanced CNC control systems and drive new additive manufacturing systems. The collaboration should allow for the faster production of and lower cost of manufacturing models, tools, prototypes, and other products. This should permit manufacturers to scale better with 3-D printing as well.

Mimaki’s New Model Offers 10 Million Colors

The new Mimaki 3DUJ-553 has UV curable inkjet hardware, allowing for the production of more than 10 million colors, which is one of the most diverse color offerings available. The quality of the 3DUJ-553 has been called outstanding by experts. With more colors, the printer is more capable of printing a final product versus just a prototype.

With more capabilities, partnerships, and printers hitting the market, 3-D printers move more into the mainstream every day as a real solution for anything from medical breakthroughs to reducing costs for manufacturers.

[1] https://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/latest/2018/05/first3dprintingofcorneas/