Latest Developments in AM: February 2024

04 March 2024
AM: February 2024

In the dynamic landscape of additive manufacturing, the month of February 2024 witnesses groundbreaking strides, with researchers globally pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. 

A noteworthy breakthrough at the University of Wisconsin–Madison takes center stage, introducing the world’s inaugural 3D-printed brain tissue replicating natural growth. Employing a unique horizontal layering approach and a softer bio-ink, this pioneering technique meticulously mimics human brain structures, offering unparalleled precision in studying neurological functions and disorders. This article delves into the implications of this remarkable achievement, as we explore the latest advancements in additive manufacturing, specifically focusing on its impact on neurological research and drug testing.

Read on to find out more

 

AM: February 2024
Image: Neuroscience News

First 3D-Printed Brain Tissue Mirrors Natural Growth: Breakthrough for Neurological Research and Drug Testing

 

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have achieved a significant breakthrough by developing the world’s first 3D-printed brain tissue that mimics the growth and behavior of natural brain tissue. Using a horizontal layering approach and a softer bio-ink, this novel 3D-printing technique allows neurons to interconnect, forming networks similar to human brain structures. The precision in controlling cell types and arrangements presents unprecedented opportunities for studying brain functions and disorders in a controlled environment, offering new avenues for drug testing and understanding neurodevelopmental conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Unlike traditional vertical layering approaches, the horizontal placement of brain cells in a softer bio-ink gel allows for the formation of connections between neurons, creating networks comparable to human brains. The printed cells exhibit communication through neurotransmitters and establish networks with support cells. 

This breakthrough technique offers superior precision over brain organoids, allowing researchers to study the brain’s network operations under specific conditions by designing and printing tissue with defined characteristics. The accessibility of this method to various labs without special equipment or culture methods makes it a valuable tool for extensive research in neurobiology, neurodegenerative disorders, and drug development. Future advancements may include improving the bio-ink and equipment for enhanced cell orientation within the printed tissue.

 

AM: February 2024
Image: MIT Printed Solenoids

 

MIT Breakthrough in 3D-Printed Solenoids for Cost-Efficiency and Remote Access to Medical Devices.

MIT researchers have achieved a groundbreaking milestone by 3D printing solenoid electromagnets, crucial components in electronic devices like dialysis machines. This advancement, facilitated by a customized multi-material 3D printer, not only promises cost reduction and minimized waste in electronics manufacturing but also holds potential applications in remote medical device access. The team successfully demonstrated the creation of fully 3D printed, three-dimensional solenoids with superior performance, capable of withstanding increased electric current and generating a magnetic field three times larger than other 3D printed devices. Beyond terrestrial applications, this innovation could be pivotal in space exploration, enabling on-demand printing of electronic components in distant locations.

The MIT researchers implemented modifications to the 3D printer, allowing it to extrude pellets rather than filament, enhancing the performance of solenoids using soft magnetic materials. The resulting solenoids, with a precisely layered spiral structure, exhibited higher performance and magnetic field amplification compared to traditional 3D printed devices. 

This breakthrough opens avenues for diverse applications, including the use of solenoids as power converters in small sensors and actuators for soft robots. Despite the customized hardware’s approximate cost of $4,000, the researchers believe this technique offers a more cost-effective solution compared to other approaches, emphasizing its potential to democratize electronic device production globally.

 

AM: February 2024

Doosan Enerbility and Pelagus 3D Forge New Partnership in Maritime Innovation

 

Revolutionizing maritime engineering, South Korean powerhouse Doosan Enerbility and Singapore’s Pelagus 3D, a leader in metal additive manufacturing (AM), have forged a groundbreaking partnership. This collaboration aims to transform the ship and marine sectors by utilizing metal 3D printing for critical part production, marking a significant leap toward the future of maritime engineering.

 

The synergy between Doosan Enerbility and Pelagus 3D goes beyond technology exchange. It combines Doosan’s proficiency in designing, producing, and ensuring the quality of AM parts with Pelagus 3D’s management of an online platform dedicated to metal AM parts. This partnership promises unparalleled efficiency and innovation, providing a crucial marketplace for domestic shipbuilders to access high-quality, certified parts tailored to their needs. Joint marketing efforts also aim to promote metal AM technology in the shipbuilding and marine sectors in Singapore, creating new avenues for business and technological growth.

While the primary focus is on the maritime industry, the partnership’s ambitions extend to the aerospace sector, showcasing the potential for cross-industry innovation. Central to this collaboration is a commitment to sustainability. By advancing metal AM technology, Doosan Enerbility and Pelagus 3D aim to enhance production efficiency, reduce waste, and cut energy consumption associated with traditional manufacturing. This approach aligns with the global push for greener, more sustainable industrial practices, steering the manufacturing industry towards an era of innovation, efficiency, and environmental responsibility.

AM: February 2024
Image: Nature

FiloBot: Innovative 3D-Printed Robot Inspired by Climbing Plants for Adaptive Growth

 

Researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Genoa have unveiled FiloBot, a groundbreaking soft robotics project that combines biomimicry and 3D printing. Published in Science Robotics, the study led by Barbara Mazzolai explores the potential of self-growing robots inspired by climbing plants. FiloBot utilizes a 3D printing mechanism embedded in the robot, accompanied by motion sensors, enabling it to grow and adapt to external stimuli such as gravity, light, and shade. As part of the European GrowBot project, FiloBot’s prototype demonstrates significant potential for environmental applications, including pollution measurement in hazardous areas and exploration of hard-to-reach natural environments.

Inspired by the apical growth observed in climbing plants, the IIT team aimed to create FiloBot’s ability to grow and adapt to its surroundings. The robot’s rotating head deposits a thermoplastic filament using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), extending its body based on external stimuli. FiloBot’s adaptive behavior, resembling the tropism of real plants, showcases its potential for varied applications. 

The robot’s complex mechanism allows it to grow differently in response to gaps, potential supports, and pathways in various environments. While FiloBot is still in the testing phase, this innovation marks a significant stride in the convergence of biomimicry and robotics, offering promising prospects for environmental protection and future advancements

pierre bamin WBCefg9hYo4 unsplash
Image: Pierre Bamin

Chameleonic Color Innovation: Sustainable 3D-Printing Breakthrough 

 

Integrating nature’s ingenuity, scientists have developed an innovative 3D-printing technology inspired by the color-shifting abilities of chameleons. The research, conducted at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, introduces a sustainable approach to 3D-printing dynamic colors using a single ink. By employing UV-assisted direct-ink-write 3D printing, the team can modify structural color in real-time during the printing process. This is achieved by manipulating light to control the evaporative assembly of specifically designed crosslinking polymers.

Lead author Sanghyun Jeon, a graduate student in the Diao Lab, explains that unlike conventional colors derived from pigments or dyes, the structural colors in this system come from nano-textured surfaces that interact with visible light. This not only results in vibrant colors but also holds the potential for increased sustainability. The researchers demonstrate the ability to produce structural colors across the visible spectrum, ranging from deep blue to orange, using a single ink. 

This breakthrough not only showcases the power of collaboration but also underscores the importance of molecular-level design in creating such remarkable properties, as highlighted by co-authors Damien Guironnet, Simon Rogers, and Charles Sing, all experts in chemical and biomolecular engineering. The study represents a significant step forward in the realm of 3D-printing technology inspired by the fascinating abilities of chameleons.

 

Conclusion

 

In February 2024, we witnessed pivotal developments that underscored the transformative influence of Additive Manufacturing across various sectors. These groundbreaking achievements not only mark a significant moment but also set the stage for ongoing innovation and exploration in the field of AM throughout the upcoming year.

 

About AMFG

AMFG is a leading provider of MES software for manufacturing. Our software solutions empower manufacturers, allowing them to manage their workflows and achieve streamlined, automated processes.

With over 500 successful implementations in 35 countries and across a range of industries, we specialize in enabling companies to successfully integrate our software for AM and CNC production, into their wider manufacturing processes and scale their operations.

 

Report by Danny Weller

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