The Daily 3D Detail: NASA goes green in space

Posted by Editor On September - 4 - 2017Comments Off on The Daily 3D Detail: NASA goes green in space

NASA goes green in space

NASA announced plans to put Tethers Unlimited’s Refabricator into space next year. Photo courtesy of NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given.

NASA has announced plans to launch in 2018 the Refabricator, a large recycling and remanufacturing machine intended to shred plastics and metals into reusable material and then use the material to 3D-print new objects — all of this done within the same device.

The Refabricator project is the responsibility of Tethers Unlimited, a space tech firm based in Seattle, Washington Tethers Unlimited received $750,000 in award money from NASA to fund the program. Plans are now in place to have the Refabricator installed into the International Space Station (ISS) by next year.

The Refaabricator project is similar in function to other recycling innovations being sought around the world. 3Devo, from The Netherlands, is one such country pursuing recycling plastics with their SHR3D IT system for shredding and granulating plastics for reuse. The Precious Plastics project, the brainchild of Dave Hakkens, is another such foray into creating localized recycling systems for plastics. Precious Plastics is also being conducted as an open-source operation with free downloads of equipment plans and installation instructions.

Rob Hoyt, CEO of Tethers, commented on the Refabricator project for NASA by saying, “The Refabricator demonstration is a key advance toward our vision of implementing a truly sustainable, in-space manufacturing ecosystem. Astronauts could use this technology to manufacture and recycle food-safe utensils, and turn what is now inconvenient waste into feedstock to help build the next generation of space systems.”

For more on this story, see the article at

The Daily 3D Detail: XYZ launches full color FDM printing

Posted by Editor On September - 1 - 2017Comments Off on The Daily 3D Detail: XYZ launches full color FDM printing

XYZ launches full color FDM printing

XYZPrinting announces launch of color FDM printing

Taiwanese 3D printer manufacturer XYZ printing, said to be largest seller of 3D printers, has launched a model that produces FDM PLA spool-fed prints in full color with a range of 16 million colors. The Da Vinci Color model printer, which sells for $2,999.95, is looking at a significant section of the market share of schools and small businesses looking to print durable objects in color.

The device is being launched at Berlin’s IFA 2017 show this week, and hopefully more will be revealed on how coloring is applied to digital files prior to printing. The samples being promoted now show a range of colors and coloring intricacy. If everything XYZPrinting says is true, the printer stands to be a game-changer for 3D service bureaus and start-ups alike.

XYZ launches full color FDM printing

Color is achieved by use of inkjet cartridges applying color between layers

The process is a simple one in terms of innovation. The Da Vinci Color is a standard FDM printer that uses ordinary 2D color printing cartridges to deliver color between the layers of polylactic acid (PLA) plastic.

Simon Shen, CEO of XYZprinting comments, “With its 3DColorJet technology, the da Vinci Color is a breakthrough in 3D printing technology as it provides full color spectrum accuracy at an afford able, small business-friendly price, that is unmatched by any other color 3D printer in the market.”

For specs on the printer, see this article at

The Daily 3D Detail: Key development made in 3D-printing copper

Posted by Editor On August - 31 - 2017Comments Off on The Daily 3D Detail: Key development made in 3D-printing copper

Key development made in 3D-printing copper

Researchers in Germany have made a breakthrough in the ability to laser melt copper. Image courtesy of Fraunhofer ILT.

The selective laser melting (SLM) method of 3D-printing is effective for most metals and many alloys, with the unusual exception for pure copper. While copper alloys have been used in the past, using SLM for copper has failed to the high degree of reflection affecting the laser attempts.

A new development being announced at the formnext 2017 trade show in Frankfurt, Germany by Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT has changed that outlook. The research project, funded by AiF German Federation of Industrial Research Associations, indicates that by using laser light in the green spectrum range, in the 515 nanometer wavelength, the absorptivity grows, thereby requiring less power needed to achieve consistent melting results.

Because pure copper is more electrically and thermally conductive than most metals and alloys, the need for pure copper parts is substantial and proves to a lucrative aspect of 3D-printing. But copper reflects up to 90% of laser radiation, so only a small amount of the energy is received by the material. Also machine components can be damaged by the reflected radiation, and when the copper transitions to a liquid state, it results in an unstable remelting process.

“We are hoping for a more homogeneous melt pool dynamics so that we can build components with high material density and achieve other positive effects, such as a higher detail resolution,” said Daniel Heussen, a Rapid Manufacturing group research fellow, of the new SLM approach.

Fraunhofer ILT is building its own green laser source as a result of the studies. The project is referred to as “SLM in green,” the goal of which is to produce a laser with an output of 400 watts in the green light wavelength (515 nm). If successful, devices will be able to 3D-print intricate objects in pure copper, which will be a boon for the construction of electrical components.

For more on the story, see Sarah Saunders’ article at

The Daily 3D Detail: JPL searching for 3D printing interns

Posted by Editor On August - 30 - 2017Comments Off on The Daily 3D Detail: JPL searching for 3D printing interns

JPL searching for 3D printing interns

Opportunities now exist to be a part of JPL’s manufacturing team

Jet Propulsion Laboratories, located in Altadena, California, near Pasadena, is on the lookout for students interested in robotics and space exploration.

The posting on the job website is soliciting applications for work in their Mechanical Systems Engineering, Fabrication and Test Division. Duties include working with a team to develop mechanisms and mechanical systems; building prototypes to prove out mechanism design concepts; running tests to help inform design decisions; and analyzing test data to ensure that the team finds the most important results.

Applicants must be currently enrolled in full-time courses in a college or university pursuing a bachelors, masters, or PhD in mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, chemistry, civil engineering, material/science, physics, robotics, structural engineering, operations research, or related technical discipline. Applicants must also have a 3.0 grade average to be considered.

Visit for instructions on applying.

The Daily 3D Detail: Condos on Mars

Posted by Editor On August - 29 - 2017Comments Off on The Daily 3D Detail: Condos on Mars

Condos on Mars

Artist vision of Mars habitat. Photo courtesy of

Someday we’ll be living in space. At the rate of current of testing, Branch Technology and Foster + Partners may very well be the developer of your moon unit housing or Mars condo.

Condos on Mars

Members of Branch Technology’s NASA 3D Printed Habitat Challenge team

NASA’s efforts to produce sustainable housing off planet has concluded its competitive testing of third-party submissions. The top award of $250,000 was given to the combined efforts of the two research and development teams of Branch Technology, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Foster + Partners of California, for their efforts in producing a 3D-printed habitat. This challenge is the culmination of three levels of challenges in the Phase Two stage of NASA’s attempts to create “advance construction technology needed to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth and beyond.”

Condos on Mars

Competition for NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge was held at Caterpillar’s Edwards Demonstration and Learning Center in Peoria, Illinois

Referred to as NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, the competition has elicited the efforts of five separate teams attempting to best each other in the ever-increasingly more difficult requests. Cash prizes have been given out to the top three contenders in each level of each phase. In the three levels of Phase Two, Branch Technology and Foster + Partners were in the top three of each event. They garnered top prize in level one, a challenge of printing a cone and a cylinder subject to endurance testing; third prize in level two involving the 3D-printing of a support beam (top prize went to South Korea’s Team Moon X); and now the top prize in 3D-printing a dome structure holding 3,726 pounds of ultimate load.

These challenges have brought space structures closer to a viable reality, admits NASA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Technology Mission Directorate Jim Reuter. “The advancement and innovation in additive construction that we’ve seen from these teams is inspiring,” said Reuter. “Meeting the technology goals of this challenge proves that competition can push boundaries, and their work puts us that much closer to preparing the way for deep space exploration.”

Branch Technology and Foster + Partners also credited Techmer Polymer Modifiers for their work in material support.

For more on this story, see these articles at and

The Daily 3D Detail: 3D-printing giant LEGO blocks

Posted by Editor On August - 27 - 2017Comments Off on The Daily 3D Detail: 3D-printing giant LEGO blocks

3D-printing giant LEGO blocks

As many parents of young children understand, the commodities markets (gold, silver, pork bellies) shamefully neglect to catalog the ongoing rate of one of the world’s most collectible items: LEGO blocks.

3D-printing giant LEGO blocks

Image by Cmglee courtesy of Wikipedia

As LEGO blocks continue to hold their dollar value over time, the prospect of 3D-printing them grows. LEGO blocks are originally made of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and can be easily duplicated by most 3D printers. STL (stereolithography) files for LEGO block downloads have been around for years.

3D-printing giant LEGO blocks

Image of downloadable LEGOs by pokesummit

As the “world’s most powerful brand” LEGO has a strong tradition based on a singly mindful element of their product. It’s virtually impossible to replicate precisely. Even asian knock-off brands of LEGO blocks fail miserably across the board in terms of ease of use and reliability. And forget about having them work together with true LEGOs.

In terms of legal precedent in the LEGO trademark, a number of companies have been sued for infringing upon the LEGO design of their interlocking blocks. LEGO patented their definitive shape of the bricks with their inner tubes in 1958, but the latest European Court of Justice ruling in 2010, stated the eight-peg design of the original Lego brick “merely performs a technical function [and] cannot be registered as a trademark.”

3D-printing giant LEGO blocks

Knock-off companies like Wise Hawk are shameless in their marketing and produce inferior products

So printing one’s own blocks are likely to run into the same quality control issues that plague all other attempts at replicating LEGOs accurately. But printing them at five times the size? That’s a different animal altogether.

3D-printing giant LEGO blocks

3D-printing giant LEGO blocks

Mantis, a two-ton hexapod built by Matt Denton

Meet Matt Denton. Denton’s claim to fame is being the creator of the six-legged two-ton human-scale hexapod called Mantis. His latest contribution to the world is his giant-sized LEGO block creation, a five-times scale model of a LEGO go-cart, model no. 1972. Designed as a LEGO kit in 1985, this buggy cart with dual wheels and working rack-and-pinion steering took 168 hours to make — approximately seven days of printing. The end result weighed 5.1 kilos and cost a little over £100.

In his video series in two parts on the 3D printing of the blocks, Denton explains his tricks of the trade to replicate the LEGO creation in its massive size off a Lulzbot Taz 5 printer. Using extensive brimming to minimize warping at the edges, and foregoing support material in key spots were some of the techniques Denton employed. The video is extensive in construction detail, explaining which parts should be built in sections. No doubt this will not be the first of these mega-size LEGO creations, as anyone with a 3D printer can follow Denton’s lead through his step-by-step instructions.

It’s only a matter of time now until giant LEGO blocks becomes its own sub-Reddit thread. In the meantime, investing in LEGOs still proves to be a viable retirement plan for most parents.

The Daily 3D Detail: Our new favorite STL download

Posted by Editor On August - 26 - 2017Comments Off on The Daily 3D Detail: Our new favorite STL download

Our new favorite STL download

The Minion chess set is sure to please young players

We love and their extensive lists. Known for ranking printers or presenting DIY projects, has been a favorite website of printrs for years.

Their most recent list is a celebration of 3D-printed chess sets and the selection is impressive. Whether you prefer conventional designs or unique assortments of chess pieces, this list is well-worth a scrolling and bookmark.

Our new favorite STL download

The Lewis chess set, based on the 800-year-old historical set on display at the National Museum of Scotland

The takeaway from this list is it is inevitably incomplete. Chess sets are a popular choice for beginner printrs and modelrs and there is no limit to the imagination that can occupy 16 squares on a chess board. Hopefully exposure of this list will generate even more download options and more follow-up lists to come.

Once you’ve downloaded and printed your set, you may consider traipsing over and playing the built-in AI interface. Ranked from levels 1 through 10, the AI is ready to match you at your skill sets and challenge you appropriately. Most can handle levels 3 and 4, whereas grandmasters find themselves stumped by level 8. No one, apparently, is smart enough to beat the computer at level 10.

In addition to gaming, the site also offers tips and strategies and a variety of resources for chess enthusiasts.

The Daily 3D Detail: Urine in Space

Posted by Editor On August - 25 - 2017Comments Off on The Daily 3D Detail: Urine in Space

Researchers provide possibility of printing 3D objects by harvesting astronaut urine

Urine in space may be used to create 3D printing inks

Researchers from the Blenner Research Group of South Carolina’s Clemson University have introduced a novel way of creating 3D printing ink in space from human urine. The discovery, a process of harvesting yeast bacteria that feed on the urea present in human urine, may be the answer for providing raw materials for use in constructing objects in space.

Coast Guard sees 3D printing as necessity

Bear Grylls understands the value of urine in unforgiving environments

The Blenner Research Group presented their results today at the 254th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, featured nearly 9,400 presentations this week in Washington, D.C. on a wide range of science topics. Of these presentations, the prospect of harvesting construction material from urine garnered worldwide attention.

“If astronauts are going to make journeys that span several years, we’ll need to find a way to reuse and recycle everything they bring with them,” says Mark A. Blenner, assistant chemical and biomolecular engineering professor at Clemson University.

Urine in space may be used to create 3D printing inks

The process requires gene splitting and the use of the yeast called Yarrowia lipolytica. By employing CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) technology to the yeast DNA, the researchers believe they will be able to convert the hydrogen and carbon molecules, which result as fatty acids and are seen as beginning molecular building blocks, into constructible material. The research, funded by NASA’s Space Tech Research Grants, is looking at editing the DNA so that the yeast are able to produce polyester globules instead of the fatty acids.

For more details on this development, please see these links at and

The Daily 3D Detail: Fresh off the printer

Posted by Editor On August - 23 - 2017Comments Off on The Daily 3D Detail: Fresh off the printer

Fresh off the printer

Photos courtesy of CSM BakerySolutions

CSM Bakery Solutions, a company devoted to providing bakers and business people strategies and options for better production, has signed a deal with 3D Systems “to bring innovative and creative 3D printed culinary products to the market.”

According to the report, CSM will support the development of and have exclusive rights to utilize 3D Systems’ ChefJet Pro 3D printer for high-resolution, colorful food products for the professional culinary environment.

“We are very excited about what this opportunity can mean for the food industry,” said CSM’s President and CEO, Marianne Kirkegaard.

“Our agreement with 3D Systems has the potential to reshape the food industry,” she said. “Across a number of industries, 3D printing has helped transform industries, and there’s every reason to think the same can be true for the food industry. We are excited to partner and continue to expand capabilities and opportunities in the culinary market with their platform.”

The partnership enables collaborative R&D, engineering, design and printer development focused on specific sourcing, food product development and go to market plans. After careful analysis and extensive discussions, planning and market research, CSM and 3D Systems have formalized this agreement and are beginning the work to bring prototypes to the market.

Please see the link at For further details, please also see this report at

The Daily 3D Detail: Added Scientific providing public 3D printing classes

Posted by Editor On August - 23 - 2017Comments Off on The Daily 3D Detail: Added Scientific providing public 3D printing classes

Added Scientific providing public 3D printing classes

Photo courtesy of Added Scientific

UK company Added Scientific, a development of the University of Nottingham, has added a program of 3D printing courses being made available to the public. In the past, these courses were only accessible to businesses. The one- and two-day courses are in a variety of subjects aimed at elevating the public’s knowledge of 3D printing practices and developments. The courses are led by Phil Dickens, a 25-year member of the university and co-founder of Added Scientific.

For example, in the metal additive manufacturing course, “Attendees will benefit from understanding of advanced design strategies for AM components,” including “topological optimization and the use of lattice structures for lightweighting and funcitionalization.”

The courses will begin on September 6 2017, and continue until January 17 2018, taking place at the company’s HQ in Nottingham, UK.

For more on the story, visit this article at

To enroll in the courses, visit Added Scientific.