NASA has previously tested simple 3D-printed rocket components, such as combustion chambers and fuel injectors, but if the technique is to be practical, it has to cope with more complex items. Case in point is this 3D-printed rocket engine turbopump. Successfully built and tested at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the turbopump is described as "one of the most complex, 3D-printed rocket engine parts ever made."
3D printers may have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, but most are one trick ponies in that their computer-controlled syringes extrude only one material at a time to build up an object. It's a process that's slow, imprecise, and often requires items to be printed in separate pieces and then assembled. MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab's (CSAIL) MutliFab printer takes 3D printing technology a step further by combining 3D optical scanning with the ability to print using 10 different materials on the same job.
Last November, California-based Made in Space grabbed headlines when one
of its specially-designed 3D printers became the first such device to print an object in outer space ... that was
within the protective confines of the International Space Station,
however. Now, the company is working on a printer that will work outside
the station, in the cold vacuum of actual outer space.
What do you do after you've 3D-printed the world's tiniest functional power drill?
If you're Lance Abernethy, you go on to add another miniature power
tool to your Lilliputian toolbox. Abernethy's latest creation is a
working 3D-printed circular saw that fits in a briefcase slightly bigger
than a thumbnail.
The term "designer drug" may soon refer less to the illicit kind and
more to custom creations by the pharmaceutical industry. Aprecia
Pharmaceuticals Company has just had its proprietary ZipDose Technology
platform approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This
marks the very first instance that the FDA has given the green light for
a 3D-printed drug product.
Researchers at UC Berkeley and Taiwan's National Chio Tung University have created a low-cost electronic sensor that's able to wirelessly monitor the freshness of milk. The team created the electronic components for the sensor using a 3D-printing method, which it believes could have a big impact on the industry.
From jet engines to office buildings, we've seen all manner of things constructed using 3D-printing techniques, but we're yet to see it used to make something that can cook us a hot meal. Until now that is. The Pyra, by Oakland-based company Fathom, is the first 3D-printed smart oven.
Some robots are hard and some are soft, but in nature soft and hard structures are commonly mixed. In an effort to emulate this, engineers from Harvard University and the University of California, San Diego, have used multimaterial 3D-printing to create a combustion-powered jumping robot that transitions from a rigid core to a soft exterior.
3D printing has made some impressive strides in the past couple of years, allowing makers to create a wide variety of fantastic and unique designs. Despite the overall success, many prints still have limitations when it comes to structure, shape, or articulation. But 3D Systems is about to change all of that with the latest Infinity Rinse-away water-soluble support material.
As 3D printing techniques improve and the push towards autonomous cars grows stronger, it was only a matter of time before the two technologies were combined to create an autonomous 3D-printed car. That’s exactly what Local Motors has done, putting together an autonomous car to be tested by the boffins at University of Michigan as part of a 12 month trial.