Mimicking the complex movement of a human hand is not an easy task for roboticists. As well as multiple bones and joints, there are tendons, ligaments, muscles, nerves and more to try and match. Researchers from the University of Cambridge have looked at simplifying the design and cutting back on the programming required to control a robotic hand, and developed a piano-playing soft skeleton bot that rocks the keyboard.
Spinal injuries can be like downed power lines – even if everything on either side of the injury is perfectly functional, the break can effectively shut down the whole system. Now, researchers at the University of Minnesota have designed a device that could link everything back together again. A silicone guide, covered in 3D-printed neuronal stem cells, can be implanted into the injury site, where it grows new connections between remaining nerves to let patients regain some motor control.
Australian company Titomic has unveiled what it claims is the world’s largest metal 3D printer at its fully automated Melbourne facility. Utilizing a patented process co-developed with Australian federal scientific research agency the CSIRO, the 3D metal printer boasts a build area 9 m long, 3 m wide and 1.5 m high (29.5 x 9.8 x 4.9 ft), however the printing process isn’t constrained to this booth size, meaning it could be used to print even larger objects.
An international team of researchers has used 3D-printing technology to produce individually-tailored model organs. These dummy organs could one day improve your chances of surviving surgery, by allowing doctors to plan and practice a lifesaving procedure on a realistic replica before putting you to the scalpel.
Improvements in technology mean robots are becoming eerily life-like – to the extent that now, people cannot tell the two apart.
Karen X Cheng, a ‘viral video director’, went to the CES conference in Las Vegas earlier this month and pretended to be a robot.
She was so convincing, or perhaps robots are so lifelike, that people believed her.
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Like Mayor Ray Nagin said after Hurricane Katrina, that New Orleans will be a “Chocolate City,” outgoing (thankfully) president Obama tells NPR that regardless what happens, America will be a “Browner Country.”
A French Woman named Lilly has expressed her love and devotion to her robot partner, whom she 3D printed herself. She says she is love with her Robot and wishes to marry it. Who didn’t see this coming.
A cancer survivor whose face was ravaged by a tumor, leaving him with a large hole where his eye, nose and cheekbone had been, has become the first person to receive a 3D printed face prosthesis made with a smart phone.
Married former salesman Carlito Conceiçao has lived with the hole and an uncomfortable prosthetic that kept falling off since 2008 – but now a ground-breaking procedure used a free app on a smartphone to build and print a 3D image of the missing part of his face.
For emergency office munchies, it sounds like a fantasy: print out your own sweet treats.
But Kyle and Liz von Hasseln from Los Angeles, California, who didn’t have an oven at their home, decided to create a printer that allows users to do exactly that.
At the command of the ‘go’ button, their machine produces incredible pieces of 3D confectionery that look more like works of art than sugary snacks.
After creating the impressive piece of kit the couple set up a business called The Sugar Lab to sell their culinary designs.
The solid sugar statues can be eaten on their own, or used as decorative toppers for cakes and pastries.
Mrs von Hasseln, 32, told MailOnline that she believes 3D printing technology could be applied to a whole spectrum of baked goods one day.
‘We definitely think 3D printed sugar could catch on more widely, and we’re excited about the potential of the concept being available to a wide audience,’ she explained.
‘We can definitely visualize a time – in fact, we daydream about it – when there will be a sugar 3D printer in every custom bakery.’
To date, the von Hasselns have only experimented with using different types of sugar along with flavorings such as vanilla and almond.
The couple stumbled into the business as architecture students, when they wanted to make a friend a birthday cake but lacked an oven. Instead, they decided to try and ‘print’ a cake, making use of a 3D printer on campus.
3D printers are used by architects to create physical models of buildings before construction begins.
After numerous attempts they finally managed to produce a tiny cupcake topper that spelled their friend’s name, Chelsea.
From there they developed the concept and launched The Sugar Lab two years ago after graduating.
They are currently collaborating with celebrity pastry chef Duff Goldman, who runs Charm City Cakes in Hollywood, on a four-tiered wedding cake which will feature a 3D-printed sugar cake stand and sugar columns.
Mrs von Hasseln added: ‘Everyone recognizes that dessert is for fun, a chance to experiment and embellish.
‘When you see a 3D printed sugar sculpture that’s unlike any food you’ve seen before, it’s immediately clear that a whole new set of possibilities has opened up, and that’s exciting.’
Attribution: Sadie Whitelocks, Mail Online
Synthetic material capable of performing some of the functions of living cells have been built using a specially modified 3D prototype printer.
Developed by researchers at Oxford University, the new materials, called ‘droplet networks’ could eventually be used to replace damaged human tissue or deliver drugs to specific locations.
“We aren’t trying to make materials that faithfully resemble tissues, but rather structures that can carry out the functions of tissues,” says Professor Hagan Bayley, who led the research reported in the journal Science.
The printed structures consist of networks of tens of thousands of connected water droplets, encapsulated in aqueous compartments about 50 microns in diameter and printed out of a lipid film which remains stable for weeks.
The film uses protein pores to form pathways which can mimic nerves, allowing them to transmit electrical signals from one side of the material to the other.
The droplet networks can be designed to fold themselves into different shapes after printing (see video), mimicking muscle movement by transferring water from one cell to another through osmosis.
“At the moment we’ve created networks of up to 35,000 droplets but the size of network we can make is really only limited by time and money,” says Bayley.
The researchers used two different types of droplet, but say there’s no reason why you couldn’t use 50 or more different kinds.
Synthetic vs living tissue
3D printing lets you build an object as complex as an organ, layer by layer or droplet by droplet, explains Cameron Ferris a research associate from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science at the University of Wollongong.
Ferris says there are advantages and disadvantages of creating synthetic cells.
“Because droplet networks are entirely synthetic, you don’t have to harvest living tissue and the ethical issues associated with stem cells.
“It’s cheaper and easier to access, store and transport [than living tissue] but it’s far more complex to design and produce.”
Ferris is part of a team at Wollongong, developing 3D printers to eventually create replacement organs using living cells.
“We’re developing both materials and machinery using bio-inks to print muscle and nerve cells into living tissue.
“We use the same technology as ink jet printers however instead of inks we are using cell types.
Printing living tissue would allow the use of a patient’s own cells to reproduce the tissue rather than a donor organ, which comes with rejection issues and the need for lifelong drugs, says Ferris.
But it too has disadvantages.
“It’s incredibly expensive to harvest stem cells [for 3D printing], and the food you have to feed them, to grow and expand them so that you have enough stem cells to print takes some time.
“The end goal is to print a replacement tissue or organ in situ, but that’s still a long way off.”
Attribution: Stuart Gary, ABC