You have turkey, stuffing, potatoes, corn, rolls, butter, gravy and sweet potato casserole. Just print it!

It sounds a little disgusting, but there have been great strides into the field of 3-D printed food. NASA looked into 3-D printed food because as they have been going further into space, they are needing food to last longer and longer. Sure they have the technology to deflect asteroids, but they are studying more efficient ways to prepare and store the food for the trips.

There are other applications that are incredible. The food so far that is coming out of 3-D printers is mainly goop, but there is a group of consumers that will eat it. The elderly. There have been studies that have shown that one in five people over 50 have dysphagia, which is an inability to close off the larynx. The result is that food will not go into the esophagus and into the stomach, but can travel into the lungs and cause problems.

3d printing food for the elderly
An example of gelatinous food

But researchers of Biozoon Food Innovations have created something else entirely. They have begun to use the 3-D printing technology to print a gel-like substance that will allow the food to be formed into all sorts of things, such as vegetables, meats and carbs.

The nursing home residents will be allowed to choose their menus for the week and will be printed at a processing plant. It will then be shipped off to the centers. Then the residents can eat and enjoy the food with all of their friends. Matthias Kück, the chief executive of Biozoon Food Innovations, sees great promise in this process. (And if they don’t want to eat their veggies, you can lace the meat with the vitamins and minerals, so the residents won’t know they are eating healthy!)

“The result is that when you bite on the reconstructed food, it is very soft – it melts in your mouth,” Kück said. “There really are no restrictions in terms of what food can be recreated.”

“A Man’s Home is His Castle”

When you see houses, you see wood, brick, concrete blocks or some combination of these, as well as taking many man-hours to build it. WinSun Decoration Design Engineering will just 3-D print them.

Companies are creating different ways to manufacture buildings. WinSun, a Chinese company, is creating new and faster ways to create houses that are cheap, affordable and appealing. The idea is to mass produce houses that will be cheap and affordable to the large population of increasing urbanization within China.

The company printed 10 single-story houses in under 24 hours. Each of the houses cost about $5,000. WinSun has used a “cement-based mixture containing construction wast and glass fiber,” in order to keep the cost down and be eco-friendly. CEO Ma Yihe said, “Industrial waste from demolished buildings is damaging our environment, but with 3D-printing, we are able to recycle construction waste and turn it into new building materials.”

Image via www.3ders.org
WinSun 3-D printed mansion

He also said that it would be a safer environment for the workers and it would reduce the construction costs. Each of the houses are designed in order to accommodate plumbing, electrical wiring and insulation after they are printed.
Others, such as Lewis Yakich, owner of The Lewis Grand, and Andrey Rudenko of Minnesota, have also been developing 3-D printing for houses. In each of the cases, there have been improvements along the way, leading to better ideas on how to complete the prints faster and more effectively.

Almost complete 3D printed villa, including the 3D printed Jacuzzi (left)
Almost complete 3D printed villa, including the 3D printed Jacuzzi (left)

“I plan to roll over some of the cost savings of using a 3D printer to give a more quality house for the low income homes,” Yakich explains. “It would be great if I could give them all mini mansions! The people here would go nuts over my homes.”

Big Brother is watching. (well, trying to)

Well, it had to come up some time. Hey, government? Don’t tell people what they can and can’t do. Because they will probably do what they want to, no matter what.

So, weapons. There is quite a bit of controversy over the manufacturing of guns via 3-D printers. When Cody Wilson put the digital copies out for anyone to download and print, it created quite a bit of discussion for the legality of 3-D printed guns. There is all sorts of articles and blogs about the building of handguns, rifles, and there is even an article about 3-D printed guided missiles. raytheon1

Obviously, there is enough material about the ethical and legal issue of printing guns to be more than we ever want to care about. But that is your own issue. I want the guts of these interesting marvels.

Raytheon is the company that is in the process of building those guided missiles. They have all of the ability to print about 80% of the necessary components, which include, “include rocket engines, fins, parts for the guidance and control systems, and more.”

It is interesting to think that one day, you will be able to print your weapons on the field, instead of getting them from the States. Have the components within a few hours, verses weeks. Just imagine the difference in the way that you would be doing warfare. People, for the most part, steal the finished product. But with the 3-D printing, as you take away that raw material, you will steal that ability to print those weapons. You may not have the printer, but they don’t have the material, so ha!

With each of these things, you have to be able to understand where the other side is coming from. People want the ability to do what they want, and the government (skeptically) is looking out for our interests. So should we have Big Brother watching and telling us what to do? How do you want to live your life?

3-D printed organs: Fantasy or fantastic?

So with all the different aspects of 3-D printing, what can you do with it? Well, you can always print some organs.

An image of a 3-D printed jawbone

There have been great strides into the 3-D printing of organs, but there are difficulties. How do you keep the cells alive while printing? How do you keep the structure from collapsing? How do you even get the cells to behave the way that you want them to?

bionic ear
A printed bionic ear

At Bighamton University, the researchers are working on the process of 3-D printing organs and tissues. There are difficulties in this. One bioengineer explains the challenges with 3-D printing organs. With all of the different parts of the tissues and organs, you have to be able to understand how each of those will be interacting with one another, as well as when it needs to stand on its own.

You might be wondering, what is the point of trying to print organs if they can not do anything? Well, there is a solution. Other researchers at the University of Florida have come up with the solution to print within a gel. So it becomes a scaffolding of sorts to hold the cells in such a way as to not be under the same effect of gravity. So it won’t buckle under the weight of itself. The trick is to have the gel be removable and at the same time, not change or disturb the print. (If you want, there is a more technical article of the same gel.)

With each of these different ideas, there will come a time where people will not have to wait months or years for transplants. They will just have to wait as their organ is printed up and they have time for the surgery. So what do you think about it? I’m all ears.

What’s in your printer?

There are many different things that you can print, but what do you print it with? How?

A multitude of materials are available to be used in 3-D printing. Nylon, ceramic, gold, steel, plastic, titanium. All for different purposes. With each one of the materials, you have your pros and your cons. You have your cost, texture, details, strength and flexibility, as well as how thin can you print each layer.

In Tinkercad 3-D, you are able to understand these different materials a little better. So lets start off. When I give the discription, I will refer to the vertical parts of the object as the “walls” and the horizontal layers will be “floors.”

With nylon (polyamide), it is a cheap plastic that is relativly strong and flexible. You are able to get it in many different colors, but it is naturally white. When you are printing it out, the “walls” have to be a minimum of 1 mm thick. Going in the other direction, the “floors” of the object can be printed at 10 layers per 1 mm! With that, it allows you to get some pretty good texture and details.

ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is used most often with home printing. It is a good, cheap material for making prototypes. It makes a good strong plastic like legos (and if you have ever stepped on a lego, you know that it is tough). It comes in many different colors. Like the nylon, the walls need to be a minimum of 1 mm, but unlike nylon, the floors need to be printed around 3 layers per 1 mm. And with that, it looses some of detail and texture.

With stainless steel, it is a strong material, but it isn’t usually used for the common, household 3-D printer. It is also a little pricey. It can be colored by gold or bronze plating. The walls need to be a minimum of 3 mm, and the floors can be printed with 6 layers per 1 mm. So you loose detail, but you are able to have a really strong object.

A non-singular knot in stainless steel
A non-singular knot in stainless steel

Now with gold and silver, it is also strong, but a little less so than steel. You first make it with wax, and then cast it later on. The walls can be a minimum of .5 mm thick with about 10 layers per 1 mm. You are able to get some incredible detail, but it comes at a price. It is even more expensive than steel.

Now for titanium. Titanium is relatively new in the 3-D printing world, but it is good. It is the strongest material, in the terms that you have to put each layer down by direct metal laser sintering. So sintering is the process of applying heat and pressure in order to join the metal. As you can imagine, it isn’t cheap, but you are able to get incredible detail with titanium. The walls can be a minimum of .2 mm thick and about 30 layers per 1 mm.

So for each one, you have your pros and your cons, but it all depends on what you want to print. For another site, you can look at 3-D Printing Industry. Will it be a cool bookend or a piece of jewelry? So the question is, what’s in your printer?

Print your life away!

How many things are in your life? I am not just talking about the things that you have to do. I am talking about the actual objects that you use. What are some of the things that you have had to deal with? A house that has that one strange wall or door, a bulky, stinky cast on you or someone in your family?

What would you change? Take a second, and really think. What would you change about the million and one objects that you interact with on a daily basis?

What if you could made all of those things at home? And I am not talking about buying a kit, and trying to decipher the technical schematics, only to end up with a couple pieces left over (or a couple short). I am talking about printing any one of those things, just the way that you want it. The right curves, the right color, with your personal touch to it.

This is a 3-D printed Shelby Cobra

How? Is is some sort of mold? Custom order? In a way, it is a custom order. It is by 3-D printing. The technology has been for more than 30 years.  As you can see here, it has improved much over that time. It has gone from just putting simply putting the layers together, to binding them with their own molecular bonds. 3-D printing has gone from just printing out plastics, to printing with metals, ceramics, and even with human cells. Yeah. They can print organs now.

Cool 3-D design

There are things that you can make by way of 3-D printing that is an impossibility any other way. Medicine, manufacturing, technology, gadgets, entertainment, entrepreneurship, all of these aspects of life can be changed and done by 3-D printing. The uses of 3-D printing is amazing. The limit of the uses? Your imagination.