HRL, nTopology, and Morf3D explore advanced design and materials with 7A77 – the world’s strongest additive aluminum

Taking advantage of additive manufacturing requires exceptional design and production, but only if the materials used can meet the desired expectations during end use. Though metal 3D printing’s use in production has grown in recent years, there are still many applications where low strength AlSiMg dominates the market.  With the launch of Aluminum 7A77.60L powder, […]

3D Printing Congress in Argentina: Novel Ideas and a Harsh Landscape Ahead

A new edition of the 3D Printing Congress in Argentina wrapped up last Thursday after two days of workshops, supplier stands and speakers talking about the challenges and solutions of manufacturing using 3D printing. From biomaterials to resins, 3D printing in the automotive industry, 3D medical simulators and biomedical inventions, some of the most innovative uses for the technology show that it is advancing in the country, albeit somewhat slower than expected.

Sergio Cavaliere, Product and Applications Manager for Advanced Machine Systems (AMS), said to “The local market is volatile, complex and caged by controls, yet at the general manufacturing level we notice that companies have begun acquiring additive manufacturing technology, perhaps not at the hyper expectation levels we forecasted five years ago, still, they know that if they don’t begin to use 3D printing, they will lose competitiveness.” 

Held 6 to 7 November in the City of Buenos Aires, the event gathered more than 3,500 3D printing enthusiasts, professionals, and researchers who eagerly discussed how to achieve better, cheaper and more efficient results, as well as what’s on the horizon for local 3D printing companies. This year’s main themes focused on 3D printing in industry and biomedicine. 

Last year, when the Mercedes Benz plant in Buenos Aires was looking to improve its production line of trucks and vans, they consulted Cavaliere and AMS. The manufacturing process specialists recommended they acquire an additive manufacturing machine to accelerate production. The local branch of the German vehicle maker soon began using a Stratasys F270 24/7 and in only 23 days created the devices needed for the manufacturing engineering of the assembly line.

Workshop: Creating unique shapes with the 3D pencil

“In general and around the world, almost 70% of all 3D printing is used for prototyping. However, this is not the case for Argentina, where industries are searching for ways to use the technology in manufacturing aids–like jigs, fixtures, platforms and tools (mainly in automotive). This means that they require more durable materials with high thermal and impact resistant qualities. And while most machines sold locally today are PLA printers that are very common for prototyping, they are not useful in manufacturing. That’s the reason our product sparked a lot of interest among attendees at the Congress,” suggested Demian Gawianski, CCO of Kodak 3D Printing during an interview with

The very popular Kodak booth

Gawianski considers that 3D printing know-how has been growing in recent years, more focused on industry and engineering applications. In 2012, Argentina-based Smart International began developing and manufacturing 3D printers and in 2018 they released Kodak’s Portrait 3D printer, a new professional 3D printing solution, which was developed through a global brand licensing agreement.

Furthermore, the team behind Kodak showcased parts that are being produced as part of their new segment, an alliance with renown polymer manufacturers worldwide, such as BASF, Owens Corning, Clariant, and DSM. “The pieces printed with our machines using BASF stainless steel are very alluring for manufacturers because they have 80% stainless steel and 20% of a polymer which after a few post-processes becomes 100% stainless steel,” explained Gawianski. “Our machines are certified to work with already established materials from large manufacturers, allowing our customers to develop engineering pieces with high resistance.”

Stainless steel gear made with BASF material 319 L, Kodak

Not to be missed was Juan Manuel Romero’s talk about his Game of Thrones spoons, made earlier this year exclusively and in partnership with HBO Latin America, just in time for the premiere of the world-wide awaited sixth and final season of the show. The innovative development even competed at Cannes’ International Festival of Creativity during the 2019 award season. 

“3D printing offers infinite novel possibilities for jewelry creations, characterization, and improved quality. The precision approach of the machines is an advantage to more traditional methods of creating jewelry,” said Romero to “Back in 2014 we realized that we needed to scale production without losing the design edge, and 3D printing gave us all that and more.” 

Romero, the owner of Quimbaya, has been a goldsmith jeweler for over 10 years, yet he learned quickly that using 3D printing to go from design to molding makes a big difference towards his end product. He states that “morphologically, the jewelry design has no limit, while with conventional methods, the same level of accuracy could never be achieved.” For his Game of Thrones spoons, he used Photocentric’s Precision 1.5 machines to create the prototype and the molds that were then used to make the metal spoons. The four spoons (representing the most iconic houses of the series: Stark, Lannister, Targaryen, and Greyjoy) traveled from Argentina to Europe with HBO, they became a very popular and desirable item due to the visibly unique quality, traits and intricate work. 

The very popular green shade PLA color

One of the most popular booths among attendees was PrintaLot. The company director, Mariano Perez​​, has underlined the success of his filaments: “Our client portfolio used to be made up mainly of hobbyists, and today we mostly get industrial market orders from companies that are driving the digital transformation of the industry”. In this sense, he adds that “we began working with other markets in the region, like Brazil, which has a big demand for our products.” One of the biggest orders the company got from Brazilian clients was a request for a new PLA color, the green-blue shade made famous by jewelry maker Tiffany. 

“3D printing machines and materials are changing the production processes of different economic sectors and creating new business models. We also began reselling Wiiboox Sweetin, the gourmate food 3D printer, and Ultimaker, because we noticed  many local entrepreneurs were searching for this type of solutions,” Mariano told

In addition to the increasingly popular local 3D printer suppliers exhibiting the latest MakerBot, Formlabs, BCN3Ds, and Trideo (one of the most popular local brands), new and creative applications drew big crowds. Like a surgical simulator; 3D bioprinters to treat wounds in diabetic patients; bespoke 3D printed titanium implants, and the WalkingMaker, a 3D printer with wheels that extrudes material obliquely.

Nicolas Meer, co-creator of a pediatric surgical simulator for medicine residents said: “we spoke to pediatric surgeons who suggested the best way to teach the techniques of laparoscopy to students and future doctors was through a simulator, instead of waiting for a real case or practicing with animal parts. I have been working with 3D printers since 2012 so I decided to design and print a small simulator that wouldn’t cost more than $500.”

Even though spirits run high during the event, the landscape ahead is looking dim for the technology locally. With few endeavors and a complex economical situation, startups that once bet on creating their own technology, quickly noticed that it was better to import the printers from other countries. As is usual in the Latin American region, most of the machines being used come from Europe, Asia, and the US. Some of the best selling brands include Formlabs, Photocentric, MakerBot, and on the high end, Stratasys. Nonetheless, both political and economic uncertainty tends to drive up job losses, hold up the economy and seriously affect growth, so we can expect local companies will begin to look to other countries and regional markets to expand. Funding is limited and international investors are carefully looking at the local scenario ahead. However, interest is rising and every year, more people become knowledgeable of the technology, looking at the field as a reliable, creative and fundamental part of their work.

The team behind the Congress

[Images: Kodak, 3D Printing Congress Argentina, Quimbaya, Print-a-Lot and]

The post 3D Printing Congress in Argentina: Novel Ideas and a Harsh Landscape Ahead appeared first on | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing.

NYU Abu Dhabi Team Wins Hack3D Challenge





Two students from New York University Abu Dhabi won the first prize of the Hack3D challenge at New York University Tandon’s School of Engineering. Only five teams advanced to the final round of the only student-led 3D printing cybersecurity hackathon. The Hack3D competition, which is part of a broader global cybersecurity competition called the Cybersecurity Awareness Week (CSAW), encourages teams from around the globe to circumvent security measures in the additive manufacturing supply chain so that they can spotlight the need for anti-counterfeiting methods in 3D printing. The competition’s first round had a total of 49 teams trying to solve a problem to qualify for the next round, which included a trip to New York to attend the NYU Tandon challenge and prize money for winners and runners up.

Led by Nikhil Gupta, a mechanical and aerospace engineering professor at Tandon, the competition is on its second-year run and during the first qualifying round, had teams struggling to figure out the solution to a problem posted online. Participants were challenged to reconstruct a corrupted .gcode file employing skills in forensics and reverse-engineering. So basically, they had to hack the security measures Gupta embedded in the print files that make it virtually impossible to print a component correctly, in this case, a chess piece.

Last Friday, the final round rallied up five teams to compete in printing 3D parts that were embedded with anti-counterfeiting features developed at NYU Tandon and designed to protect CAD models. After eight intense hours at the NYU Tandon lab, Pedro Velasquez and Cole Beasley outrivaled the other four teams as they managed to hack the 3D printing cybersecurity code and 3D print the correct version. Called the SNEKS AD, the team was awarded $1,000 in prize money during a ceremony held last Friday night.

Hack3D, which explores vulnerabilities in 3D printing, brings together students from around the world to compete for scholarships and funding. Sponsored by some of the biggest names in the industry, like IBM, JP Morgan & Chase, Capsule 8, Red Baloon Security, and the National Science Foundation (NSF), this year’s CSAW annual competition gathered the world’s top student hackers with a total of 180 teams advancing to final rounds, competing for scholarships and cash prizes, including NYU Tandon’s more than $1 million in scholarships to all high school finalists in the CSAW Red Team Competition in Downtown Brooklyn.

Hack3D teams at work during the eight-hour final round challenge caught up with the winning team during the live competition on Friday via phone interview and both Beasley and Velasquez said they were “thrilled to be participating in the challenge” and “would love to return next year.” The computer science majors are both freshmen and eager to explore cybersecurity as part of their future in the chosen career. Only three hours into the challenge, Velasquez suggested: “we have a good plan in place and are keeping up with the schedule; we already have our first prototype and are printing out our second so that we can start testing it.”

Coles explained that during the final round “they have given us one part (a male piece) and we basically have to create another part (female) that connects to it”. There was a code embedded in the CAD file, which he referred to as a “hint hidden inside the code,” and once they got the right piece 3D printed, they won the challenge.

During Hack3D, competitors also had the opportunity to learn and use skills in graphics programming, file manipulation, and reverse engineering while gaining an understanding of the additive manufacturing supply chain.

Gupta explained during an interview with that “hackathons are an important component in finding the strength of the security method, so this year we expanded the competition and had 49 entries from across the world. We gave them one problem, yet none of the teams could completely solve it, so the five finalists that came closest to the answer were able to compete. They had two months for the first challenge, but only eight hours for the final round, and they needed to 3D print the part in our lab to check whether they could succesfully solve the challenge.” 

Last year’s Hack3D pieces

“People have been doing traditional cybersecurity measures like password protecting files, encrypting files but there is nothing that relates to 3D printing itself, so we came up with some design schemes, so using the design features that we put in the files while designing the products. The security features prevent the files from getting printed in high quality unless you use a security key.” 

The runners up were Alex Manning and Erin Ozcan, also known as the pwndevils from Arizona State University, and in third place, the AGGIES from Texas A&M University: Akash Tiwari, Maccoy Merrell, and Mutaz Melhem.

Gupta went on to say that “we found that the cyber threat landscape in the 3D printing world, mainly for aerospace and medical devices, will get worse. For example, if a counterfeit part makes its way to an airplane and something goes wrong, it will become hard to figure out that it was the reason for an accident. On the other hand, 3D printing and general access to new technologies have made it easier to replicate parts or reverse engineer them to recreate a system.”

According to NYU, flawed parts printed from stolen design files could produce dire results: experts predict that by 2021, 75 percent of new commercial and military aircraft will fly with 3D-printed engine, airframe, and other components, and the use of AM in the production of medical implants will grow by 20 percent per year over the next decade.

“Since mechanical engineers are the ones designing many parts, they need to get into a security mindset, to handle this issue,” continued the expert.

Nikhil Gupta

So Gupta, along with other researchers at NYU Tandon and NYU Abu Dhabi, were the first to convert flat QR codes into complex features hidden within 3D printed parts to foil counterfeiters and IP pirates and to provide an innovative way for unique device identification.

Gupta and his colleagues developed a scheme that “explodes” a QR code within a computer-assisted design (CAD) file so that it presents several false faces — dummy QR tags — to a scanning device. Only a trusted printer or end user would know the correct head-on orientation for the scanner to capture the legitimate QR code image. 

“In 3D printing, you are creating a part layer by layer, so we break the QR code into a number of parts–like 300 different pieces–and we embed them into each layer, so that only one particular direction will show you the QR code, every other direction will show a cloud of points. Using any identifiable signature embedded, microstructures or metal sized particles can be used as a security method.”

Embedded codes layer by layer

Continued growth in the 3D printing sector means that the CAD design files and the machines become vulnerable to hacks. Cybersecurity issues in the virtual world wreak havoc, in the last year a series of ransomware and supply chain attacks led to seriously compromised companies and malicious hacking. All this can quickly translate into 3D printing, with objects manufactured being at serious risk of failure, and as cyberattacks become more advanced, the risks are greater. NYU Tandon, one of the first university departments to teach cybersecurity in 3D printing, is raising the bar to spark student interest in the field, by engaging the global community in their annual hackathon. For Gupta, a lot of what we are beginning to see and as hacks become more advanced, this represents a significant danger for AM cybersecurity. The vulnerability of the internet around the world is increasing, accompanied by an expanding community of hackers that didn’t use to have the tools required for hacking. He claims that “there are now more motivations for hacks as digital manufacturing is rapidly increasing, bringing 3D printing to the forefront of the industry.” 

[Images: NYU Tandon]

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Adafruit Weekly Editorial Round-Up: November 3rd to November 9th, #TubmanStamp at the Smithsonian, Adafruit Holiday Shipping Deadlines 2019 and “Arcade Game Typography” Book Review

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We’ve got so much happening here at Adafruit that it’s not always easy to keep up! Don’t fret, we’ve got you covered. Each week we’ll be posting a handy round-up of what we’ve been up to, ranging from learn guides to blog articles, videos, and more.


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Harriet Tubman stamp on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History #tubmanstamp

The Harriet Tubman stamp is now on display as a part of the Smithsonian’s The Value of Money exhibition at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. The Smithsonian joins the International Slavery Museum in putting the Harriet Tubman stamp on display to the public.

Check out the full post here!

More BLOG:

Keeping with tradition, we covered quite a bit this past week. Here’s a kinda short nearing medium length list of highlights:


Desktop Dumpster Fire

Having a bad day? With the press of a button and your small desktop storage container erupts into flames, creating a perfect visual representation of how life often feels, and a cathartic way to express oneself.

See the full guide here!


Browse all that’s new in the Adafruit Learning System here!

Interview with Riddhi Maharaj on 3D Printing Space Systems in Africa

NewSpace Logo

Riddhi Maharaj is a Materials Engineer at NewSpace Systems. In this interview, we discuss 3D printing with respect to Space components design, product development and Lean engineering.

Can you give a brief introduction of NewSpace Systems?

NewSpace Systems (NSS) is an advanced satellite component manufacturer predominantly focused on the operational SmallSat constellation market. Making use of our 30 plus years of experience in the space industry, our team specializes in high-reliability Attitude Control Systems and services such as contract manufacturing and technology commercialization. To date, our team has worked with nearly 50 customers, across 5 continents, and has a UK subsidiary and 6 international partners/resellers. Additionally, the NewSpace manufacturing capability currently comprises of a unique state-of-the-art facility on the African continent, boasting several ISO 14644-1, class 7, certified cleanrooms and technicians who have been accredited to European Space Agency standards (ECSS), to effectively support our international clients and their demanding missions.

A chemical engineer by training, I obtained my B.Sc Honours in 2013 and an M.Sc in Chemical Engineering in 2016. Currently, I am pursuing an M.Phil in Space Studies, part-time, through the University of Cape Town. While my formal title at NewSpace Systems is that of Materials Engineer, on a day to day basis I’m involved in several R&D projects, one of which was aimed at the development of metal additive manufacturing high-frequency Radio Frequency (RF) components.

From your experience, how important is 3D printing and Additive Manufacturing in product development and Lean Engineering?

3D printing is a constantly developing technology that plays an important role in rapid product development and lean engineering due to the nature of the process. By allowing for rapid prototyping of parts additive manufacturing is a critical stage in lean engineering product development.

Printer pictures MH3

3D printing is a technique that builds objects layer by layer using materials such as polymers, metals, and composites, offering unparalleled manufacturing flexibility. 3D printing relies on CAD software to print products and in so doing drastically reduces the amount of supply chain management. Due to the additive nature of the process, it allows for the manufacture of very complex components with a substantial reduction in manufacturing time, costs and material wastage which are key objectives in the lean engineering approach.

Additionally, AM provides the users with the flexibility to create complex part geometries that are difficult to build using traditional manufacturing methods. Parts can now be manufactured with intricate internal cavities and lattice structures that help reduce parts’ weight without compromising their mechanical performance. Furthermore, AM machines produce less scrap than traditional machines and allow for recycling of the metal powder alloys further reducing material wastage.

One of the major advantages, which further cements the importance of 3D printing in product development and lean engineering, is that 3D printing allows for the fabrications of monolithic parts. In the space industry where mass is a premium,3D printing allows for lighter more efficient products that can also be produced faster. This is a major benefit in space product development given the growing demands of the industry for rapid product R&D and delivery.

What significant role has 3D printing and Additive manufacturing played in NewSpace Systems?

NewSpace Systems as a lean engineering company has increasingly started to utilize 3D printing in our product development in the last couple of years. It is typically used for rapid prototyping of new products during the product development phase to develop marketing ‘mock-ups’ of our products,  and to manufacture complex test and product assembly jigs, to ensure that our products meet our stringent quality standards.

Space Components

Apart from that, NSS is actively involved in the development of a new product line that utilizes laser metal 3D printing in titanium and aluminum to produce high-frequency RF and microwave products. High-frequency RF products are used extensively in satellite communication payloads. These systems are highly complex and are both difficult and expensive to manufacture using traditional methods which also produce very heavy systems. Due to the geometric freedoms offered by metal 3D printing, it allows for extremely light-weight and even more complex and highly efficient RF systems to be manufactured faster.  This led to NSS incubating a spin-out company, LambdaG.

LambdaG is a technology company specializing in the design and manufacturing of advanced RF & microwave components. Their primary focus areas are microwave components and innovative antenna systems in space, defense, and aerospace domains. Together with NewSpace Systems (Industry partner), they offer bespoke and custom 3D-printed waveguide components for small satellites. This additive manufacturing solution allows for unparalleled design flexibility. Their primary solutions are, but not limited to antenna systems for Telemetry, tracking and control, payloads, feed chains, diplexers and filters, passive waveguide components and custom sub-assemblies. LambdaG’s goal is to advance RF and microwave connectivity within the space, aerospace and defense domains with the aid of material science and advanced manufacturing. LambdaG is currently developing several requirement-driven RF & microwave products from L- to Ka-band as innovative solutions to the growing satellite communication needs.

Space equipment

Has 3D printing become a key technology in Materials Engineering?

I think 3D printing has become a key technology across a lot of engineering disciplines, not just materials engineering. Through my experience with metal 3D printed materials, I have noticed active R&D in the production of metal alloys and a growing area of interest being metamaterials.


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Make a Textured 3D Model with Photos #celebratephotography

Click snake

From Eleccelerator:

Using Meshroom, an open source photogrammetry tool, I can process a bunch of photographs into a textured 3D model. I could use these models for 3D printing or as objects in a game engine.

Read more


We #celebratephotography here at Adafruit every Saturday. From photographers of all levels to projects you have made or those that inspire you to make, we’re on it! Got a tip? Well, send it in!

If you’re interested in making your own project and need some gear, we’ve got you covered. Be sure to check out our Raspberry Pi accessories and our DIY cameras.

Beijing University of Chemical Technology: 3D Printed HA/PCL Tissue Engineering Scaffolds

3D printed bone scaffolds used for tissue engineering purposes need to have a good amount of mechanical strength, since the scaffold needs to be able to provide support for the tissue. As bone scaffolds also require the correct pore structure to help provide a good environment for the differentiation, proliferation, and repairing of damaged tissue cells, bioactive materials, such as polycaprolactone (PCL) and hydroxyapatite (HA), are needed.

Researchers Zhiwei Jiao, Bin Luo, Shengyi Xiang, Haopeng Ma, Yuan Yu, and Weimin Yang, from the Beijing University of Chemical Technology (BUCT), published a paper, titled “3D printing of HA / PCL composite tissue engineering scaffolds,” about their work constructing nano-HA/PCL and micro-HA/PCL tissue engineering scaffolds using the melt differential FDM 3D printer they developed.

The abstract reads, “Here, the internal structure and mechanical properties of the hydroxyapatite/polycaprolactone scaffolds, prepared by fused deposition modeling (FDM) technique, were explored. Using hydroxyapatite (HA) and polycaprolactone (PCL) as raw materials, nano-HA/PCL and micro-HA/PCL that composite with 20 wt% HA were prepared by melt blending technology, and HA/PCL composite tissue engineering scaffolds were prepared by self-developed melt differential FDM 3D printer. From the observation under microscope, it was found that the prepared nano-HA/PCL and micro-HA/PCL tissue engineering scaffolds have uniformly distributed and interconnected nearly rectangular pores. By observing the cross-sectional view of the nano-HA/PCL scaffold and the micro-HA/PCL scaffold, it is known that the HA particles in the nano-HA/PCL scaffold are evenly distributed and the HA particles in the micro-HA/PCL scaffold are agglomerated, which attribute nano-HA/PCL scaffolds with higher tensile strength and flexural strength than the micro-HA/PCL scaffolds. The tensile strength and flexural strength of the nano-HA/PCL specimens were 23.29 MPa and 21.39 MPa, respectively, which were 26.0% and 33.1% higher than those of the pure PCL specimens. Therefore, the bioactive nano-HA/PCL composite scaffolds prepared by melt differential FDM 3D printers should have broader application prospects in bone tissue engineering.”

Melt differential 3D printer.

PCL is biocompatible, biodegradable, and has shape retention properties, which is why it’s often used to fabricate stents. But on the other hand, due to an insufficient amount of bioactivity, the material is not great for use in bone tissue engineering. HA, which has been used successfully as a bone substitute material, has plenty of bioactivity, which is why combining it with PCL can work for bone tissue engineering scaffolds.

“On the whole, the existing tissue engineering scaffolds preparation process have problems of low HA content, easy agglomeration, low stent strength, and single printing material,” the researchers explained.

“The HA/PCL composite particles are used as printing materials, and the mechanical properties and structural characteristics of the two tissue engineering scaffolds are compared and analyzed. The raw material of the melt differential 3D printer is pellets, which eliminates the step of drawing compared to a conventional FDM type 3D printer. The 3D printer is melt-extruded with a screw, and a micro-screw is used for conveying and building pressure. At the same time, precise measurement is performed by a valve control system. This printing method shows advantages in simple preparation process of the composite material, higher degree of freedom in material selection, simple printing process, and shorter preparation cycle of tissue engineering scaffolds.”

The team mixed PCL particles and HA powder together to make the scaffolds. Their melt differential 3D printer uses pellets, and features a fixed nozzle with a platform that moves in three directions. A twin-screw extrusion granulator was used to prepare the PCL material, and the melt differential 3D printer fabricated the tissue engineering scaffolds out of the nano-HA/PCL and micro-HA/PCL composite particles.

The working principle diagram of the polymer melt differential 3D printer.

A microcomputer-controlled electronic universal testing machine was used to test the scaffolds’ bending and tensile properties. A scanning electron microscope was used to observe the micro-HA particle size, as well as the scaffolds’ cross section, while an optical microscope was used to observe their surface structure and a transmission microscope was used to look at the nano-HA particles’ particle diameter and morphology. The scaffold material’s crystallization properties were analyzed using a differential thermal analyzer.

3D printing tissue engineering scaffolds.

Testing showed that the micro-HA was spherical, with a 5–40 μm diameter, and contained some irregularly-shaped debris. The nano-HA was rod-shaped, with a 20–150 nm length.

The crystallization peak temperature of the HA/PCL composites was higher than pure PCL material, because adding HA caused its molecular chain to form a nucleate after absorbing on the HA’s surface. Additionally, adding HA to pure PCL increased the material’s melting temperature, as the latter material had crystals “of varying degrees of perfection.”

The nano-HA/PCL and micro-HA/PCL tissue engineering scaffolds “could form a pre-designed pore structure and the pores were connected to each other,” which is seen in the image below.

“…the micro-HA/PCL and the nano-HA/PCL composite tissue engineering scaffolds can form a three-dimensional pore structure with uniform distribution and approximately rectangular shape.”

External views of micro-HA/PCL and nano-HA/PCL composite tissue engineering scaffolds.

These rectangular pores, with a 100-500 μm length and width, are good news for cell adhesion and proliferation, and the fact that they’re interconnected is positive for nutrient supply.

As for mechanical properties, the nano-HA/PCL specimens had the highest tensile and bending strengths – between 25 and 35% higher than the pure PCL. The micro-HA/PCL specimens had higher tensile and flexural strengths than the PCL, but the nano-HA/PCL was stronger than the micro-HA/PCL, because the HA’s modulus is higher than the PCL’s.

“In addition, nano-HA was more evenly distributed in the composite, while micro-HA had obvious agglomeration in the composite, so the tensile strength and flexural strength of nano-HA/PCL specimens were higher than that of micro-HA/PCL specimens,” the researchers wrote.

Finally, the pore structure of the nano-HA/PCL and micro-HA/PCL tissue engineering scaffolds offered a favorable environment for the discharge of cellular metabolic waste, in addition to facilitating nutrient transport and blood vessel growth. The researchers concluded that their 3D printed composite scaffolds had more potential applications in bone tissue engineering.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below.

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Forensic Doctors Used 3D Printing to Create a Low-Cost Post Mortem Set

Criminal investigations, unusual deaths, victims of disasters and hospital quality controls rely heavily on autopsies. In the field of forensic medicine, the body is crucial evidence and provides leads to determine the cause of death. However, forensic medicine costs tend to run high, which is why for a few years a group of experts at the University of Zurich, in Switzerland, has been developing automated tools to perform forensic pathology on corpses. One of the team’s most interesting developments in a series of innovations is a very affordable post mortem computed tomography angiography or PMCTA kit. By combining 3D printing with parts found at any local hardware store, the group of experts has been able to assemble a PMCTA kit for $120. And the best part is that anyone can find the printable 3D models as STL-files and the hardware store obtained parts with their detailed specifications online at

The PMCTA is a useful complement to an actual autopsy, as it helps to increase the quality of post-mortem diagnosis. And while modern imaging techniques like CTs and MRIs are often used in forensic pathology, the PMCTA technique addresses other issues, like soft-tissue contrast and poor visualization of the vascular system, so that by using contrast agents in the body, examiners can identify certain possible or potential leaks. According to a paper entitled Very economical immersion pump feasibility for postmortem CT angiography and published by Wolf Schweitzer, Patricia Mildred Flach, Michael Thali, Patrick Laberke and Dominic Gascho, from the Department of Forensic Medicine and Imaging at the University of Zurich, PMCTA, in general, has become known to help solve particularly tricky forensic pathology cases, even in decomposed bodies.

Michael Thali, chair of the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Zurich, said that tools like PMCTA “are opening a whole new world of forensics, one that could accelerate the field” and that by “using techniques such as MRI, CT, biopsy, and angiography, we can see 60 percent to 80 percent of the forensic causes of death.”

Today, the PMCTA has become increasingly popular both for research and case investigation. However, the current leading commercial solution for post-mortem angiography is a machine that costs over $80,000, while a single postmortem scanner adds another $500 to the already pricey bill. Specialists at the University of Zurich suggest that such costs are prohibitively high for many forensic pathologists. This is one of the reasons they came up with the idea of a low-cost PMCTA, accessible to any forensic lab around the world.

Production of Very Affordable PMCTA-kits. Left: 3D printing in progress; Middle: finished print batches; Right: kits in process of being packed

The team used hardware store supplies and 3D printing to develop a post mortem CT angiography kit that anyone could create and use for just $120, and they even uploaded instructions online, instead of patenting the device. Parts of the PMCTA kit require a dedicated specific design and built. On the design level, the team originally used a hybrid parametric and direct modeling approach then transferred the design to an STL-formated file for easy use across different software platforms. They used 3D printing to create femoral catheters, a cylindrical push compression fitting, a bucket tube fixture, and vascular tourniquet set.

The PMCTA kit is part of the Virtopsy project, developed by forensic scientists at the University of Zurich around the turn of the Millenium as a multi-disciplinary applied research project to implement imaging modalities from diagnostic radiology and surveying technology in forensic sciences. Since then, the Virtopsy approach has become an emerging if not, the standard procedure in forensic investigations worldwide. The term Virtopsy has actually been used in a variety of settings all over the world and uses advanced technologies to aid and evolve forensics. Virtopsy uses computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, optical 3D surface scanning, 3D photogrammetry and 3D printing to detect and document forensic evidence in a minimally-invasive and observer-independent manner in both the living and the deceased. It is widely used by investigators in criminal cases and in court.

The Virtopsy team

Specialists were able to create a very affordable and functional kit thanks to 3D printing. The kit easily fits into a small suitcase and is neither large nor heavy. Talk about bringing down costs, this PMCTA kit costs less than 1% of a commercial PMCTA available today on the market. There are already so many challenges associated with forensic medicine, especially in developing nations, where funding for this field is not very forthcoming, combined with a shortage of forensic pathologists and technical specialists–a shocking fact, considering how popular the field became after so many tv shows focused on the behind the scenes of CSI and forensics.

Resulting PMCTA with a view of the whole body showing contrasted vessels and organs


In countries like India, for example, there is not only a shortage of forensic experts, mortuaries lack basic facilities and reference material is out-of-date. Moreover, a single mortuary in Barabanki, staffed with one sanitation worker and a single doctor on duty did 972 autopsies in 2017, and that’s just one example, there are plenty more. Advances in technology are a great way to address some of the basic needs of the field, especially when forensic doctors everywhere can download the information and build the kit themselves.

[Images: Virtopsy and University of Zurich]

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Interview with Wei Jian Goh of Craft Health on Personalized Medicine and Nutrition

Wei Jian Goh’s startup Craft Health makes personalized medicine and nutrition possible. The startup is one I’m very envious of as I’ve had a lot of ideas in this area for years. Ideas are nothing however and the Singapore based Craft Health team is executing on a series of innovations that could make personalized nutrition and medicine more accessible and widespread. Craft Health is taking a very straightforward and logical idea to market: one pill does not fit all. If we’re both adults and we take a painkiller we may each take one, as prescribed. But I may be twice as heavy as you or my body could have a completely different in many different ways. Craft Health wants to enable the customization of pills and doses to the individual. What’s more the company wants to make their custom 3D printed pills commonplace. On top of that, the team have spotted a huge application which no one is working on in 3D printing: 3D printed nutrition and supplements. Craft Health is a very exciting startup to me that could really unlock many exciting outcomes for people in all sorts of scenarios. I love that it was started by pharmacists to enable them to better help patients. I’m very bullish on the Singaporean startup so we interviewed Wei Jian Goh who is a co-founder and the CEO of the startup.

What is Craft Health? 

Craft Health is a personalized nutrition and medicines platform, leveraging onto 3D printing technologies. Our vision is to simplify the process of pill taking for consumers or patients.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

We aim to be at the forefront of the intersection for 3D printing technologies and formulations, supplying the Craft Health solutions to both nutraceuticals and pharmaceutical industries.

CraftHealth’s CO-Founders, both Pharmacists, Wei Jiang Goh and Seng Han Lim.

 What do you do? 

Using 3D printing, we are able to print different shapes, layers or geometries to provide accurate dosing of active ingredients such as nutraceuticals or active pharmaceutical ingredients. We also compartmentalize individual active ingredients to reduce the risk of cross contamination or interactions. .

At the same time, we are also formulation scientists and have formulated different bases for various controlled release profiles.

These include immediate release (active ingredients are released within 10 minutes of consumption), sustained release (active ingredients are slowly released between 4-6 hours after consumption), amongst others.

We are also developing our very own 3D printer, using the paste extrusion technique where no heat nor UV curing is used. We are looking at how we can automate the 3D printing process in a scalable manner.

In short, we are able to personalize the nutrition or medicines to the consumer/patient.

How does it work?

Craft Health uses a proprietary blend of generally regarded as safe (GRAS) materials that are already found in the pills that are commercially available. We take the non-active ingredients of these pills and change their ratio in order to achieve different formulations of controlled release. For example, we have formulations for immediate release (release of active ingredients within 10 minutes after consumptions) and sustained release (release of active ingredients slowly over a period of 4 -6 hours). The active ingredient is blended into our proprietary formulations.

The active ingredients and our proprietary formulation for the selected release profile are blended and formed into a paste. The semi-solid paste is then extruded into the shape of a pill using a 3D printer. We are able to print multiple active ingredients, each with their selected release profiles, within the same pill in this way.

What would determine the individual supplements? 

The individual supplements would be determined by the individual, on the basis of what they want (self-selection) and what they need (depending on their response for nutritional questionnaires and even nutrigenomics)

Would it depend on me, or me at one point, my blood work? 

This would depend largely on the extent of personalization you require, from filling up a simple questionnaire to nutrigenomics.

Who are your customers? 

Craft Health is targeting nutraceuticals and pharmaceutical companies to

1. License our technologies and 3D printed formulation solutions

2. Supply our 3D printed pills through the Craft Health Platform

What benefits would they have?

Nutraceuticals: Increase the product range to consumers, especially discerning consumers who are increasingly concerned about what supplements they take. Supplements can be in various combinations personalized to the individual, and also release profiles.

Pharmaceuticals: Rapid prototyping for reformulation exercise to extend existing patent life spans of therapeutics, or a low volume, high mix approach to clinical trials where small volumes batches and dosing can be titrated quickly, depending on the trial results.

Why did you start this company? 

Craft Health is founded by two Singaporean pharmacists, who went on to pursue our PhDs in 3D printing and formulation work.

When we were practising as pharmacists, we saw many instances where patients go home with bags of medicines, typically from common conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol. This is further exacerbated by complicated dosing regimens such as before/after food requirements. We thought that there should be a better solution to this, something that can simplify the process of medicine taking and this, was the inspiration for Craft Health.

Who has funded you? 

Craft Health has recently closed their seed fund raising round led by Mistletoe Singapore, and participated by National University of Singapore (NUS) Graduate Research Innovation Programme (GRIP) and one angel, NUS Adjunct Associate Professor Neo Kok Beng.

What does it feel like to be the first company in 3D printed nutrition? 

We believe we are the first company in 3D printed nutrition in South East Asia. It is a humbling experience as we learn about the various nuances of consumer preferences in this region.

Do you think that 3D printed nutrition is for everyone? or just a select group of athletes? 

We believe the early adopters will be those that require highly specialized nutrition. These include athletes where age, gender, sports type and even the stage of training matters. Eventually we see 3D printed nutrition for everyone, whether for maintaining good health or to optimize their performance.

When do you hope to launch a customer? 

We are an early stage start up, having incorporated in May 2019. Currently we are in the research and development phase, where we are expanding our database of various formulations, developing our in-house 3D printer and also actively looking for collaborations and partnerships. Our target launch for our initial pilot for 3D printed supplements would be late 2020.

What magical sauce do you have that would stop me from copying you?

We believe we are one of the few companies that are developing the complete supply chain for 3D printed healthcare: From developing our very own 3D printers specializing in 3D printing nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals, to developing our proprietary database of various formulations for controlled release of different active ingredients, whether supplements or pharmaceuticals. Therefore, we are able to offer a one stop solution for 3D printed healthcare.

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