Orlando, Florida-based nScrypt demonstrated a 3D manufactured printed circuit structure (PCS) at the recent IPC APEX show in San Diego, California. The PCS was an inductor disc that, when held close to any show attendee‘s smart phone with an NFC Reader app, would open the nScrypt website on that person’s phone.
The discs were 3D manufactured using nScrypt’s Factory in a Tool (FiT). According to nScrypt’s CEO, Ken Church:
“We distinguish between printed circuit boards, which are incorporated into finished products, and printed circuit structures, or PCS, where the electronics and the structure or housing of a device are essentially the same thing.
“We’re doing a free live webinar about state of the art PCS on April 28 with rockstars in this area from Army, Air Force, NASA, SI2, University of Delaware, and DeLux Advanced Manufacturing.”
Anyone interested in the free webinar can register here.
nScrypt also distinguishes between 3D printing, which is mostly making parts, and using its Factory in a Tool to 3D manufacture fully functioning finished products, like the inductor disc PCS. As shown in the video, nScrypt’s FiT first 3D prints the disc’s ABS outer shell using its material extrusion tool head (also known as FFF or FDM), then uses its SmartPumpTM tool head to microdispense conductive lines, then uses its material extrusion tool head to print another ABS layer, then uses its milling tool head to mill the intermediate layer smooth, then uses its pick and place tool head to place a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip and the SmartPump tool head to dispense more conductive paste, then completes the structure of the disc, seals in the electronics, and prints the nScrypt logo with the material extrusion tool head, then uses its milling tool head to provide a fine surface finish for the finished PCS.
Ken Church said:
“This is a cool little demonstration of a simple printed circuit structure with fine surface finish, where the electronics are embedded in the housing of the device with our Factory in a Tool. This disc happens to be flat but the FiT can 3D manufacture virtually any shape, conformally printing the electronics into or on device’s structure. The sky is the limit for 3D manufacturing PCS with our Factory in a Tool. Or maybe the sky isn’t the limit because a ruggedized version of our bioprinter, which has basically the same capability as our FiT, is on the International Space Station.”
The FiT system can be equipped with nVision cameras that monitor the tool heads for automated in-process inspection and computer vision routines, surface mapping for Z-tracking and conformal printing onto objects of any surface shape, UV LED curing light, and a HEPA filter.
Funded by the US Defense Health Program, 4-Dimensional Bioprinting, Biofabrication, and Biomanufacturing (4D Bio3) is a collaboration between the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) and The Geneva Foundation, a nonprofit that advances military medical research. The program promotes the application and development of biofabrication, biomanufacturing, and bioprinting technologies for research according to priorities by the US Department of Defense. 4D Bio3 is involved with medical research in outer space, and also much closer to home.
4D Bio3 is currently working with the foundation, Safi Biosolutions, Advanced Bioprocess Services, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Sciperio – the research arm of Florida 3D printing company nScrypt – to make human blood on demand. Yes, you read that correctly.
Through USUHS, the DoD and The Geneva Foundation set up the 4D Bio3 On-Demand Blood Program in order to provide access to fresh, non-contaminated blood supplies for military service members all over the world. The goal of this current partnership with Sciperio is to create solutions for future blood supply, and on-demand manufacturing of human blood seems to be the best way.
Together with Safi Biosolutions, the company received a joint award of $8.8 million to fund any contributions they make to the program in its first year. The overall goal for the program’s inaugural year is to create a “whole blood development roadmap,” and Sciperio’s part will be to develop a rugged, automated bioreactor that offers control and feedback in real-time thanks to multiple sensors. Sciperio spinoff nScrypt, which designs and manufactures highly precise, next-generation, award-winning microdispensing and 3D printing for industrial applications, will be building the bioreactor.
“How do you manufacture blood at a scale relevant for patient use? We are using several nScrypt SmartPump tool heads to precisely microdispense growth enhancers in the bioreactor, causing cell expansion and differentiation. The bioreactor makes it scalable,” explained Dr. Ken Church, the CEO of both Sciperio and nScrypt. “There are so many interesting aspects and advantages of biomanufacturing blood, including the ultimate benefit to humanity. Starting with a few cells, our bioreactor will produce billions of cells, a necessary requirement for patient transfusion. We believe this exciting project will one day result in a steady source of safe and affordable on-demand blood made where and when it’s needed.”
The nScrypt SmartPump microdispensing tool head works with over 10,000 commercially available materials – the widest range of any microdispensing system. The SmartPump “eliminates drooling with pico-liter volumetric control,” according to nScrypt, and at just 10 microns, its pen tip has the smallest available diameter on the commercial market.
If this project succeeds, and the team is able to additively manufacture human red blood cells on-site that are safe for human transfusion, there will be less need for concern relating to donor blood screening. The solution could mean that extensive donor networks are not as necessary, which can help streamline logistics in terms of blood transportation, processing, and long-term storage. This would be especially helpful for members of the military stationed in remote areas who can’t easily access these services.
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(Images provided by nScrypt)
In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, we’re talking about new products and materials, an industry event, 3D printed electronics, and education. 3Doodler announced a new product, and Essentium will be showcasing two new materials at RAPID + TCT. The 4th annual AM Cluster of Ohio conference is coming up in July, and nScrypt is microdispensing 50um dots for 3D printed electronics. Finally, Penn State University is investing in Roboze technology.
3Doodler Introduces New 3D Build & Play
At the New York Toy Fair, February 22-25 at Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center, 3Doodler will be showcasing its latest device – the 3D Build & Play, perfect for preschoolers and kindergartners to use. The pen was designed for users as young as four years old, and introduces growing children to 3D printing technology in a way that promotes cognitive and fine motor skills development, hands-on learning, story telling, and three-dimensional thinking. The 3D Build & Play is kid-safe, extruding low-heat, BPA-free, non-toxic, biodegradable plastic, and comes with a story-based Activity Guide so parents and kids can create together. Currently available for pre-order, 3D Build & Play will have an MSRP of $29.99, and major retailers, like Amazon, are also expected to carry the product in Q2 2020. Visit 3Doodler in Booth #2771 at the New York Toy Fair to learn more.
“3D Build & Play brings the creative fun of our Start pen without the learning curve for the youngest users. The system we have developed, that lets kids crank and create in 3D, is a major benefit for parents looking to improve their children’s basic motor skills. The included molds make it easy to create 3D objects by simply filling and popping them out. There’s nothing on the market today that makes 3D creation this simple or fast for young creators,” said 3Doodler’s CEO Daniel Cowen.
Essentium’s New Materials for High-Temperature Applications
At RAPID + TCT 2020 in Anaheim this spring, 3D printing solutions provider Essentium will introduce new ULTEM AM9085F and ABS materials for high-temperature industrial AM applications. These high-performance materials, which will be showcased on the company’s High Speed Extrusion platform at the event, provide high strength and have excellent resistance to heat and chemicals at high temperatures, so they can be used for applications in the aerospace, automotive, industrial, and medical industries.
According to a survey commissioned by Essentium, 51% of executives believe that the high cost of materials is a major obstacle when it comes to adopting 3D printing for large-scale production purposes. The new ULTEM AM9085F and ABS materials were created to give manufacturers a more cost-effective solution when compared to expensive closed-system materials. Learn more at Essentium’s Booth #3400 at RAPID + TCT in Anaheim, CA, April 20-23, 2020.
4th Annual Additive Manufacturing Cluster of Ohio Conference
The Additive Manufacturing Cluster of Ohio, powered by organizations such as America Makes and the Youngstown Business Incubator, has announced that its 4th annual conference will take place this summer in Cleveland. Cluster members work together to create a supply chain of interconnected institutions and businesses to advance regional growth in 3D printing. This conference, to be held on Thursday, July 30, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Cleveland Rockside, will be the first cluster event of 2020, and will give Ohio manufacturers of multiple business models and sizes perspectives on available opportunities for adopting 3D printing into their process chain over the next five years.
The website states, “The program will look at similarities and differences across several selected manufacturer types and will identify strategies ranging from low to high risk. Attendees will leave with actionable strategies and information about regional resources to help them remain competitive in the evolving manufacturing landscape.”
nScrypt Working with 3D Printed Electronics
Orlando company nScrypt is working with precision microdispensing, an additive method of dispensing pastes, inks, and other fluid materials, to create adhesive dots with volumetric control, in the 50 micron range, for 3D printed electronics and flexible hybrid electronics (FHE). Microdispensing gets much closer to the substrate surface when compared to methods like jetting, and the closer the nozzle is to the surface, the finer the features of the 3D printed parts. The team used the nScrypt SmartPump, a silicone adhesive, a conical pen tip, and Heraeus SAC305-8XM8-D Type IX solder paste, and tested the consistency and repeatability of ~50µm Type IX solder and adhesive dots.
These tests showed a consistent average dot diameter of 51.24 microns, with a 6.42 micron (13%) standard deviation. These results support the fabrication of 3D printed electronics through the use of direct digital manufacturing (DDM), which allows printing to both planar substrates and the non-planar world of Printed Circuit Structures, which prints the housing or structure of an electronic device as well as placing the electronics conformally. In the future, the team plans to conduct a larger solder and adhesive dot study, in order to test required downtime, long-term reliability, and the frequency of clogging.
Penn State University Invests in Roboze Technology
Penn State, a 3D printing leader through its Center for Innovative Materials Processing through Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP-3D), has invested in a new FFF solution in order to expand its AM capabilities. The ROBOZE One+400 Xtreme 3D printer, which was designed to create high performing, functional finished parts in advanced composite materials, will help the university increase its development of high performance plastics for 3D printing, and will be housed in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Students will be able to test out new polymers on the system, and develop new formulations to provide 3D printed parts with multi-functionality. These parts will be used to advance research in applications like chemical reactors.
“ROBOZE One+400 Xtreme will be used to examine novel polymers to help to fundamentally understand the 3D printing process and as a tool to enable custom equipment more cost effectively than can be obtained with machining metals while also allowing for designs not possible with traditional manufacture. The ROBOZE One+400 Xtreme will allow Penn State to leverage its expertise in materials science, engineering and characterization to enable new solutions to problems through additive manufacturing,” said Professor Bryan D. Vogt from the Department of Chemical Engineering.
“The ability to use custom filaments and control the print processing was a critical factor in selecting ROBOZE. The flexibility allowed by ROBOZE along with its excellent printing capabilities is well aligned with the discovery-oriented research mission of the university to expand knowledge and its application. Moverover, our prior 3D printer had issues printing high temperature engineering plastics like PEEK with severe deformation of the structure generally observed. After challenges with printing PEEK with standard belt driven systems, the novel direct drive approach with the ROBOZE was an added bonus.”
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Scientific discoveries and research missions beyond Earth’s surface are quickly moving forward. Advancements in the fields of research, space medicine, life, and physical sciences, are taking advantage of the effects of microgravity to find solutions to some big problems here on Earth. Researchers in 3D printing and bioprinting have taken advantage of space facilities that are dedicated to conducting multiple experiments in orbit, such as investigating microgravity’s effects on the growth of three-dimensional, human-like tissues, creating high-quality protein crystals that will help scientists develop more effective drugs, and even growing meat with 3D printing technology.
On November 2, 2019, a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket successfully launched a Cygnus cargo spacecraft on a mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The payload aboard the Cygnus included supplies for the 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF), like human cells, bioinks, as well as new 3D printed ceramic fluid manifolds that replaced the previously used that were printed out of polymers. According to Lithoz – the company behind the 3D printed ceramic fluid manifolds – they are enabling advancements in bioprinting at the ISS.
The additive manufactured ceramics have been in service since November 2019 and Lithoz claims they have proven to provide better biocompatibility than printed polymers, resulting in larger viable structures.
Lithoz, a company specializing in the development and production of materials and AM systems for 3D printing of bone replacements and high-performance ceramics, printed the ceramic manifolds using lithography-based ceramic manufacturing (LCM) on a high-resolution CeraFab printer in collaboration with Techshot, one of the companies behind the development of the BFF. Moreover, the ceramic fluid manifolds are used inside bioreactors to provide nutrients to living materials in space by the BFF.
Testing of the ceramic 3D printed manifolds is focusing on biocompatibility, precision, durability, and overall fluid flow properties; and the latest round of microgravity bioprinting in December yielded larger biological constructs than the first BFF attempts in July.
Techshot and Lithoz engineers and scientists worked together to optimize the design and the manufacturing processes required to make it. Techshot Senior Scientist Carlos Chang reported that “it’s been an absolute pleasure working with Lithoz.”
While Lithoz Vice President Shawn Allan suggested that “their expertise in ceramic processing really made these parts happen. The success of ceramic additive manufacturing depends on working together with design, materials, and printing. Design for ceramic additive manufacturing principles was used along with print parameter control to achieve Techshot’s complex fluid-handling design with the confidence needed to use the components on ISS.”
Headquartered in Vienna, Austria, and founded in 2011, Lithoz offers applications and material development to its customers in cooperation with renowned research institutes all over the world, benefiting from a variety of materials ranging from alumina, zirconia, silicon nitride, silica-based for casting-core applications through medical-grade bioceramics.
This work, in particular, highlighted an ideal use case for ceramic additive manufacturing to enable the production of a special compact device that could not be produced without additive manufacturing while enabling a level of bio-compatibility and strength not achievable with printable polymers. Lithoz reported that Techshot engineers were able to interface the larger bio-structures with the Lithoz-printed ceramic manifolds and that the next steps will focus on optimized integration of these components and longer culturing of the printed biological materials. While conditioned human tissues from this mission are expected to return to Earth in early 2020 for evaluation.
Back in July 2019, Gene Boland, chief scientist at Techshot, and Ken Church, chief executive officer at nScrypt, discussed the BFF at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Port Canaveral, Florida, how they planned to use the BFF in orbit to print cells (extracellular matrices), grow them and have them mature enough so that when they return to Earth researchers can encounter a close to full cardiac strength. Church described how a tissue of this size has never been grown here on Earth, let alone in microgravity. The 3D BFF is the first-ever 3D printer capable of manufacturing human tissue in the microgravity condition of space. Utilizing adult human cells (such as pluripotent or stem cells), the BFF can create viable tissue in space through a technology that enables it to precisely place and build ultra-fine layers of bioink – layers that may be several times smaller than the width of a human hair – involving the smallest print nozzles in existence.
Experts suggest that bioprinting without gravity eliminates the risk of collapse, enabling organs to grow without the need for scaffolds, offering a great alternative to some of the biggest medical challenges, like supplying bioprinted organs, providing a solution to the shortage of organs.
With NASA becoming more committed to stimulating the economy in low-Earth orbit (LEO), as well as opening up the ISS research lab to scientific investigations and experiments, we can expect to learn more about some of the most interesting discoveries that could take place 220 miles above Earth. There are already quite a few bioprinting experiments taking place on the ISS, including Allevi and Made In Space’s existing Additive Manufacturing Facility on the ISS, the ZeroG bio-extruder which allow scientists on the Allevi platform to simultaneously run experiments both on the ground and in space to observe biological differences that occur with and without gravity, and CELLINK‘s collaboration with Made In Space to identify 3D bioprinting development opportunities for the ISS as well as for future off-world platforms. All of these approaches are expected to have an impact on the future of medicine on Earth.