Veterans Affairs Researchers Developing 3D Printed Artificial Lung to Help Treat COPD

We often see 3D printing used to make a difference in the lives of our veterans, whether it’s creating customized prosthetic attachments and covers, helping them get back to work, or simply providing a good pair of shoes. Now, scientists at the VA Ann Arbor Health Care System in Michigan are developing a 3D printed artificial lung that could help treat veterans affected by lung disease.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most prevalent, and expensive, illnesses currently affecting US veterans, with 16% of the veteran population suffering – some of the most common factors leading to lung issues for active-duty military include exposure to burn pits, chemicals, diesel exhaust, and sand. According to the VA’s Office of Research & Development, most people with COPD have emphysema (enlarged and damaged lung air sacs) and chronic bronchitis, and about 20% of patients with severe traumatic brain injuries also suffer from acute lung injuries.

Biomedical engineer Dr. Joseph Potkay, with the VA Ann Arbor Health Care System, displays a 2D prototype of an artificial lung. A 3D version is in production.

Biomedical engineer Dr. Joseph Potkay is leading the research, which is funded by the VA and focused on patients who have a buildup of CO2 in their blood, which often applies to veterans with end-stage COPD; this can lead to sudden cardiac death, so any excess CO2 needs to be removed from the lungs so it doesn’t get to this point.

Dr. Potkay has long been researching the advantages of using microfabrication to build artificial lungs with efficient gas exchange and blood paths similar to those in human lungs. He introduced a 2D printed artificial lung prototype back in 2011, made using traditional microfabrication methods with help from Case Western Reserve University and the Advanced Platform Technology Center at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. The unique prototype was efficient enough to use air, instead of pure oxygen, as a ventilating gas, which opens up new possibilities for potential implantation. Dr. Potkay says that the 3D printed version currently in the works will “provide the same basic advantages.”

Dr. Potkay said, “But with the freedom afforded by being able to design the device in three dimensions instead of two, 3D printing should result in artificial lungs with a smaller overall footprint and with increased efficiency. Thus, portability and performance will potentially improve using 3D printing.”

Potkay’s artificial lung model relies on microfabrication to achieve highly efficient gas exchange and blood paths similar to those in a human lung.

Dr. Potkay and his team are working with high-resolution 3D printing company Old World Labs to create a prototype of the 3D printed artificial lung, which will be about a half-inch cube in size, hopefully able to fit in a backpack and be used for a week; however, after further development, the hope is to get the lung to work for longer amounts of time.

Lung disease patients have long used heart-lung machines that contain artificial lungs for rehabilitation, but the devices are bulky and, according to Dr. Potkay, “not truly portable.” Additionally, they also have to maintain appropriate blood pressure, minimize clotting and immune response and reduce blood cell injuries.

The goal behind the VA research is to create the first truly wearable artificial lung that’s compatible with living tissue and can provide both short- and long-term respiratory support, and microfluidic artificial lungs also use far less blood than current commercial devices do. According to Dr. Potkay, this is the first time that high-resolution polymer 3D printing has been used to fabricate microfluidic lungs with 3D blood flow networks.

“With a 2D design, you stack many single 2D layers together. That has limited the ease of creating devices that are large enough for human use. You have less freedom in how you design the blood channels,” Dr. Potkay explained. “3D printing these devices may be a solution to these problems. We can be much more precise and efficient with how the blood flow path is laid out in three dimensions.

“We hope that these microfluidic flow paths and biocompatible coatings will be more compatible with living tissue, thereby reducing the body’s immune response and increasing the lifetime of the device. The flexibility in design afforded by 3D printing gives us more freedom and thus the ease to build artificial lungs with a small size and pressure drops that are compatible for operation with the body’s natural pressures.”

Potkay works with a test print of artificial capillaries that will be part of a 3D artificial lung now in production.

Dr. Potkay is not sure yet how far away we are from implanting 3D printed lungs, and explained that the device was currently only being tested in rabbits, with sheep testing planned for the future.

“We’ll see how well it does in terms of lifetime. To be implantable, it needs to be able to operate for months without being swapped out,” Dr. Potkay explained.

“Although the 3D artificial lung is more promising, it is earlier in development and still not guaranteed to work. We’re further along in developing the 2D device, and we have plans to work around the challenges with that device.”

Tests with traditional microfabrication techniques and animal blood showed that the 2D small-scale artificial lungs had the “highest gas efficiency exchange of any artificial lung to date,” and Dr. Potkay believes that this will also translate to the 3D printed version; additionally, the expected lifetime of the 2D lung has “significantly improved” due to its biocompatible surface coatings.

Dr. Potkay said, “We believe the 3D-printed device should be better than the 2D version, but we don’t have proof yet.”

The 3D printed lung could also be used as a temporary solution for people with other lung diseases, like acute respiratory distress syndrome.

“It will depend largely on the needs of the patient. The removal of CO2 in the blood is the first Veteran application we’re aiming for because it’s the simplest in terms of patient use, the required components, and the size of the device. CO2 removal is a critical need for many Veterans with COPD,” Dr. Potkay said.

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

[Images: Brian Hayes]

How 3D Printing Can Help Bring Photography Full Circle

[Image: Alexander Gee]

Photography is an art form that has gone through a lot of changes in a few years. First there were digital cameras, which pushed aside traditional film and darkroom development, and then cameras on phones became so advanced that they began to supplant even digital cameras. But cameras haven’t become obsolete, as some people fear – there are plenty of purists who still use both digital and film varieties, and create amazing art with them.

Many of the people who still use cameras are makers and tinkerers, as well, and 3D printing is playing a role these days in both building and modifying cameras. Just a few months ago, maker Alexander Gee 3D printed what may be the first Sony E-Mount 35mm film camera, and another maker named Clint O’Connor even 3D printed a classic pinhole camera.

The Standard Camera. [Image: Kickstarter]

Photographer Drew Nikonowicz recently concluded a successful Kickstarter campaign in which he raised well over twice his funding goal for the Standard Camera, a 4×5 3D printed view camera that you can build yourself.

“The 4×5 was born out of a genuine excitement of photography and making things,” said Nikonowicz. “But I was also thinking ahead to when I graduated and I wouldn’t have access to the school’s equipment anymore.”

The level of enthusiasm shown for Nikonowicz’s Kickstarter campaign shows that there is quite a large base of people out there who want old-fashioned cameras, and are excited about the idea of creating them through 3D printing.

Another Kickstarter campaign is offering the Cameradactyl, another 3D printed 4×5 camera that was created by Evan Moses. For $225, backers can get a camera with custom colors. Moses has also raised well over twice his funding goal with almost two weeks left in the campaign, and the camera’s fun colors started out as just a way to save money.

The Cameradactyl. [Image: Kickstarter]

“I wanted to make the cheapest 4×5 and in keeping with that theme I just started buying the cheapest filament that I could find on Amazon,” said Moses. “It started out looking like a Barbie dream cam, then it got more green, then there was some yellow. I loved how wacky it was. I thought it was fun. It’s like a toy, but it’s a toy that you can take professional pictures with that are indistinguishable from pictures taken on a $2000 4×5, because ultimately, it looks like whatever lens you put on it.”

Speaking of lenses, 3D printing is also being used to develop much more advanced lenses, for cameras and for other optical purposes. Using stereolithography, you can 3D print a perfectly clear camera lens, meaning that it’s now possible for a camera to be 100% 3D printed. Clear resins have been developed with incredible optical properties, making 3D printed lenses more than just a novelty – they can actually be better, in some cases, than lenses created with conventional means. It’s even possible to create micro-lenses using 3D printing for purposes such as imaging the inside of the body.

[Image: Amos Dudley]

For all the high-tech micro-cameras out there, though, there are at least dozens of plain old 3D printed point-and-shoot cameras like those made by Moses and Nikonowicz.

“It is really amazing that I can make a camera for myself and there are a couple hundred people all over the world who are also interested in it,” said Moses. “It’s maybe not a good business decision to be making cameras that were designed in the 1800s on a 3D printer, but it’s so fun.”

Considering how well his Kickstarter campaign has done, it’s certainly not the worst business decision in the world. Many people want to own old technology as much as, or even more than, they want new technology – and new tech, like 3D printing, enables the creation of old tech. Call it technology coming full-circle, if you will.

This doesn’t mean that 3D printing is relegated to simply bringing back older photographic technology – it’s also being used to enhance some of the most newfangled cameras. There is a plethora of 3D printed GoPro mounts out there, as people use 3D printing technology to do what it does best – customize. 3D printing can also be used to make ordinary cameras perform better, often just for a few cents, by creating things like follow focus rigs, tripods, gear rings, and more. It has even been used to create assistive devices so that disabled people can pursue professional photography.

3D printed follow focus. [Image: Tony Boerner]

As an art form, photography is still new, compared to ancient techniques like drawing, painting and sculpting. But it has evolved perhaps more dramatically than any other art form in terms of the equipment used and the quality of the images. While the majority of people may be content to take photographs using their phones, there are still plenty of people out there who love cameras for their own sake – and 3D printing is allowing those people to bring even early camera models back, making the old new again.

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

[Source: Popular Photography]

#3DPrinted Nikon 18-140 Kit Lense Hood #celebratephotography


From donek on Thingiverse:

The Nikon 18-140 kit lens I got with my camera body did not have a lens hood. I couldn’t find one that fit or locked in place properly on thingiverse, so I designed this. The original black print was done 2 years ago on my Mendel Max in ABS at 0.06mm layer height. I decided to try it our on my Ender 3 at 0.2mm layer height (the yellow version) to see how it would work. It worked great with no adjustments.

See 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.

3D Printing News Briefs: August 10, 2018

We’ve got some business news to start things off with in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, followed by a little research and a really cool 3D printed costume. The Department of Defense has awarded a contract to Contour Crafting, and Sutrue is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Facebook has made the decision to ban blueprints for 3D printed guns, and a Siggraph paper takes an in-depth look into near-eye displays. Finally, several companies helped the non-profit organization Magic Wheelchair make a really cool 3D printed wheelchair costume for a big Star Wars fan.

Contour Crafting Receives Department of Defense Contract

One of the first methods of large-scale 3D printing, Contour Crafting, uses large but lightweight robotic 3D printers, which can quickly put down layers of building material to rapidly create entire buildings onsite in just days. The California-based corporation itself is on a mission to commercialize disruptive construction technologies, and we recently learned that the US Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded Contour Crafting a $3 million research and development contract to build a concrete 3D printer for the purposes of building construction for disaster relief.

According to the company’s website , “Effective 25 JUL 2018, the Department of Defense has awarded Contour Crafting Corporation with a Rapid Innovation Fund contract in the domain of large and construction scale 3D printing. The outcome of this funded R&D program is expected to be a technology which, among other applications, will effectively respond to disaster relief situations with expedient, safe and sustainable structures and buildings.”

This information confirms that the DoD is not putting all of its eggs into one basket, so to speak, and is seeking outside help for its construction 3D printing goals.

Sutrue Celebrates Ten Years

Medical device startup Sutrue first started working on a 3D printed suture stitching device to help prevent needle stick injuries back in 2014, and became the first company to successfully 3D print a suture device. But Sutrue’s story actually began back in August of 2008, when its founder Alex Berry was stuck at home with a broken ankle and watched a documentary that provided some insight into robotic suturing. In an effort to keep busy during his recovery, Berry, who had some basic CAD knowledge, got to work.

After moving to the UK, Berry officially started Sutrue in 2012, meeting some influential people along the way who helped him get closer to achieving his goal of creating a 3D printed suture device. The startup completed a £30,000 crowdfunding campaign in 2014, submitted another patent, developed a few mutually beneficial relationships with other companies, and secured further funding for continued device development. Now, Sutrue is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Berry’s initial idea.

The startup wrote in a post, “It’s been ten years of ups and downs, filled with much uncertainty particularly in the first five years in which Berry didn’t even know for sure that the device would work. He has maintained the progression of the device through having a healthy dose of insanity, extreme resourcefulness, and an inquiring and problem-solving mind. He’s gone against many societal norms to have created two working prototypes of his automated suturing device – the robotic and the handheld, but as the route to market becomes closer and closer, he’s glad to have fought against the odds to see the project through to completion.”

Facebook Bans 3D Printed Gun Blueprints

Gun with 3D printed parts. [Image: CNET]

There’s been an increased amount of conversation on the topic of 3D printed guns recently, after news broke of a settlement between the US State Department and Texas open source 3D printed gun designer Defense Distributed, run by Cody Wilson. The settlement states that Wilson and his non-profit organization can publish files, plans, and 3D drawings of guns in any form, and are also exempted from export restrictions; additionally, the government will be paying nearly $40,000 of Wilson’s legal fees. This means that people who weren’t legally able to purchase firearms before, such as felons and domestic abusers, can 3D print their own guns without serial numbers. As you can imagine, many are not happy with this decision. This week, Facebook, the world’s largest social network, said that it will ban any websites that host and share blueprints of 3D printed guns, though the designs have already been available online for years.

According to BuzzFeed News, a Facebook spokesperson said, “Sharing instructions on how to print firearms using 3D printers is not allowed under our Community Standards. In line with our policies, we are removing this content from Facebook.”

MSN reports that Facebook did not “immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the Ghost Gunner” 3D printed gun.

Siggraph Paper on Optical Design for Augmented Reality Near Eye Displays

This year’s annual conference on computer graphics, SIGGRAPH 2018, starts this Sunday, August 12th, in Vancouver. One of the papers published for the conference, titled “Steerable application-adaptive near eye displays,” discusses see-through near eye displays (NED), which are currently being used in the Hololens, among other things. According to the Stanford Computational Imaging Lab, most NEDs work by using a stereoscopic image pair to optically drive the visual system’s vergence state to “arbitrary distances,” but drives the focus (accommodation) state towards a fixed distance.

The technology is a bit of a long shot, due to people getting motion sickness or their eyes getting tired, but if we can get it to work, I bet every movie theatre in the world will employ it.

The abstract of the paper reads, “The design challenges of see-through near-eye displays can be mitigated by specializing an augmented reality device for a particular application. We present a novel optical design for augmented reality near-eye displays exploiting 3D stereolithography printing techniques to achieve similar characteristics to progressive prescription binoculars. We propose to manufacture inter-changeable optical components using 3D printing, leading to arbitrary shaped static projection screen surfaces that are adaptive to the targeted applications. We identify a computational optical design methodology to generate various optical components accordingly, leading to small compute and power demands. To this end, we introduce our augmented reality prototype with a moderate form-factor, large field of view. We have also presented that our prototype is promising high resolutions for a foveation technique using a moving lens in front of a projection system. We believe our display technique provides a gate-way to application-adaptive, easily replicable, customizable, and cost-effective near-eye display designs.”

Co-authors of the paper are NVIDIA Corporation‘s Kishore Rathinavel, Praneeth Chakravarthula, Kaan Akşit, Josef Spjut, Ben Boudaoud, Turner Whitted, David Luebke, and Henry Fuchs from UNC Chapel Hill.

3D Printed Star Wars Wheelchair Costume

Here’s something fun and heartwarming to kick off your weekend – non-profit organization Magic Wheelchair, which makes free, bespoke wheelchair costumes for kids, created a 3D printed Poe Dameron X-Wing Fighter wheelchair costume for a 13-year-old, wheelchair-bound Star Wars fan named Vedant Singhania to wear at last month’s Comic-Con International. Project partners included Pixologic, which used its ZBrush digital sculpting software to provide the design and modeling work, and Dangling Carrot Creative, which used the high print speeds of the Massivit 1800 3D printer to make 50 separate costume pieces in a little over two weeks. Massivit also donated 3D printing materials, and Monster City Studios assembled the large wheelchair costume.

“We connected with Magic Wheelchair because we knew our technology and modelling expertise could assist them with the fantastic work they are doing for children in wheelchairs,” said Pixologic’s 3D Product Development Manager Paul Gaboury. “After we designed the costume, Dangling Carrot Creative was the final piece to the puzzle. The company allowed us to 3D print life-size to help remove the need for molds or casting which saves substantial time and money.”

Discuss these stories, and other 3D printing topics, at or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below. 

How to Modify and Customize Your Bicycle with 3D Printing

3D printing makes it possible to customize all sorts of products now, from prosthetics and tools to jewelry and eyeglasses. The technology can also be used to create customized components and modifications for our various means of daily transportation, be it a car, a motorcycle, a skateboard, or even a bicycle.

I personally know a few people who participate in long bike rides with large groups of people, sometimes even traveling through multiple states on their beloved two-wheel contraptions. Personally, I don’t see the appeal of being on two wheels for that long, outside in the elements with little protection. But that’s clearly just me – according to Statista, the number of bike riders in the United States increased significantly between 2012 and 2017, from around 51 million cyclists to over 66 million.

[Image: Singletrack]

In addition, the infrastructure in the US is also continuing to positively support the sport of cycling. It seems I can hardly drive two blocks without seeing ongoing construction to add in brand new bike lanes and bicycling initiatives, at least in my little corner of the world.

We often see 3D printing put to use in order to make components, accessories, and parts for bicycles…and sometimes even the bike itself. There are the 3D printed titanium lugs created by Australia-based Flying Machine, the 3D printed Garmin cycle mount for the rider who needs easy, hands-free access to directions, and other kinds of 3D printed cycle mounts as well, in addition to 3D printed bicycle tires, helmets, and frames.

There are bikes made out of aluminum that can fold up, mountain bikes for the more outdoorsy, adventurous types, plastic bikes and metal bikes, bikes made out of blue jeans (I’m not kidding), bikes that can be composted, racing bikes and also electric bikes. This last is what interests maker Terence Chan, who goes by user name RCConcepts on Thingiverse.

“In this video, I’m going to show you how to electrify an ofo bike,” Chan said in his latest YouTube video.

Founded four years ago, ofo is a Beijing-based bicycle sharing company that, as of last year, operates over 10 million yellow bicycles in 250 cities and 20 countries. It’s the first bike sharing company in the world that has a “non-docking” platform for users, and uses an app to locate and unlock nearby bicycles for use.

The first step in electrifying the ofo bike was taking away its rotating can; then, to make the motor, Chan had to hammer the shaft attached to the can, so it would “go through to the other side.” The hex screw holding the main shaft needs to be removed in order for this to take place, and if the glue is really hard, do what Chan did and use a heat gun to weaken it. Once the shaft is hammered through, a c-clip needs to be attached to the end of it.

In order to modify the bike to an electric one, Chan had to 3D print a few specific parts – namely the friction drive mount, the throttle controller by Thingiverse user RotaryDesign, the mounting brackets for a GoPro by Thingiverse user chrismalyon (which will be used to mount the controller), and the ESC tray, which, as Chan says in his video, is “not only to hold the ESC in place but also to protect all the weight from squashing against the electronics.”

If you want to learn how to electrify an ofo bike on your own, watch the rest of Chan’s video below:

Discuss 3D printed bicycle modifications, and other 3D printing topics, at or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below. 


Kansas State University researchers develop AI system for 3D printing process monitoring

Researchers from Kansas State University’s Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering (IMSE) have developed a new quality monitoring system for the 3D printing process. With integrated supervised machine learning, a camera, and image processing software, the researchers created a production quality monitoring system for assessing 3D printed parts in real-time. IMSE researchers Ugandhar Delli […]