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.
Insoles and orthotics generally are looking to be the next area where 3D printing will play a role. As with hearing aids and dental crowns a custom shape needed to fit a patient perfectly can cost-effectively be created through 3D printing. Usually, 3D printing is best at rather small items and insoles are a newer large size than the mass customized things that have been 3D printed thus far in their millions. Insoles have as an advantage however that they’re very flat so require few layers to print, improving the business case significantly. I find it strange that we pay hundreds of dollars for shoes that only come in a handful of sizes. Things such as orthotics and custom insoles can be more costly still. It is clear at this point that 3D printing can provide us with the accuracy, strength and performance needed to endure as a working insole. Whats more with variable density insoles different points of the foot could have different densities through different infill which will give you performance that conventional insoles lack. It is also clear that scanning and 3D scanning could give many people access to custom-made insoles. What is not clear is how to do this and who will succeed in the space. Jabil and Superfeet, Wiiv, Indian startup Shapecrunch thinks it may have the answer by combining 3D printing with scanning using your phone. We covered Shapecrunch earlier when they first came to our attention in January, Can they succeed where others have failed? We interviewed Nitin Gandhi the CEO of Shapecrunch to find out more.
How did you get started?
Every 1 in 4 people has some foot problem related to biomechanics such as Flat feet, Plantar Fasciitis etc. Every 30 seconds a diabetic foot is amputated in the world. Moreover, the foot related problems are responsible for back, neck and knee pain. Still getting anything custom made for a foot is a huge challenge. The process of making custom shoe inserts (or insoles) is very manual, has huge setup cost, and takes 30-45 minutes of time for any doctor.
I’m flat-footed, and in 2015 went through the experience of getting an insole. When the insole came out it was not so good. At that time, since I was already running a 3D printing company, I along with his partners who are mechanical engineers Jatin and Jiten founded Shapecrunch. Later Arunan, a Biomedical engineer also joined them.
Shapecrunch digitized the complete process of making custom foot insoles with 3D Printing and a Computer Vision algorithm.
Doctors use Shapecrunch’s free app -available on android and iPhone to take just 3 pictures of patient’s foot, add patient’s bio and upload a prescription. Shapecrunch using its smart proprietary algorithm converts the images into a 3D model of the insole, which is then 3D printed. The process of taking images and using the app takes just 7 minutes.
For the technology, Shapecrunch did clinical research with the Rehabilitation wing of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and for a bigger trial, also got a grant from BIRAC.
Shapecrunch started selling in the market in early 2017. So far more than 2000 patients are wearing Shapecrunch’s Insoles. Because everything is remotely done with app, any doctor/patient can download the app, click foot images and prescription pic, Shapecrunch can create custom insoles for many people. As the data is being stored digitally, the patients can order another pair anytime. Every 1 in 4 customers orders another pair for different shoes within 6 months.
What 3D printing technology do you use?
We use FDM 3D Printing technology. All machines are assembled by us so that they can print flexible material perfectly.
What materials do you use?
Shapecrunch uses flexible 3D printed material for making your customized insoles. Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is any of a class of polyurethane plastics with many properties, including elasticity, transparency, and resistance to oil, grease and abrasion.The upper layer is made from PORON®, a breathable, shock-absorbing material which cushions the foot and has anti-microbial properties to keep feet feeling fresh and healthy.
Whats the workflow for me as a customer?
We are having alliances with podiatrists all across the world who can use our technology to scan patient’s feet, upload prescription and we design and 3D print the insoles. Customers can either go to our alliance partners around their area or can download our app and our in-house team which has orthotist, physio and orthopedic looks at the feet.
What is the benefit for me as a consumer?
We do advance customization which is not possible with traditional ways of making insoles. The computer vision algorithm gives us the boundary curves and machine learning provides us with the inner curves we also take into account age, weight, height, pain areas of the patient. With the machine learning algorithm, we get a variable density profile which goes into making the file 3D printing.
How long do the orthotics last?
Orthotics easily last for up to 2 years for moderate use and 1 to 1.5 years for athletes and heavy users. We do provide a 6 months warranty.
How do you partner with the orthotics community?
As of now, we are participating in medical conferences and exhibiting our product and technology. So far, almost all the podiatrists and physiotherapists care a lot about how it can solve their patients’ problem. We also focused a lot on that.
We are already growing fast in India and Singapore and have 50+ clinics using our technology. We are starting in the US soon and plan to have it as our primary market.
Will you integrate sensors into it?
Yes, It’s already under development we are launching it in next 3 months for doctors for diagnostic purposes and as an additional tool for analysis. Later we plan to introduce a consumer version as well.
What about variable density insoles?
All our insoles are variable density. Density at different areas is determined from a variety of parameters such as age, weight, height, pain areas etc.
Will everyone wear these?
More than 2500+ people are wearing shapecrunch’s insoles for foot problems, for sports, marathoners and some just for comfort. For each of our customers, a fully customized solution has been provided to improve biomechanics. So definitely, it should be worn by everyone who needs them.
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have just made a bioprinting breakthrough in vessel and duct replacement. A new process enables them to mimic the precise nutrient flow for vascular tissues and urothelial tissues using printed tubular structures. Eventually, the research could play a massive role in fighting diseases such as arthritis or other muscular disorders. The […]
With the growing need to educate young people about new technologies many public institutions are stepping up to the plate. Public school systems and workshops have existed for a long time, but now even museums are getting in on the action. Becker County Museum is hosting a robotics and 3D printing summer camp for 7-14 year […]
When you’re a kid, the writing utensil you use day in and day out is probably chosen more for its fun factor than for anything else. Case in point – when I was in junior high, I had oodles of those colorful gel pens that were so popular in the 90s, along with one or two fluffy pens with feathers on top. However, once I got to high school, teachers were a little less amused at grading homework that had been completed in all colors of the rainbow, so I switched to pens with only blue or black ink; however, someone did gift me a pen that wrote in blue ink but had a smiling pig on top and little extendable arms wearing boxing gloves on the side.
But the older you get, the more you leave the fuzzy, colorful, pig punching pens in the past and start to appreciate pens more for their functionality and quality of ink more than anything else. But, this doesn’t mean that nice pens can’t still be veritable works of art.
TypeONE (Black, Silver Grey, display; dots are carmine red)
3D printing makes it easy to customize daily use products like pens. Rein van der Mast, a Dutch technologist and designer, is capitalizing on the technology, and using it to disrupt the way that fountain pens – the most elegant of all writing utensils, in my opinion – are made.
van der Mast, who was one of the jury members for the Additive Manufacturing Challenge in 2016, just introduced the TypeONE, anfountain pen that happens to be 3D printed. But, the TypeONE pen also has a unique, patent-pending surprise – what the designer is calling the world’s first 3D printed titanium nib on the end.
“The pen is made in a rather traditional way, because even though most tools have become digital, they still have to be guided by human hands,” van der Mast explained. “In addition, the finishing and adjustment of the 3D-printed nib is done manually by craftsmen with great care.”
When it comes to 3D printed fountain pens, van der Mast knows what he’s talking about. He developed his first one back in 2013, and followed up this creation with a 3D printed fountain pen nib in 2016.
The 3D printed TypeONE fountain pen has been brought to the commercial market by 3Dimensions, which is a partnership between van der Mast, owner of renowned fountain pen shop La Couronne du Comte Dennis van de Graaf, and Bart Koster, a pen distributor who owns Promo2000 – the umbrella name for promotional printing gift webshops.
As previously mentioned, the nib of the TypeONE fountain pen is 3D printed in titanium, and has already been confirmed by several fountain pen collectors as being “very pleasant to write with,” according to the 3Dimensions website. van der Mast’s approach to 3D printed nib manufacturing is fairly innovative, as the nib’s raised edges and slit help to evenly distribute the ink every time the pen is used. The 3Dimensions logo on the side of the TypeONE is also 3D printed out of titanium, while the other visible parts of the pen are 3D printed out of strong, durable PA12 plastic material.
The 3D printed TypeONE fountain pen is currently available in two versions – silvery grey and black, both of which have a sparkling effect from the small aluminum particles that fill the PA12 material the pen is 3D printed in. For the more serious fountain pen collectors, you can also purchase a 3D printed display for the TypeONE, which is made up of a non-uniform 3D lattice structure.
In an effort to emphasize what van der Mast refers to as “the small-series-character” of the 3D printing process, 3Dimensions will only be fabricating a small number of each version of the pen – just 99, to be exact. Each limited edition pen will have a unique serial number 3D printed in its barrel, making it a lovely addition to any fountain pen collection.
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.
We’re sharing some business news in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, followed by some interesting research and a cool 3D printed statue. Meld was listed as a finalist in the R&D 100 Awards, and Renishaw has introduced 3D printed versions to its styli range, while there’s an ongoing Digital Construction Grant competition happening in the UK. A researcher from Seoul Tech published a paper about in situ hydrogel in the field of click chemistry, while researchers in Canada focused on the Al10SiMg alloy for their study. Finally, an Arcam technician tested the Q20plus EBM 3D printer by making a unique titanium statue of Thomas Edison.
Meld is R&D 100 Awards Finalist
The global R&D 100 Awards have gone on for 56 years, highlighting the top 100 innovations each year in categories including Process/Prototyping, IT/Electrical, Mechanical Devices/Materials, Analytical/Test, and Software/Services, in addition to Special Recognition Awards for things like Green Tech and Market Disruptor Products. This year, over 50 judges from various industries selected finalists for the awards, one of which is MELD Manufacturing, an already award-winning company with a unique, patented no-melt process for altering, coating, joining, repairing, and 3D printing metal.
“Our mission with MELD is to revolutionize manufacturing and enable the design and manufacture of products not previously possible. MELD is a whole new category of additive manufacturing,” said MELD Manufacturing Corporation CEO Nanci Hardwick. “For example, we’re able to work with unweldable materials, operate our equipment in open-atmosphere, produce much larger parts that other additive processes, and avoid the many issues associated with melt-based technologies.”
The winners will be announced during a ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando on November 16th.
Renishaw Introduces 3D Printed Styli
This month, Renishaw introduced a 3D printed stylus version to its already wide range of available styli. The company uses its metal powder bed fusion technology to provide customers with complex, turnkey styli solutions in-house, with the ability to access part features that other styli can’t reach. 3D printing helps to decrease the lead time for custom styli, and can manufacture strong but lightweight titanium styli with complex structures and shapes. Female titanium threads (M2/M3/M4/M5) can be added to fit any additional stylus from Renishaw’s range, and adding a curved 3D printed stylus to its REVO 5-axis inspection system provides flexibility when accessing a component’s critical features. Components with larger features need a larger stylus tip, which Renishaw can now provide in a 3D printed version.
“For precision metrology, there is no substitute for touching the critical features of a component to gather precise surface data,” Renishaw wrote. “Complex parts often demand custom styli to inspect difficult-to-access features. AM styli can access features of parts that other styli cannot reach, providing a flexible, high-performance solution to complex inspection challenges.”
Digital Construction Grant Competition
Recently, a competition opened up in the UK for organizations in need of funding to help increase productivity, performance, and quality in the construction sector. As part of UK Research and Innovation, the organization Innovate UK – a fan of 3D printing – will invest up to £12.5 million on innovative projects meant to help improve and transform construction in the UK. Projects must be led by a for-profit business in the UK, begin this December and end up December of 2020, and address the objectives of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund on Transforming Construction. The competition is looking specifically for projects that can improve the construction lifecycle’s three main stages:
Designing and managing buildings through digitally-enabled performance management
Constructing quality buildings using a manufacturing approach
Powering buildings with active energy components and improving build quality
Projects that demonstrate scalable solutions and cross-sector collaboration will be prioritized, and results should lead to a more streamlined process that decreases delays, saves on costs, and improves outputs, productivity, and collaborations. The competition closes at noon on Wednesday, September 19. You can find more information here.
Click Bioprinting Research
Researcher Janarthanan Gopinathan with the Seoul University of Science Technology (Seoul Tech) published a study about click chemistry, which can be used to create multifunctional hydrogel biomaterials for bioprinting ink and tissue engineering applications. These materials can form 3D printable hydrogels that are able to retain live cells, even under a swollen state, without losing their mechanical integrity. In the paper, titled “Click Chemistry-Based Injectable Hydrogels and Bioprinting Inks for Tissue Engineering Applications,” Gopinathan says that regenerative medicine and tissue engineering applications need biomaterials that can be quickly and easily reproduced, are able to generate complex 3D structures that mimic native tissue, and be biodegradable and biocompatible.
“In this review, we present the recent developments of in situ hydrogel in the field of click chemistry reported for the tissue engineering and 3D bioinks applications, by mainly covering the diverse types of click chemistry methods such as Diels–Alder reaction, strain-promoted azide-alkyne cycloaddition reactions, thiol-ene reactions, oxime reactions and other interrelated reactions, excluding enzyme-based reactions,” the paper states.
“Interestingly, the emergence of click chemistry reactions in bioink synthesis for 3D bioprinting have shown the massive potential of these reaction methods in creating 3D tissue constructs. However, the limitations and challenges involved in the click chemistry reactions should be analyzed and bettered to be applied to tissue engineering and 3D bioinks. The future scope of these materials is promising, including their applications in in situ 3D bioprinting for tissue or organ regeneration.”
Analysis of Solidification Patterns and Microstructural Developments for Al10SiMg Alloy
a) Secondary SEM surface shot of Al10SiMg powder starting stock, (b) optical micrograph and (c) high-magnification secondary SEM image of the cross-sectional view of the internal microstructure with the corresponding inset shown in (ci); (d) the printed sample and schematic representation of scanning strategy; The bi-directional scan vectors in Layer n+1 are rotated by 67° counter clockwise with respect to those at Layer n.
The paper also characterizes the evolution of the α-Al cellular network, grain structure and texture development, and brought to light many interesting facts, including that the grains’ orientation will align with that of the α-Al cells.
The abstract reads, “A comprehensive analysis of solidification patterns and microstructural development is presented for an Al10SiMg sample produced by Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF). Utilizing a novel scanning strategy that involves counter-clockwise rotation of the scan vector by 67° upon completion of each layer, a relatively randomized cusp-like pattern of protruding/overlapping scan tracks has been produced along the build direction. We show that such a distribution of scan tracks, as well as enhancing densification during LPBF, reduces the overall crystallographic texture in the sample, as opposed to those normally achieved by commonly-used bidirectional or island-based scanning regimes with 90° rotation. It is shown that, under directional solidification conditions present in LPBF, the grain structure is strictly columnar throughout the sample and that the grains’ orientation aligns well with that of the α-Al cells. The size evolution of cells and grains within the melt pools, however, is shown to follow opposite patterns. The cells’/grains’ size distribution and texture in the sample are explained via use of analytical models of cellular solidification as well as the overall heat flow direction and local solidification conditions in relation to the LPBF processing conditions. Such a knowledge of the mechanisms upon which microstructural features evolve throughout a complex solidification process is critical for process optimization and control of mechanical properties in LPBF.”
Co-authors include Hong Qin, Vahid Fallah, Qingshan Dong, Mathieu Brochu, Mark R. Daymond, and Mark Gallerneault.
3D Printed Titanium Thomas Edison Statue
Thomas Edison statue, stacked and time lapse build
Oskar Zielinski, a research and development technician at Arcam EBM, a GE Additive company, is responsible for maintaining, repairing, and modifying the company’s electron beam melting (EBM) 3D printers. Zielinski decided that he wanted to test out the Arcam EBM Q20plus 3D printer, but not with just any old benchmark test. Instead, he decided to create and 3D print a titanium (Ti64) statue of Thomas Edison, the founder of GE. He created 25 pieces and different free-floating net structures inside each of the layers, in order to test out the 3D printer’s capabilities. All 4,300 of the statue’s 90-micron layers were 3D printed in one build over a total of 90 hours, with just minimal support between the slices’ outer skins.
The statue stands 387 mm tall, and its interior net structures show off the kind of complicated filigree work that EBM 3D printing is capable of producing. In addition, Zielinski also captured a time lapse, using an Arcam LayerQam, from inside the 3D printer of the statue being printed.
“I am really happy with the result; this final piece is huge,” Zielinski said. “I keep wondering though what Thomas Edison would have thought if someone would have told him during the 19th century about the technology that exists today.”
Discuss these stories and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.
The abstract states, “Additive Manufacturing allows for faster, lower cost product development including customization, print at point of use, and low cost per volume produced. This research uses Stereolithography produced prototypes to develop an improvement to an existing product, the internal pressure relief valve of a positive displacement pump. Four 3D printed prototype assemblies were developed and tested in this research. The relief valve assemblies consisted of additive manufacturing produced pressure vessel components, post processed, and installed on the positive displacement pump with no additional machining. Prototype designs were analyzed with Computational Fluid Dynamic simulation to increase flow through the valve. The simulation was validated with performance testing to reduce the cracking to full bypass pressure range of the valve. By reducing this operational range of the valve, the power requirement of the pump drive system could be reduced allowing for increased energy efficiency in pump drive systems. Performance testing of the 3D printed relief valves measured pump flow, poppet movement within the valve, and discharge pressure at operational conditions similar to existing applications. The Stereolithography prototype assemblies performed very well, demonstrating a 56% reduction in the pressure differential of the cracking to full bypass stage of the valve. This research has demonstrated the short term ability of additive manufactured produced components to replace existing metal components in pressure vessel applications.”
The gear found inside positive displacement pumps, developed over a century ago, was able to overcome existing performance limitations, but it was by no means perfect. These pumps need an internal relief valve, which provide protection against too much pressure; if there’s a reduction in discharge flow, the over-pressure system could fail.
“The primary focus of this research is to investigate the performance of an internal relief valve for a positive displacement pump, propose an improvement to flow conditions in the cracking to full bypass pressure range of the valve based on flow simulation and validate the performance improvement with 3D printed prototypes,” Dutcher wrote.
SLA Part Production
Over the years, the design of the internal relief valve in these positive displacements pumps has not changed much. But by using computer simulation, the design can be revised and optimized to make the part more efficient. As he wrote in his paper, Dutcher’s research validates the 3D printed prototypes, using Computational Fluid Dynamics simulation and perfrmance testing, “in the design development of an improvement to an existing product,” and also shows that costs and time can both be reduced by using 3D printing to manufacture the valve.
“Additive manufacturing has the benefit of customization, allowing for design changes,” Dutcher wrote.
“Developing customizable end use components that can manufactured at the point of use, allows for application specific products to be produced for pressure vessel applications.”
The valve prototypes, 3D printed using SLA technology, were shown to reduce the amount of cracking in order to fully bypass the stage differential pressure that’s necessary to operate the internal relief valve. FDM 3D printing was used to make mounting brackets to attach an LVDT sensor to the valve prototypes; this sensor measures the movement of the poppet (internal device in the relief valve that seals its surface) during testing.
Assembled Reference Valve Extended
In his thesis, Dutcher wanted to determine if 3D printing could successfully be used to produce components of a test valve for the positive displacement pump, if the valve’s geometry was able to be optimized to reduce cracking based on flow conditions, and if the 3D printed prototype valves would perform at the same level as existing ones made with conventional methods of manufacturing. Ultimately, while he did answer these questions and demonstrated that 3D printing does indeed have applications in developing new products, his research provided a viable proof of concept for improving the existing design of a product.
“The 3D printed prototypes were developed to reduce cost and delivery lead time for prototype testing,” Dutcher wrote.
“The flexibility in design permutations that additive manufacturing allows with customization provides the opportunity to validate multiple product designs in parallel.”
SLA Support Structures
By using 3D printing to create the prototypes, Dutcher was able to develop several different design concepts at the same time, without getting caught up by the normal barriers that come with traditional manufacturing methods. SLA 3D printing also makes it possible to produce parts with “the dimensional tolerances of machined components,” which helps speed up the development of prototypes.
“This research has demonstrated the SLA 3D printing’s ability to reproduce existing machined metal components,” Dutcher concluded. “While extended performance testing was not the intent of this research, the 3D printed pressure vessel valve components performed very well in performance testing. The development of the design variations in timely manor would not have been possible without Additive Manufacturing. Testing has shown an improvement in the valve performance by reducing the cracking to full bypass pressure from 52.0 psi to 22.8 psi. The successful performance test to improve an existing product demonstrated the validity of the SLA 3D printed prototype assemblies.”
Discuss this research and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.
Jason from CodeKitty wrote in to tell us what the organization is up to:
Hello! We are a Twin Cities, Minnesota (USA) based technology
education 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit. Our mission is to make coding
and engineering skills accessible to everyone (especially targeting girls
and underrepresented groups) by providing donation-funded (or free) coding
workshops using our extremely low cost 3D printed robot. Our workshop is a
$50 suggested donation per attendee and includes the robot, so that Every
Kid Gets a Robot. So far we have given away around 100 robots in this
fashion, and provided our workshop for both students as young as second
grade, and for teachers as Professional Development (in a meta-workshop
We are constantly working to simplify our robot, and the currently released
model is based around your excellent Trinket m0 board, a custom designed
(oshpark fabricated) breakout board, and 360 degree microservos). The
challenge we have as a very small non-profit is that I design and
manufacture all of the robot kits by hand myself, including reflow and hand
soldering all of the breakout boards. Although the Trinket m0 is very low
cost, the time and materials cost of self-manufacturing our trinket breakout
board raises our costs substantially, and our total cost of this model of
our robot is $27.54, not factoring in any cost or value at all for the
considerable amount of time i spend making them.
The Code Kitty robot is a 3D printed robot designed to help teach kids coding. It was developed by the Code Kitty non-profit because we wanted there to be a robot cheap enough for every kid to have one and learn the joy of engineering, coding, and robotics! We offer the robot to participants of our workshop, or sell complete robot kits under a “buy one/give one” program for $50.
Although the 3D printed parts of the robot are the same, there are two “builds” of the electronics of the robot: The “Workshop Build” and the “DIY Build”. In either case you will need to print one base, one face, one tail, two wheels and two hubcaps. We recommend combining all of the parts you want to be the same color into one print job, and the parts are small enough that the entire robot can be printed in two print jobs on most 3D printers.
They’re doing great things and you can always check out what they’re up to here.