3D Printed Prosthetics To Offer Hope to People in War-Ravaged Countries

A shelf with test and rejected hands at the Jordanian hospital.

Approximately 86,000 Syrians have lost limbs during the last seven years of war in their country, according to the World Health Organization and Handicap International (now known as Humanity & Inclusion). In Jordan, which borders on Syria, the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Foundation is working to bring 3D printed prosthetics to as many of those people as possible, as well as to patients from Jordan, Yemen and Iraq. Some of these patients have congenital conditions, but many of them have been wounded in the war.

The MSF Foundation initiated the program in 2016, and this year has been focusing more on field testing the devices in the real world.

“We see it as our duty to bring scientific evidence to what remains until now, a feeling,” said Director Clara Nordon.

The $150,000-per-year program is working to provide better alternatives to conventional prosthetics, which can be clunky, heavy, and uncomfortable. 3D printing offers more lightweight, well-fitted devices that can be easily upgraded or replaced as children grow, and can be made in appealing colors or patterns. The program is also seeing success at using 3D printing to make face masks to help burn patients heal.

The ability to easily create perfectly customized prosthetics that fit each individual patient is an often-touted benefit of 3D printing, but according to Nordon, more credit should be given to 3D scanning technology.

“Now what is really a breakthrough is not so much the printer but rather the scanner!” she said. “It opens hundreds of leads to optimise tele-expertise, remote advice, and actual remote designing.”

Imagine that – professionals being able to design and create custom prosthetics for patients without ever actually having to be in the same room – or country – as them. This enables experts from across the world to weigh in on treatment – which is not to take anything away from the dedicated individuals actually present in clinics like the one in Jordan, but allows them to take advantage of a full range of expertise that may not be available in person.

The MSF Foundation is not the only organization hard at work to provide prosthetics to people affected by war. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provided prosthetics to more than 22,000 conflict-affected people in 2016, and has been developing and field testing 3D printed prosthetic components. ICRC’s Innovation Lead, Nan Buzard, cautions against getting over-excited about the technology, however. There’s certainly plenty to be excited about, but many people don’t realize how much regulation is required before 3D printed prosthetics can be more widely implemented. Many countries require assistive medical devices to pass international certification.

A Syrian man is fitted for a prosthetic arm.

In addition, most 3D printed prosthetics have been hands and arms; while plenty of people benefit from upper-limb prosthetics, there are still many, many others who have lost legs or feet. In fact, 95 percent of ICRC’s amputee patients have lost all or part of their lower limbs. Lower limb prosthetics must be stronger than upper limb prosthetics, as they must bear the weight of the body, and thus are more difficult to create using 3D printing. 3D printing materials are evolving and becoming stronger, making 3D printed lower limb prosthetics more feasible, but developing them is still much more challenging than creating 3D printed hands and arms.

Occupational therapist Noor al-Khatib teaches a patient how to tie his shoelaces with only one hand.

Handicap International has tested 3D printed sockets on patients with below-the-knee amputations in Madagascar, Syria, and Togo. Costs were higher than conventional prosthetic methods, although the MSF Foundation has reported deep savings on 3D printed prosthetics. Feedback from patients was positive, however, and according to Handicap International, the sockets met structural and medical requirements. Several issues still need to be evaluated, the organization states, including a review of technical training needs; cost of raw materials and workshop space; costs of scanners and printers; and speed and effectiveness of fittings.

For all of the issues that still need to be addressed, though, there’s no denying the effect that 3D printed prosthetics have had on people in need. Violence across Syria and other countries continues to take lives and severely impact others, but losing one or more limbs, while life-changing, doesn’t need to be life-ruining.

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[Source: IRIN/Images: Ben Parker]

 

How Economically Viable is 3D Printing Concrete For Construction?

3D printed concrete construction is becoming a practice that is being taken more seriously than ever before, as bridges, houses and other structures are being printed and shown to be effective. A new study entitled “Practice-oriented buildability criteria for developing 3D-printable concretes in the context of digital construction” takes a look at the process of digital construction (DC) and presents what it calls buildability criteria, taking various process parameters and construction costs into consideration.

“A systematic basis for calculating the time interval (TI) to be followed during laboratory testing is proposed for the full-width printing (FWP) and filament printing (FP) processes,” the researchers state. “The proposed approach is validated by applying it to a high-strength, printable, fine-grained concrete. Comparative analyses of FWP and FP revealed that to test the buildability of a material for FP processes, higher velocities of the printhead should be established for laboratory tests in comparison to those needed for FWP process, providing for equal construction rates.”

Full-width printing is defined as a process in which “the breadth of the extrudate is equal to that of the target element,” while in filament printing “the breadth of the extrudate is many times smaller than the the breadth of the target element.” For both processes, three primary requirements are defined: pumpability, extrudability and buildability. Buildability is the ability of the concrete material to retain its shape and size under sustained or increasing loads. It’s a complex property, according to the researchers, that depends on material composition as well as process parameters such as layer geometry.

Three process parameters define buildability criteria:

  • the height of the wall to be printed
  • the height of each layer or the total number of layers to be printed
  • the time interval (TI) between subsequent layers

“The height of the experimental wall was calculated using the aspect ratio of the target construction element,” the researchers explain. “Maximum time interval was determined considering the minimum printing velocity needed for DC to be economically viable in comparison with conventional construction.”

The buildability of an experimental 16-layer wall was validated with a maximum time interval of approximately 52 minutes. The buildability of any given material, the researchers explain, depends not only on the target structure but on the applied printing process or approach. Analysis showed that the buildability of a material for FP processes should be tested at higher velocities of the printhead than for FWP.

Over the course of the paper, the researchers take several factors into consideration, including machine, labor and material costs to quantify the economic viability of digital construction processes. They also name several issues as potential for ongoing research, such as validation of the approach with full-scale printing tests, as well as simplification of the proposed approach and direct buildability tests at various ambient conditions, including temperature, humidity and wind velocity.

For example the team looks at printing full width or using filament to print a line at a time and conclude that higher speeds would be needed for the filament method to equal the total build speed of a full width approach. They also look at concrete drying times and what the required interval would be between layers for those layers to be buildable. For their experiments the team calculated a construction cost of 130.00 €/m3. This means that, “the material costs are 70 % higher in comparison to the material costs for ordinary concrete of the strength 535 class C25/30 in conventional construction.” Based on a test object they also calculate which build speeds would be needed in order for 3D printing to be more economical than regular construction methods. In their case their test printer could be cost efficient in time and money at less than 540 m/h. This takes into account the higher material cost and two operators for the machine (three if multistory construction is required). The machine costs of their printer were estimated at 140 Euro per hour. The team also looked at Travelling Salesman Problem trype solutions to make their toolpaths more efficient.

Studies like this one are important in the continuing development of 3D printed concrete construction, as experts work out the best ways to make the technology as economically viable as possible, not to mention safe and effective. Many wild claims about 3D printed construction exist, but when it comes down to it, many factors have to be taken into consideration to ensure that it is, in fact, an optimally effective technology.

Authors of the paper include Venkatesh Naidu Nerella, Martin Krause, and Viktor Mechtcherine.

Discuss this story and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the comments below. 

 

 

Voxeljet Adds New Materials to HSS Printing Portfolio

Prolific additive manufacturing systems manufacturer Voxeljet AG is expanding the materials remit of its HSS printing tech. The company is adding TPU and Polypropylene to its high-speed sintering devices and evaluating their effectiveness with industrial partners in the sports and automotive fields. PP and TPU offer new opportunities for various companies due to their impressive […]

The post Voxeljet Adds New Materials to HSS Printing Portfolio appeared first on 3D Printing.

MIT, Yale and University of Nottingham examine environment impact of 3D printing

In a special issue of Yale University’s Journal of Industrial Ecology, researchers present further analysis on the environmental performance of 3D printing. According to Tim Gutowski, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), “there is limited quantitative analysis of the environmental performance of 3D printing. Much of it focuses only on […]

3D Printing News Sliced, Volkswagen, Dassault Systèmes, FORMNEXT and more

Today’s digest of the latest 3D printing industry news contains updates from Volkswagen, Dassault Systèmes and Roboze. There is also an new opportunity for educators and students working in the area of advanced manufacturing. Innovation awards on CBS The Science + Innovation Awards (SIA) is accepting nominations for two awards to be presented by Manufacturing […]

Working Laser Cannon Arm From ‘Metroid’ #WearableWednesday

This super detailed functional arm cannon was shared by Hyper_Ion on Instructables. The demo shows laser blasting Metroids disguised as black balloons so be careful with this project!

There aren’t many video game characters quite as awesome as Samus. Universe saving bounty hunter with one of the coolest weapons in all of sciFi. When I saw Instructables was hosting a Video Game based competition, I immediately knew it was her weapon I wanted to make a reality.

And this is the result! This laser cannon is powerful enough to easily destroy a balloon instantly, ignite flammable materials on contact, and even cut through thin plastic! Not to mention it is easily visible in air. It even has light and sound effects!

Enjoy!

****Warning. This is not a toy. Lasers should always be treated with the utmost respect. The laser core was deigned to be used in small laser cutters. Always wear adequate eye protection, and never point it at or near a living thing.It will cause serious burns on contact. Use common sense.****

FI0FWT8JLCKHSIN LARGE

You can check out the full build on Instructables.


Flora breadboard is Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!

3D Printing Composite Ceramics with FDM and Sintering

Left: pure zirconia; middle: zirconia/metal composite; right: pure metal

Additive manufacturing has rapidly become more advanced than it used to be, moving far beyond the days when components could only be 3D printed out of a single plastic or metal material. Now other materials, such as ceramics, can be 3D printed as well. Ceramics 3D printing has progressed quickly in the past few years, and ceramic materials with different properties can now be combined. A paper entitled “Hybridization of Materials and Processes by Additive Manufacturing” takes a look at the 3D printing of ceramics with different colors or pore structures, and even ceramics with stainless steel added.

In the study, the researchers chose two feedstock-based 3D printing methods for combining either porous and dense ceramic components, black and white zirconia or stainless steel and zirconia. For the first method, FFF 3D printing, a dual-nozzle 3D printer was used; the first print head was loaded with zirconia filament and the second was loaded with a 17-4PH stainless steel filament. The same parameters were used to print both materials, though the print head temperatures differed slightly.

Cuboid samples were 3D printed, alternating the materials every two or three layers. The samples were then debinded and sintered, leading to dense, well-bonded parts.

In another procedure, the researchers used thermoplastic 3D printing, which combines the advantages of FFF, robocasting and inkjet printing, using a dropwise deposition of a viscous thermoplastic material for building a ceramic component. This method has a number of advantages, including the following:

  • There are almost no restrictions concerning the applied powder material, because the consolidation of the droplets occurs by increasing the viscosity during cooling
  • Composite or multi-material objects can be printed by using two or more printing heads
  • By using a pure thermoplastic binder in one print head, support structures can be built up in parallel to the component
  • Completely dense ceramic components can be produced thanks to the high packing density in the green component
  • Small droplets enable a high resolution in critical volumes
  • Precise deposition of small droplets can be combined with fast jetting of molten suspensions

For their experiments the researchers prepared zirconia suspensions using nanoscale zirconia powder. To produce black and white components, another suspension was prepared using a TZ-Black powder. As a binder system, a mixture of paraffin and beeswax was used.

“The binder system and a dispersing agent were heated up to 100 °C and homogenized for 30 min in a heatable dissolver,” the researchers explain. “Then powder and if necessary pore forming agents (PFA) like polysaccharide were added and the suspensions were homogenized by stirring for 2 h at 100 °C.”

The samples were printed, debinded and sintered. After sintering, nearly dense and porous volumes were combined in one component. To illustrate the different porosities, the samples were placed in front of a light, with the more porous sections appearing darker.  Both approaches, FFF and thermoplastic 3D printing, allowed the researchers to create components with varied properties, whether that be material, porosity or color.

Authors of the paper include Tassilo Moritz, Uwe Scheithauer, Steven Weingarten, Johannes Abel, Robert Johne, Alexander Michaelis, Stefan Hampel and Santiago Cano Cano.

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

 

LINK3D launches Production Planning System for additive manufacturing workflow optimization

LINK3D, a New York-based 3D printing software developers, has launched a new production planning and manufacturing scheduling solution for its additive manufacturing workflow software. Powered by advanced Build Simulation and machine connectivity, the Production Planning System (PPS) is designed to aid users in maximizing machine utilization, track and trace yield, and capacity management. Shane Fox, Co-Founder and CEO […]

New Fusion 360 Tutorial! Turn EAGLE brd into 3D Models

So over the labor day weekend I spent some time playing with Autodesk library io, EAGLE and Fusion 360. I’ve made a few 3D PCB’s using the new Push To Fusion 360 features in Autodesk Eagle 9.X but hadn’t tried Library IO yet. There’s a lot of work going on there, to say the least! The package generator is a great way to create custom 3D models of components (think resistors, caps, QFN, SOT, SOD, SOIC, etc.). There’s quite a few package types, each with their own set of editable values. The dimensions in these comps are fully editable, via a text input along with a 3D preview. The package generators work fairly well and I’ll be using them more in future projects.

Be aware this is my workflow here and probably isn’t ideal. This is just a method I came up with and wanted to share. Ideally, I think having managed shared libraries is the way to go but for now, my Kit Bashing approach is working, yay!

Don’t forget, CAD files of Adafruit Board are on GitHub. Heres a link.

https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit_CAD_Parts

In this video I walk through the workflow of turning an adafruit board into a detailed 3D model. I use Autodesk Library IO to generate custom components to populate PCBs.

Adafruit CAP1188 Breakout
https://www.adafruit.com/product/1602

Adafruit CAD Parts on Github
https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit_CAD_Parts

EagleCAD Download
https://www.autodesk.com/products/eagle/free-download

Autodesk Eagle Library IO webinar video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJv2M4Z0exA

Library IO
https://library.io/

Fusion 360 Download
https://www.autodesk.com/products/fusion-360/overview

3D Printing News Briefs: September 4, 2018

In the first 3D Printing News Briefs for this month, we’re starting with some education and business, followed by some how-to videos and a couple of things to ponder. PrintLab’s curriculum is going global, while the province of Victoria in Australia has invested in 3D printing. A Ukrainian company has introduced a new type of metal 3D printing, and you can learn how to cast concrete 3D printed molds and make an etched glass build surface for your 3D printer by checking out two new YouTube videos. There could be even more uses for construction 3D printing than previously thought, and a thermal view of a model being 3D printed on an Ultimaker begs an important question.

PrintLab Portal Available in Polish

3D printing curriculum provider PrintLab, based in the UK, set up an online portal in January, called PrintLab Classroom, to help teachers better integrate 3D printing into their lesson plans. Now that the English version of the learning platform has been successfully launched, PrintLab is working to offer the curriculum portal in multiple languages. Now, thanks to a collaboration with Polish 3D technology and education supplier Paxer, a new PrintLab reseller, the platform is available in Polish, with translations in Spanish and Chinese in the works.

“After a great deal of initial interest and success, we are very pleased to be able to offer our curriculum to Polish students and educators. Our mission has always been to prepare the next generation for their future careers by addressing the widening skills gap and we are now able to do this across multiple regions. Our focus is on finding partners that share our belief and vision and in Paxer, we have found a motivated team that has technology in education at its core,” said Nick Mayor, Co-Founder at PrintLab.

“The aim is to inspire students and teachers around the world to adopt technology into lessons. We have started with Polish, however that is just the beginning. Spanish and Chinese translation is currently being undertaken which is part of our plan of inspiring minds on a global scale and providing teachers worldwide with comprehensive lesson packages, developed alongside teachers.”

New Virtual 3D Printing Hub in Victoria

The manufacturing industry in Victoria, the second most populous state in Australia, contributes $27.7 billion to the Victorian economy. Now, businesses there will be able to connect with additive manufacturing technology and produce products more easily and quickly, thanks to a new dedicated virtual hub. Ben Carroll, the Minister for Industry and Employment, joined Member for Carrum, Sonya Kilkenny, at the Carrum Downs facility of 3D printing company Objective3D to make the announcement this week. The hub, supported by $2 million from the Victorian Government and delivered by Australian Manufacturing Technology Institute Limited – a national body representing manufacturing technology suppliers and users – should improve access for local companies to the state’s 3D printing infrastructure.

Carroll said, “3D printing is a game changer for manufacturing – which is why we’re backing the technology so more local companies can reap the benefits.

“This new hub will help local manufactures innovate, become more productive and excel in future industries.”

xBeam Metal 3D Printing

Ukrainian company NVO Chervona Hvilya has a new form of metal 3D printing it calls xBeam, which it says “was born to make the best features of Additive Manufacturing available for wide industrial community and to prove that definition of Additive manufacturing as the Third Industrial Revolution is reality.” The company has spent roughly four decades developing electron beam technologies for multiple applications, and its exclusive xBeam technology was born from this experience.

With xBeam, the company says you won’t have to decide between high productivity, accuracy, and a defect-free metal structure – its patented solution delivers all three. xBeam is based on the ability of a gas-discharge electron beam gun to generate a hollow, conical beam, which can offer “unique physical conditions for precisely controllable metal deposition and forming of desired metal structure in produced 3D metal part.”

Using 3D Printed Molds to Create Cast Concrete Products

Industrial designer Rob Chesney, the founder of New Zealand-based bespoke design and fabrication studio Further Fabrication, recently published a tutorial on the studio’s YouTube channel about creating cast concrete objects and products with 3D printed molds and no silicone at all. For the purposes of the video, Chesney used 3D printed molds for faceted candle holders.

“In the first half of this video we’re gonna deal with the design and the creation of the molds using the computer and 3D printing,” Chesney said. “In the second half we’ll show you how you go about casting products with some tips and tricks thrown in there along the way.”

To learn how to make your own cast concrete candle holder with a 3D printed mold, check out the Further Fabrication video:

Etched Glass Build Plate

Another new video tutorial, this time by YouTube user MrDabrudda, shows viewers how to make an etched glass build surface for a 3D printer. What’s even better, the plate does not require you to use tape, a glue stick, or even hairspray to get your prints to adhere to it.

“So I’m tired of having to respray the hairspray on my glass bed for my 3D printer, so what I’m doing is taking a 180 grit diamond stone and a tub of water, and I’m going around on here and roughing this up,” MrDabrudda said.

To learn the rest of the process, check out the rest of the video:

Construction 3D Printing Uses

A 3D printed Volvo CE workshop tool

While there are still those who may think that construction 3D printing is all hype, that’s not the case. Sure, maybe it’s not possible to create a fully 3D printed house in a day in every country in the world, but we’re already able to create large-scale, 3D printed objects, with impressive lifespans and tensile strengths, out of a multitude of materials. There are also other applications in construction 3D printing than just houses. Caterpillar has long been interested in 3D printing, and thanks to its early work in research engineering cells, prototyping, and 3D printing tools for the assembly line, it’s now moved into commercial production of nearly 100 components; however, all but one were made of polymers.

“We’ve made a lot of progress with this technology, but not to the point where we are comfortable putting it into, for example, safety equipment or the manufacture of large metal parts, although we are doing a lot of research in that area,” said Don Jones, Caterpillar’s General Manager, Global Parts Strategy and Transformation.

Another OEM with developed 3D printing capabilities is Volvo CE, which stands for Construction Equipment. As of right now, the company has 3D printed spare parts such as plastic coverings, cab elements, and sections of air conditioning units.

“It’s especially good for older machines where the parts that have worn out are no longer made efficiently in traditional production methods,” said Jasenko Lagumdzija, Volvo CE’s manager of Business Support. “Producing new parts by 3D printing cuts down on time and costs, so it’s an efficient way of helping customers.”

Can Thermal Imaging Improve 3D Printing Results?

Usually when I think of thermal imaging, the movie Predator immediately comes to mind – the alien creature tracked its human prey by their body heat signatures. But this technology can also be applied to 3D printing. About two years ago, CNC machine manufacturing company Thermwood Corporation added real-time thermographic imaging as a standard feature on its LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing) systems. This imaging makes it far easier to adjust and control the entire 3D printing process, which will result in excellent 3D printed structures as a result.

Using thermal imaging can help create high-quality, large tools that are solid and void-free enough to maintain a vacuum, without any necessary surface coating or sealing. To ensure good prints, the temperature of the print surface needs to be controlled, which is tricky to do. But thermal imaging can help operators remain in the optimal range of temperatures. Thermwood seems to be ahead of the times with its thermal imaging capabilities.

A new video was recently posted by YouTube user Julian Danzer showing a large BFR winged rear section model being fabricated on an Ultimaker 3D printer; the video switches about 30 seconds in to a thermal view of the print job. The quality isn’t great, but it makes me think – should all 3D printers come standard with FLIR cameras now? If thermal imaging can really help improve the results of 3D prints, my answer is yes. What do you think?

Discuss these stories and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.