Dutch City Creates First Habitable 3D Printed Houses

These days, it’s as if my childhood fantasies are all coming true — surprisingly enough, through architecture. I’ve always wanted to go to a school straight out of a fairytale: sprawling woods, fireflies, and all. I also remember being so captivated by paper dolls, wishing I was one so I could wear their printed dresses and pet their printed puppies and live in their colorful printed houses. Certainly that, too, doesn’t seem far-fetched anymore as a construction company launches an important project that will create 3D printed houses that are actually habitable.

Dutch company Van Wijnen calls the endeavor Project Milestone and it is being executed in an area near the city of Eindhoven.

Currently, there are five houses in total, each with a unique shape and size that shows off the flexibility of the cutting-edge tech. Since the printer is essentially a giant concrete nozzle that moves along a two-dimensional track high up in the air, architects are able to design homes in pretty much any shape they like.

How is the construction done, you ask? First, the pieces of the house are printed off-site then brought to the area for assembly. That’s pretty much it. The team, however, hopes they will be able to bring the printer on-site soon for more convenient adjustments. This entire process results in a far smaller timeframe than the usual building structure, which takes months and months.

The simplified assembly isn’t the only advantage 3D printing has to offer over conventional building methods. The process requires less workers, keeping costs down and accidents to a minimum. Further, the amount of cement, and transportation required are kept to a bare minimum, reducing the environmental impact.

Of course, improvements on structural integrity and environmental impact are continuously being researched. With the 3D technology behind printed houses still developing, we can’t really expect new villages or cities to suddenly sprout up from the ground (or the printer). But one thing is for sure, this is a game-changer for architecture.

And well, maybe, another: let’s just say kids like me who grew up on paper dolls and other kids who grew up playing The Sims will be very elated.

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Man Builds Free Prosthetics For Kids

We all know prosthetics don’t make for an affordable buy. They start at roughly $1,500 for animals, which means devices for humans are expectedly high-priced. To ease the physical and financial burden on young amputees, Stephen Davis builds them prosthetics — for free!

“We build them in a range of colors, whatever the child needs,” Designs he’s created have included Iron Man, Lego, and Spider-Man themes. He’s even built glow-in-the-dark arms.

When Davis posted online about the lack of options for people who needed prosthetics, an e-NABLE volunteer named Drew Murray saw his frustrations and together, they ended up building Team UnLimbited. The team uses a 3D printer to create the free prosthetics.

While the loss of a limb is definitely not cool, these funky prosthetic limbs sure seem to be. Davis, born without a left hand, covers the costs of printing himself, along with donations received by Team UnLimbited. He expects nothing in return (except maybe a sobbing parent).

“Our arms are specifically designed to stand out [and] show off a child’s personality,” Stephen [said] . . . They are also made to be easily usable and lightweight.

Did I mention his prosthetic template is free to use online? He may be modest, but Davis is nothing short of a miracle worker.

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3D-Printed House Is Affordable And Easy To Build

Who needs retail therapy when you have 3D printing? From furniture to electronics, the process has surpassed its own limits in just a few years. Now that brain tissue and functioning ears are part of 3D-printing catalogues, why not up the grandeur? Thanks to startup ICON, it’s totally possible to zap a 650 square foot home into existence in just under 24 hours.

“We have been building homes for communities in Haiti, El Salvador, and Bolivia,” [says] Alexandria Lafci, co-founder of New Story.

“It’s much cheaper than the typical American home,” [founder Jason] Ballard says.

ICON spends a modest $10,000 printing a single home, and aims to lower costs down to $4,000. The Austin-based group will initially bring houses into El Salvador and eventually the Americas. The modern huts will slash labor costs and produce minimal waste.

“(ICON) believes, as do I, that 3D printing is going to be a method for all kinds of housing,” [co-founder Alexandria Lafci] says.

If ICON can come up with affordable space habitats, I’d be the first off the planet.

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Goodyear Rolls Out Moss Tire That Helps Clean Air

Last year’s greatest catalog expansion was not that of your favorite shoes or sunglasses, but wheels. Yes, commercial car tires got the ultimate makeover in 2017, introducing anti-flat and airless masterpieces. But manufacturers haven’t run out of ideas yet, with Goodyear rolling out one of its most genius products yet. The rubber company is engineering a moss-covered tire that absorbs moisture and expels oxygen.

Goodyear says if a Paris-sized city, with around 2.5 million vehicles, used Oxygene tires then it would eliminate 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year while also producing more than 3,000 tons of oxygen.

With 80% of people residing in areas with dangerously high pollution levels, the roads could use a breather. The Oxygene is 3D-printed, shock-absorbent, and immune to perforations. Michelin might have to step its game up.

The tire also “harvests the energy generated during photosynthesis” to power an assortment of onboard sensors and electronics including a sidewall light strip and an artificial intelligence processing unit. The tire also has V2V and V2X technology which allows it to warn other vehicles about lane changes and other maneuvers.

Yep — if my wheels could keep me on time, wash my laundry remotely, and call my sister, I’d throw em on the shopping list.

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3D-Printed Ears Help Hearing Impaired Kids

Implants are becoming a thing of the past, now that it’s possible to 3D-print anything from brain tissue to teeth. While some remain dubious about the technology, Chinese scientists may convince them to think on the contrary. A Chinese lab has successfully incorporated 3D-printing methods to regrow underdeveloped ears using the patients’ own cells.

The researchers created a 3D-printed replica of each child’s normal ear… but … reversed. This replica was then used to create a mold littered with tiny holes and made out of biodegradable material. The mold was filled in with precursor cartilage cells taken from the children’s deformed ear that were further grown in the lab.

The ears grow over a 12-week process and are more restorative than cosmetic. Chinese researchers haven’t yet trialled the use of stem cells, but progress incredibly fast, which means its potential shouldn’t be far off. Five children have since undergone the experimental procedure.

“It’s a very exciting approach,” [said] Tessa Hadlock, a reconstructive plastic surgeon…“They’ve shown that it is possible to get close to restoring the ear structure.”

We’ve come a long way with reconstructive surgeries, and might I say — it’s music to my ears.

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3D Printed Algae Is The New Bioplastic

Powering motorcycles and stringing together running shoes, algae is the eco-material of the year. So far, it seems capable of almost anything. Taking the next step, Dutch designers are 3D printing the stuff in the hopes of replacing synthetic plastics.

“Our idea is that in the future there will be a shop on every street corner where you can ‘bake’ organic raw materials, just like fresh bread,” said [designer Eric] Klarenbeek.

If the concoction goes commercial, it can replace oils, which are vital in the production of bottles and containers. A complete cherry on top, algae is also highly absorbent of carbon dioxide, which makes production sustainable.

“In this relatively brief period, a vast amount of carbon dioxide has been released into the atmosphere, with damaging consequences. It is therefore important that we clean the CO2 from the atmosphere as quickly as possible and this can be done by binding the carbon to biomass.”

Along with partner Maartje Dros, Klarenbeek has been on a steady mission to create less wasteful industries. Why spend time on DIY furniture when you can simply grow them?

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Teen Invents AI System To Diagnose Eye Disease

The new generation of innovators is getting younger by the decade. If a thirteen-year-old can generate clean energy from traffic, what more can other kids do? Apparently this high school junior invented an artificial intelligence system to diagnose her grandfather’s eye disease.

Eyeagnosis [is] a smartphone app plus 3D-printed lens that seeks to change the diagnostic procedure from a 2-hour exam requiring a multi-thousand-dollar retinal imager to a quick photo snap with a phone.

[Kavya] Kopparapu and her team… trained an artificial intelligence system to recognize signs of diabetic retinopathy in photos of eyes and offer a preliminary diagnosis.

Medical jargon aside, the device would make testing more efficient and accessible. Kopparapu is also passionate about empowering young girls interested in computer science. She not only founded the Girls Computing League, she regularly hosts coding workshops for marginalized kids.

In order to create Eyeagnosis, Kopparapu did a lot of Googling and contacted numerous experts. She then taught a retired system to do the work.

In November, she shipped her first 3D-printed prototype for the system’s lens to the hospital. When fitted onto a smartphone, the lens focuses the phone’s diffuse, off-centered flash to best illuminate a retina. The complete Eyeagnosis system has already been tried on five patients at the hospital, and in each case it made an accurate diagnosis.

It may be intimidating to the older, non-techie generation, but the world of science could use more kids like Kopparapu.

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Clean Tire Uses No Air And Is Biodegradable

While recycled backpacks prove that car parts can be sustainable, the same can’t be said about tires. That is, until Michelin stepped in. The renowned automotive manufacturer has come out with a 3D printed clean tire that uses no air and is biodegradable.

The new Michelin VISION concept is a 3D-printed, airless, wheel-tire combination composed of organic, biodegradable materials, including orange zest, bamboo, molasses, wood, and natural rubber.

The eco-friendly tire eliminates the use of petroleum, which is hazardous when decomposing. Standard tires consume up to 38 liters of petroleum. VISION tires, because of their sustainable material, don’t need replacing.

It can be “recharged” as often as necessary with a new layer of treads; the 3D-printed treads can be tweaked to adapt to weather and road conditions.

Sensor chips will also allow mechanics to review information regarding usage of each tire. But like all new technologies, VISION requires less human intervention due to its 3D-printed nature. Will this mean a massive drop in employment? Michelin certainly hopes not — and anyway, they have nearly a decade to think about it, as VISION is not yet consumer-ready.

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Origami Organs: A Medical Breakthrough?

Organs are pretty versatile. We can 3D print them or grow them in labs, either way replicating functional body parts. Now, scientists have found a way to make them flexible enough to fold. In other words, origami organs exist.

“This new class of biomaterials has potential for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine as well as drug discovery and therapeutics,”

The team stumbled upon the idea for making organ-based paper after a lucky accident during their research on 3D-printed mice ovaries.

A chance spill of the hydrogel-based gelatin ink used to make the ovaries ended up pooling into a dry sheet in the bench lab, and from one strange innovation, another was born.

A mishap gone right, the bioactive “tissue paper” can potentially be used to heal wounds or supplement hormone production.

It’s a bit like papier-mâché… but what’s important is that the paper retains residual biochemicals from its protein-based origins, holding on to cellular properties from the specific organ it comes from.

As with all clinical experiments, origami organs need to undergo a lot of testing. However, a sterling sign of prospective success is the fact that the paper supports human stem cell growth. I guess paper cranes are now more than just an art form.

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Metal 3D Printer Is Better Than Laser Technology

We all know the power of 3D printing. If it can produce replacement limbs for animals and even mimic brain tissue, what can’t it do? The answer is simple but equally as frustrating. 3D printing doesn’t come cheap, nor is it very fast. But this metal 3D printer, which is 100 times quicker and costs 20 times less, could change that.

Desktop Metal just developed a new metal 3D printer that is reportedly faster, safer and cheaper than existing systems.

The parts go into a “de-binding bath” that separates a substantial portion of the binding polymer. The parts then go into a sintering furnace. When the product is heated to just below the melting point, the binding agent burns off and a highly dense, sintered metal is produced.

The impressive gadget doesn’t use metal powders or laser technology, making it safer to install. But the excitement doesn’t stop there. It’s reportedly better than NASA and Boeing’s laser-melted printer.

The mass production system is built for speed and definitely delivers. It is faster than machining, casting, forging or other techniques, and each production printer can produce up to 500 cubic inches of complex parts per hour.

The entire system costs around $120,000, which is a steal compared to a $1 million laser machine. Desktop Metal is still taking baby steps, but I’m expecting nothing less than an explosion in the industry.

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