Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: 3D printing


We report a novel method for fabrication of three-dimensional (3D) biocompatible micro-fluidic flow chambers in polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) by 3D-printing water-soluble polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) filaments as master scaffolds. The scaffolds are first embedded in the PDMS and later residue-free dissolved in water leaving an inscription of the scaffolds in the hardened PDMS. We demonstrate the strength of our method using a regular, cheap 3D printer, and evaluate the inscription process and the channels micro-fluidic properties using image analysis and digital holographic microscopy. Furthermore, we provide a protocol that allows for direct printing on coverslips and we show that flow chambers with a channel cross section down to 40 μm × 300 μm can be realized within 60 min. These flow channels are perfectly transparent, biocompatible and can be used for microscopic applications without further treatment. Our proposed protocols facilitate an easy, fast and adaptable production of micro-fluidic channel designs that are cost-effective, do not require specialized training and can be used for a variety of cell and bacterial assays. To help readers reproduce our micro-fluidic devices, we provide: full preparation protocols, 3D-printing CAD files for channel scaffolds and our custom-made molding device, 3D printer build-plate leveling instructions, and G-code.

Concepts: Microscope, Computer graphics, Printing, Inkjet printer, Channel, Polyvinyl alcohol, Polyvinyl acetate, 3D printing


The creation of reversibly-actuating components that alter their shapes in a controllable manner in response to environmental stimuli is a grand challenge in active materials, structures, and robotics. Here we demonstrate a new reversible shape-changing component design concept enabled by 3D printing two stimuli responsive polymers-shape memory polymers and hydrogels-in prescribed 3D architectures. This approach uses the swelling of a hydrogel as the driving force for the shape change, and the temperature-dependent modulus of a shape memory polymer to regulate the time of such shape change. Controlling the temperature and aqueous environment allows switching between two stable configurations - the structures are relatively stiff and can carry load in each - without any mechanical loading and unloading. Specific shape changing scenarios, e.g., based on bending, or twisting in prescribed directions, are enabled via the controlled interplay between the active materials and the 3D printed architectures. The physical phenomena are complex and nonintuitive, and so to help understand the interplay of geometric, material, and environmental stimuli parameters we develop 3D nonlinear finite element models. Finally, we create several 2D and 3D shape changing components that demonstrate the role of key parameters and illustrate the broad application potential of the proposed approach.

Concepts: Engineering, Control, Inkjet printer, Mystique, 3D printing, Polymers, Shapeshifting, Werewolf


Emerging additive manufacturing techniques enable investigation of the effects of pore geometry on cell behavior and function. Here, we 3D print microporous hydrogel scaffolds to test how varying pore geometry, accomplished by manipulating the advancing angle between printed layers, affects the survival of ovarian follicles. 30° and 60° scaffolds provide corners that surround follicles on multiple sides while 90° scaffolds have an open porosity that limits follicle-scaffold interaction. As the amount of scaffold interaction increases, follicle spreading is limited and survival increases. Follicle-seeded scaffolds become highly vascularized and ovarian function is fully restored when implanted in surgically sterilized mice. Moreover, pups are born through natural mating and thrive through maternal lactation. These findings present an in vivo functional ovarian implant designed with 3D printing, and indicate that scaffold pore architecture is a critical variable in additively manufactured scaffold design for functional tissue engineering.

Concepts: 3D printing, Rapid manufacturing, Additive manufacturing


Stimuli-responsive hydrogels exhibiting physical or chemical changes in response to environmental conditions have attracted growing attention for the past few decades. Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm), a temperature responsive hydrogel, has been extensively studied in various fields of science and engineering. However, manufacturing of PNIPAAm has been heavily relying on conventional methods such as molding and lithography techniques that are inherently limited to a two-dimensional (2D) space. Here we report the three-dimensional (3D) printing of PNIPAAm using a high-resolution digital additive manufacturing technique, projection micro-stereolithography (PμSL). Control of the temperature dependent deformation of 3D printed PNIPAAm is achieved by controlling manufacturing process parameters as well as polymer resin composition. Also demonstrated is a sequential deformation of a 3D printed PNIPAAm structure by selective incorporation of ionic monomer that shifts the swelling transition temperature of PNIPAAm. This fast, high resolution, and scalable 3D printing method for stimuli-responsive hydrogels may enable many new applications in diverse areas, including flexible sensors and actuators, bio-medical devices, and tissue engineering.

Concepts: Inkjet printer, Lithography, 3D printing, Rapid manufacturing, Additive manufacturing


The authors focus on the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printer because the FDM 3D printer can print the utility resin material. It can print with low cost and therefore it is the most suitable for home 3D printer. The FDM 3D printer has the problem that it produces layer grooves on the surface of the 3D printed structure. Therefore the authors developed the 3D-Chemical Melting Finishing (3D-CMF) for removing layer grooves. In this method, a pen-style device is filled with a chemical able to dissolve the materials used for building 3D printed structures. By controlling the behavior of this pen-style device, the convex parts of layer grooves on the surface of the 3D printed structure are dissolved, which, in turn, fills the concave parts. In this study it proves the superiority of the 3D-CMF than conventional processing for the 3D printed structure. It proves utilizing the evaluation of the safety, selectively and stability. It confirms the improving of the 3D-CMF and it is confirmed utilizing the data of the surface roughness precision and the observation of the internal state and the evaluation of the mechanical characteristics.

Concepts: Materials science, Printing, Inkjet printer, 3D printing, Fused deposition modeling


The online and accurate monitoring of drinking water supply networks is critically in demand to rapidly detect the accidental or deliberate contamination of drinking water. At present, miniaturized water quality monitoring sensors developed in the laboratories are usually tested under ambient pressure and steady-state flow conditions; however, in Water Distribution Systems (WDS), both the pressure and the flowrate fluctuate. In this paper, an interface is designed and fabricated using additive manufacturing or 3D printing technology-material extrusion (Trade Name: fused deposition modeling, FDM) and material jetting-to provide a conduit for miniaturized sensors for continuous online water quality monitoring. The interface is designed to meet two main criteria: low pressure at the inlet of the sensors and a low flowrate to minimize the water bled (i.e., leakage), despite varying pressure from WDS. To meet the above criteria, a two-dimensional computational fluid dynamics model was used to optimize the geometry of the channel. The 3D printed interface, with the embedded miniaturized pH and conductivity sensors, was then tested at different temperatures and flowrates. The results show that the response of the pH sensor is independent of the flowrate and temperature. As for the conductivity sensor, the flowrate and temperature affect only the readings at a very low conductivity (4 µS/cm) and high flowrates (30 mL/min), and a very high conductivity (460 µS/cm), respectively.

Concepts: Water, Thermodynamics, Computational fluid dynamics, 3D printing, Fused deposition modeling, Rapid manufacturing, Water supply network, Additive manufacturing


‘Additive manufacturing’ (AM) refers to a class of manufacturing processes based on the building of a solid object from three-dimensional (3D) model data by joining materials, usually layer upon layer. Among the vast array of techniques developed for the production of tissue-engineering (TE) scaffolds, AM techniques are gaining great interest for their suitability in achieving complex shapes and microstructures with a high degree of automation, good accuracy and reproducibility. In addition, the possibility of rapidly producing tissue-engineered constructs meeting patient’s specific requirements, in terms of tissue defect size and geometry as well as autologous biological features, makes them a powerful way of enhancing clinical routine procedures. This paper gives an extensive overview of different AM techniques classes (i.e. stereolithography, selective laser sintering, 3D printing, melt-extrusion-based techniques, solution/slurry extrusion-based techniques, and tissue and organ printing) employed for the development of tissue-engineered constructs made of different materials (i.e. polymeric, ceramic and composite, alone or in combination with bioactive agents), by highlighting their principles and technological solutions. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Concepts: Rapid prototyping, Selective laser sintering, 3D printing, Fused deposition modeling, Rapid manufacturing, Solid freeform fabrication, Direct digital manufacturing, Digital fabricator


Glass is one of the most important high-performance materials used for scientific research, in industry and in society, mainly owing to its unmatched optical transparency, outstanding mechanical, chemical and thermal resistance as well as its thermal and electrical insulating properties. However, glasses and especially high-purity glasses such as fused silica glass are notoriously difficult to shape, requiring high-temperature melting and casting processes for macroscopic objects or hazardous chemicals for microscopic features. These drawbacks have made glasses inaccessible to modern manufacturing technologies such as three-dimensional printing (3D printing). Using a casting nanocomposite, here we create transparent fused silica glass components using stereolithography 3D printers at resolutions of a few tens of micrometres. The process uses a photocurable silica nanocomposite that is 3D printed and converted to high-quality fused silica glass via heat treatment. The printed fused silica glass is non-porous, with the optical transparency of commercial fused silica glass, and has a smooth surface with a roughness of a few nanometres. By doping with metal salts, coloured glasses can be created. This work widens the choice of materials for 3D printing, enabling the creation of arbitrary macro- and microstructures in fused silica glass for many applications in both industry and academia.

Concepts: Optical fiber, Inkjet printer, Glass, Rapid prototyping, 3D printing, Stereolithography


BACKGROUND: Additive manufacturing (AM) is being increasingly used for producing medical models. The accuracy of these models varies between different materials, AM technologies and machine runs. PURPOSE: To determine the accuracy of selective laser sintering (SLS), three-dimensional printing (3DP) and PolyJet technologies in the production of medical models. MATERIAL: 3D skull models: “original”, “moderate” and “worse”. SLS, 3DP and PolyJet models, and a coordinate measuring machine (CMM). METHODS: Measuring balls designed for measurements were attached to each 3D model. Skull models were manufactured using SLS, 3DP and PolyJet. The midpoints of the balls were determined using CMM. The distances between these points were calculated and compared with the 3D model. RESULTS: The dimensional error for the PolyJet was 0.18 ± 0.12% (first measurement) and 0.18 ± 0.13% (second measurement), for SLS 0.79 ± 0.26% (first model) and 0.80 ± 0.32% (second model), and for 3DP 0.67 ± 0.43% (original model, first measurement) and 0.69 ± 0.44% (original model, second measurement), 0.38 ± 0.22% (moderate model) and 0.55 ± 0.37% (worse model). Repeatability of the measurement method was 0.12% for the PolyJet and 0.08% for the 3DP. CONCLUSION: A novel measuring technique was developed and its repeatability was found to be good. The accuracy of the PolyJet was higher when compared with SLS or 3DP.

Concepts: Measurement, Manufacturing, Rapid prototyping, Selective laser sintering, 3D printing, Fused deposition modeling, Rapid manufacturing, Additive manufacturing


A major hurdle to the widespread application of light sheet microscopy is the lack of versatile and non-intrusive sample holders that are adaptable to a variety of biological samples for live imaging. To overcome this limitation, we present herein the application of 3D printing to the fabrication of a fully customizable casting kit. 3D printing enables facile preparation of hydrogel sample holders adaptable to any shape and number of specimen. As an example, we present the use of this device to produce a four-sample holder adapted to parallel live monitoring of multicellular tumor spheroid growth. To share our solution with the light sheet microscopy community, all files necessary to produce or customize sample holders are freely available online.

Concepts: Sample, Biology, Printing, Inkjet printer, Printing press, 3D printing, Holder