3D printing with E .coli to produce greener materials

Researchers Benjamin Lehner, Dominik Schmieden, and Anne S. Meyer from the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands, have co-authored a paper exploring an inexpensive method of 3D printing bacteria.

The research demonstrates great potential for producing a range of smart, sustainable, and naturally biodegradable materials that don’t produce toxic waste.

An added challenge: keeping materials alive

In their research, the TU Delft team from Department of Bionanoscience first produced a bioink by mixing E. coli strains into an alginate-based hydrogel.  The challenge was then to 3D print this on a commercial 3D printer – the one chosen for this study is CoLiDo DIY 3D printer, retailing at around $300.

The modified CoLiDo DIY Bacterial 3D printing system. Photos via Lehner, Schmieden & Meyer

The modified CoLiDo DIY bacterial 3D printing system. Photos via Lehner, Schmieden & Meyer

At the temperatures and stress of typical 3D printing, the E. coli ink would be destroyed. So, the researchers swapped out the extruder for a pipette to deposit the layers.

With this bacterial 3D printing system, the researchers then demonstrated consistent deposition of the bioink in the shape of a ring.

3D printed E. coli laden bioink. Photo via Lehner, Schmieden & Meyer

3D printed E. coli laden bioink. Photo via Lehner, Schmieden & Meyer

After 24 hours under constant light and incubation, the E. coli survived: confirming the efficacy of their system.

Graphical representation of surviving E. coli inside the 3D printed ring. Image via Lehner, Schmieden & Meyer

Graphical representation of surviving E. coli inside the 3D printed ring. Image via Lehner, Schmieden & Meyer

On the bacteria’s survival, the authors note,

Our printing technique is inexpensive, straight-forward, and can produce bacterial structures of a wide variety of three-dimensional shapes without requiring printing scaffolds, excepting structures that contain internal bridges or enclosed hollow spaces.

Our technology is well-suited for the use of wild-type organisms or synthetically modified bacteria, which could be designed to carry out new combinations of microbial reactions to create a great number of different types of materials.

E. coli – the key to future smart materials?

First discovered in 1885, E. coli is a pretty versatile and well-documented bacterium, making it ideal for experimental use. With a team of microbiologists at MIT, artist and researcher Neri Oxman used the bacteria to culture different colors in the Vespers series of 3D printed death masks.

E. coli is also used in synthetic biology at the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Maryland, where researchers are harnessing bacteria’s powers to make microscopic devices to enhance the performance of soldiers.

Glowing bacteria is also being explored for its ability to reproduce the filters in LED screens, and has the potential to produce flexible devices.

A straightforward approach for 3D bacterial printing from TU Delft was published online at PubMed.gov on the 22nd February 2017.

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Featured image shows the SEM picture of e coli from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) on Flickr



Air Force uses 3D printers to produce aircraft components

The Air Force said Thursday that it is using three-dimensional (3D) printing technology to produce parts for F-15K fighter jet engines.

It said it has used 3D printers that are capable of duplicating metal products in ready-to-use form since January to produce 14 cover plates for high-pressure turbines mounted on F110-GE-129 engines, which power the F-15K Strike Eagles that have been in operation since 2005.

With the growing adoption of 3D printing technology in various industries, the Air Force has sought to capitalize on such cutting-edge technology to save costs and time in obtaining aircraft components.

A number of those components are expensive, imported, take time to deliver and are often out of stock, according to officials.

The Air Force first decided to use 3D printers and supply cover plates for the F-15Ks after finding out in September 2012 that some of them were worn out.

The Air Force worked with Insstek Inc., a metal component manufacturer in Daejeon, for the last two years to duplicate the cover plates.

General Electric (GE), the U.S manufacturer which builds the F110-GE-129 engines, certified the quality of the duplicates, according to military officials.

An authentic cover plate costs 40 million won ($34,000) and takes an average of 40 days to be delivered.

“We were able to save 370 million won by using 3D printers,” an official said. “Moreover, it only took 20 days to produce the duplicates.”

The Air Force said it has been adopting 3D printing technology further to produce 13 other components, adding that it is estimated to save 130 million won from its budget per year.

It also said it is expected to save up to 15 months in getting its components on time.

Stratasys Additive Manufacturing Solutions Selected by Airbus to Produce 3D Printed Flight Parts …

MINNEAPOLIS & REHOVOT, Israel, May 06, 2015 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Stratasys Ltd. SSYS, -2.02% aleading global provider of 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions, announces that leading aircraft manufacturer Airbus has produced more than 1000 flight parts on its Stratasys FDM 3D Production Systems for use in the first-of-type A350 XWB aircraft, delivered in December 2014. The 3D printed parts were used in place of traditionally manufactured parts to increase supply chain flexibility, enabling Airbus to meet its delivery commitment on-time. Airbus initiated development and certification of 3D printing with Stratasys in 2013 as a schedule risk reduction activity that proved valuable for the A350 XWB program, highlighting a key benefit of 3D printing in the manufacturing industry.

The parts are 3D printed using ULTEM™ 9085 resin for FDM, which is certified to an Airbus material specification. ULTEM 9085 resin provides high strength-to-weight ratio and is FST (flame, smoke, and toxicity) compliant for aircraft interior applications. This enables Airbus to manufacture strong, lighter weight parts while substantially reducing production time and manufacturing costs.

“We are delighted that Stratasys additive manufacturing solutions are being adopted by Airbus for its flagship A350 XWB aircraft. Both companies share a vision of applying innovative technologies to design and manufacturing to create game-changing benefits,” said Dan Yalon, Executive Vice President, Business Development, Marketing & Vertical Solutions for Stratasys. “Our additive manufacturing solutions can produce complex parts on-demand, ensuring on time delivery while streamlining supply chains. Additive manufacturing also greatly improves the buy-to-fly ratio as significantly less material is wasted than with conventional manufacturing methods. Stratasys is looking forward to bringing these and other advantages to its collaboration with Airbus and to being part of Airbus’ Factory of the Future initiative.”

Leading companies in a variety of industries, from aerospace and automotive to consumer goods and medical, are partnering with Stratasys to adopt additive manufacturing strategies. A transformative alternative to conventional manufacturing methods, Stratasys additive manufacturing enables original and replacement parts to be digitally produced at the best suited locations, reducing both material waste and inventory requirements. By adopting additive manufacturing throughout the product lifecycle, companies can therefore lower operational costs, accelerate time to market, decentralize production, and add new innovative product functionality.

Stratasys Ltd. SSYS, -2.02% headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Rehovot, Israel, is a leading global provider of 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions. The company’s patented FDM®, PolyJet™, and WDM™ 3D Printing technologies produce prototypes and manufactured goods directly from 3D CAD files or other 3D content. Systems include 3D printers for idea development, prototyping and direct digital manufacturing. Stratasys subsidiaries include MakerBot and Solidscape, and the company operates the digital parts manufacturing service, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. Stratasys has more than 2,800 employees, holds over 600 granted or pending additive manufacturing patents globally, and has received more than 25 awards for its technology and leadership. Online at: www.stratasys.com or http://blog.stratasys.com.

FDM, Stratasys and Fortus are registered trademarks of Stratasys Ltd. and/or its subsidiaries or affiliates. ULTEM™ 9085 resin is a registered trademark of SABIC or its affiliates or subsidiaries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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SOURCE: Stratasys Ltd.

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Wasp's 3D printers produce low-cost houses made from mud

A need to address a lack of housing for the globe’s growing population has turned up some eye-catching efforts, blending creative architecture with new, sustainable technologies. And it is increasingly looking like 3D printing could have a role to play. Italian firm Wasp is the latest to explore the potential of additive manufacturing in this area, developing a super-sized 3D printer capable of producing low-cost housing made from mud.

Mud brick homes aren’t new, and have a certain appeal for the environmentally conscious due to their low carbon footprint and sustainable nature. Wasp is looking to bring these benefits to a bigger stage by providing a means to quickly create shelter in developing regions where traditional forms of construction might not be possible.

The company’s mud-extruding dream builder stands around 20 ft tall (6 m) and is capable of printing structures 10 ft (3 m) in height. This puts it at around the same size as the printer used by a Chinese company earlier this year to construct 10 houses in less than 24 hours.

The idea behind Wasp’s approach is the housing can be built on location, using materials found on site at zero cost. The printer can reportedly be built by two people in as little as two hours using materials ranging from mud to clay and other natural fibers. The company demonstrated the printer earlier this month at Rome’s Maker Faire. While not a full scale model, at 4 m (13 ft) it was able to produce smaller versions of its mud brick dwellings and serve as a proof-of-concept.

“We will print a mixture made of clay and sand,” CEO Massimo Moretti said leading up to the event. “It takes weeks to print a real house, so we will print a smaller building because we only have two days. But the print, the mixture and materials have been already tested and they’re working.”

The design for these structures is inspired by the mud dauber wasp, which build their nests using mud. As it turns out, the company’s name doubles as an acronym for “World’s Advanced Saving Project.”

While it has exhibited the potential of its approach, Wasp is yet to detail exactly when it plans to begin deploying its 3D printers.

Source: Wasp

3D printing being used to mass produce ATM skimmers and PoS terminals


An individual known only by the online handle “Gripper” has popped up on several underground cybercrime forums advertising a new service. No, it’s not another botnet or malware package — it’s ATM and PoS card skimmers. However, this isn’t like the cheap readers that card thieves have been affixing to ATMs for years. Gripper claims his outfit can mass produce entire readers with a 3D printed casing and the necessary electronics to make everything look legit.

As proof, Gripper provided pictures of the facility in China where these devices are built. He includes a snapshot of a 3D printer making a piece of a VeriFone PoS terminal, completed parts for ATM machines, and several completed VeriFone readers allegedly built from scratch. The ads even mention several widely used systems by name, and buyers get free 24/7 support. You probably don’t even get that from your computer manufacturer.

Most card skimmers are designed to be integrated with, or added on top of, the real card reader of an ATM or PoS kiosk. When a customer swipes a card, the skimmer saves the card number and any PIN code that was entered. The thief can come back later and retrieve the data to use or sell on the black market. The advertised machines have the same basic functionality, but would be much harder to detect.


Some of the components Gripper offers include keypads for Wincor ATMs ($1,000), the cover/camera panel for NCR 5886 ATMs ($1,850), and various complete VeriFone terminals for undisclosed sums. Gripper says his group is willing to send devices anywhere in the world and will sell outright, or just work with shopkeepers to pay them a percentage. Several supposed buyers have posted on the forums to confirm that Gripper can deliver what he claims.

If this and other groups have managed to reach the point of mass producing passable card skimmers and PoS machines, you might have to be much more wary of where you’re swiping that card.

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