Queensland State Library to 3D print replica of rare braille globe

Oct 11, 2017 | By Julia

It’s been over 60 years since Richard Frank Tunley created his original braille globe in Queensland, Australia. Known as “the fairy godfather of blind children,” Tunley dedicated his life to improving the lives of visually impaired children and adults by producing braille globes, maps, models, doll houses and games. Among those creations, Tunley’s original braille globe stands out as an important learning tool, and an invaluable heritage item in Australian history. In recognition of Tunley’s work, the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) and the Queensland Library Foundation have come together to recreate the heritage globe ‒ via 3D printing ‒ for a younger generation to enjoy.

SLQ technicians will replicate the rare globe, which Tunley created by installing metal plates on a wooden sphere, thanks to recent technological advancements and a $10,000 state funding package. The individual landmasses were originally shown by raised shapes and labels inscribed in braille, a unique “Tunley touch” that SLQ staff plan to recreate through photogrammetry.

High-fidelity photographs will be taken from all angles, and then virtually pieced together using 3D modelling software to make an exact digital rendering. “That then gets made into plans that are printed out on a 3D printer,” SLQ content manager director Margaret Warren said. “[The globe] won’t be the same as the original because it will be in a 3D resin or plastic.”

Still, the 3D printed replica will allow the new globe to be touched, handled, and explored just as the original was intended, allowing Tunley’s vision to come to life once again. Accompanying digital plans and learning notes will be shared internationally as well.

The fragile 1950s version, on the other hand, will be rescued from storage, treated by SLQ preservation staff, and placed on display as part of a State Library of Queensland exhibition starting in December.

Richard Frank Tunley

SLQ State Librarian and CEO Vicki McDonald noted that the original Tunley globe remains a marvel of Queensland ingenuity, enterprise and skill. “The Tunley globe is a truly remarkable creation and a unique, perhaps unknown, Queensland story,” McDonald said.

The $10,000 funding package was recently awarded to the project at the SLQ’s annual Crowd Giving event. There, a room full of heritage lovers and philanthropists debated and discussed three new SLQ projects before voting that the Tunley globe’s restoration and replication was most worthy of their collective financing.

“SLQ is immensely grateful to the donors who have put their money behind making this fascinating piece of Queensland history discoverable and accessible for a new generation of Queenslanders,” McDonald said.

Posted in 3D Printing Application

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Chinese doctor removes kidney tumor with the aid of a 3D printed replica

May 23, 2015 | By Simon

While we’ve seen how developments to additive manufacturing technologies have helped both bring down the cost of getting something 3D printing as well as delivering results faster, one of the more significant contributions we’ve seen the technology make hase been in the health and medical sector.  

While we’re still a few years away from seeing 3D bioprinting technologies that are capable of 3D printing entirely-new, 3D printed organs such as livers or kidneys, we have been seeing significant contributions from technologies that exist today on desktops around the world.  

Among other use cases, we’ve seen how various medical imaging data including CT Scans and MRIs, among others, have been used to create digital 3D models that are then printed out and used as a replica of a patient’s actual body part for the sake of practicing a surgical procedure in advance of an operation or for finding alternative methods for approaching the procedure.  One place where we’ve been seeing this practice used significantly in recent memory is China.  

More recently, doctors at the XiangYa Hospital of Urology at Central South University in China were able to leverage 3D printing technology in an effort to help successfully remove a tumor from a 60-year-old woman’s kidney.  Thanks to the use of a 3D printed model in advance of the surgical procedure, the doctors were not only able to remove the tumor – but also save the kidney itself; an unlikely case for similar surgical procedures.   

Because the left renal tumor was located directly next to the renal hilum – an area of the kidney that features many vital arteries and veins – the surgery would have called for a removal of the entire kidney in most cases to avoid the risk of causing further damage to a patient.    

Like many other physicians in China today, the physician assigned to the case, Dr. Qi Lin, chose to use 3D printing to assist in the process of planning the surgery.

To create the accurate replica of the patient’s kidney, Dr. Qi Lin took a series of CT scans of the patient’s kidney, tumor and surrounding area which were then cleaned up and prepared for being 3D printed.  Once the replicas were printed, the doctors were able to pinpoint necessary locations for incisions and other details that would ultimately lead the surgery to success.    

On May 11th, Dr. Qi Lin – along with his medical team – performed the 90-minute surgery and were successfully able to remove the tumor while keeping the kidney intact with patient.  In addition to helping reduce the amount of blood loss to just 50 ml during the procedure, the use of the 3D printed replica also dramatically reduced the length of the surgery; what used to take hours only took a mere hour and a half.   

“With this new 3D technology, when aided by the surgeon, it creates a situation where ‘seeing is believing’,” added Dr. Qi Lin.  

“This is true from multiple dimensions, and allowed us to pinpoint the tumor, the arteries and the surrounding kidney tissue before surgery, practice the surgery and then decide on the correct path and operation to perform.”

Posted in 3D Printer Applications

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For Shelby Cobra's 50th, designers print a working 3D replica

Shelby2This is not a real Shelby Cobra, it’s a 3D printed, working replica.

Image: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

It’s arguably one of the rarest, most coveted and often copied of all cars: The Shelby Cobra. Now it’s also one of the few to arrive as a 3D-printed and working replica.

First introduced by Carroll Shelby in 1962, The Shelby Cobra roadster is almost a mythical beast among car aficionados.

According to Hemmings.com, the first were built from British roadster chassis and powerful Ford V-8 engines. Less than 1,000 of the original Shelby Cobras were built between 1962 and 1968. Since then there are been a couple of updated models: the Completion and then a CSX8000 anniversary edition (all in very limited quantities). There have also been numerous, pricey clones and Shelby Cobra kits. The 3D version, however, is a project that could pay dividends for the rest of auto manufacturing.

Inside and out (though not under the hood, which features a specialized and energy-efficient electric motor ) the 3D-printed Cobra, which goes on display this week at the North American International Auto show in Detroit, Michigan, is virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. What’s even more remarkable is that the entire project was conceived, designed, printed and finished in just six weeks.

“Six weeks to go from, ‘Hey, let’s print a car,’ to actually having a working vehicle is unheard of. Six weeks is insane,” said Lonnie Love, Ph.D., in a video announcing the car, which was developed by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory: Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) and backed by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The 3D printed car serves a dual purpose: It celebrates the 50th anniversary, more or less, since the Cobra was first introduced in 1962. It also highlights new and potentially cheaper and more efficient auto manufacturing techniques. In fact, the roadster took center stage when President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden visited a manufacturing plant in Clinton, Tennessee, on Jan. 9 and announced a new half-billion-dollar advanced manufacturing project.

Among the companies and establishments that will participate in the innovation project is Oak Ridge National Laboratories’ manufacturing lab. Love explains in the video that while mass production of 3D-printed cars are not in the offing, everything they learn from the Shelby Cobra project could be applied broadly to existing manufacturing techniques, especially at the prototype stage where, according to Love, auto manufacturers still use giant clay models.

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Part of the 3D printed Shelby Cobra prior to finishing.

Image: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

3D printing concept cars like the Shelby Cobra will allow companies to quickly test design reactions as well as form, fit and function.

As for the car, it was printed with a BAAM (Big Area Additive Manufacturing) machine and, though the printed project came out looking rough, Oak Ridge National Labs sent the body panels to a company called True Design, which worked on smoothing it and developing specialized materials and finishes. The result is a 3D-printed car that looks as if it came off the traditional assembly line.

The Cobra won’t be the only 3D-printed car at the event. Local Motor’s Strati, which holds the title of the world’s first working 3D-printed car, will also be on display at the North American International Car Show. It too was printed by Oak Ridge Labs but lacks the Cobra’s slick paint job.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Birmingham City University Creates Replica of Ultra Fragile Celtic Cross for Museum, Using …

solidscape3One of the things that I really enjoy about covering 3D printing on a daily basis, are the questions I get to answer from people who are uninformed about the technology. My favorite question that I am frequently asked is, “What can 3D printing be used for?” I realize that the typical person probably has no clue about the vast array of uses that exist.  They have seen stories on TV about medical devices, 3D printed cars and 3D printed houses, but they can’t fathom the majority of the uses available to them though additive manufacturing.

The application for 3D printing which excites me the most, is for the preservation of artifacts. No matter how secure museums try to keep their valuable remains, it is impossible to maintain the condition of objects which are thousands of years old. It’s just a part of nature; old stuff breaks down through oxidation, decay, and other non-controllable factors. 3D technology, however, is allowing artifacts to basically be ‘backed up’, in the same way you back up your important photographs on a flash drive.

3D scanning now allows for the virtualization of objects, down to details which the human eye can not depict. This means that objects can be stored in computers as 3D models for eternity. However, what happens when an object is so fragile that it can not even be handled, making 3D scanning not an option? Birmingham City University was recently faced with this challenge.

“A Celtic Cross, part of the Devonshire Hoard, was considered so fragile and valuable they did not even allow scanning,” explained Alicia Beard, PR & Marketing Account Manager for WildRock Public Relations & Marketing, to 3DPrint.com. “A 3D CAD model could only be created through photographs.”

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The cross was discovered in the Devonshire Hoard, and was originally a pectoral cross made for the cathedral at Lichfield. When it was dug up, it had a bend in it, and was extremely fragile to the touch. Via photographs, however, the team at Birmingham City University was able to create an exact 3D replica of it, without needing to take comprehensive 3-dimensional scans.

“From there, the Solidscape 3D printer produced an exact replica, which can now be used for an up close and personal demonstrations with museum patrons and even schoolchildren,” explained Beard.

For those unfamiliar with Solidscape’s line of 3D printers, they differ quite significantly from what you are used to seeing with 3D printing technology. Their printers print with two types of wax. One if used for the creation of a support material, which is then dissolved in a liquid solution. The other wax is actually what the object is printed in. Once the support wax is dissolved away, this object is all that remains.

Once the wax model of the cross was printed, the team was able to use lost wax casting in order to make a mold around it, melt the wax away, and then replace the wax with a molten metal. Once hardened, the mold was broken away and researchers were left with an almost exact replica of the original Celtic Cross. This is what makes Solidscape 3D printers so unique. It allows for the printing of wax models that can then be directly used in lost wax casting techniques. This is how most of the jewelry you wear today is made, minus the 3d printing.

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“The two Solidscape machines are very reliable and they are what we consider to be our ‘Go To’ machines,” said Frank Cooper, Technical Manager Jewelry Industry Innovation Centre Birmingham City University School of Jewelry.

The 3D printer used by Birmingham City University was a Solidscape T66, although the company recently launched their MAX2 printer earlier this year.

Solidscape will be on hand at next weeks Inside 3D Printing Conference in Santa Clara, California. Solidscape VP of Marketing and Communications, Bill Dahl, and Architect and Designer, Jenny Wu, will both be featured speakers at the event, giving insights into how 3D printing is opening up new possibilities for both designers and medical researchers.

“Solidscape printers allow users to create their own wax patterns to be cast in metal, used for mold making (RTV) or pressed in ceramics,” Beard tell us. “The difference with Solidscape is the lost wax process is so accurate and produces such a smooth surface finish that they are 100% castable, so there’s little or no need for post-production surface finishing. It works by creating pieces with two waxes, one for building the part and the second is a sacrificial support material that once removed leaves behind a flawless object. In addition, the materials have superior casting properties including fast melt out with no ash, residue or thermal expansion, which again saves time and money by eliminating the post-production process. Where Solidscape really makes a stand is in printing high precision geometries that can be be cast for manufacturing, medical and jewelry applications.”

What do you think? Is this a technology that you think will provide for the preservation of other fragile artifacts in the future?  Have you used a Solidscape 3D printer before? Discuss in the 3D printed Celtic Cross replica forum thread on 3DPB.com.  Check out the video below, showing the process in which the Solidscape 3D printers fabricate objects.