26 Oct'17

3D printing bridges, jaws and wearable batteries

The world’s first 3D printed cyclist bridge has been built in the Netherlands, as reported by The Guardian. The concrete blocks, which have 800 layers, took three months to complete after starting in June. Less concrete is needed when 3D printing a bridge in comparison to the conventional technique of filling a mould.


United States and China are also investing in 3D printing technology using computers and robotics for construction.


3D printing is being used in other industries besides construction, one of which is the medical industry. Morriston Hospital in Swansea can reconstruct jaws that have been affected by cancer using 3D printing.


The first patient, Debbie Hawkins, that received the treatment told the BBC that when she was first told about the procedure she was ‘scared at first.’ Hawkins adds, ‘what they have done, and the aftercare I received, has been absolutely amazing’.


The Laboratory Service manager said, ‘The titanium implant fits the patient’s jaw perfectly without the surgeon having to do any adjustments.’


3D printing for the medical industry is increasing. CollPlant, Israeli medical material developers, have received a $5 million investment to develop their project of 3D printed transplantable organs.


Researchers from Brussel University have successfully 3D printed wearable batteries. According to the Business Standard, this product is a power bank for phones, medical implants and electric cars that can be worn around your wrist. Due to the fact that all components to this battery wristband is produced using 3D printing, it will ‘save time and costs on expensive materials.’


In Sculpteo’s 2017 report into the state of 3D printing respondents said ‘the declining cost of the technology will have the biggest impact on the continued use and growth of 3D Printing over the next few years’.


Sculpteo surveyed nearly 1000 people from 62 countries; 29% were engineers, 28% were CEOs; 10% were freelancers and 7% were designers.


They found that 3D printing technology is mainly used (28%) to accelerate product development, which enables tailored products and production flexibility.


Other findings in the report include:
– Plastic is the most used 3D printing material, followed by resins, then metals
– 47% experienced a larger ROI from 3D printing than last year
– 49% of respondents increased their expenses in 3D printing this year
– Some threats exist that could affect the future opportunities for 3D Printing including, the risk of regulatory changes over the technology



Photo credit: ‘EMG launches dedicated 3D Printing & Additive Manufacturing practice.’ by PressReleaseFinder on Flickr. Licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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