Bicycles – New Options with 3D Printing Technology

Bicycles are second only to motor vehicles when it comes to traveling short distances. Not only are bicycles a wonderful source of exercise, they are affordable and leave a very small carbon footprint. This is precisely why more people are choosing bicycles as their primary source of transportation in an effort to reduce greenhouse gasses on Earth.

The world of 3D printing technology has made great strides in the last decade. More and more objects are being created using 3D printing because they are cheaper, more efficient, and tailored to fit individual’s needs.

What Are the Benefits of Creating Bicycles with 3D Printing Technology?

There are a multitude of benefits that accompany the 3D printing of any object. An object that has been produced with 3D printing technology is customized to the very minute detail to meet the user’s needs. A bicycle, for example, may need to fit a certain height or weight requirement in order to be accepted. A certain design or aerodynamic characteristic may be desired or required for a bicycle to be accepted. Whatever the case may be, customization is one of the largest benefits of 3D printing technology.

Items that are printed using 3D technology are generally created quickly and with very little error. The bicycle is custom made so that it has a one-piece frame and tires. The fact that there are not a hundred tiny pieces that must be created and then shipped to a central location factor into the quick turnaround time for the creation of a 3D printed bicycle. Conventionally, the delay on one piece could halt the production of a bicycle indefinitely.

The carbon footprint left behind by creating a 3D printed bicycle are much smaller than that of a bicycle produced conventionally. Again, the bicycle is printed in one piece. This one-piece design eliminates the necessity of having to have multiple plants mass producing multiple bicycle pieces. When there is no need for a myriad of bicycle plants, then the impact that a plant has on the environment decreases significantly.

Are There Success Stories Out There from Those Who Have Built 3D Printed Bicycles?

Yes, there are a handful of success stories out there that are told by individuals that have created bicycles using 3D Printing Technology. Below are two examples of recent success stories.

The Belgian 3D printing company Materialise and the Italian automotive brand Nuova SPA recently partnered together to create a unique 3D printed Bicicletto e-bike. This duo was motivated to make the bicycle lighter, faster, and more cost-efficient to manufacture. The partners are proud to put forth a bicycle that blends the need for innovation with the love of classic design.

MX3D partnered with Dutch students from Delft University of Technology to create the Arc Bicycle using a combination of 3D printing technology and a welding process. Robotic arms act as 3D printers that require no stabilization and welding ultimately completes the process. MX3D worked with these students in an effort to perfect the technology that they plan to use on their bridge project. The students involved in this process were deeply motivated by the need to make a functional, every-day item that would ultimately contribute to a more sustainable environment.

3D Laser Scanning and Modelling for Heritage

3D printing and scanning have been on the rise over the past decade. More individuals are recognizing the many benefits that these techniques are able to present to researchers, scientists, engineers, and the average individual. As science continues to fine tune these devices and improve 3D scanning techniques, then the face of the world and its understanding of history could drastically change. With inaccuracies and guesses for how certain items would have looked out of the way, the understanding of history will change.

3D scanning is a highly complex and accurate process. When an item is scanned with a 3D scanner, a fine laser light is shot into the space where the hidden or obscure item is located. The laser light traces over 100 % of the surface of the object recording up to 750.000 different points that are quickly connected to recreate a 3D image of the object.

That 3D image is sent to the 3D scanner where engineers and scientists analyze the object, its purpose, and its origin. Once that data has been collected from the 3D scanner and confirmed, scientists may then decide to use the information that they have obtained to 3D print the object that they have 3D scanned.

How Are These Techniques Used to Model for Heritage?

It is estimated that a significant number of historically important artifacts are located in areas that are hard to reach. Some of these objects are located deep inside of Egyptian tombs. Some of these objects are located at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Many of these objects have yet to have been uncovered. Scientists estimate that the majority of artifacts are safer where they are located and could be damaged irreversibly if unearthed. That is why 3D scanning and 3D printing are so important to scientists. These scientists can use lasers to reach and trace these hard-to-reach objects. Once they are traced, they can be printed for scientists to examine and understand them.

Many objects are recreated with 3D technology to understand their historical significance. These models can be put on display and used in museums to teach future generations about the various cultures and heritages of certain areas of the world.

Myths About 3D Scanning

3D Printing and 3D Scanning are relatively new developments in the world of technology. 3D printing and 3D scanning have only been in existence for about a decade and are therefore still under investigation by those that do not understand the technology.

3D Printing and 3D scanning are not at all magical. There are hundreds of thousands of brilliant minds working out the details regarding the use and construction of 3D printing technology. Because the techniques and construction involved are so complex, many individuals do not understand how they could possibly work.

3D Scanning and 3D printing do not harm the environment. The lasers used are fine and do not cause harm to the objects that they scan. If these lasers caused harm, scientists and engineers would not be using the technology to discover and recreate ancient objects of historical significance. If these individuals were to use harmful techniques, then the objects would be lost in time forever. 3D Scanning and 3D printing are, to date, the safest way to see these objects without disturbing them.


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New Shoes That Only Fit YOU

Shoes are an item of luxury to many individuals around the world. To others, shoes are an absolute necessity needed to protect the feet from diseases and conditions like frostbite, gangrene, and trench foot. In any case, almost every individual on Earth knows what shoes look like, what shoes function as, and what difference shoes can make for those who are on their feet often. Few individuals know that shoes can be 3D printed or what those shoes are capable of doing.

3D printed shoes are shoes that have been created using 3D printing technology. When an item is 3D printed, a machine traces a pattern into an open space using a material such as plastic, metal, or rubber. A design is created by the user, put into a 3D printing machine, and the printer’s laser will both trace and fuse the product. The machine’s laser traces over itself in layers until the desired project has been completed.

Why Create 3D Printed Shoes?

3D printed shoes may simply seem like a luxury item with little value aside from its apparently costly production. 3D printed shoes can offer users far more than just a sense of luxury.

3D printed shoes are created individually for each person and each foot. No two shoes will ever be created in exactly the same way. Those that have created this 3D printing technology understand that feet can even vary in size from one side of the body to the other. In fact, many individuals have feet that are slightly thicker, wider, or longer than the half sizes available to them by many shoe brands. That is why the 3D printed shoe has come into existence.

The 3D printed shoe will eliminate the aches, pains, and complications that are typically credited to the “breaking in” of a brand-new pair of shoes from the store. The creators of this product aim to eliminate painful or hazardous shoes from the market in favor of the shoes that are custom fit for customers. These 3D printed shoes can even be made stronger and lighter for athletes and other active individuals.

The 3D printing concept for shoes is actually quite simple. A customer will enter their shoe store, assuming that that store has adopted this 3D printing technology, have each foot measured, have each foot photographed from various angles, and then the shoes will be 3D printed right in front of them. This custom fit technology makes a brand new, custom-fit pair of shoes available for every customer in a very short amount of time. The 3D printing process is even advanced enough to take information about the individual’s height, weight, and level of activity into consideration as the shoes are being constructed.

3D printed shoes can even be created with a medical purpose in mind. 3D printing can make these shoes orthopedically accurate for certain individuals with medical needs. This process is designed to alleviate pain associated with conditions like collapsed arches and other foot imbalances.

Next Level 3+1: 4D Printing

The future of technology is bright with the early engineering behind Next Level 3+1: 4D Printing technologies. These structures are also known as the early models of 4D printing technological devices. Researchers are currently working out all of the kinds that are found with the 3D printing technology currently in existence. While the current 3D printing technology itself is still in its infancy, researchers, engineers, and scientists are exploring the opportunity to create an even more advanced set of 4D printing devices.

What Makes the 4D Printer More Advanced than Its Predecessor?

3D printing devices are very complex. These machines can convert a 2D image into a 3D object using arms and lasers that work to build layers of material on top of itself. 3D printers are able to build objects as large as buildings as well as objects as small as handheld tools. These printers can even print items like shoes that are tailored to each individual foot and biocompatible structures that can be implanted into the body for reconstructive purposes. It may be difficult to conceptualize that any printing machine could accomplish even more, but 4D printing technology does just that.

The 4D printer is modeled after flowers such as the orchid and the calla lily. These beautiful plant structures are more than pretty flowers to view or smell. These plants are capable of movement and are able to adapt to their environments. Calla lilies and orchids are very sensitive and are known to be receptive to the smallest of changes in temperature, humidity, and sunlight. Scientists are exploring the benefits of being able to manipulate the objects that are printed with a 4D printing device.

Tools for Doctors, Engineers and Many More

These scientists believe that doctors, surgeons, and other medical professionals would benefit from being able to fully manipulate the objects that they use in their practices. This may mean that the tools that a surgeon would use in the operating room would be able to more accurately differentiate between healthy tissue and infected or cancerous tissue that must be removed. If a surgeon were sure that they have removed 100 % of the unhealthy tissue, then this would prevent further surgeries and speed up the process of healing. This may even mean that individuals are completely cured of the ailment that once plagued them. For these reasons, the 4D printer would be valuable to the medical profession.

4D Printers could be used in contexts other than the medical profession. These printers are able to move, shape-shift, and respond to changes in their environment. This would mean that these objects could be used to signal natural disasters of a great variety. These 4D printed objects would be able to retrieve objects that are in water, under water, on land, or in the air that otherwise could not be retrieved. Scientists, engineers, and skilled technicians even have high hopes that these objects would be able to transform the way electricity is conducted or how clothing is created. Designers theorize that there will be a future in smart textiles. Smart textiles are items of clothing that can transform based on humidity, on temperature, and even on requested permeability.

Living Objects – 3D Bioprinters

3D bioprinting is a technique that is very similar in many ways to traditional 3D printing techniques and 3D metal printing techniques. The general concept of 3D printing involves converting an image that is in 2D into an object that is in 3D. 3D bioprinting takes this general concept one step further. 3D bioprinting involves taking meticulously adding “pores” to the material that is 3D printed so that blood vessels and tissues can grow into and accept that 3D printed object as an object that is supposed to be a part of a living organism’s body.

3D bioprinting is currently successful in growing tissues like ears, jaw bones, and other bone fragments that can be used in reconstruction procedures. These 3D printed biostructures are often accepted into the body once they are implanted because the “pores” inside of the 3D printed structure allow for blood and nutrients to flow freely.

How Exactly Do 3D Bioprinters Work?

3D bioprinters are incredibly complex. There are a few different types of bioprinters depending on the demands that are expected of them, but all bioprinters utilize a bioprint head that strategically place cells as they are printed. That bioprint head works in a similar way to other 3D printers in that they are able to move upward, downward, left, right, backward, forward, and every direction in between.

This freedom of movement allows the bioprinting head to place cells so that there are tiny holes left throughout the structure to account for the blood flow that will hopefully reach them. 3D bioprinters place cells in layers along with a dissolvable gel that helps to protect the cells during construction. After a few hours of this layering process, the structure is complete and is ready for insertion. The structure is placed under the skin of a rodent and is left to grow for weeks to months before the new structure can be harvested for use in a human patient.

What Are 3D Bioprinters Capable Of?

3D bioprinters have been successful in creating a range of small pieces of cartilage and bone. While the trials for these biostructures are still in their infancy, they seem to be working very well. These studies are currently performed on rodents and do not have much trial testing on humans yet. Researchers have noticed that when these structures are printed with pores and inserted into the skin of rodents, the rodent’s body begins to supply blood and nutrients to that structure. Within weeks to months these structures begin to function as they were intended to do.

3D bioprinters are not yet able to print larger, more complex structures such as the heart, kidneys, liver, or lungs. These structures are in high demand as there are few of these precious organs that available for the many thousands of people waiting on transplant lists around the world. Scientists and engineers have high hopes that the 3D bioprinter will be able to print these important organs in the near future so that many more lives can be saved.