Rapidshape is a company based in Germany, one year old, which specializes in creation of jewelry, via a process of lost wax casting. There are three Rapidshape S60 models offered by the company, called mini, midi and maxi. The material used by these 3D printers during the printing process is a resin that is photo-sensitive. The three different models look the same, but they differ internally, offering different print resolutions and object sizes.
Rapidshape S60 mini has a resolution of 0.03mm and a size of 84x48x200mm, useful for the production of dental parts and filigree jewelry.
Rapidshape S60 midi comes with a resolution of 0.05mm and it measures 122x69x200mm, useful for jewelry parts.
Rapidshape S60 maxi has a 0.06mm resolution and a size of 150x85x200mm and it’s ideal for all kinds of parts.
The printing speed for all the models is 1 cm at every 10 minutes, which is quite fast for the models available these days. All of them can print multiple objects at the same time, the speed remaining the same.
The S60 printers come with software for internal management, which is capable of storing 500 print jobs, allowing them to be more easily used for production purposes. The prices of the resin or the printers has not been announced at this point.
The MakiBox 3D printer is a small model, which is about the size of a sheet of paper. The builder of this printer is a guy from Hong Kong, called Jon Buford. When released, the kit will cost $350 (out of which $50 is for global shipping), with the version that comes already assembled costing $550.
The concept of this 3D printer appear on Makible, a site which is similar to Kickstarter, but it specializes in getting project funding for hardware. It’s been a success, as you can see on the project page, the project having already full funding. If you choose to support it, you know that it’s already going to be built. It needed 100 supporters and it has 231 at this point, with $93,900 in funding already available.
The MakiBox would be the first affordable 3D printer, good enough to reach the mainstream consumer, not just the hardware enthusiasts that use them as a hobby. It’s also self-contained and simple enough to use. On the same site, the producer of the MakiBox will also sell the plastic that you will use to create objects with this printer. One kilogram of ABS filament will cost $20, plus the cost of shipping. The sizes available will be 1mm, 1.75mm and 3mm.
Organovo is a startup based in San Diego, which is working with the 3D printing to create human skeletal muscle. The 3D printer has a cartridge with muscle cells which were prepared specially for this purpose. The printer will deposit these cells in the petri dish, in lines that are closely spaced together. Thanks to the closeness between the cells, they will interact and will grow, forming muscle tissue in time, which can’t be distinguished from the tissue which can be taken from a human.
This 3D printed muscle tissue could help new drug development, making it faster. A lot of drugs which do well when they’re tested on animals or cell cultures don’t do as well during clinical trials, thanks to the fact that human tissue is different from that of an animal. The 3D printed muscle is a superior choice for such trials, so drug companies will not spend millions of dollars on clinical trials. They will know beforehand if the drug is effective on humans, so a lot of time and money are saved.
Organovo has so far 3D printed different kinds of tissue, including blood vessels, lung and cardiac muscle.The 3D printing technology used by Organovo makes cell interact just like they do when they’re inside a body. The cells are packed tightly and they are incubated, so they will start to adhere to each other, trading chemical signals in the process. The cells will be kept in a paste, where they will align properly, migrating and growing as necessary.
Another possible use for this technology is the 3D printing of organs which could be transplanted. It’s not the case now, since the start-up has only printed small tissue samples, but it might be in the future. This kind of 3D printed organ would be superior to other choices because the cells of the patient would be used, minimizing the chance of rejection.
The Smithsonian Museum has recently decided to create 3D scans of many objects from their collection. Starting with Thomas Jefferson’s statue and continuing with many other items from the museum, the 3D scans will be used in 3D printers and copies will be created for some of those. In other cases, the 3D scans will be kept in digital form, which could be printed later, or they could just be used to help with the restoration when needed.
Imagine how useful it could be for students to have exact replicas of items from museums. These 3D printed objects could be created in the school’s own 3D printer, based on the 3D files downloaded from sites of museums. Just as easily you could have a scale model toy of the Apollo Lunar Module for your kid.
An initial collection of 3D models of primates, fossils and artifacts can be admired on their site right now. As for the 3D printed statues of Thomas Jefferson, the replica was created so it could be displayed in the museum, as part of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. You can see a picture of this 3D replica below.