AI Biosciences Adapts Low-Cost 3D Printer Into Sample Prep, Thermal Cycling Device

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Researchers at AI Biosciences have developed a method to adapt a standard 3D printer into an automated sample prep and molecular detection device.

In a PLoS One study published late last month, the researchers also demonstrated the device could be used to purify and detect DNA- and RNA-based pathogens, including Chlamydia trachomatis and dengue virus.

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Research: Education Use Driving Low-Cost 3D Printer Purchases

3D Printers

Research: Education Use Driving Low-Cost 3D Printer Purchases

Forget about 3D printers in the home to make that tool or part you need. The primary driver for consumer-grade 3D printers that cost under $2,500 is schools and universities. Overall acquisition of 3D printers is on target to more than double year over year for the next five years. Whereas the total number of 3D printers bought in 2014 was about 107,000 units and the tally was expected to be 245,000 for 2015, the count is projected to go up to 5.7 million units by 2019.

That’s the forecast offered by Gartner in a new report published this month. The analyst firm defines 3D printing as “an additive technique that uses a device to create physical objects from digital models.” The report identifies seven different printer technologies that constitute the market. “Material extrusion” dominates with some 232,000 printers shipped in 2015 using this technology. Coming in second was stereolithography with 6,093 units shipped over the same period.

Why the rapid growth? The report explained that the Chinese government is making major investments in 3D printing use in schools this year and next. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has put out a “National Additive Manufacturing Industry Promotion Plan 2015-2016,” which states that the government intends “to offer comprehensive training to educators and to create courses for 3D printing that will educate its students, beginning with its 400,000 elementary schools.”

Elsewhere in the world Gartner sees strong expansion in the number of schools and libraries that are buying 3D printers costing less than $1,000. That, in turn, is driving consumer purchases on the low-cost end.

According to the report, parents who want to give their kids educational support in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) subjects are investing in 3D printers. “The student may be enrolled in a secondary or postsecondary school, taking subjects ranging from architecture to creative arts to mechanical engineering,” the authors wrote. “Students will use the 3D printer to complete school projects, much like their parents used plaster of Paris, balsa wood and other materials in their school days.”

“The 3D printer market is continuing its transformation from a niche market to broad-based, global market of enterprises and consumers,” said Pete Basiliere, research vice president at Gartner, in a press release.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at

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

Brits print out disposable low-cost drone

The UAVs are usually created by large manufacturers, as their construction is expensive and complex. The achievement of the UK researchers could make the craft a more sight.

Researches from the Advanced Manufacturing research Centre carried out a test flight of the vehicle earlier this week. The manufacturing cost of the drone has not yet been released, but its researchers said that it was significantly lower than that of large drone-dedicated companies.

The university’s engineers are now developing an electric fan propulsion system that will simplify the drone’s control. They also plan to develop a GPS control system or a camera, controlled by an operator wearing person-view googles.

Sheffield’s drone was built with the use of a technique called fused deposition modeling (FDM), and is made of a polymer called thermoplastic. This method is slower than other printing techniques, including selective laser sintering (SLS).

Without using lasers, the FDM method results in fewer costs. However, the costs depend on the material used, the size of the craft and the printer used.

“By understanding the capability of the FDM process and associated software, we were able to manipulate the design to contain a number of unique features as well as preventing build deformation. All parts required for the airframe can be combined onto a single build within the Fortus 900 machine, taking less than 24 hours with ABS-M30 material,” Mark Cocking, additive manufacture development engineer, said.

Low production costs might make 3D unmanned aircraft more disposable. They can be sent on one-way flights for delivery, search or reconnaissance purposes.

FDM printers use two kinds of materials. The first is called the “modelling material” and is what the object is ultimately made of once complete. A second, “supporting material”, acts as a scaffolding to support the object during the printing process.

The polymer craft could be built and deployed in remote situations, potentially within as little as 24 hours, the engineers say.

The Sheffield UAV is made up of nine parts printed separately that are snapped together. It weighs less than 2kg (4.4lb) and is made from thermoplastic.

The engineers are currently looking at ways to use nylon as the printing material, in place of plastic, which would make the UAV 60 percent stronger, without increasing its weight.

“Following successful flight testing, we are working to incorporate blended winglets and twin ducted fan propulsion. We are also investigating full on-board data logging of flight parameters, autonomous operation by GPS, and control by surface morphing technology,” Dr. Garth Nicholson, the Head of the project, said

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed yesterday that Facebook is similarly working on drones, satellites and lasers to deliver the internet to underdeveloped countries.

He is eager to deliver the internet to “the next 3 billion people” – and revealed the firm has hired experts in solar power that can keep drones flying for months at a time.

Voice of Russia, Daily Mail