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The Evolution Of 3D Printing Technology And Its Industrial Uses

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Latest News Update in 3D Printing Technology

By Jordan Hicks on 2016-12-25

While 3D printing is still new as a technology, it has already made such great strides that its use is already being regulated in the medical and transportation industries. Support for the wide application of this technology is being shown not only be individual companies, but by regulatory committees on the global scale as well as by whole nations.

    Since 3D printing first emerged as a technology, people have been theorizing over what it could be used for in the future. When 3D printing crossed the barrier from mild entertainment to a solid production option, engineers might as well have jumped for joy. Breakthroughs with 3D printing have led not only to breakthrough in the engineering world but in some places you might not even expect the tech to turn up.

    Around the world, corporations and even governments are encouraging the use of additive production technologies (3D printing). One such country is India, where the government is pushing for manufacturing with the new tech hoping to raise the current manufacturing output of 16% to 25%. Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion Secretary Ramesh Abhishek described the purpose of the policy being to improve the nation’s global standing in terms of future manufacturing without losing sight of the potential problems. “There are a lot of concerns, lot of opportunities, there are also threats particularly on jobs so how to make our policies, how to tailor our industry, how to get ready for this in a manner that the transition is seamless and our people are skilled enough, may be to relocate to other areas.”

    Other nations are making similar plans for use of the technology, and some organizations are making strides for global uses of the tech to be implemented shortly. Just recently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Association (EASA) approved a 3D printed jet engine, the LEAP-1C for use. This revolutionary integrated propulsion system is a joint venture between GE and Safran, and will be used for the Comac (Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China) C191 single aisle jetliner. Specifically this engine makes use of 3D printed fuel nozzles of which there are 19 in the the LEAP-1C. Additionally, the engine will make use of 3D woven carbon fiber composite fan blades and titanium aluminum blades for the low pressure turbine. Other members of the LEAP engine family, LEAP-1B and LEAP-1A are the powerhouse engine currently in use for the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo. GE reports having taken more than 8,500 orders for the LEAP engine line, and backlogging orders up to a value of $135 billion.

    Another industry making great strides with the use of 3D printing is the medical field. Three these recently became available publicly on Google Scholar which outline potential uses of 3D printing in the future; two from Johns Hopkins University which examine the possibility of 3D printed skull implants and another from the University of Sydney modeling 3D printing as part of future cancer research. Toward a novel tissue engineering method for repairing critically sized craniofacial bone defects, is research conducted by Ben Pen Jui Hung for PhD certification, in which he describes how 3D printed structures when laced with stem cells from body fat show positive cell regeneration. In lames terms, the structures have the potential for use in the human body. In Biomimetic 3D scaffold for cancer research, Yujia Ma of the School of Aerospace, Mechanical & Mechatronic Engineering at the University of Sydney, Australia focuses on the ability of cancer cells to grow on the surface of a range of materials. Ma shows that pore-size is essential to effective growth of cancer cells and that in particular 3D printed materials is a “novel approach” as compared to traditional 2-dimensional growth method on glass.

    This concept of 3D grown organic materials isn’t new however, Organovo specializes in bioprinting and is currently working on producing a bioprinted liver. While it will still be three to five years before the company can apply for clearance of the liver tissues, that is sooner than the FDA had previously expected. The matter has already been tested successful in lab-bred mice and has already shown to behave regularly in the human variety. At this stage, it is currently being explored as a suitable patch for liver injuries or abnormalities. The medical industry isn’t just making strides in the lab or the surgical suite with 3D printed technology, the process may soon be involved in the production of pills. In a video entitled ‘The 3Rs of 3D Printing: FDA’s Role’ the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), its explained how the FDA is working with companies in the 3D printing field to better understand the technology in preparation for the expected wave of 3D printed pills, implants, and in a few years time, tissues and organs. The three Rs are Regulation, Research, and Resource which have them to cover all bases while regulating new innovations and simultaneously protecting the public health. The FDA is working to create an international standard in methods, and consistently attempting to improve their own guidelines to best serve the public while making room for the businesses and individuals employing 3D printing for medical purposes.

    Even though 3D printing is still new technology, its making leaps and bounds in growth faster than the regulators seem to have expected. There’s no telling where the technology will branch off to in the next few years. We can certainly look forward to more precise experiments in the medical field as well as more extensive use in the aviation sector. Taking those in mind, we can postulate potential uses in the automotive and aerospace sectors and possible uses medically, not only for us but even potentially for the life-extension or health of our pets. 3D printing has already begun to provide options for printed prosthetics for humans and our furry loved-ones alike. Who wouldn’t love to be able to replace little Fido’s liver or Mr.Whiskers’ heart or bladder should the issues arise as easily as we could take them for a flea treatment?

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