This past weekend, eNable returned to the Construct3D: 3D Printing and Digital Fabrication Conference– this year, held at Rice University in Houston, TX! This year, we had a chance to present our work in one of the sessions and got to meet Jen and Jeremy from the greater e-Nable community.
Some fascinating workshops and talks we attended included:
3D Printed Habitat Challenge/Melodie Yashar
Melodie and her team worked from the ground up to design and develop a fully 3D printable habitat on Mars featuring an intricate multi-layer house wall shaped to act as a pressurized vessel. Their final design featured novel developments in 3D printing including containing liquid without leaks and applications to additive manufacturing and low-income housing. https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/centennial_challenges/3DPHab/index.html
DICOM to STL/Jefferson Health Design Laboratory
Medical students with the Jefferson Health Design Laboratory took us on a workshop that took Medical CT files and sliced them into STL files (the type of files sent to the 3D printer.) We utilized a full skull scan and isolated it down to the jaw before saving it ready for the 3D Printer. This process was relatively quick and all the programs are open source for use: 3D Slicer, Mesh Mixer, and Cura for slicing. The Health Design Laboratory uses this quick process to allow doctors to practice on models before completing the surgeries on the patient, and decreasing surgery time as well as patient education and making sure our patients are transparent in their knowledge of their own bodies.
3D Bioprinting of Vascularized Tissues and Organoids/Jordan Miller
The multiscale vasculature of organs is extremely hard to model and 3D print, but there have been advances that suggest this is possible in the future based on a “form follows function” idea. Using projection stereolithography they hope to somehow find a way to model the vasculature. A big challenge is the time issue, because once the tissue is injected they begin to immediately decay. http://amrinstitute.org/build_the_future..html
3D Printing Ceramics/Taekyeom Lee
Novel innovation with 3D Printing with different materials are emerging, such as Taekyeom’s experimentation with sending a STL file to print with clay and heat it to make pottery! He hand built his own “printer” utilizing frames and pneumatic cylinders and motors to push out the clay in a way that allows it to stabilize and form.
Making 3D Printing more Sustainable/University of Florida
3D Printing generates a large amount of waste with failed prints and supports, all in plastic. There have been ways to attempt to recycle the waste, but nothing widely cross-applicable being used currently. The University of Florida made a test system and realized there was a way to recycle failed prints and support material back into colored filament. Their process involves using blenders and shredders, food dehydrators to remove moisture content, and the filabot spooler, airpath, and extruder to respool the material back into filament. Hopefully, this process can be applied at other places to start being more sustainable!
We also met people from all over: the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy educators are working in a similar adaptive device space hoping to start their own e-Nable chapter, and the Fab Lab El Paso team is working to create a documentary called “Disrupted Borders” on a young girl who is making an adaptive device for her friend. Finally, it was awesome to see that sharing our work at the ACCelerate Festival of Innovation and Creativity last year translated right at the Smithsonian, as Tim Pula with the Smithsonian Spark!Lab created a prosthetic hand design challenge for the kids!
This was a fantastic opportunity for us and we’re excited to bring back some of the technology and insights learned from this conference. We’d like to thank Duke University, Chip Bobbert, the Innovation Co-Lab and the Construct3D Steering Committee as well as the Engineering Alumni Council and the Lord Foundation for helping make this trip possible!