3D Printing Pharmaceuticals

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Researchers in London are working on a way to 3D print pills. The shape and surface area of a pill are surprisingly important in how the drug is released into your system, so their idea is that specifically-shaped pills could meet a specific patient’s treatment needs. And futurists point out that one day, it might be possible to print drugs — or even dangerous things like viruses — at home.

Lenovo Takes On Fabrication

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Consumer electronics giant Lenovo used the inaugural Lenovo Tech World Conference in Beijing to show some of the company’s first 3D printers, suggesting that they may be looking to move into the increasingly crowded market. One initial focus, surprisingly, might be culinary: a model on display printed out detailed models of chocolate.

Printing In Color

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Irish developer Mcor Technologies is using selective deposition lamination to print crisp, vividly colored objects out of precisely-cut layers of paper, adhesive, and inkjet ink. The finished models are basically paper, not plastic or metal, but provide incredible texture and detail.

Printing For Surgeons

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Doctors at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital are using 3D modeling and printing to replicate the cardiovascular anatomy of patients who need to undergo challenging operations. Using the models, surgeons can imagine each step of the operation in 3D, before even cutting into a patient. Nicklaus Children’s Hospital isn’t the first to use similar technology to prepare for surgery, though the technique is still young.

DARPA To Develop Additive Manufacturing Standards

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To help ensure the quality of additive manufacturing, a new DARPA program will develop standards and techniques for measuring the strength and performance of 3D printed materials.

“The Open Manufacturing program is fundamentally about capturing and understanding the physics and process parameters of additive and other novel production concepts, so we can rapidly predict with high confidence how the finished part will perform,” said Mick Maher, program manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office.

Metal Printing Gets A VC Boost

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3D printing outfit MatterFab raised $5.75 million in a Series A fund led by GE Ventures to continue work on its technology for printing metal. MatterFab plans to “disrupt” traditional manufacturing by optimizing the design of individual components. For example, they say that redesigning an airplane’s belt buckle to weigh slightly less could save $275 per year in fuel per buckle, adding up to millions annually. The new funds will be used to bring the company’s 3D metal printer to market.