Pioneering Space Exploration: First Metal 3D Printer Set to Launch Into Outer Space

Once again, it is time to take a look back at some of the news that has marked the additive manufacturing sector this week. And we’re starting with a piece of news that truly does show that not even the sky can be a limit for 3D printing, as it involves exploring space. French company AddUp has announced, in collaboration with Airbus Defense & Space, that it will be sending the first metal 3D printer into space! It should enable the creation of spare parts aboard the International Space Station. We also take a look at the first FDA-certified 3D-printed gastric device, an unprecedented achievement in the medical sector. We’ll also be talking about Boston Micro Fabrication’s growth, submicron 3D printing and the completion of the largest 3D printed house in Europe. Happy reading and have a great weekend!

Airbus Will Send a Metal 3D Printer into Space

Metals 3D printing solutions manufacturer AddUp has just announced the delivery of a working metal 3D printer in space to the European Space Agency. In collaboration with Airbus Defense & Space, the company has developed a customized metal solution capable of designing parts in microgravity conditions aboard the International Space Station. The project, which began in 2016, marks a milestone in space exploration. The machine is due to be installed on board the Columbus scientific module and will enable the production of four parts. These will then be returned to Earth for analysis, the aim being to make metal additive manufacturing viable in space. This could open up a host of possibilities for astronauts, including the manufacture of spare parts on demand.

Test parts made by the metal 3D printer before its launch into space (photo credits: ESA)

Triastek’s 3D Printed Gastric Device Receives FDA Clearance

We continue this #3DExpress with Triastek, which announced recently that its 3D-printed gastric device has received FDA clearance. Named T22, the model has become the first 3D-printed gastric retention device to receive this certification. The component was created using Triastek’s proprietary melt extrusion and micro-injection molding (MED&MIM) process. This development could benefit the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension and chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension. T22 could reduce the frequency of administration to once-daily, simplifying the dosing regimen and improving compliance. Following this approval, Triastek said it was preparing to launch clinical studies with T22 to accelerate product development.

Scrona and Avantama Enable Submicron 3D Printing

A recent collaboration between Scrona and Avantama has yielded impressive results. Avantama’s high-performance quantum dot inks are used in combination with Scrona’s 3D printing technology, enabling 3D printing on a sub-micron scale for the production of MicroLED displays. Scrona’s electrohydrodynamic (EHD) inkjet technology is particularly useful in handling high-viscosity inks. Due to EHD technology, the material doesn’t drip from the nozzle but is instead extracted from it, resulting in micrometer resolutions. This makes the process especially suited for the production of semiconductors and microdisplays.

Boston Micro Fabrication Witnesses 30% YoY Growth

Boston Micro Fabrication (BMF), known for its microscale additive manufacturing solutions for ultra-high precision applications, has reported 30% year-on-year growth following a significant 2023. Despite struggles within the AM market, BMF appears to be experiencing significant growth. The company also recently secured its Series D Funding, made inroads into new markets like dental, and expanded its San Diego Research Institute (SDRI). Speaking on this development, John Kawlo, CEO of BMF, said, “Despite a difficult economic climate globally and within the 3D printing industry, we are extremely proud of the progress made in the past year assisting our customers push the envelope with our technology. A lot of our success comes from our team’s solid execution, our product-market focus, and the fact that we’re building a high value, differentiated business.’

BMF is known for its additive manufacturing solutions for microscale parts (photo credits: BMF)

Europe’s Largest 3D Printed House Completed in Heidelberg

Europe’s largest 3D-printed house is finally ready. Located in Heidelberg, Germany, it took 170 hours to print using a special concrete developed by Heidelberg Materials. It’s worth noting that it wasn’t easy for the owners to fit a roof over the undulating shape of the house. Nevertheless, the project has now been completed and the keys handed over this week. IT company HeidelbergiT is now moving into the building. Despite the challenges, this 3D-printed house can be considered a pilot project for home 3D printing.

Photo Credits: Heidelberg Materials

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