If you’ve ever tried to cut a piece of acrylic with a tool designed to cut wood or metal, you know that the plastic doesn’t cut in the same way that either of the other materials would. It melts at the cutting location, often gumming up the tool but always releasing a terrible smell that will encourage anyone who has tried this to get the proper plastic cutting tools instead of taking shortcuts. Other tools that heat up plastic also have this problem, as Gizmodo reported recently, and it turns out that the plastic particles aren’t just smelly, they’re toxic.
The report released recently focuses on 3D printers which heat plastic of some form or other in order to make it malleable and form to the specifications of the print. Similar to cutting plastic with the wrong tool, this releases vaporized plastic particles into the air which are incredibly small and can cause health issues when inhaled. They are too small to be seen, and can enter the bloodstream through the lungs. The study found 200 different compounds that were emitted by the printers, some of which are known to be harmful, including several carcinogens. The worst of the emissions seem to be released when the prints are first initiated, but they are continuously released throuhgout the print session as well.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that aerosolized plastic is harmful to breathe, but the sheer magnitude of particles detected in this study is worth taking note of. If you don’t already, it might be good to run your 3D printer in the garage or at least in a room that isn’t used as living space. If that’s not possible, you might want to look at other options to keep your work area safe.
In 2015 our Bangkok-based makerspace ProgressTH began collaborating with a local children’s hospital, QSNICH (Queen Sirikit Institute of Child Health). Since then, we have helped nurses develop their ideas into working prototypes and small-batch production articles now being used throughout the hospital. These include: 1. Needle disposal system which re-purposes rubbing alcohol and saline solution containers; 2. Child-friendly dermatology tool; 3. Bed leveling system and; 4. A prototype for a blood clotting device. We are continuing to develop this program in supporting QSNICH, as well as approaching additional hospitals, encouraging hospitals to set up their own in-hospital makerspaces, and sharing our experience with the maker community to encourage others to use their skills to make a real impact.
Ecapture, a company based in Mérida Spain, today unveiled their own tablet with extensive 3D scanning and measurement capabilities, called the EyesMap. Unlike the typical tablet you and I are used to, this device is made primarily as a measuring and 3D scanning too.
With the T-bone, a custom “cape” (daughterboard) for the Beaglebone Black, running your 3D printers, laser cutters or milling machines will be considerably easier. The cape comes preprogrammed for the Reprap Mendel 3D Printer, along with low level drivers, the printer application and a high level Web Interface for control.
Everything old can be made new again…with a 3D printer, of course. For the audiophile, here’s a story via Open Electronics:
This project has been out for a couple of years but the development goes forward.
In order to explore the current limits of 3D printing technology, I’ve created a technique for converting digital audio files into 3D-printable, 33rpm records and printed a few prototypes that play on ordinary turntables. Though the audio quality is low the audio output is still easily recognizable, the records have a sampling rate of 11kHz (a quarter of typical mp3 audio) and 5-6 bit resolution (less than one thousandth of typical 16 bit resolution). These records were printed on an Objet Connex500 resin printer to a precision of 600dpi with 16 micron z axis resolution. The 3D modeling in this project was far too complex to do by hand, so I wrote a program to do this conversion automatically. It works by importing raw audio data, performing some calculations to generate the geometry of a 12″ record, and eventually exporting this geometry straight to a 3D printable file format. Most of the heavy lifting is done by Processing.
Not to belabor the robotic arm and 3D printing meme…however. A near desktop-sized robotic device to print and weld metal in mid-air? For DIYers and entrepreneurs, it’s further proof that 3D printing is reaching beyond the hobbyist-and-doodad stage and moving into a bona fide manufacturing realm. Watch this 1-minute video and see how 3D printing’s getting more weird and wonderful all the time.