Titanium might just be the hottest material on the planet earth right now. Out of England comes news that biochemists at Manchester Metropolitan University believe hospital superbugs could be destroyed simply by applying titanium dioxide nanoparticles to hospital surfaces, and then exposing those surfaces to fluorescent light. Titanium dioxide isn’t exactly a rare material – it’s the most commonly used white pigment. The researchers found that other paint additives, such as calcium carbonate, block the killer properties of titanium dioxide. From Toronto comes word that a company is pitching money and credit card clips made of titanium for people who don’t want to carry wallets. Why titanium? It’s lightweight, hypoallergenic, immune to salt water and extremely durable. Immune to salt water? OK, I don’t get that either. And then there’s Sarah Palin. Those titanium glasses she wears are normally slow sellers – about 9,000 a year globally. Ten days after her selection as John McCain’s running mate, the Japanese manufacturer received 12,000 orders.
These new 3D-printing technologies and printers include some that are truly boundary-breaking: a sophisticated new sub-$10,000, 10-plus materials bioprinter, the first industrial-strength silicone 3D-printing service, and a clever twist on 3D printing and thermoforming for making high-quality realistic models.
Using simulation to guide the drafting process can speed up the design and production of 3D-printed nanostructures, reduce errors, and even make it possible to scale up the structures. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a model that does this.
Engineers need workhorse materials with beefy mechanical properties for industrial designs made with 3D printing. Very few have been designed from the ground up for additive manufacturing, but that picture is beginning to change.
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