How Can 3D Printing Redeem Us from the PPE Shortage?

There are various tech organizations, universities, and independent 3D print enthusiasts who happen to have their own set of 3D printer machines are proactively taking a positive response to the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) being experienced by healthcare workers amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

safety surgical mask

There are also reported cases that even complex and highly-sensitive hospital medical paraphernalia and supplies are in scarcity but thankfully they are being covered by these groups by making/manufacturing them on their own. 

3D printing of PPE kits, in general, is fairly cheap to make. You can even turn everything around in a span of a few hours on each 3D printer machine.  

A dedicated community can take charge of this and distribute the same locally to parties who require them through the use of a centralised distributor/supplier. Now, can we take this as a viable solution to the current shortage of PPE supplies for the frontliners?  

It is not as simple as that, so to speak.  

While, needless to say, we have a high demand now for PPEs – we have several issues to take into account.  

There is no official laid out guidance for healthcare workers to reference with respect to the use of 3D-printed PPEs or protective kits.  

When the BBC news organisation tried to reach out to several medical organisations, the NHS and the government departments responded positively. But none had the slightest notion of knowing whether they are advisable for the use of healthcare workers or not. 

We have several types of 3D printing machines and alongside those are an array of materials with which they can print.

Both the materials and the printing machines vary in terms of suitability, quality, and price for different projects. Like for instance, some materials may result in the creation of a rather more porous product. Hence, making it more challenging in terms of keeping it clean.  

Template sharing and modification of the same in the 3D printing community to produce PPE kits, not what they will produce will bear the CE Kitemark, which is tantamount to the European standard for safety. This only signifies the absence of a quality benchmark.

This explains the reason why you can’t sell them. Therefore, their makers would not be able to offer them at all in exchange for cash.  

There is also no way to guarantee that these products are sterilized due to questionable production and packaging. Hence, they are given out with strict and careful instruction that they can be used only once, and be discarded off properly afterward.  

While the hands of insiders, experts, and professionals are on this, we also have a handful of enthusiasts who are taking good advantage of their very own 3D printers at home. And we have good demand, too. According to 3DCrowd UK, as of this writing, they have pending requests for 350,000 pieces of face shields.  

There are 3D printers who decided to take things a step further. Isinnova, an Italian firm that made headlines from last month when it announced that it successfully created 3D-printed ventilator tubes for use in a hospital in Brescia. This region is badly taken down by the Coronavirus scare.  

The said 3D printed tubes can be used straight for 8 hours only at a time. Unfortunately, they will not be able to send in replacements right away.  

While 3D printed items may prove to be of substantial help during this time of the great pandemic, the safety of usage and designs are under scrutiny. 

At this point, we have very little visibility in terms of the outcomes on the use of such 3D printed components. They are bound to remain classified as uncertified medical devices, and for that reason, they are taken advantage of with great caution. As much as possible, consider them as a last resort.  

What Parts of the Human Body Can Now Be Replicated with a 3D Printing Machine?

There’s a new wave of 3D printing machines today that is bringing transformative changes to the bioprinting scene.  It is not very long ago when the very idea of printing a human body sounded like straight from a science fiction novel. Today, this is a new reality that we have to embrace. The question here is, are you ready for it? 

The concept of 3D printing of human body parts is now slowly being introduced to the psyche of the general public and this is being presented in a good, positive light and not solely intended for use in a secluded high-tech research lab. Some remarkable creations have been made for demo purposes only, but they can be made readily available with the help of a standard 3D printing machine. 

Below are some parts of the human body that can be reproduced with the help of 3D printing machines today.  

Bionic Eye

After years of hard work, a research team from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis successfully 3D printed a bionic eye. It is a working prototype of a bionic eye. Made from polymers, the equipment comprises a range of semiconductor photodetectors, and made use of a glass hemisphere to 3D print on.  

The general impression of many of us regarding bionic eyes is that they are unreal, just a figment of the imagination.  But we are closing into making it part of the new reality. The next stage in the process is enhancing the prototype, taking it a step further using a more efficient type of photodetectors. In the UK, there is similar research that made use of stem cells in the bioprinting process of human corneas.  

Antibacterial Tooth

There is a group of researchers in Groningen, the Netherlands that came up with innovative work. They successfully developed a 3D printed tooth that exterminates bacteria. The material used for this 3D printed tooth was made from the traditional resin from which artificial tooth was usually made from.  However, it is a notch higher than other traditional artificial tooth in the sense that quaternary ammonium ions, that are positively charged, are melded to it. The moment that this material comes in contact with a bacteria’s negatively-charged membranes, the microbe is eventually decimated. 

Testing the performance of conventional artificial tooth resins and the tooth polymer type in a saliva solution that contains a high concentration of Streptococcus mutants. This is the exact bacteria that induce tooth decay.  The result of the experiment showed that almost 99% of the bacteria in the saliva solution were extinguished in the process whereas the remaining 1% were obliterated on the conventional material artificial tooth.  

Bionic Ear

An exciting breakthrough was discovered by a team of dedicated scientists at Princeton University who have successfully 3D printed a so-called “bionic ear”. This one was developed using a small coil antenna and cartilage. Participants of the said research asserted a high claim that the artificial ear is capable of “hearing” radio frequencies far beyond what a normal human is capable of sensing.  

With the help of an off-the-shelf 3D printer, this team of scientists merged bovine cells (calf) to a matrix of hydrogel and silver nanoparticles which helped in forming the antenna. Eventually, the said calf cells developed into cartilage. The ear can produce electrical signals and this can be connected to the nerve endings of the subject patient, somewhat having a resemblance to that of a cochlear implant.  

The bionic ear, in principle, should be able to help in restoring a human sense of hearing or enhance it further. However, the scientific community admitted that there is still a lot of testing work to be done first before the said technological breakthrough can be practically applied to patients.  

What are the Potential Challenges of MIMO Antennas?

An awful lot of newly established wireless networks nowadays are highly dependent on MIMO antennas. MIMO stands for Multiple-Input-Multiple-Output. This technology boasts of taking wireless performance of devices to a heightened level of efficiency and reliability. However, much like every other system we have in the modern world, this one has its  own share of weak points. We are going to show you here now some of the most common pitfalls linked to the use and selection of MIMO antennas.

The process of choosing the most appropriate antenna for your application can never be qualified as a trivial undertaking. While system designs are closing in to their full completion, the idea about the use of antenna comes to mind. System designers are always in high anticipation of the gains they need to obtain from the antenna, after which they’d go about and shop around looking for any reasonably priced antenna. They sometimes fall on a whim of looking for an antenna based only on its cool factor or good aesthetics, oblivious of the requirements that it requires.

With regard to the conventional single communications channel, the quarter-wave and half-wave antennas are understood really. The peak current of  standard half-wave antenna is in the middle, while the peak voltage can be found at its end. The center’s peak current is considered very handy due to the antenna’s extremely low impedance and the perfect spot for  antenna feeding using transmission lines of 50 Ohm. We call half-wave antennas dipoles, and we qualify them as plane ground independent.

In a basic quarter-wave antenna, voltage peaks can have a one-quarter wavelength from its feed point. This makes the ground plane dimension to be at least a quarter wave long to allow a properly balanced antenna. Quarter-wave antennas are ground plane dependent and we call them monopoles.

Usually, a half-wave design will not be needing an additional ground plane. Therefore, if you make an effort to attach that to an access point plastic enclosure, it will not affect its performance. And for this reason, the system designer is likely to witness his expected performance.

If a system designer decided to have a quarter-wave design and have that on the exact, same plastic enclosure, he is up for some surprise that the performance he is anticipating to see is lower than what he is expecting. A simple type of quarter-wave antenna needs to work against a ground plane.

In the case of access point plastic enclosure, there is no metal intended for the quarter-wave. Hence, you can substitute internal components for a ground plane. This may induce the RF current to be possibly seen in any metal that is within its reach, such as the power supply leads.  

If, from the very start, the system designer knew already that a quarter-wave antenna is the best choice for his access, more targeted steps could have been utilized while still in the design stages.
Metalization in the plastic enclosed unit could have been utilized instead. It would provide the plane ground of the antenna electronic shielding. The main circuit board also could be designed to work as the ground plane without the need to create an impact on the other electronics, which is done typically in cellular or mobile phones.

CNC Cutting Machine

What is a CNC Plasma Cutting Table?

CNC plasma cutting tables are not your typical working tables, far from being one. They’re incomparable in the sense that they are “robotic”. Without which you will have a hard time using your handheld CNC plasma cutter to its full potential. Hence, it goes to show only that it should be part of your investments if are running a fabrication shop or if you have a constant need for an extraordinary material cutting machine.

If you are trying to look for a plasma cutting table for your metal processing and cutting requirements, you might have a hunch that this task entails so much drudgery because there are many pieces and choices that you need to fit together. Fortunately, it is not at all very challenging to make only that you need to take a few things in mind.

Defining a Plasma Cutting Table

A plasma table intended for metal cutting would usually come in 2’x2’ to 5’x10’ dimensions. An air plasma system of cutting, contrary to a high definition plasma cutter, is more advisable to use for cutting. And to complete your system, you need to have a standard office desktop computer that will serve as your CNC control center.

For this type of CNC plasma system for the metal cutting table, you can anticipate having an average spending cost ranging between $10,000 and $25,000.

The size of CNC plasma table you are likely going to acquire will depend upon how you are intending to use it. Generally speaking, cutting tables that are placed on the smaller end of the scale are suitable mostly for home hobbyists, garage fabricators, and talented craftsmen.

Enterprises that will use their metal cutting table regularly to produce parts will need to take their pick from the larger end of the scale. Regardless of the cost or the size, CNC plasma tables require these 5 components:

1. Mechanical and table components

 This is comprised of the gantry, Z-axis and torch carriage, to allow movement of the torches.

2.  CNC  

This part will serve as your CNC table’s “brain”. It is responsible for converting your machine’s cutting program to a set of machine-readable instructions that will manage and control the cutting speed and its direction along with your height control, peripheral equipment, and plasma system.

3. Fume control

Controlling smoke and fumes is extremely important here. There are two options for you to choose from to make this happen: you either choose a water tray or a downdraft system, instead.

4.  Air plasma cutting system

 Choose a plasma cutting system that will work well with your chosen industrial cutting table.

5. Torch height control or THC

There are a handful of CNC cutting tables that are being sold in the market even without a THC which will help pull down the tag price. However, we believe that THC here is essential to have. It will have a great deal of contribution in as far as improving the quality of the cut is concerned, along with consumable life and torch. By this measure, you are saving money for the long term.

Normally, the manufacturers of plasma cutting table offer buyers a good amount of technical support and training. When planning to acquire a CNC machine anytime soon, see to it that you will also receive an adequate amount of post-purchase service levels and that they are at par with what you require.

How Does Water Jet Cutting Compare to Laser Cutting?

Water jet cutting or laser cutting? Almost everyone working in the metal fabrication sphere has this question in mind. But the truth is, even the expert minds in this industry find this question very challenging and thus they can never provide a definitive answer if that is what you are looking for. It is because the answer you want to hear will greatly depend on what you value the most.

Choosing between these two leading material cutting methods in the metal fabrication industry is indeed a qualified tough call. Both come with their very own array of advantages and disadvantages. To help get this issue resolved, we have come up with a breakdown of their technical and economic aspects.

Waterjet Machine Speed

If you are currently involved with a fabrication project that requires a thin mild steel gauge cutting volume, the use of laser cutting machines will get the job done right.

On the other hand, the use of a waterjet machine would be most recommended when cutting stock materials or several sheets at a time. Such a measure would significantly help in reducing costs. Waterjet technology is powerful enough to be able to cut through a thick pile of metals with great ease.

Finish

HAZ or heat-affected zone around or near the cut is one of the laser cutting method drawbacks and unfortunately it is inevitable in laser cutting technology. This is the reason why you can’t completely rely on this material cutting method since it would necessitate most of the time secondary finishing, depending upon your project’s required finish.

One good thing about the use of a waterjet cutting machine is that it takes the creation of HAZ out of the picture. Besides, water jet cutting technology is renowned for its smooth edge finish, meaning there are no jagged edges, burrs, or slags. Therefore, it is, even more, cost-effective for the overall cost of your material cutting project because it eradicates the need for secondary finishing processes.

This material cutting technology is also known not to impart heat or distort parts, so you can freely stack parts for an increased level of productivity.

Material Thickness

If your project involves cutting through very thick material, normally the most practical option for such a herculean task is to employ the use of a waterjet cutting machine. Waterjet technology can handle the best cutting through the toughest materials around including, stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, composites, brass, mild steel and many more.

You can employ the use of waterjet material cutting technology in cutting through thick materials, up to about 7 inches.

At the other end of the rope, lasers are most ideal for material cutting jobs of up to about ½ inch thick. But there are also high-powered lasers that can easily manage to cut through 1 inch thick. Another drawback of laser cutting is that thicker materials tend to slow it down. This implies that using this technology, though state-of-the-art technology that it is, may require a significant amount of manufacturing times.

Project Quality

Both of these material cutting technologies are known to deliver an almost similar degree of finished product quality and precision.

However, if you will make use of a laser to cut through acrylic, it tends to flame polish the material’s edge. Similarly, the laser cutting machine tends to heat-seal as it cuts through the fabric. With this in mind, aluminum, copper and other highly reflective materials are not highly recommended for laser cutting.

What is the Bottom Line?

With all the points indicated above, we can safely declare that there is no “correct” answer. Everything will depend on the project you are working on and the many specifics that come along with it.

Most of the time waterjet technology of cutting is a far better option when the material cutting projects you’re working with involve handling varied and thick materials. If you are in dire need of an effective convenient way to handle your metal cutting concerns, waterjet technology is the best choice.

Is 3D Printing Brisbane Industry Benefiting the Environment?

The technology working behind the 3D printing Brisbane industry can make for us a cleaner and better world. However, some sectors of the country has expressed their serious misgivings about this, and are thus more interested in delving deeper  about it to find out if this modern and state-of-the-art printing technology, that we enjoy exploiting nowadays, is indeed eco-friendly or not.  

3D Printing Brisbane Industry Produces Zero Waste – Big Advantage!

Manufacturing companies that are involved with the use of metals, fabrics and other kinds of raw materials normally have huge amounts of leftovers. Unfortunately, the large amounts of which is beyond use anymore or can’t be processed even further. This leftover raw materials are contributing to the pile of waste in a landfill. 

3D printing works that make use of LPD technology are not likely to produce and leave behind waste per se. Perhaps, it will just be the supporting material elements only, and normally there is a relatively small amount. 

You produce the objects you want without the need to worry about the trimmings, and you can fashion out those objects you have in mind the way you desire to and when you want to. When it is all about low-volume production, nothing will come close to what 3D printing technology can manage to deliver. 

Controversial Materials: Do You Need to Worry About Them? 

The 3D printing Australia industry is exploiting many different kinds of polymer-based filaments in making their product offerings. Most of them are plastics which are produced from mineral or extracted oil. 

On the contrary, products that have been produced using only a single raw material are usually easily recyclable. Moreover, materials that are 100% biodegradable including materials that are made from recyclable substances are now underway of being developed.  

3D printing

There is also no need to feel worried or alarmed about the random dust particles that an ongoing 3D printing process might produce. The scientific community has its eyes on this aspect. Fortunately, as of this moment, there is no solid proof that will indicate that they can put human health and well-being, including the environment, in harm’s way. 

You May Use Green Energy

Normally, 3D printing machines require a relatively huge amount of power to run. While there is a grain of truth in this, it should not be construed as being not environment-friendly. At this point in our development as a human race when sources of renewable energy are taking the forefront of our focus and attention, this should not be labeled as something important.

An increasing number of places and regions around the globe are now waking up to the benefits of using green energy, and this sector of printing is utilizing it without any issue.  

The Logistics of Your Location

Transportation is included in the array of issues related to pollution, regardless if it is by water, air, or land. The 3D approach to printing out materials and parts will significantly help in alleviating the pressing need to transport certain items. 

The moment that this technology becomes even more prevalent, its positive impact will be noticed even more. 3D printing Brisbane insiders are anticipating that this will reduce the time and costs of transportation, thus supporting for us a more sustainable environment.  

printer-technology

Expert Advice on Choosing Your First 3D Printing Machine

Industry insiders believe that the 3D printing space of today is now more dynamic than ever and as a proof for this, we now have a denser population of manufacturing firms that cater to the production of 3D printers. Each one of them is vying for its market share in the 3D printing universe.

The influx of 3D printing machines in the market today has created a confounding situation for many consumers, particularly those who have no relevant background or prior experience with these kinds of machines. Too many available options for 3D printers make it hard for them to choose which piece of equipment they need to have.

To help alleviate this situation, we took the initiative of reaching out to some of the experts in the industry to ask them for some pointers when choosing the right 3D printing machine to buy. 

When trying to shop for 3D printer, consider the following as your ultimate guide:

Printing Technology

This is the first fundamental factor to have in mind. 3D printing is a terminology we use to describe the medley of different technologies found here. 

The Build Volume

The build volume pertains to the biggest material that your 3D printer can build. The vast majority of printers come in cuboidal shape, while another class would be available cylindrical form and they are called Delta 3D printers. 

During a build, the build volume can be saturated with numerous small parts. If the part that you happen to have is much bigger compared to your machine’s build volume, you need to make it in parts. You can make them join together with the help of screws or glue. 

Ease of Use

Not all 3D printing machines are created the same by their manufacturers. Some are committed to making the life of their users simple and straightforward, while others are not.

A high-value 3D printing machine will possess the following: 

  • Packaged with application software which makes your 3D printing work quick, easy, and seamless without having to compromise the control that you are supposed to have on print quality. 
  • A machine integrated user screen interface with a functionality that will guide and instruct the user every step of the way, including changing of filament or making some needed adjustments to the print heads or extruders.  

Reliability

Long hours of tedious printing jobs will make you realize that not all machines can be relied on and while others can’t even come close, regardless of what is being asserted by their manufacturers or what their brochures or websites would claim. Look at this site for your guide.

Wrapping Up!

Almost every piece of 3D printing device that can be found on the market today are qualified desktop machines, this means to say that you can have them inside an air-conditioned office environment without having to worry about anything. Even if there are occasions that your 3D printer would exude distinct odors due to resins or melting filament, they are not at all harmful.

Mineral Exploration

The Answer to a Million-Dollar Question About Sonic Drill Rig Manufacturing

In the business of mineral exploration drilling, sonic drill rig manufacturers agree in saying that the right equipment for the job and proper drill rigs are of paramount importance if you want to ace the bidding process, complete project contracts and eventually earn a good amount of profits. Acquiring a new drill rig is a qualified major decision, and there are a lot of factors and variables that can impact this.

The million-dollar question we have here regarding this matter is, will your newly acquired drill rig help you make more money? Or will it eventually cost you more owning one?

According to the top sonic drill rig manufacturers, in the recent economic slowdown, there are a handful of drill rigs that have remained inactive. This explains the reason why it is a lot easier to cannibalize parts and components so that active drilling rigs will keep on running.  

Operations managers have a good hunch as to which of the components (valves, engines, assemblies, etc.) are in immediate need of replacement. It is not surprising to know that they can accurately make a good guess on how much it will cost them to rebuild an oil drill rig in their fleet.

Should they determine that the rebuilding costs are in close range to how much it would cost them to buy a brand new rig, they are likely to take on a full-blast audit. This may necessitate them to make an inspection of the drill rigs, check maintenance records, or evaluate spare parts in stock. All these measures allow for a more accurate cost comparison analysis so that the drill rig will soon be up and running again. 

  1. Resources

Other than costs, there are many other things that you need to factor in including talent or if the company can carry out an overhaul on a drill rig which has remained idle for a long time now and will need to get back to work. There is so much drudgery in the overhaul process and thus may take 3-4 months. You need to have the right kind of facilities, knowledge, and skills on how to get your drill rigs ready for drilling contracts

         2.  Availability

With the market getting better each time, it makes it safe to anticipate longer lead times ahead, regardless if your buying something new or rebuilding your old one. If the market is on the low, the natural tendency of inventory is to go higher. Plants are not so very preoccupied with the building of brand new rigs, as for the lead times, there are also lesser lead times. 

If the market tends to go up and rise, contracts would increase while the inventory is low. Plants would be much more preoccupied with building more rigs. The lead time would be rising and increase. With respect to the manufacturer, lead times would ultimately vary.  

sonic drilling rig technology
Warnemünde Crane Crane Arm Baltic Sea Rostock

          3. New Technology

Acquiring a new drill rig, even if you still have your older drill rig fleet gives you a good chance to productively drill more meters. It is fairly easy to understand that newer rigs makes you more productive and give you a much more reliable uptime. In addition to that, compared to older rigs, they come with more safety features.

With increased safety requirements for a mine site, a new rig can have better chances of meeting those safety measures which an older rig might fail at.  

A market downturn can easily cause the springing of a lot of great buys. While there is a looming further improvement for the market, price points are more likely to go up as the availability decreases.