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Impressão 3D

Pablo Empanada

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O mundo tal como o conhecemos está prestes a mudar radicalmente mais cedo do que pensamos. A ciência continua a evoluir a velocidade estonteante e a impressão 3D será uma das grandes tecnologias responsáveis.

Com a impressão 3D a nível industrial, deixará de fazer sentido deslocar fabricas para países com mão de obra mais barata para depois a mercadoria ser enviada novamente para o pais de origem. Isto porque será possível fabricar peças inteiras muito mais rápido e com menores custos sem necessidade de qualquer mão humana. O que fará deixar de existir praticamente postos de trabalho nas fabricas e como resultado a economia chinesa, que é totalmente dependente deste tipo de economia vai rebentar, é mais do que garantido.

Será possível imprimir casas em pouco mais de 1 dia, imprimir os nossos própios medicamentos, criar novos organismos, imprimir uma peça de um aparelho em casa que se avariou etc...


Modelos 3D prontos a imprimir http://www.thingiverse.com/

Impressora opensource RepRap

http://reprap.org/wiki/Main_Page Kits construídos por volta de 700€.

RepRap is humanity's first general-purpose self-replicating manufacturing machine.

RepRap takes the form of a free desktop 3D printer capable of printing plastic objects. Since many parts of RepRap are made from plastic and RepRap prints those parts, RepRap self-replicates by making a kit of itself - a kit that anyone can assemble given time and materials. It also means that - if you've got a RepRap - you can print lots of useful stuff, and you can print another RepRap for a friend...


Replacement jaw created using 3D printing


Some of the most impressive uses of the technology have occurred in the medical industry. Last year a medical team in the Netherlands successfully implanted a replacement jaw into an elderly woman. The jaw was created using a 3D printer. This meant that it was a perfect match for the patient and was ready for dental implants immediately. The transplant was a resounding success, despite the fact that the procedure was the first of its kind using a printed implant.

The possibilities are endless

Some experts are predicting that it won’t be long until people can download designs and print useful items such as replacement parts for household appliances. This will completely revolutionize the way we live, as well as the way companies work. In theory it will make some products much cheaper as manufacturing, labour and distribution costs will be slashed.

There is even active research being carried out into the idea of people being able to print their own custom medication, to save them going to the doctors or the pharmacy. The team responsible for the research, based at the University of Glasgow, have already printed organic compounds housed in what they call ‘reactionware’ which is printed at the same time. If this becomes a reality, healthcare will never be the same again.

The potential of 3D printing is hard to fathom. What has already been achieved and what is around the corner will help to push the boundaries of science and change the way we live. Hopefully in the near future there will be a multi-use 3D printer in every home, printing spare parts, personalized medicine and other items, making 3D printing the definition of personal technology.

This model of Fenway Park was printed in 40 interlocking parts then slotted together:



To the best of my knowledge, this is the first 3D printed firearm (as per the definition in the GCA) in the world to actually be tested.

Everything ran just as it should, magazine after magazine. To be honest, it was acting more reliably than a number of other .22 pistols I’ve shot. I ran close to 100 rounds through the gun before getting annoyed with not actually being able to aim at anything, and decided to call the experiment an overwhelming success.

Behrokh Khoshnevis, a professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Southern California, has spent the last 15 years working on a machine that will "print" buildings. He's still working on it, but in the TedTalk video below, you can see the prototype at work. Various nozzles and robots slide around on a giant grid of mobile bars and rails, mixing cement, laying electrical wire, and installing rebar. He calls the practice Contour Crafting.

The technology, he says, will be faster than all conventional building methods, including prefab construction. It will also be cheaper, and use less energy than all but emergency construction practices. What's more, because it can build whatever you can program into a computer, it will offer unprecedented design flexibility - right angles, wild patterns, or soft curves, like those of the House of Brojerdi in Khoshnevis's native Iran.

Homegrown labware made with 3D printer

'Smart' containers can be customized to drive chemical reactions.

Armed with a three-dimensional (3D) printer and the type of silicone-based sealant typically used for bathrooms, researchers have demonstrated a novel way to control chemical reactions: by making the reaction vessel an integral part of the experiment itself. The results, published 15 April in Nature Chemistry1, could open the door to a new generation of custom labware made to suit individual researchers’ needs.

Led by Leroy Cronin, a chemist at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, the researchers took advantage of 3D printing — a computer-guided process that builds up solid objects layer by layer — to cast a variety of reaction vessels from the quick-setting bathroom sealant. One vessel was printed with catalyst-laced 'ink', enabling the container walls to drive chemical reactions. Another container included built-in electrodes, made from skinny strips of polymer printed with a conductive carbon-based additive. The strips carried currents that stimulated an electrochemical reaction within the vessel.

“Chemistry, for the last 200 years, has been done in a fixed, passive reactor,” says Cronin, referring to the conventional glass flasks and other vessels that are standard issue in most chemistry labs. “That has just changed.”

Using the new labware — which they call “reactionware” — the group synthesized three novel compounds: two inorganic solids and one organic fluid.

The researchers also printed containers customized with holes and slots into which could be added extra hardware, such as glass viewing windows, fibre-optic cables or electrodes for monitoring and controlling chemical reactions. Integrated fibre optics helped the researchers analyse a solution’s changing colour inside the vessel without decanting the product.

In each experiment, scientists used a needle to pierce the reaction vessel and draw reagents from separate wells into a mixing chamber. Vessels made from bathroom sealant spontaneously re-seal around the puncture sites after use. The researchers also sliced through some of the containers they made to recover solid reaction products, then glued the two halves together for subsequent experiments.

According to Cronin, the 3D printer used for the work cost US$2,000, and the bathroom sealant is available at hardware stores. He and his colleagues designed the vessels and controlled the printer using free, open-source software. Cronin says that the system will allow scientists to test chemical processes in ways that might not have been economical before, such as producing just a few tablets of a particular drug.

Fruit-bearing frustration

Cronin envisions that researchers and perhaps even ordinary consumers could download 3D printing programs similar to smart-phone applications. Such applications might instruct the printer to create a vessel that has a pre-programmed and fully tested chemical reaction built in.

Bao notes that the polymer used would not be appropriate for all chemical reactions or for use at high temperatures. Cronin says the team is testing different ink materials to find out whether they are more resistant to heat and caustic conditions than bathroom sealant. “It’s not as hardy as steel or glass, but I think the flexibility that you get is a game-changer,” says Cronin.

The field of synthetic biology is simply fascinating. This field has the chance to revolutionize most areas of industry from mining and manufacturing, to clean energy and battery storage, to materials and healthcare.

Desktop Hardware

Biohackers are taking biology to the desktop rather than labs to get experiments going on in their bedroom and garage labs. This is similar to how developers hacked together early computers manually with custom built circuit boards.

openPCR - these guys cut the price down from $5000 to $500 of a crucial step in synthetic biology and are allowing biohackers to take synthetic biology onto their desktop. Then Stacey Kuznetsov and Matt Mancuso (a separate team of bio hackers) cut the price down to $85! I'm hoping that hardware hackers are going to rip the price down of DNA printing machines. The truly cheap machine will be a microfluidics solution to DNA synthesis. Instead of paying $50k for a DNA printer machine, I believe it can be done at a base cost price of $2 on chip bound to a super cheap PCR machine.

DNA Synthesis

An essential part of synthetic biology is the ability to create DNA sequences that you can use in experiments. The analogue is being able to print a circuit board using an etching machine. So if you have a cool gene from an organism that you want to plug in to your custom organism, you will want to download the gene, then create it with a DNA synthesis machine. These machines are expensive (around $50k right now) but these companies are slashing the prices and you can just order from them so you don't need the hardware. This will be like ordering electronic components online. Most DNA synthesis companies currently operate on a service base model with the cost base being on a $/ base pair of DNA. You're not going to make a resistor in your bedroom, so by analogue DNA Synthesis may remain in the cloud.

Cambrian Genomics - this team is building a "DNA laser printer" which will cut the cost down of DNA printing by an order of magnitude.

Halcyon Molecular - the Founders Fund backed company that recently ran out of money and pivoted from DNA Sequencing due to Oxford Nanopore beating them in the cost cutting race. Their next move seems to be currently secret.

Gen 9 - is a synthesis company also in this area. See there paper here.

DNA Sequencing

DNA needs to be read. If you want to identify the genetic code of something you need to sequence it. This is like being able to open the source code other people's programs to see how things work, debug your experiment and is the analogue of an oscilloscope in electronics.

Oxford Nanopore - this company from Oxford have developed a super elegant way to read DNA. Check out the site for the truly awesome video. They also raised $50m recently, going to show that this field is getting serious investment. Also check out Genia and Genapsys.

Biological Design

If you're going to embark on making a new organism that has wild and interesting applications, you will need to design the logic on "bio circuit" creation software.

Genome Complier- this team is building an AutoCAD for bio circuits. I've tested the software and the current version is accessible for the amateur. This is a vital part of the stack to allow people design and (in future) test their bio circuits out before they spend money and time on producing the physical product.

Benchling - making it easy to order primers and share plasmid maps with each other. If they play their cards right they might be able to become the github of biology.

Teselagen - are developing biological design automation systems. Worth signing up for their beta trial if your interested.

More design tools and companies to be found here.

Full Stack

Some companies are going for the full stack approach and doing nearly everything in-house. These guys are the equivalent of IBM for computers back in the 1970's.

Grinko Biotech - who's slogan of "the organism is the product" can construct custom organisms in 6 months, a cycle time I expect will fall rapidly. You can go to this company and get an organism made for you - full stack. Their customers will be larger companies that have slower timelines and big budgets. Note Grinko Biotech buy their DNA from IDT/Blue Heron and DNA 2.0. Also check out Synthetic Genomics.


The companies mentioned above are mainly horizontal platform plays in this area. However, many of the startups are going for "killer apps" first.

Refactored materials - Using microbes and microfluidics to manufacture spider silk at scale. Imagine the applications in body armor, cars, mobile phone casing and bridges. Nexia Biotechnologies make a similar product called Biosteel.

Universal Biomining - this startup is making bacteria that can precipitate useful metals from water. Imagine vats of bacteria excreting gold and silver! Here is a TED talk on the idea. One could do away with the lofty mines of old and just use the water around us to mine our metals.

Sample 6 tech - pathogen detection platform. There are many applications from their platform e.g. detecting e coli on food surfaces (you could have your food surface glow green with the bioluminescence gene from jellyfish if it detected too many germs) to a condom that would change colour if it detected an STD (on either side).

Joule, LS9, Genomatica, Sapphire Energy, Solazyme - these firms are all working on synthetically engineered organisms that can produce biofuels.


Some of the experiments in the field require a ton of iteration and testing. Automation and scaling tests is an area ripe for innovation. Seeing biologists use pipettes with their hands pains me.


Community is important to bring together information, people, teams, education and funding:

BioCurious - you can take labs down in Cupertino, get access to equipment and learn more about biohacking. I went down there and learnt a lot in one day, it was well worth it.

iGEM - standardisation of biological parts. I precursor for a github for biology.

Taking Synthetic Biology into the Cloud

Synthetic biology is moving to the cloud and this cloud will have a green lining. Some functions of the bio startup stack beyond in the cloud due to economies of scale and some beyond on the desktop for speed of experimentation and the creativity of being close to your experiment. In the future we will be able to do all of our design, tests and scaling from our desktop machine, laptop or even mobile. We are on the edge of synthetic biology startups becoming mainstream for tech investors and I personally would like this field to advance at rapid speed. If you know other companies in the field please get in contact jude.gomila+bio@gmail.com - I'd love to hear about them and add them to the post. Also if you want to learn more read this first textbook on synthetic biology.

Edited by Pablo Empanada
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The Next Big Idea to Change the World? 3D Printing

3D printing: Second industrial revolution is under way


3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using additive processes, where an object is created by laying down successive layers of material. 3D printing is considered distinct from traditional machining techniques (subtractive processes) which mostly rely on the removal of material by drilling, cutting etc.

There are already countless articles speculating that 3D printing will revolutionize the manufacturing industry, and even bring in a second industrial revolution. As resolution and material variety go up, cost and time to print go down, its easy to see we are in for some very interesting developments in the space. The sheer flexibility of what one can do with 3D printing will ensure its future success, as we will see many niche use cases and markets opening up for such devices. And as always, a new market has sprung up for security protocols such as DRM being placed on 3D printers to prevent people actually downloading and printing cars in the future.

Imagine if there was an appliance that could deposit multiple types of material down to a resolution so fine that it could make something that feels like cloth, make something that passes for wood, or eventually print circuitry. Even in the near term if these machines could be made cheap enough it would be a huge blow to the toy industry. I expect to see a type of Moore’s law in printer resolution kicking in within a few years where a printers resolution would increase by one decimal place every couple years or so to be extremely conservative.

Nasa has already taken advantage of 3D printing, with their engineers designing a compact version of this machine that can be used in space. With this machine they don’t have to carry different tools for different parts of a mission. They can print the tool they need, then when they’re done, they smelt it back into the plastic to be reprinted. They have a prototype that is supposed to go to the ISS by next year. Boeing already create about 300 different smaller aircraft parts using 3-D printing, including ducts that carry cool air to electronic equipment. Some of these ducts have complicated shapes and formerly had to be assembled from numerous pieces, boosting labor costs. currently.

One niche market that has cropped up is the design and printing of luxury metal door handles. This shows that 3D printing with metal components is already possible, and will probably only become more efficient in the years to come.

We will see novel online market places cropping up around this new industry that will offer downloadable 3D models of anything from spare nuts and bolts to more sophisticated machinery that can be printed from home. Don’t believe me? There are already several market places up and running, Thingiverse and Pirate Bay’s “Physibles” category.

There is already a project that is attempting to create a 3D printer that is capable of printing copies of itself. RepRap is humanity’s first general-purpose self-replicating manufacturing machine.

For now, 3D printers are slow, bulky and expensive to use – as with any new technology in its infancy. However, if we forecast 3D printing to its natural conclusion 50-100 years down the road, its not hard to imagine a Star Trek replicator type appliance that can print anything from food to devices to spare parts and tools.





A revolução começou :)

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  • 1 year later...

Nada disso. Se isto chegar ao ponto que se pensa vai ser uma revolução industrial total. Isto vai ser o caos e vai conduzir a um desemprego inimaginável e ao desaparecimento de centenas senão milhares de industrias.

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