3D printing has been touted as being a manufacturing cure-all for a whole host of different applications. The reality is very different, but this doesn’t stop the onslaught of news articles proclaiming 3D printing to be the answer. Here’s a roundup of the weird and wonderful world of 3D printing in 2019.
3D printing: the cure for baldness?
US dermatologists in Columbia University have used 3D printing to try to find a solution for a common but often overlooked complaint: baldness. Finding a cure for this pervasive medical condition remains elusive, in part because of the difficulty encountered when researchers try to culture hair follicles in the lab to explore new treatments. Unlike mouse or rat cells taken from the base of hair follicles, human cells do not produce hair cells when cultured. As Angela Christiano, a professor of dermatology at Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, explains, “Cells from rats and mice grow beautiful hairs, but for reasons we don’t totally understand, human cells are resistant”. As one potential solution to baldness could be culturing hair in a lab before transplantation, overcoming human cells sluggishness could unlock the cure.
Christiano and colleagues have enlisted the benefits of 3D printing to try to solve this challenge, as “previous fabrication techniques have been unable to create such thin projections so this work was greatly facilitated by innovations in 3D printing technology” explained Erbil Abachi, first author on the paper published in Nature Communications. Although this process requires optimisation, the team are confident that it could pave the way for new transplantation techniques – which are currently limited by the number of donor hairs – or provide a new laboratory environment for the testing and screening of drugs to treat the men and 30 million women in the United States currently affected by baldness.
Affordable chocolate 3D printers
Another application area that occasionally hits the headlines but generally stays under the radar of public consciousness is 3D printing of food, but a German startup, Print2Taste has launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring the mycusini, a chocolate 3D printer, into to homes globally. The mycusini 3D Choco has a price point of €198 and is expected to ship to backers by the end of the year. “With our many years of experience in the professional field of 3D food printing, we want to make the benefits of this amazing technology available to everybody”, said Print2Taste’s Eva Schlosser. “With mycusini, consumers will get access to the creative world of 3D Choco printing at a very attractive price.”
How does the mycusini work? Like all 3D food printers, it extrudes small amounts of chocolate in a layerwise fashion. Because the required viscosity of the extruded chocolate is very specific, the material compatible with the mycusini comes in the form of “Choco refill” cartridges that are only available from Print2Taste. In addition, the formulation differs from most chocolate as instead of cocoa butter, other vegetable fats such as coconut fat are used so that curing takes place more quickly. Both of these features may pose a significant barrier to adoption, however, Print2Taste are working on a “true” chocolate refill that uses cocoa butter.
3D printing vitamins
In a very similar vein, 3D printing can be used to create custom supplement formulations. This is the concept being developed by Remedy Health, who demonstrated their 3D printer nourish3D at the IDTechEx Show! in Berlin 2019. Remedy Health offer customers a bespoke tailor-made seven-layer gummy snack, with each layer containing a different nutritional supplement or vitamin to address any deficiencies in their diet. Customised 3D printed supplements delivered to your door on a subscription model appeals to a younger demographic who are increasingly conscious of their health, but want a solution that is tailored to their requirements, and flexible enough to change frequently as these needs evolve.
3D printing is the perfect technology to enable this, as cofounder and CEO Melissa Snover explains, “With Nourish3D, I think we have now found a very good use case for food 3D printing, which makes a better go-to-market option than what is currently readily available. The new concept actually gets people the exact nutritional supplements they want and need without any extras or wastage. It’s a sugar free, plastic-free, vegan solution”. However, strangely enough, only buying what you need looks set to incur a significant price premium, with a rolling fee of £39.99 or annual monthly fee of £30, making this product only really suitable for the very health-conscious with significant disposable income.
Of course, 3D printing is more than the headline-grabbing applications, and IDTechEx cover the full range of different printers, materials and various use cases in their range of market research reports. For more information about all aspects of 3D printing research, visit www.IDTechEx.com/research/3D.
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Car buyers to start abandoning fuel-power by 2025
Car buyers in the United States and Europe expect electric vehicles to become a viable alternative to fuel-powered cars in the next five years.
A new report outlining consumer expectations of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and their viability as replacements for traditional fuel-powered cars or internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles suggests a massive shift beginning in 2025.
The conclusion emerges from a report by human behaviour and analytics firm Escalent, entitled The Future of BEV: How to Capture the Hearts and Minds of Consumers. It reveals the intent of many consumers in the United States and Europe to abandon ICE vehicles altogether, citing the improved infrastructure and range of BEVs.
The Future of BEV gives auto and mobility manufacturers a strategic view of the benefits of their products in the eyes of consumers and highlights the areas of opportunity for automakers to push the innovation boundaries of BEVs to spur broad adoption of the technology.
“While most buyers don’t plan to choose BEVs over gasoline-powered cars within the next five years, consumers have told us there is a clear intention to take BEVs seriously in the five years that follow,” says Mark Carpenter, joint managing director of Escalent’s UK office. “However, manufacturers will need to tap into the emotional value of BEVs rather than just the rational and functional aspects to seize on that intent and inspire broader consumer adoption.”
The study demonstrates a significant shift in consumers’ expectations that BEVs will become viable alternatives to—and competitors with—ICE vehicles over the coming decade. Though 70% of Americans plan to buy a gasoline-powered car within the next year, just 37% expect to make that same purchase in five to ten years. Similarly, while 50% of European consumers favour buying vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel in the near-term, that figure drops to just 23% in five to ten years.
At the same time, consumers on both sides of the Atlantic see BEV adoption rising to 36% in Europe and 16% in the US, with respondents also indicating intent to purchase hybrids and hydrogen-powered cars.
Infrastructure clearly continues to be one of the biggest barriers to adoption. While some work is being done in Europe as well as in the US, the data show there is a significant need for some players to take ownership if manufacturers want to move the needle on BEV adoption.
US and European consumers have stark differences in opinion as to which entities they believe are primarily responsible for providing BEV charging stations. American consumers consider carmakers (45%) the primary party responsible, followed by fuel companies, local government/transport authorities, and the national government in fourth. On the other hand, European consumers view the national government (29%) as the primary party responsible for providing BEV infrastructure, followed by carmakers, local government/transport authorities and fuel companies.
For a full copy of the report, visit https://landing.escalent.co/download-the-future-of-bev.
New cell phone to help with dementia and memory loss
A new cell phone that takes simplicity to the extreme is designed to address the unique needs of people with dementia and other forms of memory loss. The RAZ Memory Cell Phone, developed by RAZ Mobility, a provider of mobile assistive technology, was launched this week. The handset is also well-suited for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately 5.8 million Americans have Alzheimer’s dementia, with one in ten people over the age of 65 diagnosed with the disease. The number of people with dementia is expected to increase rapidly as the proportion of the population 65 and older increases. The American Psychiatric Association reports that approximately one percent of the population has an intellectual disability.
The RAZ Memory Cell Phone consists of one primary screen, and one screen only. It is always on and includes pictures and names of up to six contacts and a button to call 911. That’s it! There are no applications or settings to cause confusion. No notifications or operating system updates. No distractions. Users can simply tap and hold the picture of the person they wish to call.
Caregivers manage the RAZ Memory Cell Phone through a simple online portal. The portal is used to create and edit the contacts, track the location of the phone/user and select certain options, such as the option to restrict incoming calls to people in the user’s contacts, thereby avoiding unwanted calls such as predatory robocalls.
The RAZ Memory Cell Phone can now be ordered at https://www.razmobility.com/solutions/memory-cellphone/.