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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Black Friday, Cyber Monday, shot the lights out
The numbers are in, and it shows that the start of holiday season shopping in South Africa saw spectacular growth
Black Friday and Cyber Monday continues to be a hit in South Africa, with both days exceeding expectations.
“Black Friday did not disappoint,” says Solly Bellingan, head of customer relations at BankservAfrica. “Despite the tougher economy, it seems South Africans took advantage of the days’ special deals with in-store and online transaction volumes reflecting strong year-on-year growth. Both days have certainly made their mark amongst local retailers and shoppers,
South Africans shopped up a storm with the total number of Black Friday transactions processed by BankservAfrica, in-store and online, at 7,077,117 (*) in 2019 – 36% up from 2018’s 5,204,594. This translates into a total spend of R6-billion, an impressive 106% increase on 2018’s R2.9-billion.
When compared to 2018, it seems bargain hunters decided to get the best deals early with a 33% year-on-year increase in sales at midnight. The 12-hour period between 06:00 and 18:00 proved to be busiest, with similar volumes being processed each hour. The highest number of transactions processed in a 60-minute period was between 10:00 and 11:00 at a volume of 595,792.
“3D-Secure, our online card authentication service, i.e. transactions that require a one-time pin(**), showed steady growth this year with a 32% year-on-year increase on Black Friday and transaction volumes reaching a total of 534,828,” says Bellingan. The busiest shopping times were between 09:00 and 10:00 in 2019 compared to the earlier start in 2018 at 08:00 to 09:00.
“The most expensive online transaction recorded on Black Friday was for a hospitality purchase of R10,067,400 by an international company. The most uses by one card was 83. During peak, we processed 717 transactions while the average was 371 per minute for the day.”
Cyber Monday was less active than Black Friday with a 42% growth in online transactions that reached a volume of 249,908 in 2019 (up from 176,595 in 2018). However, in both years, most of the transactions took place between 10:00 and 11:00, with the most expensive being R1,997,800 and 151 uses by one card. The highest average transactions per minute was 322 at peak and 173 per minute for the day.
“This year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday data mirrors the global data of record-breaking sales – and the BankservAfrica featured figures are only a portion of the entire sales figures for both days,” says Bellingan. “It will be interesting to see if these manage to outpace festive season spend this year.”
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Amazon records biggest ecommerce day ever
Amazon has announced that Cyber Monday was once again the single biggest shopping day in the company’s history, based on the number of items ordered worldwide. Customers all around the world shopped at record levels across a wide selection, with hundreds of millions of products ordered worldwide between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, alone. Customers purchased millions more Amazon Devices compared to the same period last year in Amazon’s Stores globally and the best-selling items were Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote.
“We’re focused on making this holiday season more convenient than ever for our customers, especially given how short this holiday shopping season will be,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO Worldwide Consumer, Amazon. “We are thrilled that customers continue to come to Amazon in record numbers to discover what they need and want for the holidays. Thank you to our customers and employees all around the world for making this holiday shopping weekend the best yet.”
Holiday Weekend Highlights:
- Customers worldwide purchased more toys this Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined than ever before. Among the tens of millions of toys purchased during this time period, best-sellers included LEGO Star Wars Darth Vader’s Castle, Monopoly Game: Disney Frozen 2 Edition and Hasbro games such as Jenga, Guess Who and Candy Land Kingdom of Sweet Adventures.
- Cyber Monday was the single biggest shopping day for Amazon Fashion worldwide, with more items purchased than any other single day in the company’s history. Best-sellers included Carhartt Men’s Acrylic Watch Hat and Champion Men’s Powerblend Fleece Pullover Hoodie.
- Amazon customers worldwide ordered more than 25 million home items on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, combined.
- Best-sellers on Black Friday in the U.S. included Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, Instant Pot Duo80 – 8 Quart, 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service: Personal Genetic DNA Test, L.O.L. Surprise! Winter Disco Bigger Surprise and iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum.
- Customers worldwide purchased more than four million beauty products this Cyber Monday compared to last year, with best-sellers including Oral-B Genius Pro 900 Electric Toothbrush, Lagunamoon Essential Oils Top 6 Gift Set and L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Makeup Lash Paradise Mascara.
- Top-selling categories worldwide include Toys, Home, Fashion and Health and Personal Care.
- The best-selling products in Amazon’s Stores on Cyber Monday in the U.S. included Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe Cookie Creations, Keurig K-Cafe Coffee Maker and LEGO City Ambulance Helicopter 60179 Building Kit.
- Independent third-party sellers in Amazon’s Stores — mostly small and medium-sized businesses – sold more items during Cyber Monday 2019 than any other 24-hour period in the company’s history.
- For the third year in a row, Whole Foods Market broke its all-time record of turkeys sold during the Thanksgiving season.
- Amazon delivered millions of grocery items to Prime members in the U.S. through the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Best sellers from Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market delivery included Honeycrisp apples, lemons and avocados.
- Top selling items at Amazon Books and Amazon 4-star stores over the holiday weekend included the Amazon Smart Plug, Echo Dot and All-New Echo Dot Smart Speaker with Clock, L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls, Wrecking Ball (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 14), and the Wyze Cam 1080p HD Indoor Wireless Smart Home Camera with Night Vision.
Record-Breaking Weekend for Devices
- Shoppers purchased a record number of Amazon Devices globally this holiday weekend.
- Amazon customers worldwide purchased millions more Amazon Devices, compared to the same period last year in Amazon’s Stores globally, including Echo devices, Fire TV devices, Kindle devices, and Fire tablets.
- It was a record-breaking holiday shopping weekend for smart home devices in Amazon’s Stores globally with shoppers purchasing millions of smart home devices, including iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum, Furbo Dog Camera, and Wemo Mini Smart Plug.
- The best-selling products in Amazon’s Stores globally were Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote.