Tag Archives: 3D printer news

World’s First 3D Printed Car Debuts at Detroit Auto Show

The North American International Auto Show in Detroit is where car lovers and industry insiders go to see the latest innovations in auto manufacturing on display, and to learn what new models the big name car companies will be bringing to market within the next few years. At this year’s show, however, it wasn’t Ford or Toyota that caught everyone’s attention: it was newcomer Local Motors, who left a big impression by 3D printing a road-ready vehicle at the show. Even more exciting, the company has announced that it plans to make its new 3D printed car, called the Stratti, available for purchase by 2017.

Direct Digital Manufacturing

In the last few years, newcomers to the auto industry such as Tesla and Local Motors have been stirring the pot, offering innovative new products that the established brand names and giant conglomerates have been shying away from. Like Tesla’s electric cars (which were recently updated with preliminary software that gives the cars self-driving abilities), Local Motors’ Stratti is a stunningly progressive addition to the sometimes slow to innovate auto industry. If it proves to be successful, it could introduce a whole new method of production into the car manufacturing cycle.

That method of production, which Local Motors has dubbed “direct digital manufacturing” (DDM), is innovative in more ways than one. Instead of operating large manufacturing plants where cars are assembled on an assembly line, the company instead operates out of what it calls “micro-factories,” small assembly areas where customers can not only assemble their own car, but even “co-create” them by tweaking designs to their liking.

In fact, the design for the Stratti (or LM3D, when it is called by its model number) was created as part of a design contest held among customers at Local Motors’ micro-factories. Out of 62 entries, the winning design by contestant Kevin Lo was picked in tandem by the community and an assembled panel of judges. Lo then worked with the company to bring his design into reality.

Unleashing the Potential of CAD

Lo and Local Motors’ innovative new project shows how the use of CAD has the potential to dramatically alter the way many products and technologies are designed and created. While the major manufacturers have long used computer aided design to help create new prototypes and vehicles, the Stratti takes its use to a whole new level. In the process, it removes many of the labor intensive steps involved in the manufacturing of cars and trucks; the body for the drivable model on display at the Detroit Auto Show was printed in two days, without the need for a line of assembly workers to put it together.

Q-CAD has long embraced CAD as a powerful design tool that allows us to create more accurate and immersive plans for our designs. To learn more about how we use CAD architectural drafting, and how it improves the planning process, contact us today at 800-700-3305.



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More Medical 3D Printing Innovations Make Their Debut

As we’ve covered in this column before, CAD and 3D printing are revolutionizing more than just architecture. In this post, we’ll cover two more recent developments in the use of computer aided design and modeling in the medical field, and the stunning breakthroughs that have resulted.

Cancer Patient Receives New 3D Printed Rib Cage

A 54-year-old cancer patient from Spain recently received a new partial rib cage created by a 3D printer as part of his treatment. Made by Australian 3D printing firm Lab 22, the titanium implant takes the place of the man’s four top right ribs and sternum, with stabilizing arms attached to the left-side ribs.

Doctors have used titanium to replace bone before, but this particular piece represents a step forward in the use of metal implants in the human body. The typical titanium replacement rib is a flat plate, whereas Lab 22’s 3D printed creation is custom-built to its new owner’s chest cavity and more closely resembles the complex architecture of the rib cage. As such, the man’s doctors feel that it is less likely to become loose or create medical complications in the future, and was therefore a much safer and sustainable treatment option.

To create the implant, Lab 22 created a 3D replica of the man’s rib cage and chest cavity based on CT scans. Using CAD, they were able to accurately map out the exact contours of the patient’s body. Afterward, the rib cage was printed, layer by layer, on a $1.3 million Arcam printer before being sent to the Salamanca University Hospital where the man was being treated.[i]

Scottish Researchers Use 3D Printer to Mold Stem Cells

The use of stem cells, specifically those taken from fetuses, is one of the most controversial issues in medical science. Proponents of stem cell research say the highly malleable tissue has the potential to be key in curing many degenerative diseases, while those opposed to the research object to the use of tissue taken from unborn fetuses. The debate has raged for decades, with little compromise on either side, but the work of a Scottish research team may change that.

Dr. Will Shu and his team at the Heriot-Watt University School of Engineering and Physical Sciences in Edinburgh, who have conducted previous experiments using fetal stem cells, are currently testing technology that allows them to 3D print stem cells taken from the tissue of adult donors.2 The final goal of their research is to see if the technology can lead to the creation of drugs and medical treatments geared to the genetics of specific patients, a development which would greatly reduce the need for animal testing and increase the effectiveness of treatments for many diseases.

This study is the first to demonstrate that the technology to successfully “bioprint” the extremely delicate stem cells (the adult stem cells Dr. Shu’s team are working with require even more delicate handling than those taken from embryos). According to the researchers, they eventually hope to advance to creating liver, heart, and brain cells.

QCAD offers high quality architectural drafting services. To learn more about our process or request a quote today, contact us at 800-700-3305 today.

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  1. https://boingboing.net/2015/10/21/cancer-patient-receives-3d-pri.html
  2. http://3dprint.com/101605/scottish-researchers-3d-printing-delicate-stem-cells/

How One Company Uses CAD to Plan the Martial Housing of the Future

Computer aided design is a priceless tool for architects and designers, one that allows them to create complex designs that will then be turned into houses, office buildings, and other useful things. Most CAD users create their plans with the intention of transforming them into reality as soon as possible. The organization known as RedWorks, however, is currently hard at work designing structures that it believes could one day be built when the human race begins to colonize Mars.

While talk of organizing a manned mission to Mars comes up every few years, the plans have yet to get past the discussion stage. Despite this, RedWorks has gathered a team of aerospace engineers, geologists, and other highly trained professionals in order to create a comprehensive proposal for how humans could built livable habitats on Mars. They even have a suggestion for building material: Use 3D printers to manufacture partially subterranean structures from the Martian dirt.

When designing their proposed Martian habitats, RedWorks looked at everything from Mesoamerican pueblos to nautilus shells for inspiration. Taking what we know about the surface of the planet into account, RedWorks’ designers propose using existing geological structures such as lava tubes, craters, and crevasses as the starting points for underground living spaces. The group has also developed algorithms for 3D printers which would then transform surface dirt, fossae, and rock into domed buildings that would stretch several stories underground.

Life on Mars?

According to RedWorks’ working designs, buildings on Mars would have an above ground domed section that would serve as a shield against radiation and the elements, as well as an airlock door similar to those found on spacecraft. Underneath the top section, the buildings would stretch downward in a spiral pattern to encompass a total of three subterranean stories (in addition to the top story that sits above ground), each with rooms built in a space-maximizing parabolic shape inspired by pueblo houses.

Each level of the proposed structures would serve a specific purpose. The top story would be used to house engineering utilities, while the bottom story would hold waste processing facilities and environmental control systems, as well as emergency life support. The second and third stories would serve as a living and recreation area, and a geology and life sciences lab, respectively.

Given the level of planning and work that the organization has put into its plans, it’s clear that RedWorks takes the idea of human settlement on Mars very seriously. Thanks to advanced computer aided design software and 3D printing technology, the organization has been able to construct what appear to be usable plans for initial human settlement of a foreign celestial body. While missions to Mars are years or decades away, at best, RedWorks is seeing to it that the necessary long-term planning will have been completed long beforehand.

We may not build houses on Mars, but Q-CAD also uses advanced 3D drafting software to plan our architectural projects. Learn more by calling 800-700-3305 today.



  1. http://3dprint.com/91282/redworks-3d-printed-housing/

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MIT Unveils Groundbreaking New 3D Printer

3D printers have risen to prominence in the last few years, going from a niche product to a tool used in multiple industries, and even sometimes taught in schools. People who have used the devices, however, know that while they can be incredibly useful in some instances, their application is limited by the fact that existing printers are able print objects only using one to three building materials at a time. Thanks to a recent announcement by MIT, that’s all about to change, as the university recently unveiled a new type of 3D printer that can mold with ten different materials at the same time.

The new printer, named MultiFab in tribute to its ability to fabricate objects from multiple materials concurrently, was developed by the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) at MIT. CSAIL’s objective was to create a less expensive, more user-friendly 3D printer that could be used for a wider variety of applications than the types currently available on the market. According to the study the CSAIL team unveiled at the SIGGRAPH 2015 conference, they have achieved that goal: Not only is their new type of printer able to create a wider variety of objects than the standard model, but it is also cheaper, produces high quality objects, and requires little to no human intervention to work.

A New Era of 3D Printers?

In addition to being able to manufacture a wider variety of objects from more kinds of materials than the 3D printers currently on the market, CSAIL also reports that the MultiFab printer is able to print better quality items, thanks to its powerful software, which the team has dubbed “computer vision.” MultiFab’s scanner is also more powerful than the ones used by current printers, and is able to capture higher resolution images. Because it is able to take better quality scans of the objects it replicates, MultiFab requires less human intervention and does not require the use of complicated machine systems that current printers use to smooth out the individual layers as they print. Whereas traditional 3D printers have trouble scanning through materials that are only partially translucent, MultiFab’s high resolution scanner is able to scan through partially opaque material with ease.

MultiFab’s creators also say that the machine can be used for easy multi-part printing. Traditionally, many complex objects that are made from multiple pieces have to be printed in parts, with each component made separately. According to CSAIL, MultiFab is able to print the multiple parts of such objects concurrently, making them ready to use as soon as they have been printed. MultiFab’s creators also say that machinery such as sensors and circuits can be entered directly into the printer, which will then incorporate them into the object being printed.

If MultiFab can do everything its creators say it can do, it could very well represent a new era of 3D printing, with designers, engineers, and architects able to print more and more complex designs straight from their CAD files, saving money and time in the process.

Want to learn more about how we use 3D drafting in our architectural work? Contact Q-CAD today at 800-700-3305.



  1.  https://www.rt.com/usa/313858-multifab-3dprinter-ten-materials/

3D printing news

3D Printer Manufacturer Gives Kids a Chance to Learn CAD Skills

If you regularly read this blog, then you know that CAD and 3D printing are becoming more and more prevalent in many industries, and that both tools are being used to create innovative plans that could very well change the world. As such, training the next generation of designers, architects, and engineers requires teaching them the computer aided design and 3D printing skills they will need to succeed. Thanks to the efforts of Polar 3D, an Ohio 3D printer manufacturer, and the Boys and Girls club, some lucky kids are getting the chance to start learning those skills as they go back to school.

According to a recent announcement, Polar 3D will be setting up a series of “3D printing labs” at various Boys and Girls club sites across the country, as well as providing training a training guide for the staff who will help the children operate the machinery. The “hands on” training material will be made available through the Polar Cloud, an online platform used by the 3D printing community to collaborate and share data.

Kimberly Boyd, the national vice president of Program, Training, & Youth Development at the Boys and Girls Club of America, noted that underrepresented teens and children often fall behind in science and other STEM skills due to lack of access to materials and training. According to Boyd, Polar 3D’s initiative will provide many children who would otherwise never have the chance to use breakthrough technology or foster their love of design and machinery a chance to learn relevant skills that they can use in the future.

The first Polar 3D printing labs will be installed at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington (D.C.), Greater Cincinnati, and Greater Portland.

Changing Children’s Lives

Given Polar 3D’s obvious intention to improve the lives of children, choosing the Boys and Girls Club of America is a smart move. According to poll of former members of the organization, 57% said that being a member of the Boys and Girls Club “saved their lives.” There are currently 4 million children who are members of one of the 1,400 Boys and Girls Clubs in the United States.

According to one of the company’s founders, William Steele, Polar 3D created its printers and the Polar Cloud social platform with the express purpose of putting them in front of students so that they would be “inspired to think like entrepreneurs.” Polar 3D was founded in 2013 by a former Microsoft executive and a former software company owner, and unveiled its 3D printer at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2015. Unlike most personal 3D printers, which operate on both the X and Y axes, Polar 3D’s printers incorporate a moving build platform that slides back and forth under a spinning build plate that remains in a fixed location. As the platform moves back and forth, the item being printed is created, layer by layer.

For more information on how Q-CAD uses CAD architectural drafting, contact us today at 800-700-3305.



  1. http://3dprint.com/92519/polar-3d-and-boys-girls-clubs-of-america-partner-to-create-3d-printing-labs/

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Will Europe 3D-Print a City on the Moon

In a previous post, we mentioned Amsterdam’s ambitious plan to use autonomous 3D printers to create new bridges over the city’s historic canals, a story that demonstrated just how impressive computer aided design has become. But recent comments by the European Space Agency that it wants to 3D-print an inhabitable space station on the far side of the moon shows that even more impressive feats of CAD engineering are theoretically possible.

3D Printers … in Space?

NASA and space travel have been back in the news recently, thanks to the New Horizon spacecraft’s arrival at the edge of the solar system and its flyby of the celestial body Pluto. Other space agencies aren’t letting the publicity go to waste, either, and the European Space Agency (ESA) used the opportunity to discuss its own ambitious future plans for space exploration. In particular, the agency’s Director General, Professor Johann-Dietrich Woerner, unveiled plans for the creation of a series of 3D-printed buildings to be assembled on the dark side of the moon, leading to the creation of an inhabited moon village.

Obviously, this ambitious project would be quite challenging. It would first require the creation of an enormous 3D printer capable of creating the necessary structures and which could work in lunar conditions, and then transporting that machine to the far side of the moon, depositing it successfully so that it could begin work—all before a single person could inhabit the new base. Aside from the challenge of completing such a project, and the international bragging rights of being the first to put a base on the moon, why would the ESA invest the resources such a massive endeavor would require?

According to Woerner, the moon base plan was a reaction to NASA’s stated goal of creating a base on Mars. As far as the Director General is concerned, building structures on Mars and populating them is both something that is outside the reach of his agency, as well as a project that shouldn’t be undertaken without first testing the idea on a closer, more manageable celestial body. Additionally, building a station on the far side of the moon would create opportunities to install telescopes and other observational equipment that would have a unique vantage point from which to view the cosmos, possibly revealing new information that could lead to new scientific breakthroughs.[i]

A Cosmic Challenge for 3D Printing

While a European space base on the moon is years or decades away, at the earliest, the fact that the project is being mentioned in public with such earnestness shows how seriously the ESA is taking the idea. Inhabited buildings on celestial bodies have long been a dream of scientists and science fiction writers alike, but only in the last decade or two have they become a serious possibility, thanks in part to advances in computer aided design and 3D modeling programs. It doesn’t take an expert to understand how complex an operation this project would be. That the ESA thinks it is feasible (not to mention that NASA has similar plans for building structures on Mars) shows the amount of faith that the engineers working at space programs across the world have in CAD and 3D printing.

Want to learn more about Q-CAD’s CAD drafting services? Contact us today at 800-700-3305.


  1. http://www.computerworld.com/article/2947481/emerging-technology/future-of-space-after-pluto-3d-printed-moon-base-on-far-side-of-the-moon.html

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3D Printing Making Its Way into International Education

Engineers, architects, car and airplane designers, and other experts and industry watchers are all paying close attention to how 3D printing will impact global manufacturing. As the technology becomes more widely available and heavily used on both the industrial and consumer levels, excitement grows over the predicted ways that it will come to be used not only in business, but in daily life as well. In educational institutions across the world, educators and businesses are already finding novel ways to combine 3D printing with all areas of education, further integrating the technology into the lives of the next generation. Here are just some of the ways 3D printing and 3D drafting are being used to innovate in international education:

Japan’s Tactile Education Experience for Visually Impaired Students

Thanks to an initiative by Yahoo Japan and the University of Tsukaba in Japan, students at Japan’s Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired are now getting a new level of education in learning how to identify unfamiliar substances by touch. The “Hands on Search” 3D printer that has recently been added to the school is a kiosk-sized device that allows students to enter the names of substances and materials by name or via search engine. The printer then creates a replica of whatever texture the students requested, which the students can then feel and learn to identify through touch.

By giving visually impaired students the means to identify substances they have never been able to encounter before, Hands on Search is giving students practical, life-improving experience that they will need to take into the real world. The technology is currently only available in Japan, but school officials and university researchers who developed the technology are working with Yahoo, Toyota, and other companies to further develop the printer beyond its pilot program, possibly allowing it to be used more widely in the future.

India’s Biggest Publisher Launches 3D Printing Education Initiative

India is a country with a burgeoning tech sector that is rapidly embracing the use of 3D technology. In response to expected future demand for many skilled 3D printing technicians, one of the country’s largest companies has announced a K-12 3D printing education program at the New Delhi World Book Fair 2015 that will integrate 3D printing into almost every subject in the curriculum.

MBD Group has been India’s largest publishing house for six decades, and also has interests in real estate, hospitality, paper printing, and mall management. MBD is already heavily involved in the printing of text books and other educational material, but the company’s new initiative will be the first in the country to integrate 3D printing so thoroughly into India’s K-12 educational system. While the program will at first only be available in major metro areas, MBD has already made it clear they intend to expand 3D printing education not only to rural schools, but higher education institutes as well. Given that MBD also operates in countries across the Middle East and Africa, it would not be a surprise to see them also extend these efforts into those areas in the next few years.

Looking for more info on how CAD and 3D printing are being used to innovate? Check Q-CAD’s blog for further updates, or call us at 800-700-3305 to speak with a CAD professional.

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