NASA launches space 3D printing project to improve astronaut health

NASA has launched a project to research the impact of microbes and microgravity on astronauts in space with 3D printed testing equipment.

The “Omics in Space” project brings together NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, NASA’s Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) and the Baylor College of Medicine.

The project will involve developing equipment that can be 3D printed on board the International Space Station (ISS).

Omics in Space

Omics is the name given to the study of microbiology important to human health, including genomes, microbiomes, and proteomes (the proteins given off by microbes).

It is a field of study that can be useful in finding answers to key questions about health in space, such as why astronaut immune systems are weaker after living on the ISS.

Previous omics research has also suggested that it may be due to the way in which microgravity and cosmic rays affect human DNA.

Another area of interest is determining the nature of bacteria that inevitably stow away on space vessels either on astronauts or on cargo.

While other experiments such as the Microbial Tracking 1 experiment and sequencing DNA in space for the first time, the ability to test and analyze samples on board will cut the time taken to obtain results from months to days. JPL’s Ganesh Mohan said:

“You can see whether a possibly harmful microbe is increasing in number in real time. If needed, we could then take actions to counteract those microbes.”

“You don’t have overnight mail when you go to space,” added JPL’s Kasthuri Venkateswaran. “You have to do all the analysis by yourself. This project will develop an automated system for studying molecular biology with minimal crew intervention.”

A plastic cartridge design that will be made 3D printable as part of the Omics in Space project. Photo via AI Biosciences.A plastic cartridge design that will be made 3D printable as part of the Omics in Space project. Photo via AI Biosciences.

3D printing as a means of testing

Central to this automated system is 3D printing.

Douglas Terrier, NASA’s acting Chief Technologist has explained that 3D printing is especially useful in producing spare parts for space travel. It addresses the problem of having to keep parts on that will not be used on board which wastes space on the ISS.

A similar issue applies to scientific apparatus. Conducting many of the omics experiments requires plastic cartridges to extract nucleic acids from blood or saliva samples using an automated DNA/RNA extractor, so the samples can then be analyzed using the MinION sequencing tool.

These cartridges must be specially designed so that they don’t spill in microgravity, float, or form air bubbles that compromise results. They must also be available on demand when needed, so they do not take up valuable space. To address these requirements, the JPL has suggested 3D printing.

“We’re taking what’s on Earth to analyze DNA and consolidating all the steps into an automated system,” Camilla Urbaniak, a researcher at the JPL said. “What’s new is we’re developing a one-stop-shop that can extract and process all of these samples.”

The design of the cartridges includes multiple wells. Each well in the cartridge can hold solutions which a DNA sample can be dipped into. These solutions are mixed with magnetic particles that help purify the sample before inserting it into a MinION DNA sequencer.

Scientists will now spend four years developing cartridges and additional equipment that can be 3D printed in the microgravity conditions of the ISS.

An automated DNA extractor designed by AI Biosciences. A new NASA project seeks to modify the plastic cartridge in this extractor so that it can be 3D-printed on the International Space Station. Photo via AI Biosciences.An automated DNA extractor designed by AI Biosciences. A new NASA project seeks to modify the plastic cartridge in this extractor so that it can be 3D-printed on the International Space Station. Photo via AI Biosciences.

Enhancing space travel with 3D printing

A3DPT-2-Mars is another project looking at the feasibility of 3D printing operational tools in outer space. The project, led by the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF), is a simulated field mission that will be conducted in Dhofar, a region of the Omani desert.

International scientists working on the project will look at how spare parts might be manufactured on the surface of the red planet.

Let us know what you think the most groundbreaking application of 3D printing has been this year. Make your nominations for the 3D Printing Industry Awards 2018 now.

For more stories on 3D printing and subscribe to our free 3D Printing Industry newsletter, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Featured image shows NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) crew member, Matthias Maurer, inserting samples into the MinION DNA sequencer. Photo via NASA.

Elegoo UNO Project Super Starter Kit with Tutorial for Arduino

Elegoo Inc. is a professional manufacturer and exporter that is concerned with the design, development production and marketing of arduino, 3d printers, raspberry pi and STM32.
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Warning Tip:
The input voltage of Elegoo Power Supply Module is 6.5v – 9v (DC) via 5.5mm x 2.1mm plug . Please DO NOT over charge it otherwise it will burn your board and chips.

Applicable Age : 12+
Note:To use Elegoo starter kits requires basic electronic knowledge. If the user has no experience, it would be better to have someone lead and teach them while studying.

Component listing:
1pcs UNO R3 Controller Board
1pcs LCD1602 Module ( with pin header)
1pcs Breadboard Expansion Board
1pcs Power Supply Module
1pcs Joystick Module
1pcs IR Receiver
1pcs Servo Motor (SG90)
1pcs Stepper Motor
1pcs ULN2003 Stepper Motor Driver Board
1pcs Ultrasonic Sensor
1pcs DHT11 Temperature and Humidity Module
1pcs 9V Battery with DC
1pcs 65 Jumper Wire
1pcs USB Cable
1pcs Active Buzzer
1pcs Passive Buzzer
1pcs Potentiometer
1pcs 5V Relay
1pcs Breadboard
1pcs Remote
1pcs Tilt Switch
5pcs Button (small)
1pcs 1 digit 7-segment Display
1pcs 4 digit 7-segment Display
5pcs Yellow LED
5pcs Blue LED
5pcs Green LED
5pcs Red LED
1pcs RGB LED
2pcs Photoresistor
1pcs Thermistor
2pcs Diode Rectifier (1N4007)
2pcs NPN Transistor (PN2222)
1pcs IC 74HC595
30pcs Resistor
10pcs Female-to-male Dupont Wire

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New Zealand research project explores new design directions for future 3D printed prosthetics

Jan 19, 2018 | By David

As the technology progresses, 3D printed prosthetics are becoming more and more advanced and tailored to the needs of specific types of injuries and lifestyles. A team of researchers based in New Zealand have recently launched a major new project to explore some of the future design possibilities for 3D printing in prosthetics, both in the short term and the long term. Led by the New Zealand Artificial Limb Service, in collaboration with the University of Wellington, the research project also explored the potential for these new developments to be implemented into commercial manufacturing.

The project was roughly organized into four parts, each covering a different design direction that prosthetics could head in with the help of 3D printing. In the short term period, the team focused on new functional fairings and new socket designs, possible in the next 12-18 months. As for a longer period, within the next 7-10 years, multi-density foot printing and information-driven model generation were looked at as possibilities.

The functional fairings concept is geared towards finding new practical applications and uses for prosthetics beyond being just replacements for missing limbs. This could improve the lives of many amputees by transforming what is perceived as a loss into the potential for something more, opening up a space with increased creativity and practicality that only these prosthetic users could access. The team suggested a sport fairing, giving the example of a special prosthetic golf leg. This would have a special golf design as well as an area for spare balls and tees to be stored. There could also be special children’s fairings, with creative designs that appeal to their sense of fun and imagination.

As for the new socket designs, these would be adjustable according to size fluctuations at different times, hopefully making it no harder for a user to put on their prosthetic than for someone to put on a shoe. The team reached out to the Auckland Bioengineering Institute to better understand what might soon be possible for this kind of personalization, with the help of 3D printing technology. Soft tissue scanning can generate an accurate volumetric mesh of a patient’s limb, which allows technicians to visualise what areas of the stump are tolerant or sensitive, or what is hard and what is soft. This means that they would have a better representation of how the socket design should be sculpted. Experiments were carried out with ABS as well as the more advanced TPU material, with the latter being more promising in terms of material properties but coming with an inconveniently long post-processing time.

For the long term, ways to more cheaply produce multi-density foot prosthetics, which are currently prohibitively expensive, were explored. One of 3D printing’s advantages is the way that fill densities can be varied to match desired object performance. This is useful for making prosthetics that are simultaneously stronger and more flexible. To explain this, the team quotes a MIT student talking about the properties of natural structures: “Nature always uses graded materials. Bone, for example, consists of a hard, dense outer shell, and an interior of spongy material. It gives you a high strength-to-weight ratio.’’

There are a number of multi-density 3D printing systems used in other sectors, and the NZALS’ future approaches could take inspiration from these, such as Nervous Systems 3D printed midsole technology for New Balance, or Materialise’s similar system, which is used by Adidas. 3D printed TPU would be the way to go for multi-density prosthetics, and hopefully the technology will advance to make it easier to print with this material in future.

The future of information-driven model generation for prosthetics should see the implementation of the aforementioned soft tissue scanning, as well as what is known as Computational Anatomical Movement. This makes use of scanning, tracking and video analysis so that researchers can examine the force of each muscle, as well as the gait that a particular patient is taking and various other human body movement factors, in order to create a more personalized prosthetic with improved comfort and performance.

The researchers tested out the Stratasys Fortus as well as the UpBox FDM machines, finding pros and cons with each. They concluded that the best solution would be to use an online 3D printing service, which could provide more efficient printing with its specialized expertise and access to a variety of technologies. Shapeways, I.Materialise, and Objective 3D were also suggested as options.

According to NZALS chief executive Sean Gray, New Zealanders are great guinea pigs for developments in prosthesis technology, because they tend to test their limbs to the limits.”People have broken them because they have had them in a ski boot.”, he says. The work carried out by NZALS in collaboration with the University of Wellington and other institutions shows serious promise, and should soon lead to significant improvements in quality of life for amputees there and further afield.

Posted in 3D Printing Application

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Print your city: project turns plastic waste into urban furniture

A new international initiative has launched that uses large-scale 3D printing to transform the plastic waste of cities into a number of useful applications for urban environments, including bespoke outdoor furniture.

The project uses plastic waste to create practical pieces for urban spaces.The project uses plastic waste to create practical pieces for urban spaces. Image by Print Your City

Called Print Your City, the project was created by The New Raw, a research and design studio based in Rotterdam run by the architects Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas. “As the name suggests, the project is a call to action, rallying citizens to recycle household plastic waste in order to transform it into raw material for public furniture,” the design firm said.

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Proposed as a country-spanning project, the first outcome of the Print Your City project is the XXX bench, a bespoke piece designed for the municipality of Amsterdam. The process used reprocessed plastic pellets from municipal waste to create a bench that weighs 50 kilograms and measures 150 centimetres and is 100% recyclable. Produced in collaboration with Aectual on a large scale pellet extrusion 3D printer, the bench was created in a short material circle, which could constantly be fed with additional material. According to the project, in Amsterdam alone residents generate an average of 23 kilograms of plastic waste per person annually, roughly enough to 3D print one bench for every two people per year.

The process used reprocessed plastic pellets from municipal plastic waste to create the bench.The process used reprocessed plastic pellets from municipal plastic waste to create the bench. Image by Print Your City

The XXX bench seats two to four people and takes the form of a double-sided rocking chair, designed to act as a statement on working together. Visitors sitting on the bench are able to use their equilibrium and energy to rock each other, and it can easily be customised in shape or function to integrate messages or logos. Following on from XXX, the project will focus on the development of a broader range of urban furniture and public space applications such as bus stops, recycling bins and playgrounds.

More information on the Print Your City project is available at the official website.