The Micro is hitting Kickstarter today with the sole intention of becoming the first consumer 3D printer that’s at once accessible, affordable and easy on the eyes. ‘The dream here is definitely that you take something and install it as fast as the fastest plug-and-play device that you’ve ever seen and you’re focused on the end result,’ Michael Armani, M3D’s CEO tells us. ‘You take the design, put it in the printer, it prints as quickly as possible. The focus here isn’t on the 3D printing process … [it’s] on ‘yeah, I want to make a mold for chocolates.’
A group at Princeton University has printed a bionic ear, combining biological tissue and electronics… while a team of researchers at the University of Cambridge has printed retinal cells to form complex eye tissue. But even among these impressive efforts to extend the possibilities of 3-D printing, Jennifer Lewis’s lab stands out for the range of materials and types of objects it can print.
Last year, Lewis and her students showed they could print the microscopic electrodes and other components needed for tiny lithium-ion batteries…. Other projects include printed sensors fabricated on plastic patches that athletes could one day wear to detect concussions and measure violent impacts. Most recently, her group 3D printed biological tissue interwoven with a complex network of blood vessels. To do this, the researchers had to make inks out of various types of cells and the materials that form the matrix supporting them. The work addresses one of the lingering challenges in creating artificial organs for drug testing or, someday, for use as replacement parts: how to create a vascular system to keep the cells alive.