Friday, April 5, 2013

Data Stream: Nano-Scale 3D Printing, 4D Printing Nano-Magic, Pegleg YouTube App, 3D Printed Skulls, & Mice with Super Brains

Notable recent articles to add to your data streams.

A 3D Printed Spaceship on the Scale of a Human Hair? Hello Nanoscribe 3D Printer, by David Hill

Writing for Singularity Hub, David Hill explores the growth of nano-scale 3D printing. The applications here, across industries and disciplines, are enormous. Technology Review provides a succinct run-down of the tech here.

Hill writes:

“Last year, a group of researchers at the Vienna University of Technology in Austria refined a 3D printing technique that allowed the construction of sophisticated structures (an F1 racecar and a cathedral) smaller than dust mites in about 4 minutes. Now, a company called Nanoscribe GmbH that emerged from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany has made a 3D printer called the Photonic Professional GT which can produce detailed structures on a similar scale but faster. In fact, the technique was able to produce a spaceship (from the Wing Commander line of video games) from a CAD file that measures 125µm x 81µm x 26.8µm (on the order of the width of a human hair) in less than 50 seconds.”
The nano-bio-technological health implications are significant. 

(Video Source: NanoScribe)

Technology Review notes:
“Printing microstructures with features a few hundred nanometers in size could be useful for making heart stents, microneedles for painless shots, gecko adhesives, parts for microfluidics chips, and scaffolds for growing cells and tissue. Another important application could be in the electronics industry, where patterning nanoscale features on chips currently involves slow, expensive techniques. 3-D printing would quickly and cheaply yield polymer templates that could be used to make metallic structures.”
Skylar Tibbits: The emergence of "4D printing," TEDtalksDirector 

Continuing the theme of future-print-manufacturing technologies, Sklyar Tbbits’ recent TED talk on the developing field of 4D printing makes one take pause and marvel at the awesomeness of science. Tibbits points out the labor intensive and time intensive processes involved in the Maker movement – endless hours of complexity. How can portions (or all) of this work be self-automated in order to make systems more efficient and to produce materials that use their own energies to self-design and self-shape? Enter 4D printing. The art and design applications are tremendous. Practical applications such as self-assemble and self-shape pipes, self-assemble buildings, and self-generated scaffolding for cell growth can be used in the here and now.

Connect the technologies used in nano-scale printing with 4D printing technologies and we have some seriously powerful tools to reshape the human body, environmental spaces, and not least of which, the possibilities of space exploration. Combining nanospace with the build environment – programmable materials that order themselves – building ordered structure through local interaction. Here, materials and geometry couple with various energy sources with smart design interaction that allows for error correction. 

(Video Source: TedtalksDirector)

Pegleg Wants To Help You Find All Those Free, Full-Length Movies On YouTube, by Chris Velazco

YouTube is growing up. The integrated re-design across Google platforms and applications has resulted in a YouTube app that is a more user-friendly and a more design-beautiful application. Increasingly, videos of longer length and depth are appearing on YouTube channels. What if an app helped crowd-source the search and retrieval of YouTube full length films? It is called Pegleg.

Reporting for TechCrunch, Chris Velazco notes:

“The concept is simple enough — Pegleg’s front page shows off all the films that users have already found, and those looking for something specific can either drill down by certain criteria or punch in the name of a movie they’d like to see. If the flick in question has already been added to the Pegleg collection you can watch it immediately. In the extremely likely event that the movie you’ve been jonesing for isn’t there yet, Pegleg will display a list of YouTube videos it thinks could be what you’re after, along with a little notification showing you how sure it’s actually a full-length movie based on the clip’s running time.”
There are some obvious copyright issues and digital rights management concerns here. It will be interesting to see how digital legal industry types respond to third party applications like Pegleg that piggy-back on massive applications such as YouTube that provide publically accessible content. Till then, cue the retro-sci-fi films. 

Patient Receives 3D Printed implant to Replace 75 Percent of Skull, by David Hill

This past March an American patient received a 3D printed skull replacement. If that was not amazing enough, consider the build-to-application time line: two weeks or less from submission of scans to implant. The technology used here, OsteoFab, will likely revolutionize orthopedic surgery and beyond. Serious disruptive tech this. There are obvious bio-technological uses with stem cells. 

At Singularity Hub, Hills writes: 

“The implant is called the OsteoFab Patient Specific Cranial Device (OPSCD) or OsteoFab for short and is made from polyetherketoneketone (PEKK) thermoplastic through an additive manufacturing process. This material is not only biocompatible but is bone-like and will not interfere with x-ray scanning. After the patient’s skull was 3D scanned, the custom-made implant was printed using an EOS P800 laser sintering 3D printer. By generating the implant layer by layer, details can be added that promote the attachment of bone and surrounding cell growth.”
3D and 4D technologies integrated with nano-bio-tech applications will transform the 21st century cyborg body.

Hill writes:

"Last year, a company named LayerWise used 3D printing to manufacture a titanium jaw replacement for an elderly patient. Doctors are increasingly turning to 3D printing to make bone models in preparation for surgery. Recently, a human ear was also produced through a 3D printing process, and 3D printing of organs is something that Dr. Anthony Atala and colleagues are busily trying to make a reality. Besides 3D printing, researchers have also used stem cells to grow bone in a patient’s skull and produce a jawbone. Other boney materials such as teeth are being actively pursued as well." 

Scientists Inject Human Brain Cells into Mice, Make them Smarter, by Peter Murray

One last from Singularity Hub. Researchers injected mice with human astrocytes to examine if human astrocytes would affect memory and learning capabilities. They injected another group of test mice with mouse astrocytes in order to compare group data to make sure any differences were specifically due to the human astrocytes and not just any astrocytes. At the center of this experiment is long-term potentiation (LTP), a phenomenon in which the response of a neuron to a signal is boosted after it receives a strong stimulus. Spoiler Alert: the “human glial chimeric” mice performed better on maze and tone tests that did the mouse-only astrocyte group. The original study appears here in a recent article in Cell Stem Cell. 

(Video Source: University of Rochester).

Writing for SH, Peter Murray opines:
“If it’s true that astrocytes help us to think, and human’s are the smartest of all thinkers, then maybe we owe much of our cognitive prowess to astrocytes. To test this idea, scientists at University of Rochester Medical Center injected human glial progenitor cells into the brains of mice and tested to see if it changed the mice’s ability to remember and learn. Glial progenitors are precursor cells that mature into astrocytes in the young brain. The human progenitors were injected into the brains of mice shortly after they were born. In an early show of superiority, the human progenitors drove out the mice’s own progenitors. By the time the mice were six months old, most of their astrocytes were of human origin.”
One can’t but conjure up the cult classic, Secret of Nimh, and the augmented rats that escaped capture and testing to develop their own society. Enjoy this classic flashback. 

(Video Source: WIll Dendis)

Image Source: By Gregory F. Maxwell <> PGP:0xB0413BFA (By uploader) [GFDL 1.2 (], via Wikimedia Commons


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