CAD-assisted Drug Design Using DNA Strands January 1, 2013Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Science.
add a comment
Scientists have developed a CAD drug development system that uses synthetic DNA as a programmable molecular substrate. These strands of synthetic DNA can be constructed to have any sequence of bases. And, because complementary sequences of DNA are mutually attractive, synthetic strands can be created with sequences that cause them to align with one another and bind to form nanostructures of virtually any shape. If the DNA strands are bound to other molecular species (say, tumor-killing molecules) before self-assembly is induced, the tumor killers can be pulled into desired locations by the DNA strands during self-assembly.
In other words, LEGO for molecules.*
This is paid for partly by NSF funding, but curiously enough a private company seems to have a lock on it. Parabon Nanolabs™ has simplified this concept down to CAD-based software for the budding mad scientist. The Parabon inSēquio™ Sequence Design Studio graphically enters designs and then determines the DNA sequences that will self-assemble into that design.
The graphic editor lays out a nanostructure visually. Users can rotate and bend strands, define bindings between base pairs, and copy and paste sequences and structures between design documents. The cloud-based number-crunching uses a bunch of known wet-chemistry values for the binding energies and calculates the complex molecular interactions required to make the molecule desired.
Neat, huh? This would be entirely impossible for a human to do, ever; it’s billions of calculations that need to be made and complex rules to be followed.**
Still, how they will mock up the synthesized molecules themselves should be an interesting technical feat; I would really like to see the execution of this, rather than a neat CAD program for molecules.***
* Some assembly required.
** Another reason not to be a chemist.
*** It’s not impossible; use synthesizers to make the short pieces, PCR copy them, keep them salty enough that they can’t self-assemble before all the other pieces are made, mix together and pray. The devil is in these details. Maybe we can get Rob Park to do it.
Portable 3D Printing July 26, 2012Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Geek Stuff, Toys.
add a comment
Ilan Moyer, whose designs for rapid prototyping machines have always amused and interested me at Maker Fair, has designed and built a (yes, prototype) portable 3D printer, CNC machine and laser cutter in a standard photographer’s aluminum case:
Beautiful, yes? “PopFab has traveled the world as a carry-on item of luggage to Saudi Arabia and Germany, and within the USA [from Boston] to Aspen in Colorado. We hope that this is only the beginning.”
Where 3D Printing Should Be Headed March 13, 2012Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Science, Toys.
add a comment
Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) have now made a major breakthrough in speeding up three dimensional printing at the nanoscale resolution. The high-precision-3D-printer at TU Vienna is orders of magnitude faster and opens up completely new areas of application, like medicine.
This is done by combining two improvements: one, in the extremely precise way in which the laser’s mirrors are accelerated and decelerated (details boring, will not trouble you with this) and two, the chemistry of the resin. The resin has some initiator molecules which induce polymerization when hit by TWO photons from the laser, which only happens in the very center of the beam. Subtle and tricky, since this can be focused very precisely in all three dimensions. The focal point of the laser beam is guided through the resin by the aforementioned movable mirrors and leaves behind a polymerized line of solid polymer just a few hundred nanometers wide, allowing creation of intricately structured sculptures as tiny as a grain of sand.
This video shows the 3d-printing process in real time: one hundred layers, consisting of approximately 200 single lines each, are produced in four minutes.
Beat that, RepRap.
A 75-nanometer model of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna.
In contrast to conventional 3D-printing techniques, solid material can be created anywhere within the liquid resin rather than on top of the previously created layer only. Therefore, the working surface does not have to be specially prepared before the next layer can be produced which saves a lot of time. A team of chemists led by Professor Robert Liska (TU Vienna) developed the suitable initiators for this special resin.
The London Tower Bridge, also pretty small.
Researchers all over the world are working on 3D printers today. Because of the dramatically increased speed, much larger objects can now be created in a given period of time. This makes two-photon-lithography an interesting technique for industry. At the TU Vienna, scientists are now developing bio-compatible resins for medical applications. They can be used to create scaffolds to which living cells can attach themselves facilitating the systematic creation of biological tissues. The 3d printer could also be used to create tailor-made construction parts for biomedical technology or nanotechnology.
Jan Torgersen (l) and Peter Gruber (r) and the fastest 3D nanoprinter ever!
I am very interested in seeing how long it will be before custom electronics and analytical biochips are made using these techniques, like all those science fiction authors said would happen in nanobot medicine. Just sayin’.
Graphene Ink Printing of Electronic Components November 25, 2011Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Awesome, Science, Toys.
add a comment
Using ink-jet printer nozzles for any number of fine fabrication techniques is already underway and under research, but Professor of Nanotechnology Andrea Ferrari and colleagues from the Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge have developed a method of creating a graphene ink that can be used with a modified ink-jet printer. This is revolutionary for two reasons: first, electronic components such as thin film transistors (TFTs) can already be created using ink-jet printing with ferroelectric polymer inks, but the performance of such components is poor and they are too slow for many applications. Graphene-enhanced versions of these transistors are much, much faster and have higher electron motilities. Second, the resulting components can be transparently printed on a number of flexible substrates. Essentially, the moving, flexible folding newspaper from Harry Potter films (and any number of science fiction stories) can be fabricated with a system of these graphene-ink-printed components.
Using flakes of pure graphite, the team peeled off layers of graphene using liquid-phase exfoliation (sonication of the graphite in the presence of a solvent). The graphene bits were ultra-centrifuged and filtered to remove any particles large enough to block the ink-jet printer heads (about a micron). These processed graphene bits were then used as the basis for the ink printed, using a more-or-less standard ink-jet printer, onto silicon and glass. They heated the substrates to drive off the ink carrier, leaving the graphene flakes behind. The results are at least comparable to current ferroelectric polymer inks:
“They achieved mobilities of up to around 95cm2V−1s−1, about 80% transmittance and 30kohm sheet resistance. Non-graphene polymer inks typically achieve mobilities of less than 0.5cm2V−1s−1, while adding carbon nanotubes can increase this to around 50cm2V−1s−1.”
The results should only improve as the method is refined and enhanced. I imagine that any number of display manufacturers would be interested in this method, if only to print touchscreens directly on their current displays cheaply.
I predict a burgeoning movement among the various hobbyists who specialize in printer hacks a la RepRap. People like Jeri Ellsworth have been working on home-made electronics (specifically in her case transistors) and will be very, very interested in what sounds like an easily-reproduced inkjet solution for printing small electronic components.
Ink-Jet Printed Graphene Electronics, F. Torrisi, T. Hasan, W. Wu, Z. Sun, A. Lombardo, T. Kulmala, G. W. Hshieh, S. J. Jung, F. Bonaccorso, P. J. Paul, D. P. Chu, A. C. Ferrari arXiv:1111.4970v1
More Valuable Than You Think July 7, 2011Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Uncategorizable.
add a comment
What price hubris? Well, it cost Pete Rose his career (but he avoided jail, so there’s that going for him) and endorsements, which are much the same thing (I haven’t heard about him shilling for casinos, but I’m sure someone will think of that eventually). Still, if he makes half of what Walmart is asking for this item, he could make about $5400 an hour autographing these (at one a minute). Maybe that’s why he doesn’t shill for casinos.
That’s probably more lucrative than his baseball earnings. Especially if he got an Eggbot. Then he would be free of the limitations of carpal-tunnel syndrome.
Another Goal of 3D Printing June 30, 2011Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Awesome.
add a comment
3D printing is all about making things rapidly for relatively cheap and is still referred to as “rapid prototyping”, which is what it is. It’s an iterative design-manifestation procedure. It can be more, however. Engineers at Oregon State University have discovered a way for the first time to create successful “CIGS” (copper, indium, gallium and selenium) solar devices with inkjet printing. This turns out to be a very cheap way to get the alloys right, because you make a layer that’s two microns thick instead of fifty microns thick. This makes it much cheaper to manufacture than methods like vacuum sputtering, and allows much more complex wiring at smaller dimensions. Researchers were able to create an ink that could print chalcopyrite (CIGS) onto substrates with this inkjet approach, resulting in a solar cell with a power conversion efficiency of about 5 percent. The OSU researchers say that with continued research they should be able to achieve an efficiency of about 12 percent, which would make a commercially viable solar cell…at a reduced cost.
The findings have been published in Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, which is pretty instructive reading.
Glorious Mud May 25, 2011Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Awesome, Science.
add a comment
Researchers at Cornell are using 3D scanners and printers to produce copies of ancient cuneiform tablets for study. The real thing is needful because sometimes you have to see it from different angles to bring out the writing, etc. The originals are fragile enough that scholars are reluctant to ship them around the world for study, so copies have an obvious advantage. Another advantage they have is that the 3D print for them can be enlarged with no loss of data, so a larger copy can be more easily read. Brilliant! Here is an original, a copy and a twice-life-sized copy:
Interested scholars can download this one here.
Speaking of mud, ancient Egyptians built their homes, temples and tombs from mud bricks, which apparently are denser than the silt which makes up the Nile delta…meaning a good IR scan could pick out structures from that time period from under the silt.
This is great, since the Nile changes course frequently and covers over whole towns, like the ancient city of Tanis (sound familiar?).
It turns out that this is precisely what has happened. Seventeen lost pyramids have been identified in a new satellite survey of Egypt. More than a thousand tombs and three thousand ancient settlements were also located by looking at these infrared images which show underground buildings at slightly different temperatures than the surrounding silt. A little digging shows that, yes, there are two pyramids correctly identified—and probably all the other structures as well. This is apparently a pretty reliable method for finding old structures (in the Nile delta, anyway)
So, overall, a big day for mud.
The title of this blog entry actually comes from the chorus of this song by the legendary Flanders and Swann:
This is only one of dozens of songs, each more charming and funny than anything written since (with the possible exception of the works of Tom Lehrer).
Mondo, From TechZoneCommunications May 21, 2011Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Awesome, Toys.
add a comment
No ordinary RepRap, this one is a variation with a 12”x18”x11” print area. The unassembled kit is 1089.00 while at the Maker Faire (in other words, through tomorrow). Bring your checkbook.
3D Scanning on the Web! April 25, 2011Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Awesome, Brilliant words, Photography, Publishing Tools, Toys.
add a comment
A website (http://www.my3dscanner.com) has a nifty little service that allows you to create a pointcloud (and therefore potentially a fully-realized 3D scan) from a series of photographs taken ~60 degrees apart. You walk around it rather than rotating the object, so this can be used on a statue in a park, or a person holding very, very still.
Still very tricky, but the idea is great. They have a helpful set of instructions on how to photograph correctly and another on how to make a 3D model out of the resulting point cloud. Also, it’s all written in a friendly and cheerful tone, which is even better.
Another Low-cost 3D Scanner April 13, 2011Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Publishing Tools, Toys.
1 comment so far
David Software makes a suite of 3-D scanning tools with a low-cost (and probably low-resolution) hardware. You make a little video clip of a laser-line scanner flashing over the object you want scanned against a 3-D calibration box and feed it into their software and a point cloud is generated. Then you use DAVID-Shapefusion to make exportable files to plug into your RepRap or MakerBot.
Cute, huh? I’m guessing it doesn’t work nearly that easily without a lot of tweaking. One reason I’m guessing this is that there is a wiki, which implies a lot of wiggle room and need for lots of (unpaid?) folks to help write the documentation. Looking at the wiki, it’s pretty clear that this is the case. There are problems with lighting, scan angles, different colors of objects, different colors of lasers, etc…but it still seems like a cost-effective way to scan something for 3-D manufacture. I wonder how large an object can be scanned? Be sure to buy your laser from here instead from David Software…it’s about ten times cheaper, and I’m assuming my readers are in the USA.
David Software is downloadable in the trial form here.