Round-up: The technology you missed this week

3D printed bears

Stop motion films such as Wallace and Gromit traditionally take months, if not years, to produce and involve painstakingly reworking models into new positions and reshaping them for each individual movement.

Now 3D printing could make the movie making process faster and less stressful by allowing the models to be quickly printed and altered when needed – as these bears show.

Source: 3Ders

Google tried to design a space elevator


Google’s secretive X R&D lab has spoken about the forward-thinking work its been trying to design and complete.

Included in the work has been plans for a space-elevator and taking a hover-board from fiction to reality.

Source: Fast Company

Glow in the dark roads

A 500m stretch of road in the Netherlands has become the first part of roadway to be made to glow in the dark. These areas aim to save energy and also make roads safer for users.

The markings charge during the day and then become visible, releasing a green glow, at night for up to eight hours.

Source: Wired

Artificial blood


Scientists have developed the potential to mass produce artificial blood that has been made in factories.

The blood, which has been made from human stem cells, is set to be tested up until 2017 when it could then be made on an industrial scale to be used in transfusions.

Source: The Telegraph

Google flies higher than Facebook


Google has purchased Titan Aerospace, the drone company that is billed to create solar powered UAVs.

The company was touted to be taken-over by Facebook but Google has managed to pull the rug out from under the social media company’s feet.

Source: Tech Crunch

Image courtesy of Titan Aerospace

 Gesture controlled cars


Jaguar Land Rover has announced that future cars could come with gesture controls to open and close their vehicle’s doors. It has also partnered with Virgin Galactic and could be offering people trips to space in the near future.

The concepts team at the car manufacturer have certainly been busy as this follows the announcement last week that it has been looking at the possibility of installing an augmented reality bonnet onto their vehicles so drivers could see the road beneath them.

Source: Jaguar Land Rover 

Printing a person: Making a human from 3D printed body parts

The thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone, the hip bone’s connected to the back bone and the back bone’s connected to the 3D printed bone.

That’s how the future of humans could look with advancements from 3D printing helping to change the lives of sick and injured people.

The technology, which builds up layers of material to create objects, has been used to create implants and prosthetic limbs and is getting closer to printing internal organs.

3D printing has so far been able to alter and in some cases extend the lives of people.

As the technology becomes more widely adopted it is possible that it could be adopted for cosmetic reasons in a similar way to plastic surgery.

Customised 3D printed body parts may also be put together to make us stronger and more resistant to stresses being put on the body.

Here are the some of the most advanced medical uses of 3D printing so far that could lead to customised body parts:

Arming change

A team from Not Impossible Labs is helping to transform the lives of those who have lost limbs.

They made a 3D printed prosthetic arm for one young boy called Daniel Omar in South Sudan who had both his arms blown off by a bomb when trying to look after his family’s cow.

The team left behind two 3D printers and taught locals how to use them and now the prosthetics labs is creating a new limb a week for the victims of war.

Beating the heart


A working heart could be on the way, with scientists from Louisville University developing living cells that will eventually lead to a fully working heart.

To minimise the chances of a recipient’s body rejecting a donor organ, their cells used to create the new organ.

They scientists say within 3-5 years they should be able to print all the parts to put a functioning heart together.

Image courtesy of Louisville University.

Funny bones

It might not look like, or be made of, bone but this 3D printed titanium jaw was given to an 83-year-old woman who had developed a chronic bone infection and helped to save her life.

LayerWise, from Belgium, 3D printed the jaw in a number of hours after it had been designed specifically for the lady. It only took four hours to attach it to the woman’s body – a fraction of the time reconstructive surgery would usually take.

Keeping headstrong


A 22-year-old who was suffering from a rare disorder that caused her skull to thicken abnormally had her skull replaced with a 3D printed version.

Using 3D printing scientists at the University Medical Centre Utrecht made the skull was made to the exact size needed and fitted it in a gruelling 23-hour operation.

Image courtesy of University Medical Centre Utrecht 

Lending a helping hand

When his son was born without any fingers his Dad decided to take action into his own hands.

Following videos from YouTube he used a 3D printer to create a hand his son could try out. He now plans on working with his son’s school to teach the pupils about 3D printing and how they can make 3D printed hands for others that need them.

A bionic ear


Scientists at Princeton University have developed a bionic ear which has a built in antenna to help it pick up sounds.

This ear wasn’t designed to replace human ones but as an experiment into how electronics can be combined with bionic materials – it shows how potential body parts in the future could be advanced with other technology.

Image courtesy of Princeton University 

Legs – for a duck

dudleyduck-K-9-1-1 Animal Sanctuary

3D printing isn’t only useful for aiding humans that have been injured – even ducks can benefit.

This fluffy little duck, called Dudley, had a 3D leg printed which saved his life after he was attacked by a chicken.