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Will 3D printers lead toward nanofactories?

The coming era of atomically precise manufacturing will provide digital control of the structure of matter for a very wide range of possible products and will make possible personal manufacturing of most products. Steps toward digital control of the structure of matter and personal manufacturing, although on a scale much less precise than atomic and for a much more limited range of products, are to be seen with today’s rapidly developing 3D-printing technology. Rival technologies were on display a few weeks ago in Las Vegas. From BBC News “CES 2012: 3D printer makers’ rival visions of future” by Leo Kelion:

With a whir and a click the job is done. In the space of 20 minutes a plastic bottle opener has been constructed by the Replicator – a 3D printing machine capable of making objects up to the size of a loaf of bread.

The device is made by the New York start-up Makerbot Industries and was launched this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The newly-created bottle opener feels warm to the touch and has to be prised away from its base.

It has been created by using extrusion technology – a process in which a spindle of plastic thread is unravelled, melted and fed through a print head which draws the object layer by layer – in this case at a rate of 40mm per second. …

Objects can be created on a computer using free online software such as TinkerCAD or Google Sketchup, before being transferred to the Replicator on a SD memory card.

Alternatively other people’s designs can be downloaded from Makerbot’s community website Thingiverse. …

Take a walk to the other side of the convention centre and you will find another plastic printer maker with another new product, but a very different way of thinking.

3D Systems is a North Carolina-based veteran of the business.

“We invented 3D printers,” its Israeli-born chief executive Abe Reichental says.

“For 25 years we have taken the classic journey of taking expensive, complex technology and bringing it down in price.

“We have about 1,000 workers worldwide. We are a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange. We have almost as many patents as employees.”

The firm is at CES to publicise the launch of Cube, its first consumer-focused product.

The $1,299 device is smaller than Makerbot’s but looks more user-friendly, utilising cartridges rather than spools of plastic thread.

It also boasts its own app store. The launch library includes software to customise belt buckles, a program to turn your voice into a bracelet design, and perhaps most excitingly software from developer Geomagic for Microsoft’s Kinect sensor that allows the peripheral to replicate the user’s face. …

Philippe Van Nedervelde, Foresight’s Executive Director-Europe, contributes his thoughts on the significance of current developments in 3D printers,

Check out:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLgZL0OAJhg
http://cubify.com/
http://fabbaloo.com/blog/2012/1/6/secret-cubify-project-to-be-unveiled.html

The era of Personal 3D Printing for consumers [has officially started], it seems. And what with its existing track record of excellence plus the slew of key 3D printing companies it has been buying up the company 3D Systems is well poised to become the IBM, Apple, or HP of this new space. (25 years from now, someone should kick me if I do not buy any shares now.)

My sense is that this launch is a close analog to the start-of-an-era-marking launch of the first PC by IBM on August 12, 1981. In some ways, a possibly even closer analog may be the launch of the original Mac on January 24, 1984.

Very interesting times ahead!…

~ Philippe ~

Perhaps Philippe is not exaggerating the significance of this emerging personal manufacturing technology. Personal manufacturing of plastic consumer items may accelerate developing productive nanosystems to make possible personal manufacturing of complex atomically precise consumer products.
—James Lewis

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Stealthy leprosy pathogen evades critical vitamin D-dependent immune response

Researchers discovered that the leprosy pathogen Mycobacterium leprae was able to evade immune activity that is dependent on vitamin D, a natural hormone that plays an essential role in the body’s fight against infections. A better understanding of how these pathogens can escape the immune system may be helpful in designing more effective therapies.

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That which does not kill yeast makes it stronger

Stress-induced genomic instability facilitates rapid cellular adaption in yeast.

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Body clock receptor linked to diabetes in new genetic study

Scientists have found new evidence for a link between the body clock hormone melatonin and type 2 diabetes. The study found that people who carry rare genetic mutations in the receptor for melatonin have a much higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

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Cancer sequencing initiative discovers mutations tied to aggressive childhood brain tumors

A cancer sequencing initiative has discovered mutations tied to aggressive childhood brain tumors. Early evidence suggests the alterations play a unique role in other aggressive pediatric brain tumors as well.

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Want your enemies to trust you? Put on your baby face

Do baby-faced opponents have a better chance of gaining your trust? By subtly altering fictional politicians’ faces, researchers examined whether minor changes in appearance can affect people’s judgment about “enemy” politicians and their offer to make peace. In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the research showed that peace offers from baby-faced politicians had a better chance of winning over the opposing population than the exact same offer coming from more mature-looking leaders.

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Genetic regulation of metabolomic biomarkers: Paths to cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes

Scientists have revealed eleven new genetic regions associated with the blood levels of the metabolites, including new loci affecting well-established risk markers for cardiovascular disease and potential biomarkers for type 2 diabetes. The findings may help in elucidating the processes leading to common diseases.

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Astronomers solve mystery of vanishing electrons in Earth’s outer radiation belt

Researchers have explained the puzzling disappearing act of energetic electrons in Earth’s outer radiation belt using data collected from a fleet of orbiting spacecraft.

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Panel recommends research to manage health and environmental risks of nanomaterials

Foresight’s principal focus has been the development of advanced nanotechnology for atomically precise manufacturing, but the incremental development and application of current nanotechnology is also a major interest. Meeting the challenges of incremental nanotechnology development and application includes adequately addressing any potential environmental, health, and safety issues (see Foresight’s “Nanoparticle safetypolicy brief.). We therefore note with pleasure that an expert panel of the National Academy of Sciences has recommended that the potential health and environmental risks of nanomaterials should be studied further and that they will revisit the issue in 18 months, when it is to be hoped that the necessary research will be moving forward. From “With Prevalence of Nanomaterials Rising, Panel Urges Review of Risks” by Cornelia Dean:

… Nanoscale forms of substances like silver, carbon, zinc and aluminum have many useful properties. Nano zinc oxide sunscreen goes on smoothly, for example, and nano carbon is lighter and stronger than its everyday or “bulk” form. But researchers say these products and others can also be ingested, inhaled or possibly absorbed through the skin. And they can seep into the environment during manufacturing or disposal.

Nanomaterials are engineered on the scale of a billionth of a meter, perhaps one ten-thousandth the width of a human hair, or less. Not enough is known about the effects, if any, that nanomaterials have on human health and the environment, according to a report issued by the academy’s expert panel. The report says that “critical gaps” in understanding have been identified but “have not been addressed with needed research.”

And because the nanotechnology market is expanding — it represented $225 billion in product sales in 2009 and is expected to grow rapidly in the next decade — “today’s exposure scenarios may not resemble those of the future,” the report says.

The panel called for a four-part research effort focusing on identifying sources of nanomaterial releases, processes that affect exposure and hazards, nanomaterial interactions at subcellular to ecosystem-wide levels and ways to accelerate research progress. …

A free PDF of the report A Research Strategy for Environmental, Health, and Safety Aspects of Engineered Nanomaterials is available.
—James Lewis

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The Woodward–Hoffmann Rules Reinterpreted by Conceptual Density Functional Theory

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Accounts of Chemical Research
DOI: 10.1021/ar200192t

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