Operando X-ray diffraction during laser 3D printing

Additive manufacturing, a bottom-up approach for manufacturing components layer by layer from a 3D computer model, plays a key role in the so-called “fourth” industrial revolution. Selective laser melting (SLM), one of the more mature additive manufacturing processes, uses a high power-density laser to selectively melt and fuse powders spread layer by layer. The method enables to build near full density functional parts and has viable economic benefits. Despite significant progress in recent years, the relationship between the many processing parameters and final microstructure is not well understood, which strongly limits the number of alloys that can be produced by SLM for commercial applications.

>Read more on the Swiss Light Source (PSI) website

Image: Rendered 3D model of the MiniSLM device.

Scientists develop printable water sensor

X-ray investigation reveals functioning of highly versatile copper-based compound

A new, versatile plastic-composite sensor can detect tiny amounts of water. The 3d printable material, developed by a Spanish-Israeli team of scientists, is cheap, flexible and non-toxic and changes its colour from purple to blue in wet conditions. The researchers lead by Pilar Amo-Ochoa from the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) used DESY’s X-ray light source PETRA III to understand the structural changes within the material that are triggered by water and lead to the observed colour change. The development opens the door to the generation of a family of new 3D printable functional materials, as the scientists write in the journal Advanced Functional Materials (early online view).

>Read more on the PETRA III at DESY website

Image: When dried, for example in a water-free solvent, the sensor material turns purple.
Credit: UAM, Verónica García Vegas

Printing nerve scaffolds

Engineering 3D bio-printed scaffolds to help regenerate damaged peripheral nervous systems

In the last decade or so, 3D printing has experienced a surge in popularity as the technology has become more precise and accessible. Now, researchers from the University of Saskatchewan are looking at how we can use 3D printing to help damaged nervous systems to regrow.

The peripheral nervous system, which controls the body beyond the brain and the spinal cord, can be damaged by poor diet, toxins, and trauma. It can also be damaged by diseases such as diabetes, which affects about 422 million people worldwide, and 3.4 million people in Canada.

Damage to the peripheral nervous system can affect our sense of touch and our motor control. The current standard for treating large gaps in the nervous system due to damage is nerve autografts, where donor nerves from another part of the body are used to repair the damaged parts.

>Read more on the Canadian Light Source website

Image: The tiny, bio-printed scaffolds are less than a centimeter long on each side.