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Science in Progress: 3D-Printing Organs

Indre and Kishore dive into a discussion about artificial organs and visit a UCSF lab where researchers are engineering an implantable artificial kidney, prototyping part of it with technologies we'd find in our own workshops!

Everything You Need to Know about the Formlabs Fuse 1 SLS 3D Printer

Earlier this month, Formlabs brought me out to the MIT Media Lab for The Digital Factory, their first digital fabrication conference in conjunction with Desktop Metal. At the event, Formlabs unveiled its Fuse 1 SLS printer and we were given an exclusive behind-the-scenes look of the machine. Here's everything we know so far about how it works and the prints you can get out of it.

Photo credit: Formlabs

The Technology

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) uses a laser to bind together thin layers of a powdered medium (typically nylon) to form a finished model. The finished nylon model is very strong and can have relatively thin walls while retaining strength and flexibility. Any powder that is not sintered by the laser acts as support for the model allowing complex geometries to be printed successfully. Additionally, the entire volume of the print chamber can be packed with models - unlike other technologies that can only utilize the surface area of the print bed. When finished the print is encapsulated by all the loose powder in the build chamber. The print must be allowed to cool in the chamber as it will remain somewhat pliable until cool. The chamber is emptied and all the loose powder is cleaned away from the print. If the model is hollow it will need drain holes in order to remove any loose powder.

Due to the printing process, SLS parts will have a slightly rough surface texture and won't resolve very fine details as well as SLA resin prints. However, prints will be much stronger than most resin prints and cost less. In addition, parts do not need post-curing and are not UV-reactant like resin parts.

Typically SLS technology has only been available as large, industrial machines at $150,000+ so a four-figure benchtop unit is pretty exciting. While Formlabs isn't the first to introduce a benchtop unit at a price under six digits, they are the first U.S. based company to do so and at $10,000--a very reasonable price for a SLS machine.

Celebrating National Week of Making, Day 7: Michael Giacchino

Composer and friend of Tested Michael Giacchino joins us to wrap up our celebration of the National Week of Making! Michael shares some of the things he made in his youth to pay tribute to his favorite films, and how that led him to writing music for TV shows and films. Find out more about the National Week of Making and events here!

Testing the Immersion RC Vortex 150, Part 2

In a previous article, I examined the features and assembly process of the Vortex 150 race quad. This time around, I'll get this little beast in the air and see how it performs.

Flight Modes

The Vortex's flight controller has three default flight modes: Angle, Acro, and Horiz. You can select any of these modes during flight with a 3-position switch on your transmitter. Angle mode limits the quad's maximum pitch and roll angles and provides self-leveling when the controls are neutralized. While this is the easiest and most forgiving flight mode, the angle limits rule out any aerobatics.

Acro mode is the same thing that many flyers call Rate mode. It provides no self-leveling features or angle limits. Acro is definitely the most challenging mode to fly. Yet, it also provides the most precise control of the quad. It's like the difference between driving a car with an automatic transmission (Angle mode) and one with a manual transmission (Acro mode). It takes practice to get the feel of it, but the results are worth it.

The Vortex 150's flight controller is preprogramed with three flight modes. The Acro (rate) mode is especially smooth.

Horiz mode is a hybrid of Angle and Acro modes. During normal flying, it behaves like Angle mode. When you input large control movements, however, the bank limits disappear and it responds as if in Acro mode. You get the safety net of self-leveling, along with the ability to perform flips and other aerobatics. If you intend to eventually master Acro mode, Horiz is a great way to transition away from Angle mode.