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The world’s first 3-D printed car took to the streets this weekend after being built in an amazingly short 44 hours. The vehicle, called Strati, was designed by Italian designer Michele Anoé, who won an international competition held by crowdsourcing carmaker Local Motors.  It was printed and rapidly assembled by a Local Motors team during a manufacturing technology show held last week in Chicago, then went on a drive on Saturday. 

Strati’s chassis and body were made in one piece out of a carbon fiber-impregnated plastic on a large-area 3-D printer. The machine put down layer after layer of the material at a rate of 40 pounds per hour.

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3-D Printer Uses Light To Make Superstiff Materials

by Michael Keller

Engineers report they have made ultralight, ultrastiff materials using a light-based 3-D printing method. 

With a technique called projection microstereolithography, MIT and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers shine a pattern of light onto a pool of liquid resin to form precise lattice structures. This light hardens the liquid where it touches, building layer after layer until the object is completed. So far, the team has used the method to form tiny lattices made of polymer, metal and ceramic.

By determining the exact geometry of the diagonal, horizontal and vertical beams that make up the tiny latticework, the team can design tiny lightweight structures made mostly of air that are incredibly stiff. 

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Graphene and Plastic Might Make Next-Generation 3-D Printed Electronics

by Michael Keller

Doping plastic with graphene may be one solution to a major problem confronting 3-D printing technology. Putting just a bit of the one-atom thick sheets of linked carbon atoms into standard plastics used in 3-D printing appears to increase the strength of the final product while lowering the amount of plastic needed by half. Graphene also imparts its electric and thermal conductivity to the plastic, which normally is poor conductor of heat and electricity. 

The result, demonstrated in a European project called Nanomaster, means next-generation plastic sensors and strong, lightweight products will soon be 3-D printed or injection- and compresssion-molded. It also means that desktop 3-D printers might be able to print a wider catalog than just plastic toys and models—soon moving into producing operational electronics and machines. Read more about it below.

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Plastic Style

These plastic products have gotten a style upgrade from designers using 3-D printers. Two lamps and a 3-D printed heart made to help surgeons visualize complicated procedures before they begin are on display at the 2014 Euroscience Open Forum being held now in Copenhagen. 

The models, built by Belgian additive manufacturing company Materialize with support from the European Commission, calls attention to advancing artistic, medical and scientific applications for 3-D printers. 

All pictures by Michael Keller.

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