Tag Archives: 3D-printing

AMSIIntern

Disrupting the rag trade with 3D printing

Tec.Fit founder Tim Allison is a business owner bringing cutting edge technology applications to the global fashion industry. Using an innovative scanning app that outputs 3D models and measurements, Tec.Fits allows couturiers and customers to bypass the need to be in the same room when producing customised clothing. Australia’s emerging research talent is now contributing to Tec.Fit’s success.

Tec.Fit solves problems like poorly fitted garments when purchased online. It also offers the fashion industry scalable solutions for bespoke, custom designed clothing like suits, wedding attire and uniforms.

Coming from an international consumer tech background, Allison describes his business as one of the thousands of global companies that are disrupting e-commerce and the designer fashion industries.

Allison is now working with three Australian universities to develop the technology he needs to take his business to the next level by developing next generation 3D printers that can output at scale.

Working with AMSIIntern, a Commonwealth Government funded scheme that rebates engagement with PhD candidates in industry, Allison has been able to engage three PhD students as interns. Tec.Fit is working with PhD candidates from Swinburne, RMIT and Deakin universities and is on the hunt for a fourth PhD candidate to join the Sydney team.

While he knew from the start exactly what skillsets and specific expertise he needed from researchers, it took Allison about 12 months to find the right collaborator.

“I had one professor who said to me: ‘Tim I can definitely do your project – it’s no problem at all – but I am going to need to do eighteen more months of research.’ Eighteen months is a lifetime in technology terms!” said Allison.

Other difficulties he experienced along the way included negotiating with universities on IP ownership and getting priorities aligned with academic partners.

Tec.Fit founder TIm Allison

AMSIIntern Postgraduate Program

The AMSIIntern Postgraduate Program is a unique model for innovation that seeks to connect PhD candidates at universities across Australia with emerging business opportunities. The program builds valuable partnerships between industry and academia to create more collaboration and research commercialisation.

Business Development Manager Mark Ovens says that the AMSIIntern model is all about putting bright students into industry to give them critical workplace skills that enhance their specialist STEM research skills. Ovens describes the program as a stealthy means of uncovering hidden talent that is lurking in the depths of a research school rather than actively looking for work. While there is ample opportunity available, Ovens says that academic institutions can be slow in responding to the opportunities offered by business.

“In Canada, from where this program has evolved, they are placing hundreds of PhD students into industry each year. Around 50% of students have access to industry experience as a part of their doctoral experience. “In Australia the challenge for AMSI is to increase the intern programs per year with industry partners and we need help from all Australian Universities to supply the PhD’s students.” he said.

Ovens said that the scheme needs stronger support from both academia and industry to ensure that current PhD students get the chance to develop valuable industry experience before they graduate. With all Australian universities eligible to access AMSIIntern programs, the scheme provides a unique opportunity for businesses to access research talent.

“There is no employment. Rather, industry partners provide a contract for service and AMSIIntern liases with the relevant university so that the student gets paid a stipend by them,” say Ovens.

“The program allows industry partners to trial candidates during the 3–5 months for cultural and skills fit. At the end of a project they can release students to return to their studies, or if they have completed their degree, they can give them a job.”

Ovens says that the scheme is above all a low risk strategy.

“It’s also low cost with potential high returns as industry partners keep any IP that may result, making it easier to engage with universities,” he added.

Ovens said the project experience of the postgraduate student is at the heart of the scheme.

“Coached by their academic supervisor, industry experience brings new thinking, new ideas and experimentation to bear on challenges that the student must solve – an invaluable, real-world experience that will only enhance their future careers whether in academia or industry.”

Find out more about AMSIIntern here or read some case studies.

– Jackie Randles

eureka prize 2016

Eureka Prize Winners of 2016

Featured image above: Winners of the 2016 UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research, Melissa Little and Minoru Takasato from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. Credit: Australian Museum

Regenerating kidneys, smart plastics, artificial memory cells and a citizen science network that tracks falling meteors. These and many other pioneering scientific endeavours have been recognised in the 2016 annual Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, awarded at a gala dinner in Sydney.

Having trouble with a kidney? It may not be long before you can simply grow a new one. This is the ultimate ambition behind the research of the 2016 UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research winners, which was awarded to Melissa Little and Minoru Takasato from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.

They have developed a method of growing kidney tissue from stem cells, and their kidney “organoids” develop all the different types of cells that are needed for kidney function. The kidney tissue is currently used in the lab to model kidney disease and to test new drugs, but one day the technique could be developed to regrow replacement kidneys for transplant.

For his work using the latest in 3D printing and materials technology develop a world centre for electromaterials science, Gordon Wallace, from the University of Wollongong, received the 2016 CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science.

Some of the materials he and his team are developing include structures that are biocompatible, meaning they can be used inside the body without causing an adverse reaction. These structures can be used to promote muscle and nerve cell growth. Other cells include artificial muscles using carbon nanotubes.

The CSIRO’s Lisa Harvey-Smith has been one of the most vocal and energetic proponents of science in the media and the general public, especially amongst Indigenous communities. It is for her work as the face of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) and communicating astronomy to the public that Harvey-Smith was awarded the 2016 Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science.

Have you ever seen a meteor streak across the sky and wondered where it landed? Phil Bland, from Curtin University, certainly hopes you have. He and his team set up the Desert Fireball Network, which allows members of the public to track meteors as they fall, helping them to identify where they land, and where they came from.

For this, Bland and his team were awarded the 2016 Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science.

But not all the awards went to seasoned researchers. Some were reserved for the next generation of scientific pioneers.

Hayden Ingle, a Grade 6 student from Banksmeadow Primary School in Botany, received the 2016 Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize for Primary Schools for his video production, The Bluebottle and the Glaucus. It tells the remarkable tale of a little known sea predator, the tiny sea lizard, or glacus atlantica, and its fascinating relationship with the bluebottle.

Speaking of predators, a video by Claire Galvin and Anna Hardy, Year 10 students at St Monica’s College, Cairns, won the 2016 Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize for Secondary Schools for exploring the eating habits of the Barn Owl.

They examined “owl pellets”, which contain the indigestible components of the owl’s last meal, and used them to identify its prey.

Other winners of the 2016 Eureka Prize

Ewa Goldys from Macquarie University and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics and Martin Gosnell from Quantitative Pty Ltd have been awarded the ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology for their development of hyperspectral imaging technology, which enables the colour of cells and tissues to be used as a non-invasive medical diagnostic tool.

For his discovery and development of novel treatments for serious brain disorders, Michael Bowen, from the University of Sydney, is the winner of the Macquarie University Eureka prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher. His research has established oxytocin and novel molecules that target the brain’s oxytocin system as prime candidates to fill the void left by the lack of effective treatments for alcohol-use disorders and social disorders.

For developing a new generation of armoured vehicles to keep Australian soldiers safe in war zones, Thales Australia and Mark Brennan have won the 2016 Defence Science and Technology Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia.

Davidson Patricia Davidson is Dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing in Maryland, and has mentored more than 35 doctoral and postdoctoral researchers, working tirelessly and with passion to build the capacity of early career researchers, an achievement that has won her the 2016 University of Technology Sydney Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers.

For taking basic Australian research discoveries and developing them into a new cancer therapy that was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in April this year, David Huang and his team from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research has win the 2016 Johnson & Johnson Eureka Prize for Innovation in Medical Research. The drug, venetoclax, was approved for a high-risk sub-group of patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and is now marketed in the US.

For creating a three part documentary that portrayed both the good and the evil of uranium in a series seen around the world, Twisting the Dragon’s Tail, Sonya Pemberton, Wain Fimeri and Derek Muller, won the 2016 Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for Science Journalism.

Sharath Sriram, Deputy Director of the A$30 million Micro Nano Research Facility at RMIT University, has won the 2016 3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science for his extraordinary career – during which he and his team have developed the world’s first artificial memory cell that mimics the way the brain stores long term memory.

For bringing together a team with skills ranging from mathematical modelling to cell biology and biochemistry, Leann Tilley and her team from the University of Melbourne have won the 2016 Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre Eureka Prize for Infectious Disease Research. They have uncovered an important life saving mechanism by which the malaria parasite has developed resistance to what has been previously a widely used and successful malarial treatment.

For recruiting an international team of scientists to measure trace elements in the oceans from 3.5 billion years ago to the present day to understand the events that led to the evolution of life and extinction of life in the oceans, Ross Large from the University of Tasmania and researchers from as far as Russia and the US have won the 2016 Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Research.

For conducting the world’s first survey of plastic pollutants which has given us a confronting snapshot of the impacts on marine wildlife of the 8.4 million tones of plastic that enters the oceans each year, Denise Hardesty, Chris Wilcox, Tonya Van Der Velde, TJ Lawson, Matt Landell and David Milton from CSIRO in Tasmania and Queensland have won the 2016 NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Eureka Prize for Environmental Research.

The Functional Annotation of the Mammalian Genome (FANTOM5) project produced a map that is being used to interpret genetic diseases and to engineer new cells for therapeutic use. The team led by Alistair Forrest from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research has won the 2016 Scopus Eureka Excellence in International Scientific Collaboration Prize.

– Tim Dean

This article on the Eureka Prize 2016 winners was first published by The Conversation on 31 August 2016. Read the original article here.

commercialisation

Commercialisation boost for businesses

The Turnbull Government has announced that twenty businesses across Australia will be offered $11.3 million in Entrepreneurs’ Programme grants to help boost commercialisation and break into new international markets.

A 3-D printed jaw joint replacement, termite-proof building materials and a safer way to store grain outdoors are amongst the diverse products and services that will be fast-tracked.

The grants range from $213,000 to $1 million and are matched dollar-for-dollar by recipients.

So far, the Government has invested $78.1 million since commencement of this initiative – helping 146 Australian businesses to get their products off the ground.

The grants help businesses to undertake development and commercialisation activities like product trials, licensing, and manufacturing scale-up—essential and often challenging steps in taking new products to market.

Projects supported by today’s grant offers will address problems and meet needs in key industries including food and agribusiness, mining, advanced manufacturing and medical technologies.

The 20 projects to receive commercialisation support include:

  • a safer, cheaper and more efficient outdoor grain storage solution for the agricultural industry
  • recycling technology for fats, oils and greases from restaurants that will save money and reduce pollution
  • a lighter, stronger and more flexible concrete product
  • an anti-theft automated security system for the retail fuel industry
  • a cheaper, faster and safer decontamination process for mine drainage
  • smaller, cheaper and more patient-friendly MRI technology used for medical diagnostics
  • a 3-D printed medical device for jaw joint replacements that reduces surgery risk and improves patient quality-of-life
  • insect and termite-proof expansion joint foam for the building industry, combining a two-step process into a single product.

The Entrepreneurs’ Programme commercialisation grants help Australian entrepreneurs, researchers and small and medium businesses find commercialisation solutions.

It aims to:

• accelerate the commercialisation of novel intellectual property in the form of new products, processes and services;
• support new businesses based on novel intellectual property with high growth potential; and
• generate greater commercial and economic returns from both public and private sector research and facilitate investment to drive business growth and competitiveness.

This information was first shared by the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science on 17 August 2016.

3D bioprinting

A 3D printed smile

Featured image above: Professor Saso Ivanovski. Credit: Griffith University

The discomfort and stigma of loose or missing teeth could be a thing of the past as Griffith University researchers pioneer the use of 3D bioprinting to replace missing teeth and bone.

The three-year study, which has been granted a National Health and Medical Research Council Grant of $650,000, is being undertaken by periodontist Professor Saso Ivanovski from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland.

As part of an Australian first, Ivanovski and his team are using the latest 3D bioprinting to produce new, totally ‘bespoke’, tissue-engineered bone and gum that can be implanted into a patient’s jawbone.

“The groundbreaking approach begins with a scan of the affected jaw, prior to the design of a replacement part using computer-assisted design,” he says.

“A specialised bioprinter, which is set at the correct physiological temperature (in order to avoid destroying cells and proteins) is then able to successfully fabricate the gum structures that have been lost to disease – bone, ligament and tooth cementum – in one single process. The cells, the extracellular matrix and other components that make up the bone and gum tissue are all included in the construct and can be manufactured to exactly fit the missing bone and gum for a particular individual.

“In the case of people with missing teeth who have lost a lot of jawbone due to disease or trauma, they would usually have these replaced with dental implants,” he says.

“However, in many cases there is not enough bone for dental implant placement, and bone grafts are usually taken from another part of the body, usually their jaw, but occasionally it has to be obtained from their hip or skull.

“These procedures are often associated with significant pain, nerve damage and postoperative swelling, as well as extended time off work for the patient,” says Ivanovski. “In addition, this bone is limited in quantity.”

A less invasive method

“By using this sophisticated tissue engineering approach, we can instigate a much less invasive method of bone replacement,” says Ivanovski.

“A big benefit for the patient is that the risks of complications using this method will be significantly lower because bone doesn’t need to be removed from elsewhere in the body. We also won’t have the problem of limited supply that we have when using the patient’s own bone.”

Currently in pre-clinical trials, Ivanovski says the aim is to trial the new technology in humans within the next one to two years.

Regarding the anticipated cost of treatment, he says that this should be a less costly way of augmenting deficient jaw bone, with the savings expected to be passed onto the patient.

– Louise Durack

This article was first published by Griffith University on 30 March 2016. Read the original article here.

From science fiction to reality: the dawn of the biofabricator

 

“We can rebuild him. We have the technology.”
– The Six Million Dollar Man, 1973

Science is catching up to science fiction. Last year a paralysed man walked again after cell treatment bridged a gap in his spinal cord. Dozens of people have had bionic eyes implanted, and it may also be possible to augment them to see into the infra-red or ultra-violet. Amputees can control bionic limb implant with thoughts alone.

Meanwhile, we are well on the road to printing body parts.

We are witnessing a reshaping of the clinical landscape wrought by the tools of technology. The transition is giving rise to a new breed of engineer, one trained to bridge the gap between engineering on one side and biology on the other.

Enter the “biofabricator”. This is a role that melds technical skills in materials, mechatronics and biology with the clinical sciences.


21st century career

If you need a new body part, it’s the role of the biofabricator to build it for you. The concepts are new, the technology is groundbreaking. And the job description? It’s still being written.

It is a vocation that’s already taking off in the US though. In 2012, Forbes rated biomedical engineering (equivalent to biofabricator) number one on its list of the 15 most valuable college majors. The following year, CNN and payscale.com called it the “best job in America”.

These conclusions were based on things like salary, job satisfaction and job prospects, with the US Bureau of Labour Statistics projecting a massive growth in the number of biomedical engineering jobs over the next ten years.

Meanwhile, Australia is blazing its own trail. As the birthplace of the multi-channel Cochlear implant, Australia already boasts a worldwide reputation in biomedical implants. Recent clinical breakthroughs with an implanted titanium heel and jawbone reinforce Australia’s status as a leader in the field.

The Cochlear implant has brought hearing to many people. Dick Sijtsma/Flickr, CC BY-NC
The Cochlear implant has brought hearing to many people. Dick Sijtsma/Flickr, CC BY-NC

I’ve recently helped establish the world’s first international Masters courses for biofabrication, ready to arm the next generation of biofabricators with the diverse array of skills needed to 3D print parts for bodies.

These skills go beyond the technical; the job also requires the ability to communicate with regulators and work alongside clinicians. The emerging industry is challenging existing business models.


Life as a biofabricator

Day to day, the biofabricator is a vital cog in the research machine. They work with clinicians to create a solution to clinical needs, and with biologists, materials and mechatronic engineers to deliver them.

Biofabricators are naturally versatile. They are able to discuss clinical needs pre-dawn, device physics with an electrical engineer in the morning, stem cell differentiation with a biologist in the afternoon and a potential financier in the evening. Not to mention remaining conscious of regulatory matters and social engagement.

Our research at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) is only made possible through the work of a talented team of biofabricators. They help with the conduits we are building to regrow severed nerves, to the electrical implant designed to sense an imminent epileptic seizure and stop it before it occurs, to the 3D printed cartilage and bone implants fashioned to be a perfect fit at the site of injury.

As the interdisciplinary network takes shape, we see more applications every week. Researchers have only scratched the surface of what is possible for wearable or implanted sensors to keep tabs on an outpatient’s vitals and beam them back to the doctor.

Meanwhile, stem cell technology is developing rapidly. Developing the cells into tissues and organs will require prearrangement of cells in appropriate 3D environments and custom designed bioreactors mimicking the dynamic environment inside the body.

Imagine the ability to arrange stem cells in 3D surrounded by other supporting cells and with growth factors distributed with exquisite precision throughout the structure, and to systematically probe the effect of those arrangements on biological processes. Well, it can already be done.

Those versed in 3D bioprinting will enable these fundamental explorations.


Future visions

Besides academic research, biofabricators will also be invaluable to medical device companies in designing new products and treatments. Those engineers with an entrepreneurial spark will look to start spin-out companies of their own. The more traditional manufacturing business model will not cut it.

As 3D printing evolves, it is becoming obvious that we will require dedicated printing systems for particular clinical applications. The printer in the surgery for cartilage regeneration will be specifically engineered for the task at hand, with only critical variables built into a robust and reliable machine.

The 1970s TV show, Six Million Dollar Man, excited imaginations, but science is rapidly catching up to science fiction. Joe Haupt/Flickr, CC BY-SA
The 1970s TV show, Six Million Dollar Man, excited imaginations, but science is rapidly catching up to science fiction. Joe Haupt/Flickr, CC BY-SA

Appropriately trained individuals will also find roles in the public service, ideally in regulatory bodies or community engagement.

For this job of tomorrow, we must train today and new opportunities are emerging biofab-masters-degree. We must cut across the traditional academic boundaries that slow down such advances. We must engage with the community of traditional manufacturers that have skills that can be built upon for next generation industries.

Australia is also well placed to capitalise on these emerging industries. We have a traditional manufacturing sector that is currently in flux, an extensive advanced materials knowledge base built over decades, a dynamic additive fabrication skills base and a growing alternative business model environment.

– Gordon Wallace & Cathal D. O’Connell

This article was first published by The Conversation on 31 August 2015. Read the original article here.

Brain teaser: 3D-printed ’tissue’ to help combat disease

The brain is amazingly complex, with around 86 billion nerve cells. The challenge for researchers to create bench-top brain tissue from which they can learn about how the brain functions, is an extremely difficult one.

Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), based at UOW’s Innovation Campus, have taken a step closer to meeting this challenge, by developing a 3D-printed layered structure incorporating neural cells, that mimics the structure of brain tissue.

The value of bench-top brain tissue is huge. Pharmaceutical companies spend millions of dollars testing therapeutic drugs on animals, only to discover in human trials that the drug has an altogether different level of effectiveness. We’re not sure why, but the human brain differs distinctly from that of an animal.

A bench-top brain that accurately reflects actual brain tissue would be significant for researching not only the effect of drugs, but brain disorders like schizophrenia, and degenerative brain disease.

ACES Director and research author Professor Gordon Wallace (pictured above with Rodrigo Lozano and Elise Stewart) said that the breakthrough is significant progress in the quest to create a bench-top brain that will enable important insights into brain function, in addition to providing an experimental test bed for new drugs and electroceuticals.

“We are still a long way from printing a brain but the ability to arrange cells so as they form neuronal networks is a significant step forward,” says Wallace.

To create their six-layered structure, researchers developed a custom bio-ink containing naturally occurring carbohydrate materials. The custom materials have properties that allow accurate cell dispersion throughout the structure, whilst providing a rare level of protection to the cells.

The bio-ink is then optimised for 3D-printing, and developed for use in a standard cell culturing facility without the need for expensive bio-printing equipment.

The result is a layered structure like brain tissue, in which cells are accurately placed and remain in their designated layer.

“This study highlights the importance of integrating advances in 3D-printing, with those in materials science, to realise a biological outcome,” says Wallace.

“This paves the way for the use of more sophisticated printers to create structures with much finer resolution.”

The research, funded through Wallace’s Australian Laureate Fellowship, is published in Biomaterials

This article was first published on 3 August 2015 by the University of Wollongong. Read the original article here.

How does 3D printing work?

Dr Martin Leary from the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering explains how 3D printing works in a short video, as part of RMIT’s “How Things Work” YouTube series.

For more details, and for a transcript of the video, visit the RMIT website.

This video was first published by RMIT University on 3 December 2014 as part of RMIT’s “How Things Work” YouTube series.

3D-printing makes better bone screw

Orthopaedic screws are used for spinal surgeries such as joint fusion to treat pain and fracture fixation.

Fasteners loosening or pulling out is especially common in osteoporotic bone, can injure the patient and requires a revision surgery to fix.

Curtin University researchers including the author and Intan Oldakowska, biomedical engineers, are collaborating with surgeons at St John of God and Royal Perth Hospitals as well as researchers at the University of Western Australia (UWA) to create a new expandable orthopaedic fastener with stronger fixation.

The key to the strength of the new fasteners is the large expansion size, which is achieved by several novel design features that are currently commercial-in-confidence and the basis of two patents.

The new fasteners can also be made shorter than equivalent screws, which can eliminate the risk of the screw going too far through the bone and potentially injuring the nerve root, vertebral artery or spinal cord on the other side, causing serious and often permanent damage.

Stronger and shorter fasteners mean that fastener placement is less critical, reducing the difficulty of surgery.

“The novel spinal fastener incorporates unique design features which allows surgeons to achieve stronger fixation in the spine and potentially, bone in other sites of the body,” says collaborator Professor Gabriel Lee, a neurosurgeon at St John of God Subiaco Hospital in Western Australia.

“The concept is exciting and the preliminary results are particularly encouraging. Successful development of this device will enhance the chances of successful surgery and reduce the complications associated with screw placement in the spine, ultimately resulting in improved patient outcomes.”

3D-printing-makes-better-screw-for-bone-th

A render of the screw using finite element modelling.

Finite element modelling is a computational method for simulating the stress within a computer model. This technique has been used to predict stress and strain in the fastener during expansion and under loading to ensure sufficient strength and demonstrate the potential expansion size.

As this innovative design would be difficult to manufacture using conventional techniques, it is currently manufactured by Associate Professor Tim Sercombe at UWA, using selective laser melting, a 3D-printing technology.

Demonstration of Selective Laser Melting

The 3D-printing process for manufacturing the screw is called selective laser melting.

Selective laser melting allows the surface of the fastener to be printed with micro-scale spikes which can interlock with the lattice like structure of bone and implant porosity, which may increase the bone in-growth in the device, further increasing fixation strength over time.

Future studies for the expandable fastener include testing using human cadavers and in vivo sheep testing to demonstrate bio-compatibility and bone in-growth.

The team is supported by the IP Commercialisation Office at Curtin who are seeking partners to support development and clinical testing of the device, and to eventually sell the device under license to an orthopaedic implant manufacturing company.

Matthew Oldakowski