New method to 3D print building blocks of life

Scientists have developed a new 3D printing method capable of producing highly uniform blocks of embryonic stem cells, which could be used as the ‘Lego bricks’ to build larger structures of tissues, and potentially even micro-organs.

These cells are capable of generating all cell types in the body, the researchers said.

“It was really exciting to see that we could grow embryoid body in such a controlled manner,” said lead author Wei Sun, from Drexel University in US.
“The grown embryoid body is uniform and homogenous, and serves as a much better starting point for further tissue growth,” Sun said.
The researchers used extrusion-based 3D printing to produce a grid-like 3D structure to grow embryoid body that demonstrated cell viability and rapid self-renewal for seven days while maintaining high pluripotentcy.
“Two other common methods of printing these cells are either two-dimensional (in a petri dish) or via the ‘suspension’ method (where a ‘stalagmite’ of cells is built up by material being dropped via gravity),” said Sun.
“However, these don’t show the same cell uniformity and homogenous proliferation,” Sun said.
“I think that we’ve produced a 3D microenvironment which is much more like that found in vivo for growing embryoid body, which explains the higher levels of cell proliferation,” he said.The researchers hope that this technique can be developed to produce embryoid body at a high throughput, providing the basic building blocks for other researchers to perform experiments on tissue regeneration and/or for drug screening studies. “Our next step is to find out more about how we can vary the size of the embryoid body by changing the printing and structural parameters, and how varying the embryoid body size leads to “manufacture” of different cell types,” said Rui Yao, from Tsinghua University in China.

“In the longer term, we’d like to produce controlled heterogeneous embryonic bodies,” said Sun.

“This would promote different cell types developing next to each other – which would lead the way for growing micro-organs from scratch within the lab,” he added.

Indian govt funds 3D printing startup DF3D

While most startups gain their first boost through large amounts of VC funding, DF3D stands out. The Bengaluru-based ‘design factory for 3D printing’, launched in February 2014, was among the thirty startups which were showcased at TechSparks 2014. A year later, DF3D has a unique tale to tell the world – one which is backed by the Union government itself.

Although 3D printing – which started as additive printing in the US before 24  years – was not entirely a new concept in India, the people had not yet warmed up to the concept. Deepak Raj, founder, says that his entrepreneurial venture, which began as India’s first marketplace for B2C, shifted to B2B after six months of its inception for more revenue.

Deepak Raj, Founder, DF3D
Deepak Raj, Founder, DF3D

With about 22 years’ experience in software and sales, Deepak, an ex-employee of GE, was clear that printing is gradually becoming a commodity. “There are at least 25 players in India in 3D printing, concentrating more on production and mechatronics. We wanted to concentrate on designing and software for making prototypes and customised products,” says Deepak. However, there was no external funding; but within a few months since they converted to B2B, they started generating enough revenue to fund themselves.

It was then that DF3D launched Osteo3d, to provide 3D printing for surgical planning. It got some much attention that in March 2015, DF3D got funded by the Government of India: the Department of Biotechnology sanctioned a grant of Rs. 50 lakh.

Osteo3d has already had 38 cases, in cranial, orthopaedic, and maxillofacial surgical procedures. For instance, for surgical fixing of jaw bones, an exact piece is designed and printed by Osteo3D, and is placed in position by a surgical expert.

Deepak says that while such products cost Rs.1,20,000 outside, Osteo3d do it for Rs.30, 000 and are planning to reduce the price again. He claims that Osteo3D is the world’s first ecommerce marketplace for skulls and bones.

“Based on live patient data, how will you get a skull for a particular defect? We have 150 different models for this,” says Deepak. One in 2000 children are born with skull not properly formed, affecting brain development and causing behavioural disabilities. In such cases, Osteo3d’s 3D printed helmet exerts pressure in the right parts so that skull grows in the right direction.

But lack of awareness is still a problem. Even among doctors, Deepak says, there was certain reluctance as, in India, we rarely do normal reconstruction. But they are definitely warming up to the idea.  Osteo3d has three doctors in advisory board, and has partnered with 25 doctors including from AIIMS.

While he plans to make Osteo3D a brand of its own in the long run, Deepak is content about DF3D’s progress. He believes that 3D printing of the future can revolutionise e-commerce and logistics altogether. For an order from abroad, the file is digitally manufactured and sent to the printer online; there is no question of shipping and associated charges. “Products get manufactured after you place the order; hence there is no need for an inventory. In that sense, 3D printing is a threat to courier companies. Even for orders from US, we send them the design, they manufacture it in US itself,” says Deepak.

In 3D printing, you get an online 3D view of the product you ordered, and can customise it and do transactions. DF3D provides software plugins used by 3D printing companies, as well as algorithm to calculate the pricing.


DF3D launched its own app – Extrud3it – 3 months ago. It gives a pricing quote, first app in the world to do so for 3D printing. DF3D currently has 8 members in its team, and customers from all over the world.

With the expiry of key patents, increasing awareness, and advancement in material research, 3D printing is finally taking off.  In 2014, US-based Autodesk (3D design and engineering software firm) launched $100 million fund to encourage 3D printing technology. According to a study by 6WResearch consulting firm, the 3D printer market in India is expected to cross $79 million by 2021. Global players such as 3D Systems and Optomec have already made their entry in India. Indian startups are not lagging behind as well. Mumbai-based MaherSoft, Jaipur-based aha!3D, Bengaluru-based Fracktal and Global 3D Labs,  are among the pioneers in the field.

Amazing: 3D printed cool Doodle Clock perpetually writes time on a magnetic board

Professional architect and designing hobbyist Ekaggrat Singh Kalsi has just shared his very cool Doodle Clock that continuously writes the correct time on a magnetic board (and erases it again).

Ekaggrat is a project architect in Ahmedabad in India, but by night he is an avid 3D printer who loves to tackle unusual projects. And that is certainly a word you could use to describe some of his work.

His latest project is equally impressive, but a bit more tangible. While some other clock projects that rite down the time sometimes circulate the web, few are as impressive as the Doodle Clock. Built as a second generation of a previous project by Ekaggrat, this new version tackles the problem faced by most writing clocks. Typically, they all write down the time on paper or a whiteboard, but in all cases the pen or marker dries up, while the surface eventually also gets ruined.

3d printed clock
3d printed clock

The same happened with the first iteration of the Doodle Clock. ‘The biggest problem with the first clock was the drying up of the markers after just 30 minutes of working,’ he says on his website. Originally built as a bit of a fun project, the concept fascinated Ekaggrat, so he was very happy to find a solution to this common problem: Magnetic writing boards, often seen in toys. While even whiteboards or glass sheets will eventually get ruined by ink, this magnetic solution can go on writing the time perpetually. Two 2 mm cylindrical magnets inside a solenoid are key. One magnet passes over the board to draw lines, but when the other is passed over the other side, the lines are wiped out – perfect for a clock that news to change the result every single minute of the day.

The build itself is also farily straightforward. All parts are 3D printed, except for the small geared stepper motors that power the arms and the board itself. ‘The clock uses two 1:100 geared 15mm stepper motors to move the arms configured in a scara fashion. The motors are located at the base to keep the weight very low on the arms. The tip of the arms contains two solenoids with cylindrical magnets inside them,’ Ekaggrat explains. ‘I initially tried electromagnets but to get the text to be as dark as what is written by the magnet which comes along with the board needed a lot of power.’ The only problem is that the board eventually gets a bit scratched by the magnets, but the designer is looking to cover it with a very thin scratch resistant film to deal with this issue.


aha!3D: Jaipur-based industrial grade 3D printer makers

Aakash, a gold medallist of MNIT Jaipur 2002 batch got a taste of entrepreneurship when he joined Vihaan Networks in 2005. Before that, he had two smaller stints with C-DOT and Mentor Graphics. A curious mind, Aakash always had pet projects he’d work on. While working on his projects, he became aware of the limitations of conventional mechanical prototyping. Around 2009, he came across the RepRap project which had begun as an initiative to develop a 3D printer that can print most of its own components and be a low-cost 3D printer. This really spiked his interest and in 2010, he decided to start his own company AHA Gadgets which was later rebranded to aha!3D.

The idea was to develop indigenous 3D printers dedicated to the needs of Indian market. “Our first product Reality 3D, which also became India’s first indigenous 3D printer, was appreciated a lot at various platforms. The scope in this field motivated us to take this as full time work,” says Aakash. Aha!3D specialises in industrial 3D printers with a focus on reliability, repeatability, and ruggedness. The company also provides 3D printing services to customers wherein people can send their designs to get them prototyped.

Team aha!3D
Team aha!3D

Aha!3D has two products in the market, one catering to the desktop 3D printing segment and another to large-build volume shop-floor 3D printing segment. Their ProtoCentre 999 is the desktop 3D printer with a build volume of 9x9x9 cubic inches. It is a desktop model and comes with all features to provide an industrial quality output. “It comes with all metal chassis, closed chamber heated bed assembly with dual extruders. It has a printable range of materials including ABS, PC, HIPS, PLA, PETT and Nylon, apart from newer special materials like brassFill, woodFill, and other composite materials,” says Aakash.

And the ProtoCentre 1M alpha was introduced as a pilot product with selected technical partners (build volume of 30x20x40 inches cube, quad water cooled extruder and state of the art control software). “There are various low cost 3D printer available in market but they have too many limitations which are not acceptable in professional grade machines. Our entire research is dedicated to provide viable industrial grade machines, offering unparalleled return on investment,” says Aakash.

All aha!3D parts are made in India and the team follows a “soft inventory” concept where they keep digital designs for 5% parts which are 3D printed just-in-time when needed.

aha!3D evolution

Completely bootstrapped, aha!3D is proud to call itself “customer funded”. Adobe India bought Reality3D, the first version of their 3D printer when Adobe was in the process to develop a postscript equivalent for 3D printers. ISRO’s team which worked on the Mangalyaan also bought a PC999. They use it for making prototypes to test and validate their designs of the mechanical components. DRDO’s MTRDC Bangalore lab, which researches on microwaves, also bought PC 999 from aha!3D. “Our customers have graciously given us problems to solve and trusted our team to come up with the right solution,” says Akash. The desktop printer comes with a price tag of Rs 2,00,000. The industrial version is a custom made printer which is designed according to the demand of customers. Apart from selling 3D printers, the company also makes money from the 3D printing services it provides.

3D printing has attracted a lot of attention globally. With over $100 million in funding, Carbon3D is a benchmark company in the space and Shapeways, another upcoming giant in the space raised $30 million in July this year. Back home in India, Fracktal Works raised a round at $3 million valuation, there are other companies like df3dGlobal3D, etc., making headway. For aha!3D, it has been an exciting journey. Their team has expanded to 12 members and consists of experts on all aspects of machine design. Talking of the road ahead, Aakash says, “We are introducing a new application of 3D printing for the Indian scenario. We want to be the reason for adoption of 3D printing in mainstream life of India and also get India recognised for fundamental innovation on the global map.”

Novabeans Brings 3D Printed Jewelry Services to India

If you are a jeweler today who has discovered 3D printing, you probably aren’t reading this–as you’re too busy jumping up and down on your bed in glee–wild about the world of opportunities that have suddenly opened as you are able to make your own designs, edit and re-edit to your creative heart’s content, and then have them 3D printed–or if you so choose, purchase your own 3D printer and start churning out designs.

It’s a two-sided gold coin, as well, as designers are able to promote and sell their jewelry more easily–and consumers have many new designs and materials to choose from, allowing for exciting opportunities to customize. What’s most important to many as well is that selections are often much more affordable.

While we have numerous services available in the US and Europe which offer 3D printed jewelry galore now as well as a variety of ways to have designs fabricated, India is just on the tipping point of experiencing what the technology can do for this sector. Now, Novabeans–the leader in 3D printing services in India–is beginning a new venture in their country, with the introduction of 3D printed jewelry and a great program offering access to a select group.

Partnering with two US companies, B9Creations andMadeSolid, they are hoping to capture market share in a country with an impressive, emerging economy for 3D printing which is especially ripe in the jewelry arena.

The Novabeans team and their partners are aware that jewelry has great significance in India–as well as in other developing countries. It represents not just a symbol of wealth and security, but also is of great value in celebrations, individual expression, and of course–relationships. Pointing out that research from AlliedMarketResearch shows that India is slated to grow at a CAGR of 37.4% from 2014 through 2020, Novabeans, B9Creations, and MadeSolid together will most likely be setting a trend many will follow in offering 3D printed jewelry to the population.

n a program meant to introduce select professional designers, jewelers, and students to their 3D printing services, NovaBeans will provide them with free 3D printing (using DLP/SLA technology) of two objects that can be fabricated within a build volume of 30 x 30 x 40 mm. They are offering this introductory service through the end of the year, and only for original pieces–not downloaded files for other 3D models.


In working with B9Creations, Novabeans, as well as consumers in India, will be rewarded with their expertise in 3D printing and casting jewelry products, using high-resolution printers and quality materials.

We’ve followed all three of these companies previously, noting innovative3D printed designs by B9Creations, and MadeSolid too as they’ve announced countless new resins for 3D printing. We’ve also followed numerous programs via Novabeans, most recently that of their foray into the education system with 3D printed art. Their movement into 3D printed jewelry should prove seamless–and rewarding on all levels–as they continue to advance and expand. Currently, Novabeans has multiple offices in India, as well as a headquarters in Paris. With the largest 3D printing online ecommerce store in the country, they already have the perfect platform for nearly any area of 3D printing they choose to enter.

Along with numerous 3D printing solutions, support, and consulting services, Novabeans also offers 3D printing training workshops. They serve too as the official distributor for all products by Ultimaker, 3D Systems, Pinshape, Creopop, 3Doodler, B9Creations, UAVID 3D, Airwolf, MadeSolid, Flashforge, Littlebits, and more.

Discuss your thoughts on Novabeans’ latest partnerships and their advancement into the 3D printed jewelry arena in Novabeans Brings 3D Printed Jewelry Services to India forum thread over at


Accenture to bring startup innovation hub to India; may bring its 3D printing & internet of things solutions

Accenture is looking at bringing its startup innovation hub concept to India and will continue to work with Indian startups as it expects the country to emerge a source of innovation for the world, a top official said.

“I would say that it is more than a possibility (placing a startup hub in India). Collaboration with Indian startups is something already being done,” Gianfranco Casati, group chief executive – growth markets at Accenture, said.

“Personally, I would say, that I am very optimistic about India becoming a source of innovation for the world. Potentially, even more disruptive than China,” he told ET in an exclusive interaction.

The global consulting and IT giant has innovation hubs centred on new-generation technologies such as internet of things (IoT) in Silicon Valley to work with startups and partners.

Accenture already works with Indian startups in its FinTech Innovation Lab in Hong Kong and has given grants to researchers from IIT-Bombay, IIT-Chennai, BITS-Pilani and IISc-Bangalore for research in natural language programming, cognitive learning systems, and dependable software.

While the innovation boom in India is still in its early stages, mushrooming startups have raised some concerns for some IT companies who now have to compete with startups for talent at campuses and lose high-performing employees to them.
But Accenture looks at this differently, said Rekha Menon, the newly-appointed chairman of Accenture India.

“We are always training our employees — keeping them future-ready and engaged, because the newer generation wants to learn constantly. And we understand that some employees will want to move to startups, and we support that, because that’s the in-built risk in hiring top talent. We have also supported startups started by ex-Accenture employees,” she said.
Menon said the company was training its more than 100,000 strong workforce in India on newer digital technologies, not just to serve global clients, but also to serve the India market.

Accenture is also working on bringing its 3D printing and IoT solutions to India as part of its growth markets strategy.
Despite volatility in markets such as China and Brazil, Accenture logged double-digit growth in revenues its newer markets for its financial year ended August.

John O’Brien, analyst with TechMarket-View, pointed out that Accenture achieved double-digit growth across both consulting and outsourcing services, and across all three main geographies of North America (12 per cent), Europe (10 per cent), and growth markets (11 per cent).

MITians’ 3D printing indian startup raises $3million

Their desktop 3D printing firm was started with a prize money of just Rs 5 lakh at Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT). But the two engineering graduates have raised $3 million in just two years. 

Rohit Asil and Vijay Raghav Varada, both MIT students, founded Fracktal Works after they won the prize in ‘Provenance’, a state-level B-plan competition organized by Manipal University Technology Business Incubator (MUTBI), two years ago. The main objective of this competition is to encourage future technological entrepreneurs. 

Chasing their dreams in three-dimensional printing (3D), the duo launched their startup at MUTBI while they were still studying. This centre assisted them by providing logistical support during the incubation period of 18-36 months. Vijay is a B Tech in Mechatronic Engineering and Rohit, in Instrumentation and Control from MIT. 

Speaking to TOI, the duo who moved out of MUTBI a year ago, said Manipal University gave them an opportunity to chase their dreams. They have tied up with MNCs and the firm’s net worth has risen to nearly $3 billion. The idea of creating the 3D printer was triggered when they were into inter-collegiate competitions. 

“Initially, we were interested in robotic technology but later switched to the 3D printing project, which we thought was a fluke but was recognized by MIT,” they said. 

After incubation at MUTBI for a year, Fracktal Works shifted base to Bengaluru to continue developing and manufacturing their own brand of 3D printers ‘Julia’ and providing customized services to different clients, including Cisco, Toshiba and L&T. Their USP has been competitive pricing in 3D printing. 

Currently, Fracktal employs a dozen people. Vijay says that imported basic 3D printing costs Rs 4-5 lakh, while they sell it only for one-third the cost. 

They plan to use all the funding to expand the team and strengthen their product development capabilities by hiring industrial designers and embedded system programmers. “Two years of bootstrapping have taught us how to utilize funds frugally and we will continue to do so,” added Rohit.

How 3D Printing Is Revolutionizing Healthcare

In the last couple of years, we have heard a lot about endless possibilities of what 3D printing has actually to offer. From custom-designed shoes to prescription drugs to match your DNA, the future seems to be knocking right at our doors now.

We got a glimpse of the same at the recent Autodesk University event. The most promising breakthroughs are currently happening in the field of medicine and healthcare. Only recently, we heard about a new 3D printed pill that can control epileptic seizures; it has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and we have also been hearing how this technology can help treat Type 1 Diabetes.

Even Autodesk is quite excited about the possibilities that exist in the bio-nano technology sphere. In the past, we have been hearing about 3D organ printing and we are just about scratched the surface in this sphere. However, if we could have virus-fighting medicines that are custom made to match our DNA, then the implications of the same could be huge. What we are necessarily getting at is that the drug made using our DNA, and will be looking at affecting only the affected cells and not impact the healthy cells in any way.

While speaking to Gizmodo India, Amar Hanspal, Senior Vice-President of the IPG Product group Autodesk that he is almost as excited and intrigued at the potential that exists in the health and medical sphere.

Hanspal says, “This will be a very targeted approach and we are still in the stages of early exploration as far as things go.”

Two Indian doctors Doctors use 3D printing to help in surgical planning to correct orbital hypertelorism

The use of 3D printing as an aid for surgical procedures has exploded worldwide.

Dr. Sathish Vasishta, a craniomaxillofacial surgeon, and Dr. Derick Mendonca, a plastic surgeon, of the Sakra Hospital in Bangalore, India, used a 3D printed model for a surgical procedure to correct orbital hypertelorism using both a box osteotomy as well as a facial bipartition technique with the aide of Osteo3D.

Orbital hypertelorism is a condition where the spacing between the eyes is larger than normal and can result in abnormally shaped eyes. To help aid in the procedure, Vasishta and Mendonca called upon the services of Osteo3d, a company that is focused on 3d printing for the healthcare industry. For the procedure, the patient in particular had excess bone present between their orbit: 15 mm on the horizontal plane and 7.5 mm from the midline.

In order to correct his, bone would need to be removed from either side of the midline before rebuilding the skull structure. To create a 3D model of the patient’s skull, 3D scans were collected and converted into usable data that was then able to be 3D printed. Then the doctors used the 3D printed model to study the patient’s bone structure both before and during the surgery.

This not only did this help the doctors accurately estimate the removal of the 7.5 mm of bone on either side of the midline on the horizontal plane and 1.5mm of bone on the vertical plane of the right bony orbit to achieve orbital symmetry but it also helped them establish any alternative methods for the procedure. Thankfully, the surgery was deemed a success thanks in no small part to the addition of 3D printing to the surgical process. While more hospitals worldwide are starting to see the value of 3d printing in nearly all stages of a medical procedure, not all of them have been able to both afford and provide the space for on-site 3D printers and computer equipment – for this, it’s hard to deny that services include Osteo3D are among the best out there.

3DCreatR extended to 50 new Learning Centers 3D printing in India , for all ages

3DCreatR, A company based in India, is expanding its range of courses on 3D printing, extending the courses to all ages.
This is not only to learn but also to dedicate professionally to disitintas opportunities offered by 3D printing in the future: medical, aerospace, manufacturing, and more. The list of options is almost endless career

Based in Mumbai, 3DCreatR is already operating two thriving centers for 3D printing and additive manufacturing. Because of its success, the company has set the goal of a major expansion
"3DCreatR is determined to spread their wings of knowledge to the masses and has plans to open 50 more such centers across India over the next six months"

3DCreatR also offers a wide selection of products and 3D printing materials.
In its centers, as they continue to accelerate and stimulate learning across India, 3DCreatR offer classes designed to "refine and improve" Learning in 3D for Indian citizens at all levels, such as:
Kids 3DC – Introductory course for the young ones
DesignA 3DC – Instruction focusing on product and art design for adults
DesignK 3DC – Instruction in design for kids, including scanning and sculpting
Design+3DC – An extension of the introductory course for adults or kids, offering twelve 3D printing sessions
Sculpt3DC – Introduction for kids to the Sculptris program, where they learn to make a basic 3D model
Jewelry3DC – Any skill level receives instruction on 3D printing a pendant, as well as embellishing it
ChocoMold 3DC – Participants learn to 3D print with chocolate, and produce a chocolate mold as part of the class assignment