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Gizmorama - March 15, 2017

Good Morning,


3D-printing is getting an upgrade! Researchers in Japan have created a process that improves the quality of 3D-printed products both in texture and structure.

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,
Erin


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*-- Scientists develop new surface finishing for 3D-printing --*

Researchers at Waseda University in Japan developed a process they say dramatically improves the quality of 3D-printed resin products.

The new technique improves surface texture and increases structural rigidity through a process called 3D Chemical Melting Finishing, or 3D-CMF, which uses a tool similar to a felt-tip pen to apply solvent selectively to specific parts of the printed product.

The current methods for surface finishing or smoothing are polishing or grinding down areas to reduce the appearance of "ribs," and make the price of 3D printers increase. Other methods for finishing or smoothing use vaporized solvents to melt and smooth the surface of a printed piece, however, indiscriminate dissolution of the entire surface of the product, the complexity of the machine and large amounts of flammable solvents make it less attractive for in-home use.

The new 3D-CMF process, developed by Kensuke Takagishi and Professor Shinjiro Umezu, of Waseda University, used a Fused Deposition Modeling, or FDM, type of 3D printer was able to improve surface "ribbing," or the rough appearance from grooves between layers of applied resin material.

The 3D-CMF method also removes less material, which creates less waste and provides more precise shaping using less solvent and, therefore, lowering costs.

The new method is a significant step toward in-home 3D printing, the researchers say.

The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.



*-- Yeast cell factories make gas, jet fuel alternatives --*

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden are using fatty acid synthase, or FAS, to produce sustainable alternatives to petrol and jet fuel.

The team successfully developed a new method using yeast cell factories to modify the FAS enzyme to create new sustainable chemical alternative products.

"This enzyme normally synthesizes long chain fatty acids, but we have now modified it into synthesizing medium chain fatty acids and methyl ketones -- chemicals that are components in currently used transportation fuels," Zhiwei Zhu, a post-doctoral student at Chalmers, said in a press release. "In other words: We are now able to produce [gasoline] and jet fuel alternatives in yeast cell factories, and this has never been done before."

Scientists have tried unsuccessfully over the years to modify FAS, which was first described by Nobel Prize winner Feodor Lynen.

"We did not expect this," Zhu said. "Actually, it was thought by the scientific community that this rigid enzyme was not readily amenable to manipulation. We first tried to change this fatty acid synthase by replacing one of its acyl carrier protein domains with a foreign enzyme to modify its properties and, surprisingly, it worked. Then we implemented such modification in other fungal fatty acid synthases and found this approach versatile."

The research was published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

***

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