Materials Scientists Working On Dental Enamel That Could Regenerate

You never know where an opportunity will present itself for a materials science technician. Your local dentist or dental lab may need help in the near future if this research from Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom develops.

Earlier this month, researchers announced they were working on a new way to grow “mineralized” materials that mimic hard tissues – dental enamel or bone.

The study, originally published in Nature Communications, show how new materials can be recreated to look and work like natural dental enamel. The researchers believe that it could help prevent tooth decay and sensitivity and also provide a way to treat those conditions.

According to the paper:

“Enamel, located on the outer part of our teeth, is the hardest tissue in the body and enables our teeth to function for a large part of our lifetime despite biting forces, exposure to acidic foods and drinks and extreme temperatures. This remarkable performance results from its highly organised structure.”

The paper cites “lead author Professor Alvaro Mata, also from Queen Mary’s School of Engineering and Materials Science, who said: ‘A major goal in materials science is to learn from nature to develop useful materials based on the precise control of molecular building-blocks. The key discovery has been the possibility to exploit disordered proteins to control and guide the process of mineralisation at multiple scales. Through this, we have developed a technique to easily grow synthetic materials that emulate such hierarchically organised architecture over large areas and with the capacity to tune their properties.'”

Mimic other hard tissues

As the researchers understand and control how the process of mineralization works, they believe they will be able to mimic other hard tissues. That potential makes it interesting and valuable to other specialties within the medical and dental communities, particularly in regenerative medicine.

An understanding of how materials work is going to be increasingly valuable in our materials research-based world. Whether it is dental enamel, human bones, or carbon fiber, materials science technicians have a bright future.

More resources and information:

The full research paper was published at Nature Communications: ‘Protein disorder-order interplay to guide 1 the growth of hierarchical mineralized structures’. Sherif Elsharkawy, Maisoon Al-Jawad, Maria F. Pantano, Esther Tejeda-Montes, Khushbu Mehta, Hasan Jamal, Shweta Agarwal, Kseniya Shuturminska, Alistair Rice, Nadezda V. Tarakina, Rory M. Wilson, Andy J. Bushby, Matilde Alonso, Jose C. Rodriguez-Cabello, Ettore Barbieri, Armando del Rio Hernández, Molly M. Stevens, Nicola M. Pugno, Paul Anderson, Alvaro Mata.

Details from Queen Mary University of London news post: Scientists develop material that could regenerate dental enamel. The research was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant (STROFUNSCAFF) and the Marie Curie Integration Grant (BIOMORPH).

An early release of the research was featured in Labiotech.eu and it has a good breakdown of what it looks like and what it means for dentistry and for us as patients: Dental Enamel Biopolymers.

Photo used with permission from Queen Mary University of London. Credit: Alvaro Mata.

If you are interested in other materials science advancements for technician education (and future employment opportunity ideas), check out this post on TEAMM AM News: Disney Research Uses Materials Science To Invent Touchscreen Walls With Conductive Paint.

Disney Research Uses Materials Science To Invent Touchscreen Walls With Conductive Paint

SME Has Three Questions They Want To Help You Answer About Additive Manufacturing

SME believes that additive manufacturing (3D printing) faces barriers to more widespread adoption and use. There is a gap between existing knowledge and the technology’s capabilities and potential. At the heart of their new initiative are three questions to help bridge that gap:

  • Can I print it?
  • Should I print it?
  • What’s the best machine, material and process for a particular part?

The initiative is called the Independent Technical Evaluation of Additive Manufacturing (ITEAM). The consortium is comprised of manufacturing companies, additive manufacturing equipment and material producers, industry organizations, academic institutions, service bureaus, CAD, CAE, and other software solutions providers. Here is an ITEAM overview video on YouTube.

The purpose of ITEAM is to advance additive manufacturing by providing a trusted information platform as a resource for manufacturers using this technology. Users need a better way to evaluate the feasibility of producing additively manufactured parts amidst the constantly changing field of machines, materials and processes. SME and their partners through ITEAM are building a new prototype AM Rapid Virtual Evaluation Platform.

This platform is being developed and tested by the ITEAM consortium in collaboration with Dr. Michael Grieves, renowned expert at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), along with GM and other major industry users in automotive and aerospace. The open platform will provide a virtual repository of AM machine/material capabilities with evaluation tools to enable users to determine their parts’ suitability to be manufactured additively.

Check out the Michael Grieves Interview from RAPID+TCT 2018.

According to the SME news release, “The ITEAM tool compares and calculates the best machine, material and process for a particular application. Utilizing SAM-CT (size, accuracy and materials + economic evaluation of cost and throughput) methodology, companies can upload their part file to the secure platform and evaluate whether something “can” and “should” be produced by additive manufacturing. This helps manufacturers reduce risking valuable time and resources on trial and error in the manufacturing process.”

Dr. Grieves explained the SAM-CT model in a recent post at 3DPrint.com entitled, How Do We Make Better Decisions in 3D Technologies? ITEAM has the Answer. In it, he shares this visual that explains how the process works. In short, “SAM is the technical evaluation of the ‘Can I make it,’” Grieves said. The SAM-CT model and Dr. Grieves’ work certainly answers the three questions SME wants to help you with, plus quite a bit more.

Tennessee Tech Adds Chapter To Cyber-Physical Labs Textbook

Tennessee Tech University wants to make 3D printing accessible to more people. Dr. Ismail Fidan and a team of additive manufacturing (AM) experts contributed to a new Springer textbook: Cyber-Physical Laboratories in Engineering and Science Education, to show how they intend to make remote access to an AM lab possible.

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, continues to grow in popularity and as an approach to teach science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). But the cost of the machines prohibits many educational institutions from purchasing, so Dr. Fidan and his colleagues pondered how they could grant remote access to more teachers and students. In this textbook chapter, the authors introduce a novel concept of accessing external AM laboratories via smartphones and advanced computer technologies.

The chapter, The Development and Implementation of Instruction and Remote Access Components of Additive Manufacturing, showcases the TTU Engineering department’s project to create a smartphone application that links AM labs to each other. It lists the pros and cons of contemporary practices to make a lab available online. The chapter also highlights the components and processes they used to build the lab and run it remotely. To broaden resources in AM teaching and workforce development, four institutions were part of the remote AM collaboration network project.

AM Remote Access Network: Technical Details

According to Dr. Fidan: “The AM Remote Access Network, AM laboratories are linked with exceptionally precise network cameras. All network cameras are equipped with two-way communication, infrared night vision, an SD card slot, digital zoom (x10), pan and tilt abilities, and motion alerts. They also have two-way audio connection, which is a useful feature that lets anyone chat with the laboratory personnel through the remote access. These cameras also let users monitor the part production from start to end and inform the laboratory personnel when there is an issue. Currently, the system does not provide any control on the design software tools, but lets the users access the laboratory, watch the production real time, and see the finished product without any delay.”

TTU Remote AM Lab at Univ of Louisville

The TTU College of Engineering is proving that owning a 3D printer is not the only way to help your students create a 3D printed object. As part of their project, Dr. Ismail Fidan and team developed a remote-access smartphone application that made it easy to connect to the AM network and lab. In the future, more remote access networks and labs will be built giving teachers and students’ ways to test this method for their classrooms.

The chapter authors:

  • Ismail Fidan, College of Engineering, Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, Tennessee, US.
  • Amy Elliott, Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Knoxville, Tennessee, US.
  • Mel Cossette, National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education, Edmonds Community College, Lynnwood, Washington, US.
  • Thomas Singer, The Science, Mathematics and Engineering Division, Sinclair Community College, Dayton, Ohio, US.
  • Ed Tackett, J B Speed School of Engineering, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, US.

The Springer textbook, Cyber-Physical Laboratories in Engineering and Science Education, editors:

  • Michael E. Auer, Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, Villach, Austria
  • Arthur Edwards, University of Colima, Colima, Mexico
  • Abul K.M. Azad, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, USA
  • Ton de Jong, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands

Acknowledgements: This work is part of a larger project funded by the Advanced Technological Education Program of the National Science Foundation, DUE #1601587.

Virtual Reality Workshop For Digital Manufacturing Education

The TEAMM project is hosting a two-day workshop on using virtual reality technology as a classroom tool. It will be hosted at Edmonds Community College on August 22 and 23 at Monroe Hall.

The 2-day workshop is sponsored by Manufacturing Education Using Virtual Environment Resources (MANEUVER), an NSF project, and will be covering VR-based digital manufacturing (DM) instruction modules.

This workshop is directed towards community college instructors and high-school teachers interested in digital manufacturing instruction using virtual reality tools and techniques. There is no fee to register; Washington State Clock Hours are available; and seating is limited.

  • If you are interested to attend at Edmonds Community College, please contact Robin Ballard for the August 22-23 workshop in Washington. Here is the EventBrite invite page.
  • If you are interested in the Purdue University workshop for July 17 – 18, contact Magesh Chandramouli.
  • For the Tennessee Tech University (TTU) workshop on July 28 – 29, contact Ismail Fidan.

To learn more about how manufacturing and VR are coming together, here is a brief abstract (from the NSF grant page) of the work that Magesh Chandramouli is doing:

Project MANEUVER (Manufacturing Education Using Virtual Environment Resources) is developing an affordable virtual reality (VR) framework to address the imminent demand for well-trained digital manufacturing (DM) technicians. Over half of the 3.5 million required manufacturing positions in the US are expected to go unfilled due to a “skills gap”. Employment projections show a decline in conventional manufacturing jobs with marked growth in DM jobs. This VR instructional framework, targeted at two and four year programs, will not only advance the field of DM, but will also strengthen education by remedying the lack of clearly defined career/educational pathway(s) for entry-level DM technicians.

MANEUVER is developing an innovative multi-modal VR framework for DM instruction. This framework decouples the 3D DM database from functionalities, thus giving the instructional designer access through immersive, augmented, and desktop VR. Instead of pairing functionalities with the VR database, which prevents access by other modes, the decoupled approach allows for mode-independent approach, facilitating affordable access and broader implementation. The resultant curricular modules can be replicated for use on multiple machines without additional costs. During manufacturing process training, VR tools serve as a viable alternative offering a cost and material-efficient solution. Industry standard software and hardware is being used to develop and deliver advanced DM exercises for instructional and training purposes. Using a “train-the-trainers” approach, a replicable faculty development model is being developed for secondary and post-secondary institutions. By addressing regional and national entry-level workforce needs, the project benefits society and contributes to national economic progress and prosperity.

You can also read how The Facility is a partner of Purdue’s work: “VR Lab at The FACILITY Makerspace at Edmonds Community College.”

VR Lab at The FACILITY Makerspace at Edmonds Community College

 

RAND Publication Explores Additive Manufacturing in 2040

TEAMM Principal Investigator, Mel Cossette, was recently interviewed for a special report by RAND Corporation: Additive Manufacturing in 2040. The report subtitle: Powerful Enabler, Disruptive Threat looks at how companies, and by extension, educators, might want to prepare for various challenges and big opportunities facing the growing AM opportunities.

RAND Corporation, a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis, produced the report as part of a broader effort of its RAND Ventures to look at security challenges our world may face in the next 20-plus years. The research was conducted within the RAND Center for Global Risk and Security.

As additive manufacturing (AM) technician education increases, it is helpful to look at the effects of political, technological, social, and demographic trends facing 3D printing. This short, free report may give future graduates ideas for new AM products and services. RAND’s report aims to do just that and increase awareness of how our uses of AM might profoundly impact global and local economies.

While the report looked specifically at international security, and threats to it, it also alludes to ways manufacturers will be affected as businesses. It digs into the history, the value of AM, and its growth:

“The use of AM within various industries, both traditional manufacturing and more niche applications, has grown dramatically in recent years. However, not all industries and products will be equally affected. Despite some optimists’ predictions that AM will become ubiquitous, the benefits and costs of this technology will likely vary widely across sectors. Eventually, some products could be entirely produced through AM, radically transforming these industries, but others might remain fairly constant as traditional manufacturing methods continue to dominate in price and quality.”

As the RAND report makes suggestions for how companies and governments will want to prepare for a secure future, students and technicians can use this report to consider career directions and business opportunities they might want to pursue. Download the Additive Manufacturing in 2040 report.