After giant glass printers and printed lattés, Hebrew U seeks more 3D innovation

After giant glass printers and printed lattés, Hebrew U seeks more 3D innovation

A new center at the Jerusalem university will push the envelope on three-dimensional printing tech, says its director

Professor Shlomo Magdassi (Flash 90)
Professor Shlomo Magdassi (Flash 90)

What do personalized messages in cups of latté have in common with the world’s biggest glass printer? Both were created with technology developed at Hebrew University, and licensed by Yissum, Hebrew U’s tech transfer company.

Already a hotbed of 3D printing research, the university is hoping to extend its footprint in the field with the establishment of the 3D and Functional Printing Center, Israel’s first center with a focus on research in 3D and functional printing. Situated near the University’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology on the Edmond J. Safra campus, the center will enable researchers to explore scientific and technological avenues in an emerging field, while exposing them to Israeli and international industry.

‬3D printing is the process of creating real-world objects from digital models. Coupled with functional printing, which adds functions such as light emission or movement to a printed product, this ever-expanding technology is enabling formation of new functional structures, such as printed robots, new plastic solar cells, military and medical equipment, radiation and light detectors, smart windows, sophisticated drug pills and even human organs.

And, in the case of Dip-Tech — 3D decorations embedded in glass, as well as curved glass. Last year, the company set a record for the construction of the world’s largest digital 3D glass printer – the Dip-Tech AR18000 printer, which can print a single pane of glass with a total area of up to 64 meters square (688.89 feet square). The accomplishment was unique enough to land the Kfar Saba firm in the Guinness Book of World Records last year.

Dip-Tech’s glass can be seen in many places – including Chicago O’Hare International Airport’s newly refurbished Terminal 5, where the company produced a 4,000 square foot (370 square meter) “curtain” of digital ceramic printed glass. Dip-Tech glass is also on display in the facade of Harlem Hospital Center in New York. The building was refurbished several years ago, and to strike a dramatic note, the exterior of the building was decorated with a glass mural facade, duplicating works of art that depict the struggle of southern US slaves for freedom. And, according to some glass industry experts, Dip-Tech’s technology is responsible for the 60 foot (18 meter) high glass walls being built at Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino, California.

Dip-Tech's printed glass 'curtain' at O'Hare Airport (Photo credit: Courtesy Dip-Tech)
Dip-Tech’s printed glass ‘curtain’ at O’Hare Airport (Photo credit: Courtesy Dip-Tech)

Also using Hebrew U-developed 3D tech to make its mark is Israeli start-up Ripples – which has developed the first system in the world that lets baristas craft a customize message for each and every customer, from a heart to birthday greetings, to a photo of the customer on the top of a cup of coffee. The company created a device call the Ripple Maker which, by combining patented 3D printer mechanics with ink-jet printing technologies using a natural coffee extract, called Ripple Pods, can create actual “printed” foam atop a latté or cappuccino.

Artistic rendition of an aerial view of Apple's new headquarters, as presented by Steve Jobs to the Cupertino City Council, June 7, 2011 (Photo credit: City of Cupertino)
Artistic rendition of an aerial view of Apple’s new headquarters, as presented by Steve Jobs to the Cupertino City Council, June 7, 2011 (Photo credit: City of Cupertino)

Those, and many other developments in 3D printing tech, have their roots in work done over the past decade by Hebrew University’s Prof. Shlomo Magdassi, who will head the new center. Magdassi believes that the center “will be an interdisciplinary hub catering to researchers and students from across the university’s scientific disciplines. In addition to chemists and physicists who are already in the field, the Center will invite researchers from biology, medicine, agriculture and computer science to move into this sphere. By encouraging scientific collaborations between researchers from different disciplines, I expect we will see new breakthroughs based on their synergistic expertise.”

Football team logos printed onto cups of coffee by the Ripple Maker (Courtesy)
Football team logos printed onto cups of coffee by the Ripple Maker (Courtesy)

‬In his research as The Enrique Berman Chair at the Casali Center for Applied Chemistry, the Institute of Chemistry and the Harvey M. Krueger Family Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at the Hebrew University, Magdassi focuses on materials science and nanotechnology has a number of important inventions to his credit, including conductive inks composed of nanoparticles for printed circuit boards, glassjet inks for printing on windows, black coatings for solar energy harvesting and transparent conductors for printing touch screens.

At the new center, Magadassi said that and his team “hope to break new ground in various disciplines and integrate 3D and functional printing into various industrial manufacturing processes, such as in printed electronics, food, medical implants, vehicles, security, and even architecture and the construction of buildings.”

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