Science Round-up: Adopt 3D metal printing technology or risk being left behind, warns institute – The Post

Science Round-up: Adopt 3D metal printing technology or risk being left behind, warns institute

In other stories, a floating platform harvests climate data, when you exercise can be important, and we should be less frightened of genetically-modified crops

The institute would like to see Danish firms taking a more ‘hands on’ approach when it comes to using 3D metal printing technology (photo: Teknologisk Institut)
June 17th, 2019 2:37 pm| by Stephen Gadd

Danish companies are losing out in the booming field of 3D metal printing because of false assumptions, Denmark’s Teknologisk Institut warns.

A new report from the institute reveals that only 3 percent of Danish manufacturing companies have taken to using the 3D metal printing technology, whereas companies abroad are having no such scruples and experiencing rapid growth.

The main reasons given are that the process is too expensive, the quality is not good enough, it is too difficult to get started and it is very difficult to gain access to a 3D metal printer due to demand, reports Ingeniøren.

Invalid arguments holding sway
However, as the institute points out, the price of printers has gone down markedly over the last couple of years and quality has improved beyond recognition. For anyone wanting to get started there are courses and knowledge available from, among others, the institute.

Finally, although demand for this type of printer has increased dramatically, it is not always necessary to own one. The Teknologisk Institut has a complete 3D metal print setup available for use.

“In 2018 alone we produced more than 3,000 3D printed components and trained more than 500 engineers,” said Jeppe Skinnerup Byskov, the deputy head of the institute.

High-tech surveying off Taiwan
The Danish energy company Ørsted plans to build a large offshore wind turbine park off the west coast of Taiwan, but in order to make it as efficient as possible, it needs the most detailed climate data available. To this end the company is engaged in an ambitious surveying program using Lidar, a method of surveying using pulsed laser light to measure distances. The novel thing here is that the Lidar equipment is on a floating platform. Lidar can measure up to 220 metres upwards and can give more data about the upper atmosphere than an ordinary weather mast. It is also extremely practical in that it can easily be moved in order to obtain an overview of the horizontal variations in wind speed that can occur over long distances.

Body clock also affects exercise effects
New research from the University of Copenhagen in collaboration with the University of California, Irvine, reveals that exercise can have different effects depending on what time of day you do it. Experiments with mice have shown that exercise carried out at the beginning of the animal’s active phase had a markedly different effect than exercise done later. “Exercise in the morning starts genetic programs up in the muscle cells that make them more effective and able to break down sugar and fat,” said associate professor Jonas Thue Treebak from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research. However, exercise in the afternoon or early evening seems to increase the body’s ability to burn sugar and fat over a longer period.

EU rules on genetically-modified food should be relaxed
Up until now, only one genetically modified crop has been approved in the EU and that is not good enough, researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the Technical University of Denmark argue in a new paper. “The fact that a crop has been genetically modified does not in itself pose a risk. If there is risk involved, it is connected to the act of introducing a new variety with unfamiliar traits, which may have adverse effects on the environment or the health of humans and animals,” explained postdoc Andreas Christiansen. The researchers point out that EU regulation may stand in the way of important agricultural innovation that could provide more sustainable and climate-friendly solutions.

Finding the beneficial side of CO2
Aarhus University is developing new technologies to reduce CO2 emissions and would also like to see more CO2 being used as a resource. Heading the team, associate professor Nina Lock has been focusing on finding sustainable alternatives to the chemical catalysts used in industries such as plastics, agrochemicals, clothing and medicine, which are at present based on fossil fuels. The team is trying to find a way of making catalysts that can reuse some of the CO2 that is at the moment considered problematic for the environment. “Our goal is to be able to take a smoke/gas mix from a chimney, run it directly into a large installation and convert some of the CO2 into valuable building blocks that can go back into industry,” said Lock.

Pigs might yet fly – as organ donors
Aarhus University has been working on a breeding project whereby pigs should be able to grow organs that can be transplanted into humans. Using the gene ‘scissor tool’ Crispr, it has been possible to come closer to cutting out virus elements from the DNA in the pigs’ gametes to breed them virus-free, reports Ingeniøren. There is a chronic shortage of organ donors and the researchers hope to be able to have the first useable organs from pigs ready within a few years.