Aether and UCLA Researchers to 3D Print Artificial Muscles

Aether, manufacturer of 3D bioprinters will collaborate with researchers from UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering to manufacture 3D printed artificial muscles with soft materials.

Aether will develop new techniques and algorithms to optimize Aether 1, its 3D bioprinter and its computer vision features. The aim of the company is to automate the process of 3D printing soft robotic devices, improve print quality and ease of use.

A personal experience at the heart of this collaboration

10 years ago, Aether CEO Ryan Franks caught pneumonia, which then caused a potentially fatal infection. While at UCLA Hospital with mixed odds for survival, Ryan was cured and restored to health by Dr. Abbas Ardehali.

The procedure was called VATS, video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, and it caused Ryan to experience first-hand how medical technology saves lives.

This experience sparked a burning interest in technology and powerful urge to make an impact, leading directly to the founding of Aether.

Given this history, Aether is very pleased to work with UCLA.

Aether CEO Ryan Franks said “Working on technology with UCLA is something I’ve dreamed of for a long time. There’s no one better when it comes to robotics, and the fact that UCLA faculty saved my life makes this collaboration incredibly special.”

The printing process

The print starts with two FDM hot-end extruders printing a substrate in two colors of PLA. Two colors of UV curable silicone are then printed on the substrate as above ground wells, which are then cured solid by the UV LED.

A laser engraves 2 thin grooves in the PLA substrate to serve as below ground liquid channels. Two microvalves, each filled with one color of dyed water, jet liquid into the two above ground wells and two below ground channels.


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