Aether Collaborates with UCLA Researchers to 3D Print Artificial Muscles

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On the soft robotics frontier with Samueli School of Engineering's legendary robotics team

There's no one better when it comes to robotics, and the fact that UCLA faculty saved my life makes this collaboration incredibly special.

Today Aether announced a new collaboration with researchers from UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering to improve the fabrication process for 3D printing artificial muscles with soft materials.

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

The collaboration will focus on developing technologies for faster, easier, high-quality fabrication of soft artificial muscles and complex multi-material structures.


A freshly completed major upgrade to Aether 1's automatic offset calibration system makes embedding conductive materials easier than its ever been.

The system uses computer vision to automatically calculate precise offsets for multiple tools and tool types, enabling users to extrude multiple materials side by side without overlapping or gaps.

Conductive materials like graphene or silver nanoparticles can now be easily printed directly into robotic devices, replacing traditional wires.


UCLA researchers will also join Aether’s medical imaging AI collaboration with Harvard Medical School by receiving pre-release access to Aether's upcoming advanced visualization AI software, featuring ASAR (Automatic Segmentation and Reconstruction) technology.

ASAR allows users to view raw medical images like CT scans or X-rays, select a desired organ or tissue type, and within seconds have a segmented organ 3D file ready to analyze or print.

Surrounding anatomy disappears at the push of a button, saving time and simplifying medical image analysis.

ASAR's automatic organ segmentation process is many thousands of times faster than the manual segmentation offered by competitors, accomplishing in seconds what takes the market leading software hours or days.

In 2019, Aether will launch software that turns medical images into 3D printable organs at the push of a button, and it will be priced lower than all competitors.

Beta testing with collaborating research groups is scheduled to begin late 2018.


Approximately 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 a life-saving procedure performed by one of the world's finest surgeons, UCLA's 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 incredibly excited and grateful to have the opportunity to work with the wonderful people at 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."


Aether has released a new video this morning demonstrating Aether 1 printing an analog of a microfluidic device, using 8 tools in one print.

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.

Link to the demo video:


Aether is a San Francisco technology startup and maker of Aether 1, the world's most advanced 3D bioprinter.

Up to 24 simultaneous tools enable users to combine more tool and material types than any 3D printer in the world, while computer vision automates difficult and time-consuming calibration tasks.

Aether will soon launch an AI software product for the advanced visualization of medical images, featuring fully automatic organ and tissue segmentation.

Aether 1 beta units are available now in limited quantities.

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