June 6, 2023
Soft skills: The softer side of 3-D printing

Photo: UF Explore Magazine

Thomas Angelini (left), an assistant professor in the University of Florida's mechanical and aerospace engineering department, has found a way for 3-D printers to make soft, pliable objects like a jellyfish.

Northeast Florida Roundup

Soft skills: The softer side of 3-D printing

Greg Walsh | 12/28/2015

Until recently, 3-D printers could only make solid objects because of the way they work — they form objects by overlapping thin layers of material on top of each other. Thomas Angelini, an assistant professor in the University of Florida’s mechanical and aerospace engineering department, has found a way for the printers to make soft, pliable objects — he’s created a jellyfish, for example, and a hollow, tubular knot. Angelini uses granular gels that trap the material deposited by the printer, allowing material to be added and formed without creating a solid object. “It’s no longer about solidification; it’s more about placing things in space and leaving them where you put them,” Angelini says.

The invention could eventually lead to the creation of simulated organs and artificial brains that medical students could use for training. Angelini and professor Greg Sawyer also are working on ways to print living cells using the granular gel technique.

“In simple terms, a hundredplus years that we’ve built a foundation on in traditional mechanics is largely off the table with soft matter,” says David Hahn, chair of UF’s department of mechanical and aerospace engineering. “It really is a whole new frontier of engineering.”

Innovation -- Niche Software

Software engineer and serial entrepreneur Darren Bounds co-founded Yapp Media along with Dave Grossman. The company’s SportsYapper app was one of the most popular sports app downloads by soccer fans during the 2014 World Cup matches. Now Bounds has moved on to developing specialized recruiting software, including Breezy HR, and supporting other young entrepreneurs through CoWork Jax.

Business Briefs

  • GAINESVILLE — Gainesville is the No. 1 location for finding jobs in Florida. Beyond.com compared the total number of job seekers for each region of the state to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s civilian labor force numbers for June.
  • JACKSONVILLE — Multiple lawsuits have been filed against Tote Services, owner of the El Faro container ship that sank Oct. 1 during Hurricane Joaquin after leaving Jacksonville on its way to Puerto Rico. None of the 33 crew members survived. > A second publicly accessible compressed natural gas station has opened, the result of a partnership between Jacksonvillebased Gate Petroleum and Trillium.
  • The Florida Times-Union bought First Coast Magazine and Health- Source Magazine from Beson- 4Media Group. > The Jacksonville Jaguars will play one regular season game in London’s Wembley Stadium through 2020 as part of an NFL agreement. > The owners of two World of Beer locations closed their Jacksonville Beach location this fall, saying they wanted to focus on the Southside location. > IKEA plans to open a store in Jacksonville in 2017. The company will construct a 294,000-sq.- ft. Structure near the St. Johns Town Center. > Southeastern Grocers, parent company of Winn-Dixie, BI-LO and Harvey’s, is moving its headquarters to Jacksonville’s Prominence office park in 2016. > Fidelity Investments plans to add 300 call center jobs if it gets state and local incentives. Opened in 2006, the center now has more than 800 associates. Jacksonville-based Vestcor Cos. Is building a $22-million senior living center that should open in 2017. The three-story, 104-bed facility will be located in the Mandarin area. > An estimated $100 million is needed to build a long-discussed aquarium in downtown Jacksonville. A feasibility study set the cost of a 125,000-sq.- ft. Facility at $85 million and acquiring the marine life and staff at $15 million. > Jacksonville University is establishing a scholarship and technology fund for students in robotics. The scholarship will go to high school seniors in FIRST Robotics Competitions. > JEA, the city-owned electric utility, has a new seven-member board of directors after Mayor Lenny Curry demanded the previous board resign over questions about possible Sunshine Law violations.
  • NORTHEAST — Two north Florida towns are among the top 10 most tax friendly for seniors in the state, according to a survey by SmartAsset.Com. Starke in Bradford County came fifth, followed by Suwannee County’s Live Oak in seventh.
  • OCALA — Elite Equestrian magazine’s headquarters opened this fall in Ocala. The magazine is published by American Horse Publications of South Daytona.
  • NASSAU COUNTY — Marlin & Barrel distillery in Fernandina Beach, which opened in mid-2015, will distribute its vodka and rum through Republic National. The liquor company is also marketing its products to local bars and restaurants.
  • SUWANNEE COUNTY — Shenandoah Dairy in Live Oak is constructing additional milking parlors at its operation, according to Suwannee County Economic Development officials. The dairy is one of the largest in Florida.


Paul Grube is now executive vice president and chief banking officer at First Atlantic Bank in Jacksonville. Grube will oversee commercial lending and retail sales teams.

Chris Cox was named president of Old Dominion Insurance, the primary brand in Florida and Georgia for Main Street America Group.

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