From prosthetics to pizza, the world of 3D printing has expanded its horizons and is predicted to continue to the point of transforming the entire field of industrial manufacturing. Shockingly enough 3D printing had its start in the 1980s. The earliest printers used patterns and liquid polymers in a technique of layering known as stereolithography.
Last year, a new method of 3D printing—material extrusion—was introduced. This method, forces matter out onto a surface from a mechanical head. 3D printing can now create things out of concrete, synthetic stone, plastics, even chocolate and cheese. From food to buildings to body parts, 3D printing just may change our lives forever. The barriers to the science are practically all disposable and can be worked through—the possibilities are endless.
Incredible 3D Printed Objects
3D medical scientists have put medical bioprinters to use with cells that formulate a gel-like substance to produce ears, kidneys, blood vessels, skin, and bones. Much research and advances are still necessary to produce functioning organs, but the future is bright and it looks like bone fragment replacements and skin grafts may available sooner than later.
3D plastic printers have been a game changer for people across the world in need of prosthetics at low cost. In just a few hours 3D printers can produce artificial limbs for less than $100.
A number of youth within the U.S. have used 3D printers in a philanthropic way to offer prosthetics to their classmates and friends. One example of this is Easton LaChappelle who used free online resources for 3D printers to construct a prosthetic arm. This high school student has been working to produce medical helps for years now and has put legos and fishing line to make his visions reality.
Along with body parts and prosthetics, 3D printed medical models have become a cheaper alternative to learn about the human anatomy which may limit the need for cadavers. Because the printing of these medical models can be so precise, surgeons can plan a surgery on a printed model before performing procedures on actual patients.
Though 3D printed clothing isn’t in your favorite department store quite yet, the runway is quite familiar with what is to come. 3D printed gown can be made to fit particular body shapes and sizes to fit just like a glove.
Not only have 3D printed clothes made their way to the runway, 3D printed shoes are also some of the latest in fashion. Designer Pauline Van Dongen formed on of her designed shoes with laser sintered nylon.
Like other 3D printing in industries, this technology within the fashion industry requires less labor and shortens production times. In addition to these bonuses in efficiency, the products are recyclable!
The forecast of the future of fashion predicts that 3D clothing will continue to be more and more accessible to the consumer this year. Nike is on the forefront of the use of this technology and has produced the Vapor Carbon Elite Cleat with a 3D-printed nylon base and cleats.
Functional musical instruments can now be wholly produced out of 3D-printed objects. From printed guitar, to flutes, research is underway to make not only functional but high quality and quality sound producing instruments. At this point in production, 3D printed instruments don’t produce a sound that is extremely pleasing to the ears.
The Shakuhachi Flute is a stainless steel, Japanese flute that is 3D printed and comes in a variety of finishes from gold in both matte and glossy as well as an antique bronze matte. For around $250 you can have one for yourself!
The world’s first 3D printed acoustic guitar, was created by Scott Summi and they continue to grow in complexity. Plastic and metal are the primary components of the uniquely customizable guitars. This technology will allow fans to produce guitars that mimic those of their biggest musical heroes.
The future of food will not be exempt from the reaches of 3D printing. In fact, researchers from Cornell University have constructed a printer that takes information on BMI, height and weight and produces cookies that all look the same but have a unique composition based on the nutritional need of each individual.
Leading the way with Cornell, NASA has also debuted a pizza printer that produces pizza made of dough, ketchup, and cream cheese and bakes on a heated plate as it is release from the printer.
3D food printing is especially desirable for NASA given how convenient this may make the future of food during space travel. The dehydrated ingredients used could easily replace prepared foods that tend to be much heavier and larger. Printer ingredients of the near future as predicted to be useful for up to 30 years. The crews traveling to Mars may be better off than expected!
Along with cookies and pizza, chocolate artists are also very interested in the use of 3D printing in their art form. Collections of chocolate structures from artists in South Africa were displayed at the Museum of African Design in Johannesburg and have inspired the future of chocolate production.
The primary or most accessible use of 3D printing and 3D printed objects seems to flourish at the personal level in homes, public libraries, etc. However, as you have read, the possibilities of 3D printing are vast and almost unlimited. A number of leaders within industrial manufacturing and construction have predicted that 3D printing could entirely transform their industries.
Because 3D printing utilizes an additive method rather than the traditional method of starting with a mass of base material and manipulating and removing excess to form the product you need. This is one obvious way that 3D printing will help save through minimizing excess and waste. Rather than employing a number of machines that all require unique expertise, one machine can produce a variety of products. This helps keep innovation much more convenient and far less costly in the long run. The flexibility of these machines allow more room for creativity which is especially helpful in markets that are rapidly changing. This will allow for more customized options for markets that would have previously needed to mass produce a specific component to justify the cost.
Researchers from MIT’s Mediated Matter Group have been exploring ways to practically use 3D printing in home building using materials like concrete that are able to be manipulated with printing technology to produce a highly efficient structure. This could mean producing the frame of a home in a day, as opposed to a typical month it might take a construction crew.
The possibilities are endless, who knows what we might print next?