Additive Manufacturing, more commonly known as 3D printing is a process of transforming 2D images into 3D objects. The process though simple has the ability to change the world around us. If a biography is written on the journey of 3D printing, it will be very adventurous one. From a technology that was used basically for prototyping to a technology that went mainstream, the transformation is humungous. Although the technology has its limitations, most analysts feel that it’s only a matter of time before those limitations will be conquered. This technology has the potential to change the future. In this article we have rounded up seven remarkable objects that have been printed with the help of this technology. These objects also give us a glimpse as to how our future might look like!
The biggest problem with the constant increase in population is scarcity of housing. The resources needed to make a house are limited whereas the demand is unending. This is where 3D printing comes handy. Architects are taking help of 3D printers to make houses. Some of the architects like the Dutch architects are using expensive plastic to achieve this goal while on the other hand a company named WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co. is using recycled waste to print these houses.
The Dutch architects used the largest 3D printer on planet named Kamermaker to 3D print a house. The house has been attracting tourists from all over the world including US President Barack Obama. The house is located in Amsterdam and is more popularly known as Canal home.
The Chinese company does not have the luxury of owning a Kamermaker. So it is printing individual pieces and then assembling them. The company claims to have build 10 such houses and the price is somewhere around $5,000.
Apart from these two there are many people and companies that are using 3D printing to make houses or as some call it- castles!
Aviation companies spend million and trillions of dollars on repair and maintenance of an aircraft and most of the money is spent on the spare parts. Recently the news came in that a British company named BAE Systems has successfully flown a Tornado Fighter Jet which had the cockpit radio cover and the other components in the landing gear printed out of a 3D printer. Mike Murray of BAE Systems said, “You are suddenly not fixed in terms of where you have to manufacture these things. You can manufacture the products at whatever base you want, providing you can get a machine there.”
Apart from the Britishers, Americans and other European countries also ventured out to explore the possibilities that exist with 3D printing of spare parts in aviation as well as the automobile industry.
Bio- Printing of Tissues, Skin and Bones:
3D printed human tissue is as of now being used for research only. Earlier doctors had to experiment with medicines for a new disease or illness on humans but now these tests are carried out on 3D printed tissues. Depending on the outcome of the tests, future course of action can be determined. Organs have also been printed but the size is quite small and that too was done on a Petri dish. The 3D printing of organs is something that cannot be expected sometime soon.
The involvement of 3D printed objects in the healthcare sector is very high. 3D printed spinal implants, 3D printed hearts as well as 3D printed skin all have the potential to change the way we look at the functioning of the healthcare sector and also change the limitations of this industry to a great degree.
3D printing has revolutionized the world of prosthetics. Earlier people who wanted prosthetics had to adjust their bodies according to the standardized prosthetic part like chip off the extra bone so that the prosthetic fits better. But now, patients can get a customized prosthetic that fits their needs and requirements. These prosthetics have changed the life of many people.
Names of Hannah and Amanda have spread in the world of 3D printing over- night. Both of them had a health condition because of which they could not get up from their beds. 4 year old Hannah had a medical condition known as the Arthrogryposis because of which she could not lift her arm on her own. On the other hand, Amanda was paralyzed from waist down after a fall from a building. Thanks to 3D printing, Hannah got a Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX for short) and Amanda got a Ekso bionics which is a hybrid robotic exoskeleton and now both can lead a normal life!
Clothing and Jewelry:
Fashion industry is the most dynamic of all industries. Fashion trends change on a frequent basis. What’s in fashion today, the same thing becomes old fashioned tomorrow. With 3D printing, designers can make clothes that are impossible to create in the traditional way. These clothes are not only made easily and quickly but also are highly customized. 3D printing has also changed the world of accessories. The big shots of the 3DP industry like Shapeways are actively contributing to this sector. Recently Dita Von Teese, a dancer modeled a dress which was designed by Michael Schmidt and Frances Bitoni and 3D printed by Shapeways. A few designs which were made using this technology were showcased in the NY fashion week as well.
Chocolates and Other Foods:
3D printed food is creating a lot of buzz in this sector recently. Products like ChefJet 3D printer, Candy 3D printer and the Foodini have increased the hype of being able to 3D print food. These printers have been successful in making food from liquid or powdered materials. These printers are becoming a must have appliance in the kitchen.
Whereas there are other food printers that have been made for specific people and purposes. For example a food printer made by a German company named Biozoon Food Innovations is printing food that will dissolve in the mouth very easily.
Another printer which is being developed for fighting world hunger is being compiled by a company named Systems & Materials Research Corp. The printer prints Meal Cubes which are made from nutritionally balanced powders.
As humans are becoming more aware about the environment, they are trying out every possible way to conserve the natural resources. Generation of electricity is quite a mammoth task and most of the natural resources from which electricity can be generated are getting exhausted. So now the British scientists at the National Physical Laboratory have come up with a brand new set of solar panels which work efficiently even when the sky is cloudy. The molecules that make this solar panel can be dissolved in water and can be 3D printed in the desired color, shape and size!
All the 7 objects covered in this article are objects that have shaken their respective industries to the core and these objects also throw some light on how the future will look like. The impact of 3D printers on our lives is inevitable!