Top 10 Coolest Things That Can Be 3D Printed Right Now
3D printing has been around for roughly three decades. It has progressed remarkably over those years due to developments in science and technology. It’s progressed so far that it’s almost at the point of becoming something that everyone can use. 3D printing is more precise, easier to use, and more widely available than ever thanks to the miniaturization of the technology it uses. New printing materials are also available, which means that 3D printers are no longer confined to making plastic trinkets developed in a CAD application. Everything from plastic and metal to ingredients for food can be printed using 3D printers.
What follows are some of the coolest things to come out of 3D printers. These items may mark the beginning of a new era for printed objects.
Printing food sounds like something out of a space TV series, but it’s something that is in development. It might make sense that space is one of the first places where 3D food may become commonplace. NASA wants to invest in a 3D printer capable of printing pizzas for astronauts to eat on ISS. This 3D printer works by taking free-dried ingredients, hydrating them, then placing them into the shape of a pizza and cooking them. This allows for food that has an incredibly long storage life. It does, however, take seven minutes to print a pizza using this method. Other businesses are developing 3D printers capable of creating exact portions of food in an attempt to end overeating.
Plastic can be used for more than just small trinkets. Clothing designers are using flexible types of plastic polymers to create entire outfits that look, feel and function just like regular clothes do. The most amazing part of this is the fact that they can be created on standard 3D printers. This could make it possible for people around the world to have access to clothing. It could also make it possible for budding clothing designers to begin their careers by publishing designs that people can print on the Internet.
8. You (But Smaller)
Statues are a form of impersonation traditionally reserved for the very rich due to the amount of skill it takes to create them. This is why kings and emperors have traditionally been the only ones able to afford them. Services like Twinkind and My3Dtwin are using 3D printing to make smaller replicas of people. These miniature statues are capable of being made in full color with lifelike detail.
7. Nano Sculptures
One way artists have changed how they express themselves is to create something incredibly small. Imagine seeing a masterpiece that could fit on the head of an ant. While there are limits to what human hands can do, 3D printers are being used by artists like Jonty Hurwitz to create nanoscopic sculptures. These sculptures are so small that they must be viewed with an electron microscope. While they are breathtaking, they are also incredibly easy to lose.
Certain physical differences make one type of instrument sound different than the next. This means that instruments must be precisely crafted to achieve a certain sound, which in turn greatly increases their costs. Laurent Bernadac has successfully used 3D printing to produce an instrument that almost replicates the sound that is on par with the legendary Stradivarius. This could allow musicians around the world to own an instrument that is fine-tuned to the point of perfection without requiring an astronomical price tag.
5. Prosthetic Limbs
Prosthetic limbs are incredibly costly because they must regularly be replaced. They also must be custom-tailored to mesh with the user’s body. The e-Nable project aims to use 3D printers to make prosthetic limbs available to a wide variety of people. The system creates extremely lightweight limbs capable of meeting the needs of people around the world. Even if this project fails to provide print-at-home prosthetic devices to users, it could mean that current prosthetics will fit users better while having a lower cost associated with them.
4. 3D Printers
While it may sound like 3D printers all the way down, the RepRap is designed to be a self-replicating 3D printer. This could make owning a 3D printer as simple as asking a friend to print one for you. While some assembly is still required to create the RepRap, it could make 3D printing significantly more accessible to consumers.
Downloading a car may finally be a reality. The Urbee 2 was printed from start to finish in a 3D printer. It was as strong as a steel car while weighing only half as much as a car would weigh. It took 2,500 hours to print. The Strati is a 3D-printed car manufactured by IMTS. It was produced in just six days, which represents a marked advancement over the Urbee 2.
2. Apartment Buildings
It’s one thing to print a car, but it’s an entirely different thing to print an entire building. That’s exactly what WinSun has done. They created a 5-story building that sits at Suzhou Industrial Park. It has everything from decorations to furnishings inside of it. The upside of this process is that it takes a fraction of the time to fabricate the parts, creates less waste, and can use recycled materials.
The pinnacle of 3D printing achievements has to be organs printed using a 3D printer. These organs are currently limited to simple organs like ears. The current problem revolves around finding a way to make organs “alive.” Features like blood vessels are difficult to create, and stimulating the form of an organ is only the first part of the process. Scientists remain hopeful. A group of Chinese scientists have already created a kidney that remains alive for four months. Perfect 3D-printed organ replacements are closer than you might think to becoming a reality.