Have you heard about 3D printing? This amazing technology creates real life objects out of thin air! It only started to gain traction in the 2000s but has been developing ever since the 1980s.
The process involves the use of a machine to join or solidify materials together under computer control. It has managed to spread throughout a number of different industries and completely revolutionise the operations of thousands of companies across the world.
Let’s take a look of some areas that have had huge success with the technology.
3D printing has inevitably found its way into the classroom. Although access to the technology is still limited in most schools, there have been cases where printers have been introduced with great success. They allow teachers to improve their lessons in science, history and more. 3D replicas of fossils, bones and artefacts can be produced that otherwise would be too fragile to handle. If used in physics or engineering class, they can even spark young people’s creative and design skills.
There are few sectors that have been totally revolutionised like medicine has as a result of 3D printing. The technology can produce prosthetic parts that fit accurately, bones for rebuilding breaks and medical models to aid medical research. Perhaps the most innovative software is the 3D bioprinter which can print living human tissue! 3D printing can be used to create objects to incredibly precise measurements, while allowing them to remain lightweight. Prosthetic limbs are fitting better than ever before and are far more comfortable than the alternatives.
It’s easy to believe that small objects can be printed with technology like this, but much harder to imagine it being used for whole buildings! Although processes haven’t advanced far enough yet to allow it, designers and architects hope that 3D design software will one day be sent straight to the printers, cutting out the need for manual building. Sounds unrealistic? Well maybe not, considering electrical sockets and floor panels are being printed already!
Shipping and pollution
Nowadays more and more household items are bought online and shipped across the world to people’s doors. The amount of pollution this is causing is immeasurable, particularly when it comes to small items! Energy and gas are totally wasted in the transportation of the goods. Once 3D printers become everyday items, these things might be able to be printed at home or in the office.
Food can be produced on demand with 3D printing technologies. Just like materials are welded together to create certain objects, components of food items are combined to create finished products or even a whole meal. A machine called the ‘Foodini’ allows users to produce burgers, pizza and chocolate- and perhaps shows us what the exciting future of the restaurant industry will look like!
An entertainment studio called Laika specialise in stop motion animation created with the use of 3D printing technology. They are best known for films such as Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls. 3D printers create faces and expressions for the puppets that are used to make the animation. Carbon 3D printing was also used on special effects for Hollywood Blockbusters such as Avatar, Iron Man and Pacific Rim. Similarly, Kadet Kuhne is an artist whose 3D printing work has been displayed in museums and galleries internationally.