The 1980s was a time for big hair, big computers and big music. But 3D printing? Not the obvious choice. Yet it was this busy decade that saw the emergence of the first 3D printing concepts. Fast forward thirty years and 3D printing has come a long way. From the humble beginnings of smaller printed items, this technology is now starting to make waves in a variety of industries - from medicine, housing and even food! We’ve compiled a list of 10 amazing things that have been 3D printed. Which one do you think is the best?
Yes, you read that right. Whilst constructing a replica of a dead human might not be the first thing you’d choose to 3D print, a team of scientists at Loughborough University decided to put their skills to the test and print a full 3D replica of King Richard III who died back in 1485. But the bizarre resurrections don’t end there - a Belgian firm called Materialise have been busy creating a full-scale 3D clone of King Tutankhamun, the young pharaoh who has been nicely mummified since 1323 B.C.
Last year, Adidas partnered up with additive-manufacturing company Carbon to test their new “speed factories”. The sportswear giant is already using Carbon’s fast printing technology to manufacture elastomer midsoles for athletic shoes, but now they have the ability to print shoes 90 times faster than before. How does this translate to large-scale production? It means that once their second-speed factory opens in Atlanta this year, they’ll be capable of producing one million shoes a year using the 3D technology. Pretty speedy stuff.
Forget home appliances - 3D printers are now even capable of constructing the walls of your home itself! The first 3D-printed residential house was built up in less than 24 hours in the suburbs of Moscow last March. Rather than print individual concrete panels to then assemble, the printer printed the walls and partitions as one large round structure that only cost $10,134. This low production cost led the company who made the house to suggest that 3D printing could eventually make construction both faster but also more eco-friendly in years to come.
Music technology has taken a whole new meaning now that an American company is printing parts for customisable guitars, allowing customers to select their own colours, hardware and materials before the instrument gets constructed. The body of the guitar is printed using thin layers of nylon powder, whilst the finishing touches such as the bridge, pickup and strings are added by hand.
It would appear that 3D printing is taking to the skies, with the University of Southampton having produced the first 3D-printed drone. There have also been micro-cameras developed using 3D-printers to be installed on these drones. The cameras provide eagle-eye vision and give drones the ability to see objects from afar, whilst also being aware of peripheral vision.
A Puppy Mask
A 4-month old Staffordshire bull terrier puppy called Loca became the first patient to wear a 3D-printed mask to help it recover from serious facial injuries. The mask was made after scanning Loca’s skull and was capable of holding his fractured bones in place until they’d healed.
Last year a female mouse was fitted with 3D-printed ovaries in an experiment at the Northwestern University Feinburg School of Medicine in Chicago. Researchers used 3D printing to create a porous scaffold structure out of gelatin, which they populated with ovarian cells from another mouse. These implanted calls went on to produce hormones that drove the mouse’s reproductive cycle, and the mouse later gave birth to healthy pups. This experiment has been labelled a breakthrough for infertility research, as the scientists behind the result have said it could prove extremely groundbreaking for women whose ovaries have become damaged from cancer treatment.
In a rather elaborate attempt to get children to eat more vegetables, researchers at the University of Foggia in Italy decided that kids would try more veg if their food was printed to look like their favourite animals and other exciting shapes. The team printed a blend of bananas, white beans, mushrooms and milk into the shape of an octopus. Whilst the mixture itself doesn’t sound appealing, the result looked like something kids would instantly want to try. NASA and other institutions have also been perfecting the art of 3D food production so that astronauts could have the necessary nutrients for long journeys or the Army could feed soldiers on the battlefield.
3D printing is becoming an increasingly popular choice for medical-grade prosthetic production, as it makes the process cheaper and can be done anywhere that has a 3D printer. Many universities and other institutions have started constructing limbs such as bespoke hands and arms to help people with their day-to-day activities.
Coral reefs across the globe have been struggling with a bleaching crisis as a result of global warming. One attempt to combat this is through experimental installations of coral. The first 3D-printed coral reef was submerged in the Persian Gulf in 2012, which replicated the original reef’s natural texture and structure to attract sea life and limit damage to the older coral.
The possibilities for 3D printing are now truly endless, making 2018 a great time to invest in 3D printing. Technology Outlet has a fantastic range of 3D printers from some of the biggest brands on the market. We have complete build & ready to print entry-level printers starting from £199.00.