Amazing 3D prints
From body parts to engagement rings, 3D printers create an extraordinary array of objects that might surprise the average person. We highlighted 15 creative, weird and useful 3D printed creations.
A doctor once used 3DHubs to create models of babies to perform simulation operations on, as he had previously used toy dolls.
"Using a whole set of different materials, he could print functional different organs like hearts and lungs," Schoffer said. "Then he could exercise procedures on those models … instead of using dolls from the toy store, he now had fully-functional models to test upon."
While the use of 3D printing to create body parts has merit, controversy around the use of stem cells has slowed progress in recent years, according to the article. The 3D printing of body parts may have more value as generations become more familiar and accustomed to medical applications of 3D printers.
"3D printing customized wearables is no longer the future; it is the present," said Maggie Rogers, a designer and fabrication specialist at OESH.
Prosthetics for people and pets
Enabling the Future is a nonprofit organization that connects people with volunteers who can 3D print prosthetic hands for children in need. The part plans are free to download.
There are even 3D-printed prosthetics for pets. Take Buttercup, a duck born with a backward foot. Thanks to 3D-printing company NovaCopy, Buttercup now has two fully functioning feet and the chance to lead a normal, web-footed life.
The Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft can be assembled in 10 minutes once it's printed and doesn't require any screws or traditional fasteners. The SULSA can fly on autopilot or via remote control for around 30 minutes and reach speeds up to 90 mph.
The military is also deploying 3D-printed drones for different missions. The Navy has been testing tiny 3D-printed drones called Close-in Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft that can glide into regions and create ad hoc networks for ground forces.
Planes, trains and automobiles
Formula 1 race cars are using 3D printing as well, with some teams bringing 3D printers to their race venues for any necessary last minute alterations.
Replica engagement rings
"We're revolutionizing this experience with the use of 3D printing technology and a free home preview that lets consumers try 3D printed, realistic replicas of their favorite ring styles at home before they buy," said Slisha Kankayrina, the co-founder of FourMine. "Customers select from over 130 engagement ring styles on our site and receive their three favorites as replicas to preview."
Designing home layouts can be taken a step further to the creation of actual homes. Tech startup Apis Cor successfully constructed a 3D-printed home in less than a day. The 400-square-foot structure is stable, and it cost under $11,000 to make. The printer itself is mobile and able to build homes in a variety of shapes.
A company in Shanghai called WinSun also boasts an inexpensive 3D printing method for building houses. The layered structure of the houses allows plumbing, electrical lines and insulation to be easily installed.
Thingiverse offers plans for those familiar with 3D printing to create their own bikes. Not only will you get the satisfaction of building your own bike, it'll be fully functional. If any parts break or wear down, all you need to do is print a new one.
Imagine if this method could be automated so that future colonists could arrive on the red planet with their colony already built and waiting for them.
Additional reporting by Elizabeth Peterson and Andreas Rivera.