December 28, 2014
If 3D printers don’t already fall somewhere on your list of the top ten coolest things ever, then you really need to take some time to rethink your priorities. The following list of eight unbelievably awesome things that 3D printing is already being used for should help to convince you (if you need convincing) that 3D printers are science fiction come true.
1) Prosthetic Legs for Dogs
With a prosthetic leg created by designers at 3D printing company 3D systems, Derby the disabled rescue dog (warning: if you’re pregnant, menstruating, or a passionate animal lover the aforementioned link will probably make you cry) recently got to run for the first time. Derby’s leg was designed by an artificial limbs specialist, who worked along with Derby’s adoptive parents to model and print Derby’s new legs.
2) Self-Adjustable Glasses
Researchers advocating the far-reaching potential of 3D printing recently used a RepRap printer to create self-adjustable glasses. The glasses cost just $1 to produce, and the lenses can be self-adjusted, helping low-income families to avoid the costs normally associate with vision correction. The project demonstrates the humanitarian implications of 3D-printing. With 90% of visually impaired people living in countries where corrective eye-care is either impractical or impossible, the Adspec glasses could have a huge global impact.
3) Futuristic Furniture
How cool would it be to print your own furniture? With 3D printing, it could be a real possibility. Already, designers have begun experimenting with 3D furniture models, producing some pretty neat results. Imagine how much easier moving into your college dorm room would have been if all you had to bring was your 3D printer!
4) Human Organs
Already, 3D printing has had a huge impact in the medical field, but its most exciting application is still in the works. Scientists all over the globe are in the race to create the first fully-functional human organ using 3D bio-printing. Bio-printing combines traditional 3D printing methods with stem cell “ink,” creating delicate structures such as human capillaries with an ease that conventional manufacturing methods could never hope to achieve. Already, prominent scientists such as Anthony Atala have begun creating organ prototypes that could feasibly solve the growing organ-donor problem within the next decade.
5) Eco-Friendly Houses
WinSun Decoration Design Engineering, a company in China, has used a giant 3D printer to create ten single-story homes. An environmentally-friendly project, the houses were constructed out of construction waste and glass fiber. Although the buildings only measure 10 x 6.6 meters, the project has laid the groundwork for 3D building, a development that is well on its way to revolutionizing the construction industry.
6) Modernist Jewelry
3D printed jewelry is already on the market, and it’s surprisingly affordable. By using 3D printers, jewelry makers can produce intricate designs in half the time, using precious metals as well as plastic and brass. This 3D printed jewelry is an art form in its own right, creating geometrically modern custom designs that are already growing popular amongst consumers around the globe.
7) Perfect-Fit Clothing
3D printed clothing has hit the catwalk in recent years, and may soon revolutionize the fashion industry. Although 3D-printed clothing is somewhat materially restricted, it makes ordering perfect-fit clothing easy and affordable. With companies like Australia’s XYZ Workshop already offering downloadable dress designs, soon anyone with a 3D printer will be able to manufacture their own clothing at home.
8) Fully-Functional Firearms
Non-profit 3D printing firm Defense Distributed has created a series of fully-functional gun components using 3D printing methods. All of the blueprints are available for free through the Defense Distributed website, so if you have a 3D printer at home (or if you plan on buying one now that you’ve discovered how awesome they are), you can make your own 3D weapons.
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