Friday, 15 September 2017

5 Ways 3D Printing is Changing Our World

3D printing technology continues to make tremendous strides as users continue to test the boundaries of our imagination with what kind of objects can be printed. Additive manufacturing aka 3D printing uses layer by layer printing to create three-dimensional objects based on digital files.

From using this technology to print medicine and even printing prosthetic limbs, here are 5 other ways in which 3D printing is changing our world:

3D Printed Homes

Can you imagine living in a house that was made by a printer? While it may sound “out-there”, the first 3D printed house was successfully constructed in December 2016 by Apis Cor and PIK. Apis Cor is “the first company to develop a mobile construction 3D printer which is capable of printing whole buildings on site.” Their aim is to have their technology build “affordable, eco-friendly houses within a single day, capable of lasting up to 175 years.” This idea could change the game when it comes to constructing relief housing when disasters strike and also help to improve living conditions for those that cannot find affordable housing.

3D Printed Food

Who would’ve thought you could print a pizza? Well it just so happens that you can. Using food ingredients to layer creations, manufacturers have printed everything from candy to quiche to pizza. In an effort to study the feasibility of using additive manufacturing aka 3D printing to make food in space, NASA commissioned SMRC to develop a 3D printed food system for long duration space missions. The result was a machine that could successfully print a pizza. Also, Natural Machines has created the Foodini, a Houdini-like 3D printing machine which creates savoury and sweet dishes for those looking to print scrumptious delights.

3D Printed Vehicles

3D printing technology is helping to advance the automotive industry by helping make vehicles stronger and lighter. In 2014, Local Motors created the first 3D printed car called the Strati which takes approximately 44 hours to print and layers carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic to form the structure. It should be noted over 75 percent of the car is printed. The other electrical component parts are added afterwards. Other vehicle manufactures have also experimented with the technology, constructing panels and parts that have successfully been incorporated into working vehicles. Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll all be driving printed vehicles.

3D Printed Clothing

For now, most 3d printed clothing looks more like art projects rather than wearable clothing. In 2013, Victoria Secret models donned 3D printed angel wings. Also, a Canberra designer named Charne Esterhuizen has created a full dress using 3D printing technology. But, while printed clothing designs have been successfully created, there is a limit to what the technology can create. Unfortunately, the way that fibres become fabric is totally unlike the way layers fuse together in the 3d printing process to create objects. What is lost is the flexibility that comes with fabrics where woven textiles allow fibres to move and slide along each other. However, with people working diligently to improve the technology, perhaps clothing will be printed in the future.

3D Printed Furniture

Taking a seat on a 3D printed stool or chair is absolutely possible. Print the Future is one company producing consumer goods for the home furnishing industry allowing consumers to sit and watch as their furniture designs get printed. The idea that you can design and send a file to a company who will then print your furniture is a reality with this company who is utilizing 3D printing technology to allow interior designers to create custom made products for their clients. Layer by layer household objects are created using additive manufacturing. Print the Future isn’t the only company utilizing this technology, there are many other furniture makers also currently using 3D printing to materialize their ideas.