3D printing is incredible.
The fact that you can make almost anything with a 3D printer is pretty damn revolutionary. More and more 3D printers are cropping up all over the world, being used for everything from making cute little figurines to whole, livable houses.
That’s right: houses.
In fact, just the other day I passed a falafel store offering 3D printing services.
For those of you who are confused about what 3D printing is, it’s pretty simple. First, you make a blueprint for your product, which can be done using modeling software. You can also use blueprints people have already made from sites like this. Once that’s done, you send your blueprint to the printer, sit back and watch. The printer uses a process called ‘additive manufacturing’, making successive layers on top of one another. Think of it like making a tiered cake except a machine is doing it and it’s not just a cake, it’s anything you want.
Materials can encompass anything from special kinds of plastic and wax to steel and silver.
This list comprises of a few of my favorite uses of 3D printing. For someone like me who is completely obsessed with science fiction, 3D printing poses an opportunity for exploring the kinds of worlds we see in sci-fi, but right here in our reality. With 3D printing, we could revolutionize the way we make movies, and more importantly, take a peek at what the world might look like in the future.
And other than that? It’s just plain fun.
Websites like Thingiverse offer endless possibilities for at-home 3D printing. By simply downloading blueprints readily available on their website, you can 3D print something like these beautiful headphones. The non-printed parts only cost around $25. Who wouldn’t feel cool wearing headphones they printed at home?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wanted to see what I would look like as a Barbie doll. Apparently now I can. Being able to 3D print my face to an almost-exact replica would probably be something of an existential experience, but I’m all for it.
Imagine being able to come up with a beautiful design for a dress and 3D print it right in your bedroom? Or log onto a designer’s website and download the blueprint for an item of clothing, adjust to your size and print? Danit Peleg made this fashion collection using a flexible material called Filaflex.
The collection is beautiful and might hint towards where we’ll see fashion in the future. I want that skirt!
With its new creation ‘Foodini’, Natural Machines has made a 3D printer that uses fresh ingredients to create breathtaking meals. The company claims that it wants to encourage people to cook at home by removing the “time-consuming parts of food preparation.” Although I think this is a bit extra for home cooking, it could be exciting for a gourmet dining experience. First date, anyone?
5. Alien cosplay.
James Bruton from XRobots 3D printed an Alien cosplay in a 23-part video on his YouTube page. For an Alien fan like me, this is unreal. He’s also done Iron Man cosplay and an R2D2 friend, effectively making all our nerdy dreams come true.
Grace Choi, the founder of Mink, explains that the 3D makeup printer uses FDA approved materials, the same kind you would find in traditional makeup products. It can replicate almost any color imaginable, making it a unique tool for people interested in makeup or pursuing makeup as a career. Smashbox also released their own version of 3D printed lipstick recently, showing that the beauty industry is looking to a brighter, more personalized future.
7. Sex toys.
Seeing as the most beneficial part of 3D printing is its effortless personalization, it’s no wonder that people decided to 3D print sex toys. Being able to choose the exact shape and size of the toy with exciting additions is perfect for anyone wanting to have a more personalized experience with their sexual pleasure. Of course, with anything of this nature we have to make sure that what we are doing is safe, and sometimes making things at home can lead to nasty consequences. Instead, companies could provide personalized sex toys using 3D printing, therefore ensuring that the product is safe for intimate use.
I’m not really into cars, to be honest, I generally prefer bicycles. But something about having a 3D printed car is both ridiculous and fascinating. Popular Mechanics states that this car took 40 hours to make, costing around $5,000. If this is an efficient way of avoiding factories for car-building, and also the ridiculous cost of cars in general, then why not?
Yes, that’s right, organs. In his TED Talk, Dr. Anthony Atala states that there is a serious lack of organ donors, but that 3D printed organs can solve this crisis. Using regenerative medicine, Atala claims that biomaterial such as stem cells can be used to 3D print organs.
3D printing being used to save lives is an excellent example of how technology and medicine can work together to give us another chance.
TechCrunch states that the average cost of prosthetics can range from $5,000-$50,000; no small amount of money. This is a huge cost for a working class person, especially considering other factors like children outgrowing their prosthetics. Since this is the case, being able to print prosthetics in communities that need them is an imperative future. Companies like LimbForge, an NPO empowering communities to learn and create for themselves, are helping to make this a reality.
The Russian company, Apis Cor, built the house in 24 hours spending just $10,134. The house was constructed from beginning to end on site, in Stupino town, Moscow region and can apparently survive up to 175 years. The house comes with a hall, bathroom, lounge, and kitchen. Imagine being able to 3D print houses in one day, with costs way below what you can find on the market today? Of course, the house is small and many other factors can contribute to it not being as efficient as it may seem.
But being able to 3D print houses in the future might be a great sign for sustainable, culturally specific development.