15 Mar 2013

Life in 3D

As incredible as it seems, 3D printing is only becoming more common and widespread as the technology continues to grow and mature. 3D printing is where almost any object can be scanned, turned into a 3D drawing, then cut into 2D slices and printed slice by slice. The applications are almost endless, as seen from these recent developments:

Wearable 3D printing

The 3D printing process is so adaptable, it can even be used to create material that is wearable. Dita Von Tease showed off her 3D printed dress last week, and we are assured that 3D printed clothing will become common. Shoe developer New Balance is also using the technology to create highly customized sport shoes by taking a scan of the wearer’s foot.

3D printing can be affordable

It won’t be long at all before 3D printing can be done at home – and on the cheap. A plastic extruder called Filabot can turn home recyclables such as milk bottles into usable 3D printing plastic. This will drastically reduce the cost of 3D printing which up until now required expensive plastics.

3D printing can make good things better

A car that’s as strong as steel but half the weight? These are the possibilities with 3D printing, which gives designers the ability to focus on optimal automobile design rather than creating super-efficient motors to make up for the heavy steel frame.

3D printing can even be used to save lives

This week, the first ever 3D-printed skull replacement has been successfully achieved in the US, where a man’s skull was scanned and a replacement plate of 75% of his skull printed out. Doctors believe that this could be used in all sorts of bone replacement techniques.