3D printing has been around for a decade. However, it is only recently that its potential is being exploited for several uses.
3D printers that can synthesize food are being developed today. This can potentially change the way people source their food. NASA is working on a 3D food printer that will make pizzas for astronauts in outer space. This printer will have many cartridges, each containing a different ingredient for pizza such as cheese, dough, sauce, and so on. The pizza is printed out in layers and then cooked. This technology can allow astronauts to customize their food and create recipes of their own liking instead of having to depend on pre-packaged, freeze dried, processed foods.
The way we buy medicine can change with the advent of 3D drug printer. This printer prints molecules instead of objects. Patients can buy their prescriptions and the design for the required drug online, download it to their personal 3D drug printer, and directly print their pills at home. This method does not sound easier than buying pills at a pharmacy but it does allow for personalization of medicine according to one’s allergies and medical history.
This also raises some ethical questions about misuse of prescription drugs—the dangers in 3D drug printing are as real as they are today. Some sort of regulation will have to be put in place if 3D drug printing takes off in a big way.
Surgeons all over the world today can save many more lives due to the potential of 3D printers to create customized body parts for injured or diseased patients. Kidneys, ears, lungs, blood vessels, and skin have been printed by scientists in the United States. The material used to print these parts is a gel-like substance created from cells. Ceramic powder is used to create the bones or the support structure.
Transplantation can become much easier and immune rejection can be eliminated if 3D printers can create body parts exactly matching the donor’s body. This is possible if cells from the donor are used to create more cells, and these cells are grown in culture.
Currently, artificial limbs are being printed using plastic for people injured in accidents or war.
The automobile industry could be moving toward a cleaner and cheaper alternative in the form of 3D printed cars. Urbee 2, a car created from 3D printed parts, runs on a hybrid engine of batteries and ethanol. Its makers claim that the car is fuel efficient and suitable for urban use.
Currently, Honda has uploaded designs of its past cars as 3D printing files to enable people to print 3D models at home. We could possibly print personalized cars in the future from the comfort of our homes.
3D printed functional weapons may soon become a reality now that the world’s first 3D printed gun, called Liberator, has been created and successfully test-fired. Despite being made of plastic, this gun can fire bullets deadly enough to penetrate the human body and thus, kill a person.
The scary aspect of this technology is apparent— anybody with a 3D printer and access to the 3D printing design of a weapon can manufacture it.
3D printing has made inexpensive drones a reality. The MITRE Corporation has created a 3D printed drone controlled by an Android phone and several free apps. Called the Razor Raven, it has a cruising speed of 44 miles per hour and can stay in air for about 40 minutes without a recharge. The drone can be printed in a day and a half and is capable of taking aerial pictures.
A D-shape printer has been created by Enrico Dini, the founder of Monolte UK. It can create structures by binding layers of sand with a special binding agent.
Jewelry designers can create 3D printing files of their designs and sell them on the Internet. Customers can personalize their jewelry based on their tastes and the latest fashions.
Aaron Rowley, an entrepreneur, is developing a 3D printer for clothes called Electroloom. Presently, a mix of synthetic materials is used to print sheets and tubes of fabric. The goal is to print basic items of clothing such as T-shirts and sweaters. Customers can modify the templates for these clothes based on their body shape and size and print them on demand.
Garry Forster is an online blogger for 3D Stuff Maker. He likes to blog on 3D printing Events, Ideas, Technologies which are related to 3D Printing and 3D Printing Tutorial. Follow him on Google+.