11 Amazing and (sometimes) Creepy Applications for 3D Technology
11 Amazing and (sometimes) Creepy Applications for 3D Technology
Since the 1980s, three-dimensional technology, also known as additive manufacturing, has been assisting industries in evolving, with applications ranging from food to eyewear to engineering. With desktop printers like the MakerBot, practically anyone can now take advantage of 3D technology for their own purposes. In fact, getting anything printed is as simple as taking it to a UPS Store, which has in-store 3D printing at select locations. Despite how widespread it has become, there are still certain firms who are pushing the boundaries of additive manufacturing and transforming their industry in the process. Here are 11 companies that piqued Internet Week's interest.
Made in Space provided the image.
A rocket ship built — wait for it — in space!
Made in Space, a collection of 3D printing experts, space veterans, and entrepreneurs, is now working to construct the first space manufacturing plant. This would allow astronauts to construct the parts they require at the time they require them. It could eventually lead to the construction of whole spacecrafts out of asteroid materials. According to Grant Lowery, Made in Space's head of marketing and communications, the California-based business is prepared to launch the first printer into space this August after multiple successful experiments at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.
2. It's similar to Airbnb for 3D technology.
Do you have a 3D design but lack the $1300-plus required for a 3D printer? No need to worry, 3D Hubs has you covered. The business, founded in Amsterdam, connects users with 3D printers in communities all around the world. Printer owners can use the service to rent out their equipment locally, and makers can read reviews and check printer profiles before making a decision. According to Bram de Zwart, one of the network's creators, the service has over 5,800 3D printers in 80 countries globally, making it the largest 3D printer network in the world. Prices vary depending on the project and printer, and are subject to a 15% fee from 3D Hubs as well as the cost of supplies. According to the site, the typical delivery time for personalised products on 3D Hubs is two days.
DUS Architects provided the image.
3. An entire house!
Another interesting idea from Amsterdam: a 3D-printed house! DUS Architects, a local business, is creating a canal house out of bioplastics with the use of a giant 3D printer called the Kamermaker, which translates to "room builder." The construction site for the 3D Print Canal House, which began in March 2014, is open to the public, as is a nearby expo centre.
According to expo organiser Tosja Backer, DUS Architects is “printing components of rooms, researching new materials and internal structures.” The architects are investigating whether the house will be habitable (though this one is intended to remain a public space). The three-year project's purpose is to experiment with techniques to build cheap homes quickly, with minimal waste, and without sacrificing quality. According to the project's website, it is unclear how much a house like this will cost because the materials utilised have never been on the market for this purpose before.
Similar technology is available in China, where a private company, WinSun Decoration Design Engineering, created 10 one-story homes in 24 hours this year using four massive 3D printers.
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Structur3d Printing provided the image.
4. Nutella, play dough, and silicone – who knew?
This 3D printer accessory can let you create some amazing designs using a variety of materials ranging from icing to latex. The universal paste extruder from Structur3d Printing is compatible with most desktop 3D printers and allows for design and material experimentation. The Canadian company tripled its Kickstarter goal for this project, which is set to be financed on July 15, 2014.
Natural Machines provided the image.
5. A nutritious TV meal
Natural Machines' Foodini is a 3D food printer for home and business use. It was designed with the intention of returning to basic, healthful ingredients. Rather of purchasing pre-packaged, processed chicken nuggets, you can insert fresh chicken into the printer and it will manufacture them for you. You must still cook the dish, but the machine reduces prep time. Despite failing to fulfil its Kickstarter target in April, the Foodini is slated for an October 2014 early access/pre-series manufacturing run, according to Lynette Kucsma, co-founder and CMO of Natural Machines.
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Alpha of Melbourne, Australia [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
(The photo above does not depict actual Modern Meadow meat.)
6. Meat and leather made without the use of cows
Can 3D printing help solve the food crisis? Modern Meadow, based in Brooklyn, believes so. They're hoping to revolutionise animal farming by bioprinting leather and meat that doesn't involve cows. In a lab, the company employs tissue engineering to generate meat and leather from muscle and skin cells. According to the website of Modern Meadow, “at scale, cultured meat and leather can provide a safe, sustainable, economical, and ethical alternative to the traditional livestock industry.” They even drew the attention of PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who is now a private investor in the company.
Although Modern Meadow held meat tasting demos in 2011, they anticipate that the leather will be accessible commercially first. According to their website, it has less technical, regulatory, and market barriers than meat. Both products are currently at the prototype stage.
Photo of the NovoGen MMX Bioprinter® courtesy of Organovo
7. Do-it-yourself liver replacement
Yes, human organs can now be printed. Organovo, a bioprinting firm, is using 3D technology to design and manufacture functional human tissue. According to Michael Renard, EVP of Commercial Operations for Organovo, the business, formed in 2002, has successfully built a liver model, which it is preparing for commercial release later this year. The technique could pave the way for advances in medical research and patient care, including as transplants.
3D Babies provided the image.
“Imagine being able to hold your baby before he or she is born.”
You can do it now – sort of. 3D Babies, situated in California, will construct a 3D model of your ultrasound so you can bring your bundle of joy home a few months earlier. Isn't that fantastic? The sting is that a life-sized model of your child will set you back $800. The cheapest option for your pregnancy souvenir is a small 2-inch personalised baby for $200.
Human 3D Technology Company in Brazil and Fasotec in Japan are also employing 3D technology to create ultrasounds locally.