Here are 600 ways that 3D printing is changing the world

Here are 600 ways that 3D printing is changing the world

Summary: A new exhibition has opened in London to show off the multitude of uses that are being found for 3D printers.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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  • A bank of 3D printers were on display at the exhibition building models of people scanned at the museum.

    Each figurine takes roughly one hour to print, but the time can vary depending on the level of detail reproduced on the finished object.

    The level of detail can be adjusted by altering the thickness of the layer of the model printed out, generally the thinner layer the greater the detail and the longer the model will take to print out.

    This machine is a first generation Ultimaker 3D printer, a roughly $1,000 FDM machine that prints in one colour, similar to many other machines aimed at the home market.

    Common uses of home 3D printers include creating bespoke items such as phone cases and customising toys for children.

    While demoing the Ultimaker at the exhibit a model print had to be abandoned after the half-printed model came loose from the base, a problem that originated from how the print job had been set up. 3D printers need to become as simple as 2D printers to set up and use if they are to gain mainstream acceptance, according to 3D Printshow's Masters.

    "For a paper printer you shove in a print cartridge and off you go," he said.

    "For a 3D printer there is a certain amount of parameter tweaking, a certain amount of skill that is required to get the best quality out of the machine."

  • 3D printed drugs anyone? The feasibility of making pills using a 3D printer is being studied by a research group at the University of Nottingham in England.

    Printing pills could allow doctors to tailor the pharmaceutical make-up of each capsule to individual patients, as well as adding additional beneficial properties, for example applying a coating that would delay the release of a drug for a specific period.

  • 3D printers have also been used to create a scaffold for bone to grow to upon when treating hospital patients.

    Professor Dietmar Hutmacher from the University of Queensland in Australia used 3D printing to help repair a hole in a nine year old girl's skull.

    The professor took a 3D scan of the girl's skull and used it to design a 3D scaffold that could be placed in the missing piece of her skull.

    Inside the scaffold was a precise network of channels that could hold bone cells and allow new tissue to grow. The scaffold was printed using biodegradable materials, which meant after three years it dissolved, leaving new healthy bone that filled in the hole in her skull.

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Topic: Hardware

About

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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11 comments
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  • misleading title

    I was expecting a 600 page slideshow.
    I am disappoint.
    Jean-Pierre-
    • I had the VERY same thought !

      ;-) Kinda shocked that it WASN'T !
      jkohut
    • It's not misleading.

      They want to remove $600 from your pocket if you want one.
      jsargent
  • Yes, but...

    "But in general 3D printers are also slow, two-inch high figurines printed out at the Science Museum exhibition took about one hour to print, are far more expensive than traditional manufacturing techniques for mass production and consumer grade 3D printers are only able to produce relatively simple plastic models."

    This is true as of a while back; however, as the technology advances (and it is advancing very quickly), it gets cheaper and faster. There are home models of 3D printers available that cost under $1,000 and take about 30 minutes for an average sized item, such as an iPhone case and it ends up with a product cost of about $20 (factoring in the cost and expected life span of the machine). So, not bad for a custom iPhone case. And we will continue to see the costs drop and speeds increase as time goes on.

    My guess is that by mid 2015 or so we will see consumer machines that can make these objects in about 10 minutes for about $10 for an iPhone case. And professional level machines that could make a case in about 1 minute for about $1 a case.
    cmwade1977
    • There are Cheaper Models

      The change will happen with new devices that are cheaper and easy to operate.
      http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/rapide-one-affordable-professional-desktop-3d-printer-by-rapide-3d
      Dana Angela Williams
  • Not sold yet

    The plastic printers are great for mock ups and prototyping but durable goods? I see the laser on metal powder as the most promising and useful printer.
    ammohunt
    • Not yet

      If you check out the 3D printer kits you will see that the plastic parts have been produced from the same 3D printer. However, I would agree that metal in powder is best for many applications, such as an exhaust manifold for a Maserati, but even though it defies most people's common logic, many plastic parts do not need to be durable but they still outlast the lifetime of the product. In any case, the 3D printer is not meant for mass production since mass product is for quantities of millions. The 3D printer normally for when the part changes design or the design is too complicated for other conventional techniques eg. false teeth, replace a part for something that is no longer available, a filter for a Mars mission, a complex wax mold for metal casting. However, metal powder with laser is as time consuming as some kinds of CNC milling operations already in use today, so for many applications it will be more cost effective to use traditional production techniques.
      jsargent
  • It's all very well, but.......

    "Using a 3D printer also cuts down the supply chain: the network of factories, warehouses and shipping companies normally needed to get a product to an end user" Where will all these workers find jobs if that quote is true & these companies are truly no longer needed?
    smokinjoe347
  • Here are 600 ways that 3D printing...

    I suggest who likes this kind of subject to read also the News Scientist Magazine (on-line) article with the title: “3D printer provides woman with a brand new jaw” (08 February 2012).

    The article link is at:

    http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/onepercent/2012/02/3d-printer-provides-woman-with.html

    The movie link is at:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP1jUABA6A4

    At the movies it appears also a partial plastic 3D printing of the face bones.

    Enjoy it,

    L. R. Lima
    lrlima99@globo.com
    Rio de Janeiro – RJ
    Brazil
    lrlima
  • A great leap

    Wow! It is exciting to know that we will have another great change for us, as sweeping as the Industrial Revolution once was. Thanks
    ZgenrealZ
  • 3D printer is so great

    The applications of 3D printing becoming more widely.When this technique has just been launched,it can only be applied to manufacturing or medical sector.And now as the technology matures, the applications has expanded to aerospace, military,arts and other fields.It seems that 3D printing does have a good space for development.Interested in 3D print can log onto the http://goo.gl/4yQLem view details.
    LXMaker