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.

TOPICS: Hardware

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  • 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.

  • This stainless steel car engine part was created using a laser-sintering 3D printer.

    While laser sintering printers are currently one of the priciest variety of 3D fabricators available, they also reduce waste as any unused metal powder can be reused.

  • This satellite sensor was produced by printing electrical circuits using metal inks.

    Printing sensors directly into a satellite's structure saves a lot of room, according to the team that made the sensor from the University of Texas.

    The technique may one day provide a reliable way to print out electronic gadets, by printing out circuits inside their casing, said Ryan Wicker, mechanical engineering professor at the university.

    The sensor is being sent into orbit for testing in the harsh environment of space, where satellites are subjected to extremes of temperature and heavy doses of solar radiation.

Topic: Hardware


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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  • misleading title

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

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

      They want to remove $600 from your pocket if you want one.
  • 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.
    • There are Cheaper Models

      The change will happen with new devices that are cheaper and easy to operate.
      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.
    • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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:

    The movie link is at:

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

    Enjoy it,

    L. R. Lima
    Rio de Janeiro – RJ
  • 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
  • 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 view details.