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Published: November 20, 2016

Seven 3D Printing Technologies Changing the World

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As recently as 2006, 3D Printers were a niche hobby. Very few people knew about them. Their commercial success was questionable as experts couldn’t figure out just how useful they’d be.

Oh, how things have changed in 10 years!

Today’s 3D printers can be used to manufacture anything from automatic weapons to food items. Some of them are smaller than ink printers and cheaper than an iPhone, too.

And with all these innovations, it’s fair to say 3D printing is changing the world in a major way. Read on below to see 7 major examples of how the future will be different thanks to 3D printing!

1. Bioprinting new organs

Today’s technology can create cells and even full-sized human organs. These can consist of hard tissue, like bones, and soft tissue like skin and muscle.

The technology isn’t ready to be sold commercially yet – but L’Oreal is already using bioprinted organs to test the safety and efficacy of some of their products.

In another case study, research from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine managed to print a jawbone, muscle tissue and a “replica” human ear using a custom 3D bio-printer. The days of buying spare organs from vending machines may not be far off!

2. 24/7 replacements

We’re close to being able to print organs – so it’s no surprise we can print mechanical parts easily, too. It’s a lot easier to do than going to the store – and eliminates the need for storing lots of different parts that you may not need.

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Don’t be surprised if, in a few years, you find yourself ordering and printing blueprints online rather than buying spare components for your car and home in stores!

3. Prosthetics

Mark Ebeling, leader of “Not Impossible Labs”, has created a hospital with a 3D Printer in Sudan.

The printer helps people get prosthetics for under $100 – and though they are simple for now, there’s a good chance we’ll see customized, affordable prosthetics available to everyone thanks to printing.

4. Manufacture new parts underwater or in deep space

In normal circumstances, it would be unthinkable to manufacture new parts deep in the ocean or out in space. Compact 3D printers change this – and greatly enhance what astronauts can do without having to return back to earth.

That’s why NASA equipped the International Space Station with one in 2014, later using it to make a wrench in space!

5. Printers replace kitchens

Speaking of space – you probably know astronauts don’t get much choice in what they eat out there. A lot of the food comes cold, straight from a tube or can.

3D printers would change this by allowing people in space to make hot, delicious food without having to cook it outright. If the technology becomes developed enough, it could replace kitchens in a lot of homes and hotels here on earth, too!

6. Furniture

Ikea is convenient… But imagine you had a 3D printer that could instantly create all the furniture you needed – and without you having to go anywhere? That would be useful on a whole another level, right?

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Well, believe it or not, 3D furniture is real… And you can 11 beautiful examples of it today! For now, the use of the technology is limited to expensive, high-end furniture manufacturers – but in the future, they’re bound to find a way to let regular people print their own furniture, greatly reducing its price.

7. Restoring Nature

3D printing can be used for something even more important than printing furniture: restoring the environment. A Bahranian company is printing coral reefs, 70% of which are damaged or destroyed worldwide, and has already deployed 3D-printed reefs in the Persian Gulf.

With enough interest, who knows what else we can restore with this incredible technology?

Conclusion

A few short years from now, 3D printing could save your life – as well as the lives of multiple marine and land species. It could help turn a new, unfurnished apartment into a well-stocked and cozy home in hours.

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Featured photo credit: squarespace.com via static1.squarespace.com

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