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All of the Materials We Can Currently Use for 3D Printing

All of the Materials We Can Currently Use for 3D Printing

3D printing is revolutionary, there’s no doubt about it! The capacity for people around the world to create 3D objects from scratch is becoming rapidly more accessible. We are at the point where almost anything that can be designed on a computer can be printed in three dimensions. Everyone from children to doctors and scientists are benefiting from 3D printing.

As 3D printing technology progresses one thing that continues to expand are the materials currently used in this printing–everything from metal and plastic to cement and even live human cells!

Basic 3D Printed Materials

While 3D printing seems like a brand new phenomenon, the process has actually been around for decades. Since the 1980s prototypes and models have been created using archaic versions of 3D printers. What’s changing is that now not only prototypes are being printed, fully functioning products can be produced.

Additionally, the ability for people to access basic materials for 3D printing is becoming increasingly common. The vast resources at our disposal create countless creative outlets–we are only limited by what we can dream up or scan and alter!

Plastics/Acrylic

a wide array of plastic and acrylic raw materials are available for consumers. Even kids are able to get involved as economic 3D printers for toys are now in existence.

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Glass

Current glass 3D printers thrive on the physics of molten glass and create designs that are mesmerizingly beautiful. Modern printed glass designs are as attractive as they are intelligent in their design.

Porcelain/Ceramics

Utilizing a capacity for accuracy more precise than even the most veteran potter’s hand, 3D printed porcelain and ceramic objects merge art and practicality. Printed ceramics can withstand temperatures of up to 2500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Metals

Everything from precious metals and unique alloys are being used as 3D printing materials.

top-18k-gold

    Printed 18k Gold Keychain via Shapeways

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    Food

    Yep you read that right, food is already being printed using sanitary printing heads. Think about the potential for decorative treats and candies and the concept of fully-printed meals. This will correlate to impressive food concepts like dazzling chocolate models and even fully printed pizzas or burgers.

    pancake printer

      Pancake printer via 3D Printing

      3D Printing the Only 2D Material

      Graphene is perhaps the most revolutionary discovery to be made since it was uncovered back in 2004. The world’s thinnest solid has the following properties, all of which make it an extremely promising material:

      • The first 2D material with many unique properties
      • The thinnest, lightest object ever-only one atom thick!
      • The strongest material on Earth: harder than a diamond and 300x stronger than steel
      • It is more conductive than copper
      • It is transparent and bendable

      A printer for creating the world’s first three dimensional objects using the world’s first two dimensional material is truly sci-fi turned reality. It will make all kinds of components thousands of times stronger!

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      Bioprinting Human Tissues

      Some of the most groundbreaking applications for 3D printing have been in the healthcare niche. Earlier this year a team at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine began printing live human body parts, using a combination of living cells and a special gel.

      The steps to this process are fairly simple. It all starts with a scanned image of the body part to be printed. Layer after layer, tiny drop by tiny drop, the replacement body part is slowly printed out using a special intricate printer head.

      What separates this process from other 3D printed materials is fact that live human cells are used. Bioprinted replacement parts are attached directly to patients and regrow once accepted by the body. These development in 3D printing capabilities are part of a rapid upward curve; a major contributor to the future of healthcare tech. The goal is to print everything from noses, to muscles, to bones.

      Large Format 3D Printing

      The world is no longer limited to what can be printed in a small desktop sized 3D printer. Large format printer heads can move freely and print massive objects. The sky’s the limit as size constraints no longer exist as serious obstacles to further innovation.

      Aerospace Technology

      Some commercial planes are now outfitted with air ducts that are 3D printed. This is just the beginning of what will be mass produced for aerospace tech as GE has begun piloting efforts to print engine parts for planes.

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      3D Printed Buildings

      3dprintedhouse

        3D Printed House via Business Insider

        Entire buildings and structures are being printed in China. What this means is that homes will be printed in a matter of hours instead of being built by traditional methods which may take weeks or months.  A video by New China TV explains this process.

        Recently, ten structures to be used as office buildings were created from the ground up in only 24 hours using a 3D printer invented by Ma Yihe at WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Company. The walls are printed using a sustainable material made of construction waste and cement. Yihe hopes to print skyscrapers in the future.

        Featured photo credit: Maurizio Pesce Flickr via flickr.com

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        Last Updated on December 18, 2020

        Can Technology have Biases Like Humans?

        Can Technology have Biases Like Humans?

        Technology has taken a vantage leap in providing solutions for man. Before now, technology used to appear complex and would require a great deal of expertise to handle solutions available. Today, we have technology applicable in the simplest human activities as smart products with intelligent algorithms powering them as they make error-free judgments and provide intelligent and analytic solutions.

        Does technology have all the answers?

        This article from Credit Suisse, tells us that technology does not have all the answers because it has been found to exhibit “similar biases,” as humans. No one can discredit the impact of technology, but it is not totally free of human input and this is the reason we experience these biases in many areas we have technology holding foot.

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        Creating technological solutions transparently

        This article suggests that the process of creating technological solutions be made transparent and subject to contribution from many people who would end up as users of the product – male, female, young, old, learned, unlearned and all other preferences as we have them. It also underscores the importance of having women on product development teams. This approach is not sure to eliminate all forms of bias, but it is a good way to start in order to appraise the full benefits of technology.

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        Technology as the connecting tool

        Technology so far has been a major connecting tool amongst us humans. It is used and appreciated by all regardless of race, language and sex. In order to keep it less subjective to these arguments about human biases. I believe we should gather opinions on products and solutions before making them available to the public. This could be done by gathering input from intended target users and receiving feedback across the stages of production.

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        “Recognizing the problem is a start…success will depend on inclusive technologies that meet this vast untapped market.” This cannot be more apt especially at a time when we look up to technology for solutions. We should not muzzle our progress with technology by battling algorithm bias. The first way to avoid this battle is by reading this article here.

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