Over the last eight years or so, 3D printing techniques and processes have developed at an expansive rate, due to a grouping of patents expiring in 2009. The industry has seen advances in liquid-based technology, powder-based technology, and the “Holy Grail” of additive manufacturing processes, metal 3D printing technologies, which are also called Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DSLM)
With these advances comes the accessibility to the consumer. The technological growth has coincided with a reduction in the cost of 3D manufacturing, which means more people printing more things, and often times some fairly interesting things. We will be looking at some of the most fascinating 3D printer uses that people have come up with in the past few years.
1. Diamond Ring
3D printing has introduced itself to the jewelry world. Consumers who visit American Pearl can create, design, and customize their own ring to compliment their jewel of choice. Once you finish your design, the ring will be printed using a Solidscape T76 printer. Amazing!
2. One-Handed Bottle Opener
Someone, we don’t know who, has 3D printed a boomerang shaped one-handed bottle opener, helping people lack hand strength, or who are differently abled, or perhaps people who simply refuse to compromise on their multi-tasking lifestyle. We’ll take 5, thanks!
3. Adidas Futurecraft 3D
In 2016, Adidas released a running shoe made with a 3D-printed midsole, customizable to a individual’s exact foot specifications. It’s made from polyester polyamide and gill net, and is an environmentally friendly 3D printer use.
4. Adidas Futurecraft 3D
ODD guitars is a New Zealand based company which 3D prints guitars using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). ODD explains their application of the process as “spreading a thin layer of nylon powder, which is then fused in the correct locations for that particular slice of the component.” They print down to a fraction of a millimeter, one layer at a time.
5. Practice Skulls
A strange name for a beautiful thing. Two year old Violet Pietrok had a syndrome called Tessier Cleft, which caused her facial bones to not fuse together prenatally. Her eyes were far apart enough to the extent that she couldn’t see well. Doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital utilized 3D models of Violet’s skull, pulling the data from an MRI. The doctors practiced on four skull models, which helped them pre-emptively diagnose any problems in Violet’s surgery. Violet is still on the road to recovery, but the initial surgeries have been successful in large part because of 3D printer technology.
6. Chocolate Bear
On a less touching note, remember food replicators from Star Trek? Well it isn’t science fiction anymore. 2015 Taiwanese maker XYZprinting showcased an edible chocolate bear at an IT show in Berlin. Pioneering and delicious.