I was so fascinated when 3D printing first came out. What a cool technology, right? The ability to download a blueprint off the internet and have the item printed right there in front of you. 3D is becoming common in many industries and the possibilities continue to grow.
Hardware for Products
Manufacturers are using 3D printers to create custom parts for various products. The engineer draws up the specs, loads up the needed material, and prints out their part. My current company uses this technology daily to create parts. Having access to such technology allows for innovation to flow. Ideas turning into real products are not longer stopped or halted because the part needed doesn’t exist.
Yes, you can 3D print food! NASA is working on developing 3D printed food to feed astronauts in space, meaning less resources need to be transported into space. Their first successful food, PIZZA! (YouTube video here)
You can also print chocolate and you can even program a specific design. A computer can now write out chocolate lettering or designs, opening the door for bakeries to automate another part of their process.
Body Parts: Bioprinting
This is the coolest, in my opinion. Scientists have been able to successfully place 3D printed organs into animals and transplants to humans is not far off. There are a number body parts that scientists have been able to print, ears, kidneys, blood vessels, and skin to name a few.
Imagine if transplant lists were no longer needed. A new organ could be printed using tissue that matches the patient’s. How many lives could be saved? What about the negative impacts? Does this give people a reason to not take care of themselves?
I absolutely joke that, “I can drink as much I want now because I’ll be able to 3D print a new liver later.” And, I mean, it’s kind of true! But does that really justify not taking care of myself?
3D printing is just at it’s beginning. It is opening the doors for us to do so much more than we already are. Being able to “send” astronauts tools on a need by basis instead of sending multiple options, without guaranteeing you’ll have what you need.
What are most excited about 3D printing?
Photo from IP Watchdog