3D printing technology has been around since the early 80’s, but most of us never even noticed. With the development of cheaper printers and open source software, 3D printing is finding its way into almost evert industry you can think of. Wired put together 10 of the best examples.
These following ten works represent the latest and greatest printed designs from a variety of categories, showing how 3D printing is becoming an important element of design and innovation for products ranging from re-engineered jet engines to bionic eagle beaks to printed-plastic acoustic guitars.
When it comes to 3D printed objects immediately you think of guns, or crazy artworks, because that’s what the Internet retweets the most. For Emma Lavalle, however, 3D printing means letting her be a kid. She was “born with arthrogryposis, a rare condition that leaves her muscles and joints weakened to the point of hardly being able to move her limbs.” Normally, she would have to wait until she was old enough to wear a conventional metal exoskeleton, and need constant supervision and care.
3D printing was identified as a possible solution to her problem, and a plastic unit was designed to fit her small frame. The spring-loaded arms gave just enough assistance to help her move freely. And as children grow, so can the design — once it no longer fits, the creators can print new, larger pieces for continued use. Amazing.
James Bond destroys a lot of Aston Martins. James Bond has a complete disregard for the cars he drives, and smashes them up with just as much gusto as he seduces women. When making a bond movie, destroying an almost priceless car is not ideal. The creators of the latest Bond film, Skyfall, decided they’d “print a one-third scale exact replica from scratch and save a bundle of money” instead. The team used 3D printing to create three miniature Aston Martin DB5’s “in high detail with Voxeljet machines to spare one of the real beauties in a destructive special effects scene.”
Incredibly, one of the three models survived and was auctioned off by Christies. It fetched $99 041. It’s not even a real freaking car, but still a lot cheaper than the $2,6 million valuation of the DB5 used in the Bond film Goldfinger.
This shows how advanced 3D printing is.
Planes are increasingly being manufacutured with 3D printers. General Electric has been a pioneer in additive fabrication for over 20 years, but 3-D printers have largely been used in prototyping or repair capacities, until the announcement of CFM Leap engine. Engineers have designed this engine from the ground up using 3D-printing technology, which allowed them to create more complex geometries, combine 20-part assemblies into one piece while reducing weight by 30 to 40 per cent.
It’s pretty easy to imagine a 3D printed electric guitar, and they have been around for a while now. But an acoustic version? That’s a whole different story.
Scott Summit of Bespoke/3D Systems is the designer behind the project, printing both plastic and metal elements to make the concept a reality. The finished product demonstrates the build technique’s ability to handle the tension of the guitar’s strings, and is said to resonate with a decent tone.
An eagle without a beak is a pretty sad sight, as the image above shows. When Researchers at Birds of Prey Northwest found an eagle that was missing part of its beak, they called it “Beauty”. Determined to eradicate irony from Beauty’s name, they worked with a local engineering firm to design and print a prosthetic beak using CAD software and 3D printers.
Operation “Beauty and the Beak” was a smashing success that allowed the bird to retake the skies, soar majestically, and continue to feed on wild salmon. Birds of Prey Northwest is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and raising funds to help extend this process to other wildlife groups.
The world’s coral reefs are under threat, and people are suggesting crazier and crazier things to solve the problem. 3D printing could now also help rebuild destroyed reefs.
A team of scientists from Australia and Bahrain have created a new type of 3-D printer that produces an environmentally friendly structure that can replace reefs that have collapsed and provide a scaffold for coral to regrow on. Traditionally, reef repairs were made with cast concrete, but that process did not allow for tunnels and crevices which help create a reefs dynamic ecosystem.
Is anyone else thinking about a 3D printed perfect point break?
People like Michael Guslick have demonstrated that firearm components can be produced with 3D printers. While a fused filament fabrication 3D printer could make an awesome addition to an armory, there are still a number of safety concerns expressed about printed firearms. For a less lethal option, check out this rubber band gun from Thingiverse.
Perhaps the most obvious of all the uses. Bringing sculpting to the everyman, 3D printing used to be enough of a gimmick to draw attention to a fledgling artist.
Today, artists think of them like paintbrushes, just one more tool for artistic expression. Whether it’s Bathsheba Grossman’s math-driven models, Joshua Harker’s stunning Dia de Los Muertos prints, or Gershon Elber, who has transformed M.C. Escher’s 2-D masterpieces into 3D-printed models, these artists are creatively co-opting machines that were developed as engineering tools.
One day, you may not have to pop down the shops to get a new pair of shoes, you could just print them out. For now though, this is not exactly proving economical. Fancy a 3D printed handbag?
A 3D printed purse sounds clunky, but the ones from VertigoPolka are made from a series of interlocked micro structures that give the pieces a cloth-like feel. Surprisingly, this is one 3D-printed product that is significantly cheaper than its name-brand counterpart. A machine from Formlabs costs less than some of the bags from Fendi.
Simliar to artworks, with a little design shill, and a 3D printer we can all be jewelers.
Tiffany settings can be replaced with something far more personal, such as this bespoke engagement ring based on Star Wars icon R2D2, created with the assistance of maker site CustomMade.
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