The 3D printer seems to know no limits, from replacing missing body parts and reducing fuel usage to making sure you don’t have to hold your iPhone in your hands.
Here are some amazing things 3D printing has already bestowed upon us, and some items yet to come.
Dutch architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars has announced he plans to build a large, wavy, mostly-see-through building using the help of a 3D printer from Enrico Dini’s D-Shape 3D printer. The project is estimated to be complete in 2014 and will cost around $6.4 million US. Several other companies have also joined the fray, claiming they can do the same thing – and faster. London-based Softkill Design say they can build a building in just three weeks of printing, plus a single day for assembly.
Pieces of New York City
Parts of New York City supported by decaying piles are in danger of collapsing right into the river, but Italian company D-Shape thinks it has the answer. D-Shape won funding from the New York City Economic Development Corporation to scan the decaying pilings and print supporting concrete parts, which will then be hauled to the piers on inflatable rafts, sunk, and put in place, projected by D-Shape to save the city a not-too-shabby $2.9 billion in repair costs.
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Reinforcing existing structures is one thing, and building new structures is quite another. Can the latter be accomplished with 3D printing? The European Space Agency thinks it can. On the moon, using moon soil.
ESA is teaming up with architects to see if 3D printers can use "local materials" to build a lunar base. That way, less material will need to be trucked into space from Earth to give those needy astronauts somewhere to hide from "micrometeoroids and space radiation."
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People might or might not ask you where you got your shoes when you sport these yellow heels, but if anyone ever does, you can tell them that they’re from Amsterdam, where designer Alan Nguyen of Freedom of Creation printed them.
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Jim Kor of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is developing a working, fuel-efficient car using 3D printed parts. According to the Facebook page Urbee Car, “two people, as well as a dog can fit comfortably in Urbee.”
COURTESY OF URBEE CAR FACEBOOK PAGE.
Chewy steaks beware: Back in 2012, LayerWise in Belgium used 3D printing to make a replacement lower jaw out of titanium for an 83-year-old Dutch woman.
Since then, 3D printing has been used to make prosthetics both internal and external. University of Michigan researchers in February used a 3D printed airway to hold an ailing baby’s bronchus open.
And when cancer patient Eric Moger lost a large chunk of his face to tumor removal, doctors in Britain replaced the missing part with a 3D printed prosthesis.
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NASA awarded a $125,000 grant to Systems and Materials Research Corporation, for researcher Anjan Contractor to develop a 3D food printer that’s meant to feed astronauts and end world hunger. No pressure or anything.
A company called Defense Distributed created and made available for download blueprints for 3D printed plastic guns until the US State Department forced it to take the plans down in May. But the plans have been picked up by filesharing website The Pirate Bay.
Meanwhile, more people are following in Defense Distributed’s path, creating new and improved gun blueprints. The plastic guns don’t quite resemble traditional ones, but one of the copycats was recently able to survive firing nine shots.
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