Have you ever seen a sci-fi movie with a machine that could produce food and objects seemingly out of nothing? That’s pretty crazy and far-fetched. After all, things like that are impossible, right? Not anymore. With scientists perfecting the art of 3D printing, you may soon be able to print items from your everyday life – and some items you never dreamed of printing. Here are ten things you can currently print or may see in the near future.
1. Customizable Guitars
Olaf Diegel produces completely customized guitars for musicians. While they may look significantly different from traditional guitars, they are designed to have just as deep and rich a sound as any guitar in your local shop. The idea of producing instruments with 3D printing technology opens the door to all sorts of artistic and musical creations. Perhaps the unique capabilities of 3D printers will allow the creation of a completely new musical instrument.
2. Ancient Artifact Replicas
The Smithsonian is starting to use 3D printing to create exact replicas of its exhibits. These replicas can then be lent to others, spreading cultural awareness and appreciation around the globe.
3-D printed clothes have already made an appearance at Paris Fashion Week this year. As the technology develops, buying a new bathing suit may become as simple as buying a pattern online and printing your own copy. One advantage of 3D printed clothing is the ability of the computer to make adjustments for individual body shapes, ensuring a perfect fit.
It’s a scary thought, but it is possible to print your own gun from a 3D printer. A fully-functioning firearm has already been developed and tested by a nonprofit organization called Defense Distributed. The group released the blueprints for the gun on the internet, with the intention of allowing others to print their own guns. However, the State Department asked Defense Distributed to take down the blueprints. The issue of 3D printable guns has serious implications for everything from firearms regulation to internet freedom, so this is sure to be a topic of debate as governments react to our rapidly changing world.
Cornell Creative Machines Lab has consistently been at the forefront of 3D printing research, especially in the culinary realm. The lab produced edible food out of hydrocolloids, forming intricate edible sculptures such as spaceships and octopi. This technology is still in its early stages and is quite expensive, but it is feasible that you may soon see hydrocolloids on the menu at your favorite restaurant.
6. Sculpture of an Unborn Baby
Ultrasounds are standard for expectant mothers, but this Japanese clinic has taken it a step further with their “Shape of an Angel” service. For around $1000, the clinic uses data from the expectant mother’s body to form a 3D model of the baby before it’s born. The sculpture is a way for the mother to have a more tangible connection with her child and also serves as a keepsake after the baby is born.
3D printing could be the solution to the organ shortage crisis. This technology could allow doctors to produce fully-functioning organs for transplant patients. There have already been significant strides in this direction. For example, Dr. Anthony Atala was able to grow functioning bladders in a lab that were then implanted into human patients. Dr. Atala is now working on printing human kidneys. While the research is still years away from clinical practice, it’s a promising step for medicine.
8. Spare Parts for Space Exploration
Excitingly, NASA is considering 3-D printing technology for use in space exploration and colonization. The materials used in 3D printers are light and compact, and using 3D printers to print tools and food while astronauts are in space may make space travel more feasible. Printing food and spare parts may also help colonists on the Moon or Mars. If colonists can print the objects they need from components found in space, they don’t need to waste time and resources transporting items from Earth.
3D printing is not only limited to the small in scale. Currently there are several ambitious architectural startups in the works that hope to produce full-sized houses and buildings. The methods and materials vary from concrete to potato starch, and each project represents incredibly innovative architectural techniques. If all goes well, we may see results as soon as late 2013.
10. Any Human Tissue
Scientists have finally managed to print with human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). The scientists loaded the printer with stem cells and were able to produce uniformly-sized living cells, even controlling the cells’ shape and size. Why are these cells so significant? Stem cells can form any kind of tissue, so they can do anything from forming new organs to repairing existing tissue. As most other tries at 3D printed stem cells have resulted in unstable results, proving stem cells can survive 3D printing is a huge step forward for the medical community.
If you liked this article, remember to comment and share. For more interesting content, subscribe to the newsletter and check back at this site often.