3D printing seems to be taking the world by storm and invading a myriad of different industries.
Following are five areas already feeling the presence of this technology. Part Two of the series will explore five additional areas.
The tech world was buzzing this week as Local Motors of Chandler, Arizona, began 3D printing an entire car. The printing part was scheduled to finish Friday with the car going for a test drive September 14.
The ability to create several different versions of the same part on a 3D printer not only saves time, but also allows for more trial and error testing at much lower cost.
Ultimately, companies like Ford see a world in which customers would be able to print their own replacement parts in hours or even minutes.
Being able to take a 3D printer into outer space and use it to print parts, tools and other items would be the ultimate space and weight saver for space exploration where every gram counts.
In addition, fabricating construction materials for space stations or bases on the moon would be much more efficient if those materials could be built to specification “on-site.”
TechRepublic reported on a partnership between a group called Made In Space and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The group planned to launch the first 3D printer in outer space.
Another project resulted in an engineer winning a NASA grant last year to prototype a 3D food printer designed to print realistic-looking 3D food in zero gravity.
Outer space is far from the only place 3D food printing could be useful.
Most recently, Canadian startup ORD solutions has been working on a 3D printer that uses paste to print various food items.
The company has even added a silicone-heated bed and has hinted that eventually it might have the ability to print and then cook the food.
Not only that, but the company said it had plans to add a cooling bed, raising the possibility of an all-in-one machine that could create, cook and refrigerate custom designed food items.
Among the more serious 3D food printing projects is one by German company Biozoon that has been developing the ability to 3D print attractive looking gelatinous food for elderly people and others who are unable to swallow regular food.
The ability of 3D printing to achieve economy in the use of raw materials has many environmentalists excited.
Modeling printers like those made by MakerBot can also use biodegradable PLA plastic filament, another plus.
Increasing the life span of products by replacing parts that wear out could reduce the amount of waste going into landfills.
Large industrial-sized 3D printers would also make it possible to produce and assemble products in one place, reducing the need for transport, except for raw materials.
Finally, on-demand printing could result in fewer unsold or leftover products being hauled off for disposal.
Among the first professionals to see possibility with 3D printing were artists. From original pieces of sculpture to jewelry to authentic-looking recreations that would make famous art accessible all over the world, the use of 3D printing in the world of art has only begun.
Recently, artist Jenny Wu created a collection called LACE using a Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ: SSYS) Fortus 400mc 3D Production System. According to Wu, one of the most important advantages of 3D printing jewelry is the ability to manufacture pieces directly, as opposed to creating a prototype only.
Another obvious advantage is the ability to create pieces using a variety of materials, thereby allowing for customization of original works of art.
At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position in any mentioned securities.
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