The new age of personalized industrial manufacturing has been blown wide open with revolutions in 3D printing technology. Soon enough, we will all be able to produce material objects of all kinds. Let’s take a look at some of the various possibilities and executions designers and makers (a culture/subculture focused on DIY technology) are coming up with.
An outer shell specially printed from dough and contains “edible soil” and seeds. The process takes a few days to grow and is still in testing stages. We are at the beginning stages of developing the technology for food printing, but makers like Chloe Rutzerveld are doing research in the hopes that this will help solve some of the world’s food problems.
Just a couple of months ago (Jan 2015), a Chinese company, Winsun, produced the first 3D printed apartment complex. The apartment is a five-storey building built from ground construction and industrial waste with quick drying cement and industrial steel reinforcement. This project shows that production time and waste can be cut in half. Implications to build efficiently could have major uses for development around the world.
Cars are being developed from ABS plastic and carbon fiber. Strati, a 3D printing car manufacturer is developing electric cars they hope to release this year. Because of the beginning stages of this complex manufacturing using BAAM (Big Area Additive Manufacturing), this process still struggles from high energy consumption.
Yes, jet engines. Two engines, actually. Researchers from Monash University in Melbourne, Deakins University, and CSIRO have worked together to develop two metal jet engines from 3D printing manufacturing. Smartech released a white paper on the cost effectiveness, efficiency in production and manufacturing, and benefits analysis of additive aerospace manufacturing. As we venture off into space, 3D printing tools and complex engine parts in space is crucial to the sustainability of exploring our universe.
PROSTHETICS AND BIOPRINTING ORGANS AND TISSUE
Lastly, the possibilities of printing organs and prosthetics have major implications in the medical community. One group of volunteers has started a movement called e-NABLE. They are a worldwide collective of over a thousand volunteers committed to producing prosthetics for people in need globally.
In terms of bioprinting tissue and organs, there are a few approaches, currently, that are in use that range from biomimicry, autonomous self assembly, and mini-tissue building blocks.
Nature.com has a full breakdown of the current state of technology and discovery in bioprinting.
The possibilities are endless when manufacturing can be personalized on a print-as-needed basis. 3D printing is only just beginning to revolutionize the way we can help the world, and with groups like e-NABLE, crowdsourcing designs and manufacturing offer alternate means for designers and makers to change the world.