What’s New In 3D Printing?

3d printingIn terms of technology, it doesn’t get much cooler than 3D printing. This cutting edge technique has enabled manufacturers and makers to create an incredible variety of 3D objects–it’s not just black ink and white paper anymore.

And after revelations about how food of the future may come from a printer, or how printed prosthetic limbs are changing the lives of amputees around the world, there seems to be no doubt that 3D printing will change the face of manufacturing across the country.

The idea of what it means to ‘make’ something has changed. With 3D printing, there isn’t the need to carve something from a certain material or use independently raw parts to create the finished whole. 3D printers (and keep in mind that this technology is relatively new) can use an “ink” spool of plastic to craft a good or part from the ground up, no initial structure needed. To learn more about the process, we posted a few months ago about what exactly 3D printing is, anyway!

However, in a field as dynamic as this, there are advances and new discoveries every day. Here are a few of the ways 3D printing is being used to manufacture products like never before:

  • 3D Printed Fruit: On May 24, the first 3D fruit printer was revealed. This isn’t the first time food has been printed, with pizza and chocolate having been experiments by NASA, but fruit certainly isn’t something that seems as if it would be easy to print naturally. The fruit printer doesn’t print apple slices or sections of an orange, but prints molecular gastronomy-esque molecules of fruit juice that can be combined to resemble, for example, a raspberry. The UK-based company claims that this printer will revolutionize the concept of fresh fruit on demand.
  • 3D Printed Makeup: With the idea that 3D printers can create anything comes in hand the concern for safety hazards and inks that are appropriate for consumption or contact with our bodies. However, a Harvard Business School graduate has discovered a way to use FDA-approved ink to create a makeup safe to be used on most skin types. Grace Choi’s printer can create creams, lipsticks, and powders–and in a demonstration last week, she created a pink eyeshadow in less than forty seconds. Beauty junkies will certainly want to keep an eye on the development of this product!
  • 3D Printed Houses: From China to the United States, to the Netherlands, a select few have experimented with building full homes from 3D printers. In July or August, Slovenian company BetAbram will release a printer capable of building homes for $12,000 Euro. Especially in third-world countries or areas in need of low-income housing, this could make an incredible difference to those in need. Learn more and watch an introductory video here.

photo credit: MattL via photopin cc