What’s New In 3D Printing? Fall 2015 Edition

3d printing in orangeIt’s been some time since we posted to our “What’s New in 3D Printing” series, last updated here in the summer of 2015. We featured 3D printed bridges, 3D printed headphones, and 3D printed medication, a few of the latest and greatest 3D ideas come to life.

We are ready for a new and improved roundup of what the makers and additive manufacturers of the world have brainstormed lately. That’s one amazing thing about additive manufacturing: It’s a medium practically endorsing big dreams and creative ideas.

3D Printed Cars: CNET explains that, for the most part, automobile manufacturers have not necessarily embraced 3D printing. However, Audi has dipped its toe in the pond with their toolmaking division. Recently, the manufacturer built a 1:2 scale race car by 3D printing metal components to build a silver, half-size race car. There are some vehicles that already have used 3D printed materials, but for the most part those materials are made from carbon fiber or plastic.

This is the first small-scale race car that uses 3D printed metal components. This could be incredibly useful for manufacturers: “3D printing cuts down on waste metal, which boosts cost-effectiveness. It also cuts down on the time required to make parts with complex contours, which can speed up the entire assembly process.”

3D Printed Hair: Granted, the hair is plastic. However, John Biggs reports that researchers at Carnegie Mellon have figured out how to add realistic-looking plastic hair to 3D printed objects. You can watch a video at the link above (it’s pretty wild!) about how their system uses a specially programmed 3D printer that extrudes plastic and then pulls it up like a hot glue gun.

“Though the print head can’t move up rapidly, both it and the print bed that holds the work in progress can move rapidly from side to side. By applying the molten material and then moving the print head and the bed sideways, they found they could create the hair-like strands they wanted,” said the researchers.

3D Printed Art for Blind People to Enjoy: To be fair, this one doesn’t technically exist in proliferation yet, but there is currently a Kickstarter to raise money to 3D print artwork that blind people can enjoy at museums. 3DPhotoworks has spent seven years developing technology that converts paintings, drawings, collages, and photographs to 3D Tactile Fine Art print.

Using their fingertips, the blind can experience prints through their fingertips. This helps them “see” the art by creating a “mental picture” in their mind. The co-founder, John Olson, says that “our goal is to make the world’s greatest art and greatest photography available to blind people at every museum, every science center, and every cultural institution, first in this country and then beyond.”

Are there any recently printed 3D advances that we should know about? Leave a comment in the section below, anytime!

photo credit: 3d printer via photopin (license)