For better or worse, 3D printers are transforming the way ideas are brought to life.
3D printing is the process of taking a three-dimensional digital model and turning it into a physical object. You take a little heat, a dash of plastic, layer it all together, and voilà! You’ve taken an idea and turned it into a real, tangible object.
Not all 3D printing is magic, though. Defense Distributed, an online, open-source organization that designs firearms or “wiki weapons,” is taking 3D printing down a more ominous path, and putting gun control advocates on high alert.
But in a sea of innovation, firearms represent a small drop. Here are 10 awesome, life-affirming things 3D printers are bringing to life, today.
Selfies are so 2013. Step into a life-sized 3D copy machine, scan and… wait. Forty-five minutes later, you'll be the proud owner of a smaller, plastic version of yourself. Hooray! Plastic you!
Head, shoulders, knees, and bones
Scientists are utilizing 3D printers and human cells to recreate a variety of lab grown, functioning human body parts, including bones, ears, blood vessels, and more. While much of the research is in its infancy, the advances made have delivered hope for many, especially organ-transplant patients.
Companies, like Nokia, are giving users the freedom to create fully custom phone shells and other accessories using 3D printing.
Quick Car Parts
Fender benders aren’t any fun, but neither is waiting around for weeks for a new bumper to ship. Just call your local auto dealer, and some one can print you a new one. No shipping required.
Love eating, but hate cooking? 3D printers
are here to help. Startup
Foodini is whipping up a
number of 3D printed
edible options such
as burgers, pizzas,
raviolis and cookies.
It’s like an Easy
Bake Oven for
With all the money you’ve spent on gizmos and gadgets to create the perfect coffee brew, that ole’ black magic deserves the perfect cup. Coffee fiends with access to a printer can now create a model cup with materials like ceramic.
I can haz plastik?
Doge, Scumbag Steve, and many other memes are coming to life. Well, sorta. Thanks to 3D printing, anyone can purchase a favorite meme or cultural icon in 3D. Product websites like Shapeways are leading this pop culture-fueled category.
Furniture of the Future
Furniture designers are dropping traditional materials, such as wood and metal, for more durable plastics. Add the help of 3D printers, and these contemporary and classic furniture pieces can be printed, pronto.
Fashion designers are turning to 3D printing
for inspiration and access to highly
sophisticated and intricate designs,
creating shoes, dresses, jewelry,
and much more. A few creations
were even featured on the most
recent season of fashion reality
TV show, Project Runway.
Music to Your Ears
Musicians are turning to 3D
printers for custom-built
from violins to flutes to
ukuleles, these futuristic
melody-makers can help
someone create the sounds
they need—or maybe even
create brand new ones.