3D printing has already revolutionized the way industrious minded consumers are building things at home. Currently 3D printing is allowing people to make their own prototypes, art works, toys, vehicle parts and pretty much anything else they can think of, but this is really just the beginning.
3D printing started as a fun hobby to make your own plastic toys and knick knacks, but it is now becoming abundantly clear that the 3d printing industry is becoming much more than that. It is now becoming much more important then any one could have imagined. The uses of the technology can be endless and as the home 3d printers become more affordable and commercial printer become more advanced we will see a lot more uses in our everyday life. Here are the top reasons we thing 3d printing will be more important than ever in 2015.
Consumer product costs could fall.
Companies are increasingly using 3D printers to create prototypes in-house. This alone can significantly reduce the total research and development costs in addition to speeding total production time. Both of these factorc can lead to significantly lower consumer prices for you and I.
According to Forbes, 75 percent of large businesses and 59 percent of small businesses are adopting 3D printing in some way such as for prototyping or even producing products. So this is a trend we are already in the middle of.
3D printers make it possible to make custom prosthetics cheaply
You’ve likely seen heartwarming stories of parents who have used 3D printers to “print” affordable prosthetic hands for their children. If you haven’t, a quick Internet search will reveal quite a few of these inspirational stories.
One such story showcased a six-year-old boy who received a prosthetic arm from a team of University of Central Florida students who built it for just $350. Prosthetic arms can cost up to $40,000, and they must be replaced often as a child grows. Truly, 3D printing is already making a difference.
Filament Materials Evolving
3D printers use plastic “filament” to print 3D models. As such, 3D printed objects have traditionally had that molded plastic appearance. That’s about to change now that filament is evolving, which is one of the most exciting new developments in the 3d Printing world.
According to Gizmodorks.com there is now a wood filament made with recycled wood and binding polymers. With real wood fibers, this filament creates a model that looks and some times smells as if it is carved from a real piece of lumber. In addition, the 3D wood filament can produce different shades of color and textures based on temperature changes during 3D printing.
Other 3D filament types now include different metals, polycarbonate filaments, acetal filaments (for high stiffness and low friction), and color-changing filaments. As filament evolves to meet different needs engineering needs like strength and heat resistance or astatic needs like wood or metal, we will find more and more companies and consumers using 3D printers
3D printing makes it possible to print replacement body parts
The medical community is using 3D printers bio engineer everything from ears to implantable vertebra. For example, doctors at Cornell University use a “living ink” to print 3D ears made from live tissue which can be re attached to a human skull.
Going even further, researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital are working on bioprinting trachea (windpipes) that can be printed in just hours depending on the detail.
Facial surgery for patients who need portions of their jaw removed because of a tumor is completely revolutionized. The entire process can now be mapped out using 3D models for the infected area. Then replacement jaws can be printed with accuracy up to the millimeter.
The technology right now seems limitless and the only thing that is limiting, is the ability to think of new applications for it.
3D printing is expected to take off in the aerospace and defense industries.
Price Waterhouse Cooper predicts that within in the next three to five years, the aerospace and defense industries will be using 3D printers to produce complex commercial and military aircraft components as wells as complex military weapons systems.
Even more important, as we continue to explore space, astronauts will be able to use 3d printing technology to create spare parts for use on the space station. Thus enabling longer times in space and the reduced need for various supply runs.