10 Real Life Examples of 3D Printing
(This post originally appeared on Fox Business)
3D Systems, one of the leaders in the 3D printing market space, announced that it would delay its earnings release schedule for this week to complete “the work related to a goodwill impairment charge that it previously announced it was taking in the fourth quarter.” This is not an unusual thing to happen and most analysts aren’t worried. And why should they be? 3D printing is a reality and the uses of the technology are popping up in everyday life all around us. Just consider these ten new applications, which have been featured in the news in just the past few days:
Designing Foods. A restaurant in Spain is using a 3D printer to design intricate structures made completely out of food from mashed potatoes to chocolate. Look for more restaurants to use this technology to help create specialized dishes for their customers.
Tactile Maps. A vocational center in northern New Jersey is 3D printing maps that have raised contours on it to indicate mountains, rivers and roads, as well as buildings and streets in ever-changing cities. The maps are used by the visually impaired and also provide a more detailed look at the geography of certain areas. Future maps used for surveying will likely incorporate this technology.
Bikes. Dutch students at the Delft University of Technology have created a 3D printed steel bike which can be produced on demand. Bike sharing companies will soon have another product to offer, specifically for those with special needs.
Super Light Materials. Researchers at the State University of New York in Buffalo have now developed a way to 3D print materials made out of Graphene aerogel, which is so light it can be used in products to soak up oil spills or “invisibility” cloaks. Manufacturers who use these specialized materials will soon have a faster, more reliable way to produce them in-house, which will speed up production time and quality.
Airline Cocktail Trays. Air New Zealand is 3D printing specialized cocktail trays for its business class customers. And why not? Passengers not only get a unique experience, but the airline can cut back on its replacement stock and manufacturing costs by custom printing materials that specifically meets demand.
Pokemon Figures. An online 3D printing service platform that operates a network of printers with over 20,000 locations in over 150 countries has teamed up with designer Agustin Flowalistik to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of Pokémon with specialized figures. 3D printed novelties will offer companies more promotional and unique giveaways for both their employees and marketing purposes.
Models for Surgery. Surgeons in Mumbai India are now 3D printing models of human body parts, like kidneys, to practice on before operating on the live patient. More and more surgeons will be relying on prototypes like these for teaching and preparation that will reduce mistakes and will likely save thousands of lives in the future.
Facial Implants. After gaining approval from the FDA in 2014, plastic surgeons like Dr. Pablo Prichard in Phoenix are using 3D printed implants to help reconstruct the faces of injured patients. More 3D printed body parts will be coming soon, providing opportunities for both medical and engineering firms.
Candy. Customers at a candy store in Dubai now use machines from a company in Germany to custom print their gummies in just about any figure they can imagine. Look for innovative retailers to offer 3D printed candy and food products to entice more customers in the door and stay ahead of their competition.
Oh, and here’s your bonus 3D printing example: The Army is now testing on-demand 3D printed drones. Head for the hills….