The 3D technology was actually an old idea, as early as in the 1980s. The principle of a layer by layer surface printing was thought of by Dr. Kodama to fulfill his need for prototyping. Although he failed to get a patent for his device, the invention led to another vital element of 3D printing; a photosensitive resin that turned into polymer if exposed to light. It started the idea of photopolymerization.
Today, there are many things that a 3D printer can produce, from action figures, fashion items, to various tools. But in the future, the technology has been predicted to contribute to medics and engineering. Read below if you want to know more.
What We Can Get to Our Hands
If we take human development as an analogy, 3D printing right now is as the same as a toddler. What we can get to our hands are still trinkets and decorative things. But some can still be handy. For example, below is a list of useful tools as read from all3dp.com:
- Plastic Wrench
- Book Pages Holder
- Shopping Bag Sealers
- Earphones Holder
- Hex Drawers
- Modular Mounting System
As we can see, the items on the list are still of everyday trinkets that we can find on the market. It has just become more customizable and detailed than the mass-produced items.
Although the products are still mediocre, what the 3D printer has brought to us is a quite spectacular concept. The device scales down the manufacturing process of a large factory to individual production.
However, the future is bright. It is not far fetch to think that it would be possible to print replacement part for kitchen appliances, or other gadgets like drones, cameras, or even custom design prototypes, all in the convenience of our homes.
3D Metal Printing for the Auto Industry
Mass production is the flaw of manufacturing industry that we are going to eliminate very soon. To produce a car, for example, the manufacturer needs to create each part separately and then get them assembled as the orders come in. As a result, a car manufacturer needs a large warehouse to serve as their storage room. Unassembled parts also can get dirty and wear out, hence, requiring maintenance.
With the 3D metal printing concept applied, a car manufacturer is even theoretically possible to build a whole car at once. It might reduce the price significantly because the process only needs few labors. The technology also allows complex metal fabrication. In the future, we might find personalized/custom cars become common on the road.
Today, 3D metal printing is being researched and improved. It is planned to be used in large industries, such as the automobile, aviation, and military vehicles.
3D Printing in Medics
We have successfully printed human organs, and it was Erik Gatenholm who was behind the concept of 3D bioprinting. Organ transplant is a complicated subject in medics. Not all freshly dead bodies have adequate organs to supply the transplant bank. The supply for organ transplants is scarce. And there is where Gatenholm saw his opportunity.
Gatenholm worked with Martinez, a tissue engineer, and created the first standardized biomaterial for 3D printing. It is made of seaweed, and is called as nanocellulose alginate. But, there are also other companies that work on the innovation. Cyfuse Biomedical, TeVido Biodevices, Aspect Biosystems, and Rainbow Biosciences are just several of the companies names.
However, what we can have now are just the simple replacement for simple tissues, such as skin and cartilage. The technology is moving forward to creating vital organs, such as heart and kidneys.