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3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a process that creates 3-dimensional objects from a digital file. These objects are developed using additive processes. In these processes, the items are made by laying down successive layers of materials.


Image Credits: Pixabay


3D printing technology came into existence in the 1980s. It helped organisations make prototypes more accurately and quickly than other traditional methods. The use of this technology has become more diverse today. Hobbyists, educators, medics, engineers, designers and manufacturers use 3D printing technology for various applications. Companies can use this technology to make complex objects using fewer materials.

 

How does 3D printing technology work?

The 3D printing technology starts working with a 3D model. One can develop a digital file or download it from a 3D library. This file tells the 3D printer where to print. The file consists of coordinates that help the printer move vertically or horizontally. The printers then stack the layers one by one to complete the object. These layers are known as layer height and can be of different thicknesses.


The working of 3D printers depends on CAD (Computer-aided Design). A CAD is a digital model of the object going to be 3D printed. The CAD provides accurate specifications of the object so that the 3D printer can know what will be the size and shape of each layer. Before 3D printing an item, it is important to use a design-optimised computer to make a CAD of the object.


What are things made from 3D printing?

3D printers have now become accessible to consumers. Everyone is creating weird and unique objects from these printers. Some of these things are useful, while some are not. Below is a list of some bizarre objects that have been made from 3D printers.


3D Printers

The 3D printer has created a 3D printer. There is a self-replicating 3D printer known as RepRap, which was developed by Adrian Bowyer. All parts of this printer are made from 3D printers and then arranged manually.


Image Credits: Pixabay


Smallest Power Drill

Lance Abernethy, a man from New Zealand, created a mini power drill with the help of 3D printers. The drill is about 17 × 7.5 × 13 mm and is equipped with a 0.5 mm drill bit. It is a working drill which is powered by a hearing-aid battery and uses headphone-cable wiring and a small motor.


Image Credits: Pixabay


Mouse Ovaries

Researchers at the North-western University, Chicago, have developed the first artificial mouse ovaries using a 3D printer. These ovaries have been proven to be useful for infertile mice. They were developed by 3D printing gelatine layers and surgically implanted in seven infertile mice. Out of these seven mice, three successfully gave birth to offspring.

Researchers hope to create human ovaries using 3D printers for infertile people and cancer patients.


Image Credits: Pixabay


Crawling Robots

Scientists at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), South Korea, have built 3D-printed wall-climbing robots. The movement of these robots is the same as geckos (a lizard species). They can climb the walls vertically using adhesion pads. The robot's body was 3D printed using Polyamide material.


Image Credits: Pixabay


Food

Researchers at the University College Cork in Ireland used cheese for 3D printed objects. They filled the nozzle of the 3D printer with cheese and produced cheesy items. The other types of food were also created using 3D printers. These include 3D printed pizzas, candies, croutons, cereal, quiches and chocolates.


Image Credits: Pixabay


Unborn Babies

A company in Russia used ultrasound scans to produce 3D-printed models of unborn babies. These 3D printings are made from parental images and plaster and plastic. The unborn babies' models help doctors check the health of the developing child. These models are highly detailed and have the smallest facial features of the unborn child.


Image Credits: Wikimedia


Buildings and Houses

3D printing can help to create houses and buildings. There is a wide range of 3D printed structures, including houses, apartments, castles and barns. These buildings and houses can be less expensive to build than traditional houses. These can be developed in as little as 24 hours. In Moscow, Russia, a team constructed a 400-square-foot house in less than 24 hours with the help of 3D printing. This technology is also developing new architectural designs.


Image Credits: Pixabay


Human Body Parts

Scientists around the US have successfully developed 3D-printed bones, ears, skin, kidneys and blood vessels. Nurses and doctors use these organs and parts for training purposes. These printed organs are then manipulated to have the same colour and consistency as the original human organs. Functional human organs could be developed using 3D printing in the future. To date, the 3D-printed human bladder is the only organ that can be used for organ donation. For the 3D-printed organ to function properly, the organ should be made from the tissues of the patient's organ.


Image Credits: Pexels


Guns

Firearms are the most controversial creation that can be created with 3D printers. The first 3D-printed firearm was named the Liberator which was built by Cody Wilson. Now, anyone with 3D printers can make their guns from plastic parts. According to the FBI, the Liberator fires bullets that can pierce internal organs.


Image Credits: Pixabay


Drones

Researchers at Southampton University, UK, have created the Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft (SULSA), a 3D printed drone. It has a speed of 90 miles per hour and can fly in the air for 30 minutes. This drive can be made from plastic parts in just 10 minutes.


Image Credits: Pixabay


Prosthetic Eyes

Steve Verze, an IT Engineer from Australia, became the first man to develop prosthetic eyes using 3D printers. It took him two and a half hours to create those eyes. They were sent to an ocularist, a professional who checks the fitting and fabrication of the prosthetic eyes. The 3D prosthetic eyes are more realistic with a clear definition.


Image Credits: Pixabay


Mini Race Car

Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have created a 3D printer that can be used to develop microscopic objects. To show its capabilities, they have created a microscopic racing car that is about the width of a hair follicle.


Image Credits: Pixabay


There are strange and cool things that can be created with 3D printers. Anyone can now develop 3D-printed items that can be useful for others. It is not clear whether 3D printing will change the world or not, but there are possibilities that it can become part of our daily lives. 


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