A Mid-Year Report on this Year’s 3D Printing Developments
Technology is continuously in a state of transformation, and none more so than technologies which revolve around manufacturing, prototyping, and new innovations. As such, 3D Printing has continued to make leaps and bounds, ever moving in new directions and finding new uses for both the Desktop 3D Printers as well as maximising productivity and product output with Commercial 3D Printers. Here are a few of the current developments in 3D Printing.
Medical Advancements with 3D Printing
Perhaps the greatest accomplishment as of yet within the realm of medical improvements and 3D Printing would be concerning dentistry. Per an article by Science Daily, the use of 3D Printing to make dentures will diminish the possibility for infection which is commonly found within the materials being used. Aesthetically speaking, the various colours and the depth of detail which can be achieved when prototyping and manufacturing dentures using a 3D Printer is higher than that which can be achieved using traditional casting methods.
Dentures are not the only developments on the medial side of 3D Printing. Cellular tissue can now be printed directly on the skin, and smart organic tissue is no longer a thing of science fiction.
Developments to Basic Human Functions
When you think about the basics for human life, it comes to food, shelter, and clothing. Amongst these necessities, food development, particularly the production of food using a Food 3D Printer, could be a paradigm shift in how we conduct one of the simplest of human functions, eating. Kyle Wiggers, a writer for digitaltrends magazine, states that the process is mainly additive manufacturing, using ingredients in a layered pattern to create edible artistic creations. Think that this is outside the scope of dining? Think again. Foodink.io is already using 3D Printing as its only means of creating food for its customers. In fact, it is the first and the only restaurant, to our knowledge, that has all the food, utensils, and furniture are all 3D Printed. Though the food is not in the pill form, as described in the song In the year 2525 by Zager and Evans, we are certainly getting closer.
Changes to the Housing Market
It is not just the content of the buildings which is getting noticed in the 3D world, but also the building and the construction of the buildings, as 3D Printing has immersed itself within the construction industry. True, the technology to print houses has been around for several years, but this does not mean that the technology or that the innovations are old. Rather to the contrary, contractors and developers are seeking new ways in which to push the proverbial envelope. For example, in Amsterdam a 3D Printed Bridge was constructed. In China, houses have been manufactured using mainly 3D Printing. Additionally, building data reports have suggested that there may soon be a dramatic spike in houses and offices built with 3D Printing, due to the fact that the overall cost could be 1/10th of the traditional cost to build.
It’s not all Business
The advancements in 3D Printing is not just orchestrated to the commercial businesses or to profitable endeavours. Toys, cosplay, home improvements, and robotics have all seen advancements this year. CAD concepts have gained more options within their realitive software programs, optimising the files for 3D Printing (take Zbrush Sculpting for example). Home improvements range from 3D Printed plumbing fittings to custom made light switch covers to television remote control covers.
Are all these advancements for the good?
While there are certainly strong developments in within the scope of humanitarian use, such as those pertaining to prosthetics for veterans and such, there are a few concerns which have been raised by certain parties. Primarily, the arguments are that (a) with the abilities of the Desktop 3D Printer that advancement in unregulated weapons could become an issue (see the Guardian) and (b) that with more optimisation of the workplace through electronics that the workforce will suffer (see the arguments in Newsweek). Yet, there have always been arguments when new ideas and technology have been introduced into the world. There are just some who fear change. Where it may be true that some will use 3D Printers for ill purposes, the majority will not do so. In the whole scope of advancements, the general vision is one in which these printers work alongside the 3D artist, the inventor, and the problem solvers, removing the restrictions and minimising the frustrations that commonly arise.
The year is but half way through and it will be interesting to see how the developments in our world, especially those involving trade, politics, policies, and 3D Printing legislation (meaning the various content allowed or not allowed on public venues), will shape the course of 3D Printing.
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