5 amazing things you can create with a 3D printer
3D printing is made possible by fusing layers upon layers of materials made from durable plastics and metals based on a template designed with a 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) software. Each layer is about 0.1mm thick and consists of liquid, powder and sheet materials. Manufacturers are producing these templates so that people can print their own products.
Objects as diverse as working guns and hanging lights have been printed so far, while the producers of Skyfall even made a model replica of a 1960 Aston Martin DB5 to crash and burn for the silver screen, rather than having to destroy a real vintage car.
Here are five of the most amazing things people have created with a 3D printer:
- An office building
- A guitar
- A drone
An office building
Earlier this year a 250-square-metre office building was unveiled in Dubai, which seems par for the course as the UAE capital is a leading business hub of the Arab world. This was no ordinary building, however, as a 3D printer was used to create it layer-by-layer with a special cement mixture. Over a period of 17 days the building was printed at a cost of around £120,000.
The developers of this world-first 3D-printed building hired one person to monitor the 3D printing process, seven people to install building components on-site and 10 electricians and specialists to take care of the engineering. In total, this produced a saving of 50% of normal working costs, which is alarming news for the construction industry, but a boon for 3D printing.
Back in 2012, industrial designer Scott Summit used 3D printing technology to create the world’s first 3D printed acoustic guitar. This revolutionary instrument was printed out of very fine nylon powder, giving the guitar a smooth appearance similar to ceramic. Not only did it look magnificent, but its wide tonal range meant it sounded great, too.
Summit’s experiment has opened a world of possibility to the music industry, and avid guitarists can use 3D printing to make replicas of the guitars of their rock idols.
Local Motors made huge headlines in 2014 when it revealed the Strati, which was almost entirely 3D-printed. Many journalists passed this off as a media stunt, but the company returned a year later with the LM3D, a commercially available 3D-printed car.
Nearly all of the body panels and chassis of the LM3D are 3D printed, and Local Motors currently use a blend of 80% ABS plastic and 20% carbon fibre. The company’s ultimate goal is to be able to make future cars with 90% of 3D-printed materials.
Imagine a machine that could whip up any sugary concoction you desire – a Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory in real life. US confectionary giant Hershey’s have done just that with the creation of a CocoJet 3D printer that produces uniquely-designed chocolate.
Sweet-toothed consumers flick through a library of 3D graphics on an iPad to get the machine to whip up a variety of edible designs, including hexagons and intricate patterns.
In 2014 a research team at the University of Virginia revealed a military-grade 3D printed drone for the US Department of Defense. Three years in the works and the size of a remote-controlled plane, the aircraft cost just $2,500 to make using off-the-shelf parts.
The design can be modified and reprinted easily so that it has the ability to carry things like sensors and cameras, or fly slower or faster.