3D printing has exploded in popularity over the past few years. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s the act of transforming a computer generated image into a physical three dimensional object.
The design is created using 3D modelling software and then ‘printed’ by a device that moulds and layers plastic. Another method involves extruding softer materials like clay and exposing the mould to light to harden the resin in a desired form. Depending on the complexity of the model, a 3D printer can take hours or even days to produce the finished product.
As you can imagine, this technology has led to a number of incredible technological breakthroughs. General Electric, for example, has turned to 3D printing to make plane parts. The company was able to make fuel nozzles for its new Leap jet engines so it made a big investment in 3D printing. In an article published by Time, it was also reported that 3D printing was used to save the life of a three-month-old baby. The technology was used to create a tiny airway splint that helped baby Kaiba breath again after he lost the ability to do it on his own.
Here a few other 3D printed objects featured all over the internet so far.
3D printers have also become incredibly popular among hobbyists who want to create impressive sculptures. These ‘Digital Michelangelo’s’ use software like SketchUp, 3Dtin and OpenSCAD to create models that can be cut with a specialist printer. Companies like Rapid provide the specialist equipment these designers need, as well as multi-coloured filament to create a variety of objects.
A user on Thingiverse created this incredibly detailed Daft Punk helmet that’s available for free download and sharing. If you have the proper equipment, you can print this design yourself and use it as a keychain, fridge magnet or even a gear stick topper. This YouTube user took the idea even further and spent two months creating a scale model version that you can actually wear.
If you’re a budding designer and this article has got you feeling creative, 3Ders.org has an excellent guide that can get you accustomed to the technology.