Every now and then we like to take a step back and look at the incredible advancements technology has made. This week we are doing that with 3D printing.
Did you know the first 3D printer created dates back to the mid 1980’s? Hard to imagine 3D printing back then, but it’s true. Charles W. Hull was the first inventor of the 3D printing machine, and founded 3D Systems in 1986. Since then, 3D printing has taken huge strides in not only manufacturing, but many other industries. Let’s take a look at what’s new with 3D printing and how it’s being used in various industries.
Household 3D Printers
If you were to walk into one of your friend’s homes and see a 3D printer, you’d be pretty impressed. 3D printers are readily available in the commercial industry, but not a commonplace in homes. However, that is going to change soon. Imagine losing the battery cover to your TV remote. Currently, you'd have to go to the store or order a replacement online and wait. With a household 3D printer, you’ll be able to print off a new battery cover on the spot.
Also, 3D printing currently creates solid, homogeneous structures. That should change as 3D printing technology advances. So back to the TV remote example. Instead of printing off the TV remote battery cover, soon you’ll have the ability to print off the entire remote.
This one may sound a little far fetched, but NASA has been juggling the idea of creating 3D printing of food while in space. As NASA ventures further into space, they will need to make improvements on life support for long deep space missions. One of the improvements is 3D printing for food. NASA’s current food system would not meet the 5-year shelf life for a mission to Mars or other deep space missions. NASA is hoping 3D printing is the resolution.
One of the most intriguing advances in 3D printing technology is the ability to create body parts and tissue. In February, doctors at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine announced they managed to print "living" tissue and organs that function properly when implanted into animals. With more testing and work, this could revolutionize the way we approach surgical replacements.
3D printing is gaining steam and continues to break through barriers we never imagined possible 10 years ago. While very important in the manufacturing industry, 3D printing is branching out into all different industries, from healthcare to your every day local shops.