Jennifer, it seems that everything can be printed with 3D printers. Starting from space application tools to finally wearable clothes. If it's going like that there is no doubt it can print human parts also.
Jenn, I don't know where I saw it (maybe here), but body parts have been printed for surgeons to use to practice for complex operations. These parts have the properties of the human organs from a surgeon's point of view, but are not "real".
On the other hand I have run into a small company that uses a CNC machine. They also us 3D printing for some specialized, one off, parts. They also just make stuff that is fun. I was over one day and they gave me a small Tardis made of a corn based plastic. How's that for new trends?
I don't know if I'd call it a trend but the medical industry is moving forward quickly using 3D printing.
The printed jawbone Jennifer mentioned is cool. I just read on iht.com about living human tissue being printed too. If my ACL-less knees can be effectively re-printed and replaced, I'd take up fencing again.
The body parts are pretty amazing, aren't they, Pubudu? I didn't know much about it until I compiled the slide show and am still pretty blown away by what's being done. It is--literally--changing the face of medicine.
That concept is a bit mind-blowing to me, Pubudu, but I think you're right--it's going to be like ordering glasses or contact lenses...give them your measurements and specifications and get the body part to fit. Wow. What a concept!
I still think there's an opportunity for toy manufacturers (although some might be horrified by that statement). Seems like many kids toys could be 3D-printed and easily assembled. Among toymakers who haven't invested in a lot of manufacturing machinery and tooling, it could be a very low-overhead business. Design the product and send it out as software, to be printed at home.
Great idea, Chuck--3D printed toys. Why would toy manufacturers be so resistant? I guess because it would take business away from more traditional players, eh? And require them to change their processes...but this is where technology is going, so it could be a good thing eventually, as you say, lowering the cost of overhead and maybe even increasing production of new and innovative designs in the future.
Actually, I don't know if toy manufacturers would resist that idea, Liz. I'm just assuming that if I were in that position, and had already invested millions of dollars in tooling, I might not like the thought of someone who sells toys without paying a penny for manufacturing facilities. I'm just surmising...
Well, you're probably right, Chuck. To have to redo everything to support 3D printing/manufacturing would be a little bit difficult and expensive. But I suppose if things trend that way, manufacturers will have to make changes. That is just the way business and innovation work!
3D printing is seen by many high-volume traditional manufacturers more as competition, not as a new tech they might want to convert to themselves. It's not likely that many of them would convert 100% anyway, not with current technology. But some in some industries are likely to begin bringing it inhouse--and are already using specialized D&M service bureaus--for certain components and directly manufactured end-products, such as industrial and aerospace, especially when they're made with metal processes.
I can see how that makes sense, Ann, that they would see it as competition, but it's a shame in a way. I guess it's the usual resistance that comes with having to completely overhaul everything to do it a new way, because this could become the way to manufacture in the future. I think bringing it inhouse is a much better plan to gradually transition rather than be completely resistant to the idea.
There are also other manufacturing methods, such as injection molding and CNC milling, which may be more appropriate for a specific item, or a part of one item. In fact, the 3D-printed camera I wrote about here http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=265687 employs some CNC cutting, and the Gadget Freak camera described here http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1362&doc_id=266251 combined 3D printing with laser cutting. Engineers are already doing this. It's the companies they work for that may need to catch up to what's already happening.
Toys were one of the earliest things to be 3D printed, especially action figures, since they're simple and can be made of cheap materials--but not by the big manufacturers. They are rightly afraid of this technology.
Here's a Kickstarter project for DIY 3D printed action figure kits: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gogodynamo/modibot-mo-diy-action-figures-with-3d-printed-acce
Speaking of what can be printed with 3D printers...I just wrote a story yesterday about 3D-printed surfboards! It should be posted soon. As a surfer I found this to be pretty incredible, even though I am still a bit of a purist and think if a board is going to be custom-made, it's better to be hand crafted. But still it's yet another example of the size and scope of this technology and its possibilities.
3D printing surfboards makes a lot of sense from the customization standpoint, although I don't know about the materials angle. Are the materials even close to standard, non-3D printed ones? And size--wow, that's big.
Quite a few, if memory serves me right. Han Solo, Princess Leia (of course) and Luke Skywalker for sure, but I think I also had C3P0 and R2D2. All the good guys...no one from the "dark side" for me. :)
I think it's the toy makers like Mattel that are the ones Chuck and others were mentioning who'd be nervous about 3D printing in the hands of the masses. Since those big manufacturers are doing huge volumes, it's unlikely they'd be interested in using this technology: it's not ideal (at least not yet) for turning out massive quantities of identical objects. We discussed this here http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=262205
One would guess a big goal of the printer manufacturers is to get into the home market. But to do that, I would expect people to desire a printer to be flexible with regard to matierals. I would not want a printer that could handle only one type of material. A printer that can fab both hard items and soft, or a mix of them both is the one that will take off.
TJ, there's one commercial multi-materials printer so far, and it prints both hard and soft polymers. It's the ObjetConnex, now owned by Stratasys. We've written about it a few times: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=265793 http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=260118 http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=247146
Pubudu, many items are discarded because they are missing one component. Sure, a board game could be played with a substitute piece, but why not fab an exact replacement?
Have a table that isn't level and is stabilized by a wad of paper? Fab a foot shim that fits exactly, and can be permanently attached.
Reproduce a cabinet handle you saw in an antique store, and fab enough for your entire kitchen.
Set your imagination free.
Versatile, still I believe that it Is a unwanted investment for a house. What will be the frequency of need those items that you have listed, Still I feel buying those items from outside will be much cheaper than 3D printing.
Pubudu, the same could be said of each of the steps in the evolution of a regular paper printer, from dot-matrix, to laser, to ink-jet, to color laser. They are all inexpensive enough now that most householdss have at least one color inkjet, and sometimes several.
Some company is going to roll out the first truly inexpensive, useful (multi-material) retail fabbers exactly the way HP, Canon, and Epson did with color inkjet printers.
It will be only a few short years before people wondered how they got along without a household fabber.
3D printers are definitely fascinating everyone who just love the idea of being able the power to manufacture products on their own. I think that It might even lead to peope starting their own home business by manufacturing either engineering parts or decorative items. It would certainly bring a big change in the mind set of people.
I let them draw stuff up using SketchUp Make and let them print it out, no matter how it turns out they are amazed watching it work. We should all be letting the kids learn this even at the youngest ages, my kids are 6 and 11 years old.
3D printing Burlesque dresses & Bras and ANY kind of clothing just borders on The Absurd. Reel the fashion-designers back in, before they give this GREAT technology a bad rap. I may sound like an Old Curmudgeon too, but who do you know ANYWHERE that would ever purchase a ridged garment-? Even the flexible rubber-simulants available today would not be a good application. There is No Market potential. The fashion Industry is just trying to make a bold statement of their cutting edge capability. But its not trendy or edgy; Its just Crap. Sorry.
SLS cleats on the other hand, I totally 'get'. I've produced SLS prototype housings previously, and they are rigid, tough and robust; I once placed one into a -30°C environmental chamber for 2 hours, then extracted it and immediately smacked it with a hammer on a concrete surface. I expected it to shatter into tiny pieces, but it did not even fracture. 3D SLS is 'good-to-go' for production, but the cost per piece is still pretty high. Can't forget about Engineering Economics to make the market potential get realized.