3D printing has been around for years and has nestled its way into lots of companies' product development processes as a more effective way to produce prototype products, test functional parts, and perhaps even pump out limited-run production parts.
Yet in addition to that so-called serious product development and engineering work, there's a significant number of less serious, but equally important, efforts underway. These are pushing the limits of 3D printing toward more consumer-friendly -- even quirky, some might say -- applications. We're talking 3D-printed chocolate, 3D-printed fabric and clothes, and even 3D-printed body parts.
Click the image below to see 16 examples of some of the more creative 3D printing projects out there.
This 3D printed guitar, one of the many creations of Derek Manson, director at the one.61 product development firm, sports a body made from a polycarbonate polymer along with a central core, which is CNC-machined from wood. (Source: one.61)
@3Drob: I like your point about the speed in which this field is developing. 3D printing and additive manufacturing have been around for a long time and have definitely made progress over the years. But there's been a lot of focus and excitement in the last two years alone--the last one really upping the ante in terms of lowering barriers to entry. I think a lot of that market attention has bred a lot of new developments and the cycle begins. Now that the technology is accessible to more people, there is more atttention as to how you can use it and that again, is driving new innovation.
Well, it won't be the end all for machinists, but I do think it will replace them for some jobs. In fact I am sure will. Ahhh progress. It'll be cheaper I would think though, rather than getting a part machined...that's a good thing.
They can laser scinter (spelling?) metal parts now. They can also post plate plastic parts so it has some of the properties of metal.
I have a friend with a string printer (uses a spool of plastic string as the raw stock, I believe slide 8 was done with a similar printer). It's amazing what you can make with it and how fast this field is developing.
It's scary for machinists. I mean CNC machines costs like $50k then add a guy to run it. With these printers....just the CAD guy could do his job. Just draw it up and print it...no extra costs. Scares me becuase I used to be a machinist.
I wanted to say...they won't ever replace machinists because machinists make high precision parts. Then I thought...I think they print at .007" ...not shabby. I still am not sure how that works out in 3d...for tolerances...but....think about it. If they can print that precise NOW......in a few years it could be down to .0001"......machinists...well their machines aren't that good.
As cool as they may be....and I have not decided yet. I still wonder about metal. If they can do it with plastic now then someone will find a way to do it will metal soon. THAT will be cool! and if they can hold tolerances....I hate to imagine. no more machinists?....ugly thought
As far as the maintenance goes....I think that is yet to be determined. My printers break all the time..I just get a new one. This is new stuff....so yes...treat it well....but I would treat it like every other $5k piece of equipment...with care. Not like a replaceable printer...
Hey Beth. Yes...but think about it for a minute. I can go to the store and buy a new printer cheaper than I can buy ink for it...a regular 2d printer. So yeah the ink is expensive.....all ink is. It will get cheaper....but probably no cheaper than regular ink is. Think about that.
As far as I know, there isn't a "wrong" part. It's just a part without a use yet. Some parts I find other uses for. It may have been made to do one thing, but think hard eough and you can find an alternative use for it. SO I keep everything.
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