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)
It is fast becoming that mix of fun and wacky (printing chocolate, printing food, printing shoes and furniture) and highly functional (printing UAVs and small machine prototypes). I think Chuck's point about ideas percolating is also critical. People are predisposed to experimenting with this technology and putting it to different uses. Once they do, the enthusiasm is viral, spawing more and more applications and pushing the use-case envelope even further.
I had always envisioned 3D printing being used in applications like the Skil-Bosch FDM on page 6, but as I look at this show, I'm beginning to think consumers will find an amazing number of new ways to use this technology. I agree with you, Beth, the best idea is to bring it to schools and let the ideas percolate up over the years.
Beth, thanks for a fun slideshow. This topic, and technology, is one that invites so many different approaches to use and applications for end products. Slide 7, the UAS, was impressive--looks like it was *not* a prototype. But the chocolate on slide 15 is wild.
It seems like 3D printing is so different and so hard to visualize, until you actually see it at work, that it definitely is one of those areas that captures the attention of young people. I would imagine there are dozens of efforts tucked away in various schools exploring how to exploit this stuff. Every school should have access to the technology as well as part of a drive to keep the attention focused on STEM.
Good point. Today there are many different attempts to create rapid prototyping. I remember about 15-18 years ago supplying sensors to keep the work cavity stable while laser is curing the compound during rapid prototyping. These were the initial steps of 3D printing.
The other night I saw a presentation by a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) team at one of our local high schools. They built their own 3D printer from scratch. They also created a different architecture. The "image" is cured from the bottom and built up that way. This is an interesting technology and, as Beth says, it is coming down rapidly in price.
Virtual Reality (VR) headsets are getting ready to explode onto the market and it appears all the heavy tech companies are trying to out-develop one another with better features than their competition. Fledgling start-up Vrvana has joined the fray.
A Tokyo company, Miraisens Inc., has unveiled a device that allows users to move virtual 3D objects around and "feel" them via a vibration sensor. The device has many applications within the gaming, medical, and 3D-printing industries.
While every company might have their own solution for PLM, Aras Innovator 10 intends to make PLM easier for all company sizes through its customization. The program is also not resource intensive, which allows it to be appropriated for any use. Some have even linked it to the Raspberry Pi.
solidThinking updated its Inspire program with a multitude of features to expedite the conception and prototype process. The latest version lets users blend design with engineering and manufacturing constraints to produce the cheapest, most efficient design before production.
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