How far can 3D printing go in its reach for potential products?

3D printed buildings

Far from being merely a prototyping or small parts solution, 3D printing has in recent years been used to create a variety of practical structures, from bridges to offices and other large scale structures. And why not, when options like custom CNC machining can springboard items into production so much faster and more cheaply than traditional methods. There are other obvious benefits, like shorter construction times, sustainability, and increased flexibility in design. Moreover, a service like 3D printing Los Angeles brings production closer to the customer, reducing travel time and costs. In 2018, a family in France became the first in the world to move into a 3D printed house.

3D printed bones

The need for human donors to provide pieces of bone for implant into victims of accident or disease could soon be a thing of the past. It’s always been a difficult process, demanding absolute precision, and often requiring the removal later on of supporting metal plates or other fastenings. But with the use of scanners and printing processes controlled by sophisticated computers, that absolute precision is guaranteed. The potential for previously unviable human reconstruction is an exciting prospect for 3D printing technology, and huge advances in development have already been made.

3D printed furniture

There will always be those who want their furniture built by craftsmen using traditional materials, and rightly so. But the potential for a whole new 3D printing design era when it comes to things to sit on, eat from and put things inside, is exhilarating. The manufacturing flexibility offered by this expanding technology will doubtless encourage new designers to think even further outside the box. Spanish company Nagami exhibited a selection of 3D printed chairs in 2018, and some remarkable designs by Peter Donders in Belgium already have a market. In Amsterdam, an ongoing research project aims to recycle plastic household waste and use it to print street furniture for public spaces. 

3D printed art

It comes as no surprise that the art world is experiencing a shakeup call, too, as more and more artists begin to explore what 3D printing has to offer. Sculpture in particular is suited to this contemporary technology, and a little CAD experience and a printer are becoming as important as specialized artistic skills. 3D artist Joshua Harker is already renowned for his remarkable cutaway skulls, while Kate Blacklock has gone beyond plastic filaments and uses clay to produce 3D printed pottery. Where will it end? It probably won’t!

3D printed fashion

Where art goes, fashion often follows. Generally more suitable for rigid applications, designers working with engineers are overcoming the flexibility issues with a growing number of innovations, along with some clever mesh designs. The Pangolin 3D printed dress is the result of a collaboration between artistic trio threeASFOUR, Stratasys, and architect Travis Fitch. To create the necessary flexibility it was made using a nano-enhanced elastomer printing material. So how long will it be before we’re printing our own clothes at home? You can probably hold your breath on this one.