4 Ways 3D Printing is Changing the World
When we build scale models, we slowly but surely build something amazing out of nothing, but we typically start with all the pieces we need. However, with the introduction of 3D printers, the ability to quickly build solid 3-dimensional objects has become a global phenomenon. For most people 3D printing is still limited to creating small household objects, toys, or replacement components, but we’ve compiled a list of the more innovative uses of this amazing technology.
3D Printed Prosthetics
It was once an expensive and difficult practice to create fully functioning prosthetic body parts for people who had lost limbs, but 3D printing is increasingly changing the lives of adults and children alike.
In late 2015, an exhibition held in Norwich Castle saw volunteers offering free 3D printed prosthetic hands to children in need. Several families attended the event, including Mark Stevens, whose daughter Frankie was born without a left hand.
3D printed prosthetics mean that another limb can be created quickly and affordably
Mr Stevens said, “It is incredible what can be done. If she could become the girl with the robot hand rather than the girl with no hand, it would put a positive spin on things.”
The artificial hand, aka the Raptor Reloaded, only costs £10 for materials, and allows the user to grip through the use of carefully designed elastic chords. The trouble with child prosthetics is that the price can become excessive due to regular replacements caused by the child’s growth, but 3D printed prosthetics mean that another limb can be created quickly and affordably.
For a lot of people a pet is like another member of the family, and as such, when they get injured we want to do anything we can to help ease their pain and suffering. Historically, if they were unfortunate enough to lose a limb, there was little that could be done to help them. But 3D printing changes that now – makeshift wheelchairs or prosthetic legs allow them to run and play as though nothing ever happened.
Prosthetic legs allow them to run and play as though nothing ever happened
In September 2015, a small kitten named Cassidy was found in a Canadian forest, starving, missing his hind legs, and close to death. He was delivered to a non-profit organisation, Tiny Kittens, who messaged on Facebook asking for some assistance. 17-year-old students Josh Messmer and Isaiah Walker responded to the plea, designing and building a bespoke wheelchair. With the aid of his tiny wheelchair, Cassidy was able to walk again, and has steadily recovered.
Medical science is perhaps the biggest area that 3D printing is having a positive impact, with innovative and forward-thinking doctors embracing the technology to assist in previously impossible or difficult surgeries, and in some cases creating living body parts to explore new medical realms.
The below video shows how a Chinese infant received the world’s first successful 3D printed cranium reconstruction – a ground breaking procedure which allowed the 3-year-old girl, Han Han, to finally lift her skull without assistance from others. The process required the creation of three titanium mesh implants to replace the top of her skull, with Han Han expected to make a full recovery.
Buildings Made Easy
Constructing a house or office building is typically a drawn out, laborious process, but creative companies are embracing 3D printing to design and build properties in a fraction of the time and energy.
In an effort to effectively combat the global housing crisis, the World’s Advanced Saving Project (WASP), an Italian engineering company, created a 20-foot wide, 40-foot tall metal 3D printer named Big Delta. Using the additive manufacturing procedure (layering), the printer can build entire houses out of sustainable materials such as clay and dirt, and will be particularly useful for disaster or war relief projects.
Though our idbox 3D printer doesn’t quite have the capacity to build wheelchairs, human hearts, or a block of flats, it is still capable of building a wide variety of fantastic products. If you could 3D print anything, what would you build? Let us know in the comments!