Seeing what you wish for materialize in front of your eyes like you never had before is what 3D printing gives us. 3D printing means almost anything you can design with a computer, you can turn into an actual physical object that you can hold.
In June of 2011 an 83-year-old Belgium woman had reconstructive surgery on her jaw. The interesting thing about the surgery is that it was not an ordinary surgery. Her jaw was made of what we used to think could be impossible. The woman’s jaw was created in a few hours from a 3D printer. Traditional reconstructive surgery takes up to 20 hours and the patient will normally have to stay up to four weeks in the hospital. The Belgium woman went through four hours of operation and was able to go home after four days. Her lower jaw was badly infected and needed to be removed but with the 3D printer it became the first custom-made implant. It was created by taking a detailed scan of her jaw bone, and then an exact duplicate was made from the scan on a 3D printer using lasers to fuse together titanium powder by heat. The jaw was then coated in a bioceramic coating to make it compatible with her tissue.
The German 3D printer manufacturer, EOS, is able to create metal objects as strong as cast parts and as often as artificial parts. Majority of their printers are sold for production manufacturing. Using the EOS 3D printer, around 450 individual dental crowns and bridges were built using metal alloy cobalt-chrome.
A file-sharing company, The Pirate Bay introduced “Physibles”. Physibles is a new content category which is designed to allow the pass of physical objects to one another via the Internet. The term refers to data files that are actually able to become physical objects via 3D printing technology. A company called Made in Space is working to help astronauts print out parts such as wrenches and nails for spacecraft and space stations while in orbit. Several 3D printers come with a camera used to take pictures of an object from multiple sides and then have a computer turn this into a 3D model that can be printed.
Australian designer Andrew Simpson of Vert Design, Shapeways, printed a 3D handset for iPhones. New York-based Shapeways operates where buyer’s can purchase personalized objects or upload their own deigns. This service started by printing hobbyist objects but now is used to create commercial objects, such as customized Smartphone cases. Objects are able to be printed in materials, such as sterling silver at a fraction of the cost of other processes.
A few affordable 3D printers are Makerbot, which offers a kit that you can put together yourself and Cube, which includes a user-friendly design and operation. Cube is accompanied by an online service used to order remote printing of objects and delivery to those who do not own the printer yet. An older and cheaper 3D printer is the RepRap. This can be used to manufacture components necessary to build another RepRap. The design and software of the RepRap is an open source giving the potential for anyone to modify it and improve the version.
If people can print from home there will not be a need for the manufacturing industry as much so with 3D printing on the rise this raises much concern for existing manufacturing businesses. Another concern is taking unknowingly or willing violating on someone’s patent. With the over going improvement on 3D printing it seems this will be more common in a few years. We would not even have to be in this world to manufacture our own designs.
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