3D printing is over 30 years old.
Yes, you read that correctly. The first 3D printer was invented (and patented) during the same era that velour tracksuits were all the rage and the solo artist Michael Jackson dominated the radio airwaves, according to 3D Printing Industry.
While many see 3D printers as a luxury, and perhaps a useless one at that, the incredible technology is convincing the world otherwise.
Here are three examples of some of the most amazing applications of 3D printing and how they’re helping solve some of the world’s largest problems.
If you weren’t already aware, the world’s coral reefs are in danger. “Roughly one-quarter of coral reefs worldwide are already considered damaged beyond repair, with another two-thirds under serious threat,” according to the World Wildlife Federation.
Even though the threats to coral reefs are plenty, 3D printing may be a perfect solution.
The Reef Design Lab is one company that has been making it happen. They’ve created 3D-printed coral made with a porcelain coating and sunk it near existing coral reefs. The results have been quite promising. As planned, the 3D printed reefs have attracted a small amount of marine life back to areas they were once driven from, repopulating it with new life and possibly reversing the negative impact. Talk about a life-saver.
A few years ago, McKinsey & Company published a piece about the four main challenges of tackling the world’s affordable housing challenge. It’s astonishing to think that three out of those four challenges could be solved immediately by 3D printing.
Unsurprisingly, the alleged “World’s Largest 3D Printer” is capable of printing entire houses in the same manner 3D printers can print little plastic knick-knacks for your desk. The biggest difference is that these houses aren’t made from flimsy plastic. This huge 3D printer uses materials like “mud, clay, water, dirt and natural fibers, avoiding the expense and environmental consequences of cement.” 3D printing is looking to be an extremely low-cost solution to an incredibly important issue.
Medical researchers at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre have developed both a new technique and a new material to create 3D prints of human tissue that mimic both the form and the function of real human tissue. What’s most ingenious about this isn’t necessarily the technique, but the material the scientists are using. This unique system “combines a bio-degradeable plastic which gives the structure and a water-based gel which contains the cells and encourages them to grow,” according to the BBC.
With the help of 3D printing, patients may not have to rely solely on organ donors to replace or repair damaged body parts, therefore reducing significantly the risks, mainly organ rejection, usually associated with transplants.
Skin in the game
As the technology becomes more precise and the list of supported 3D printing materials grows more diverse, we can only guess what’s next. At Brewer Science, we’re constantly developing products and processes to support the brilliant scientists and engineers who are trying to find it, and it’s proving to be pretty cool.