3D Printing has been in the news a lot in recent months, and for good reason. Though once restricted to the world of manufacturing, engineering and architecture, today 3D printing is available even on the consumer level. As the technology continues to expand and evolve, it is continuously becoming available to an increasing number of people, and the potential applications are virtually limitless. The things that can be printed using 3D printers range from simple plastic figures and mechanical components to amazingly detailed scale replicas of expensive cars and medical-grade implants. With special 3D printers, it’s even possible to print your own chocolate sculptures
What Can You Print with a 3D Printer?
Virtually anything that can be imagined can be printed using a 3D printer. Of course, the exact capabilities are determined by the skill level of the user and the specifications of the printer. Lower end printers intended for home and personal use are generally capable of printing smaller and simpler things than large industrial units.
Professional and Medical Applications
As long as you have a working template, it is possible to print out many functional 3-dimensional objects. For example, manufacturers are using 3D printers to print out their own components rather than waiting for a shipment. For broken parts of machinery, it is even possible to print replacement parts rather than ordering them.
3D printing technology has had a huge impact on the prosthetics industry. Prosthetic limbs can be printed using 3D printers at a fraction of the cost of traditional prosthetics, and they provide the same degree of function. Elsewhere in the medical field, 3D printers are being used to create implants that are tailored to individual patients. There is even promise of being able to print heart valves and human organs.
Medical models have become more affordable and easy to access thanks to 3D printing. 3D printed medical models allow doctors to learn about the human anatomy without the use of cadavers. The accuracy of 3D printed medical models is so great that surgeons can even use them to plan a surgery prior to the patient ever going under the knife.
On the consumer level, 3D printers can be used to create truly amazing things. From toys and games to artwork, electronics and more, consumer grade 3D printers have amazing capabilities. Three-dimensional figures can be created from your child’s drawings, or you can print out elements of the perfect cosplay costume. 3D printers can also be used to design and create jewelry, home décor, cell phone cases and amplifiers, pieces for board games and much, much more.
As the technology for 3D printing continues to improve, more items can be created, and the printers become more affordable on both commercial and consumer levels. Today, virtually anything can be printed using plastic, metal and a variety of other materials. As 3D printers evolve and become more common, one can only imagine what the future holds and what items will eventually be printable.