7 Amazing Things You Can 3D Print

1. Human organs

Scientists can already print skin , kidneys , liver tissue , heart and a number of other organs. True, while they are usually smaller than real ones, and therefore suitable only for clinical trials or surgical practice. But in the future, they should seriously help in the fight against various diseases. For example, they want to use 3D skin as a means for healing wounds. And full-fledged printed hearts or kidneys can shorten the queue for donor organs and save more lives: hundreds of thousands of people need transplants every year.

3D organs are created from real living cells: either from adult stem cells or from a sample taken directly from a person. They play the role of ink, which the printer heads put on an organic or synthetic base. The correct shape, texture and tissue layers are programmed based on the results of the scan – this ensures maximum copy accuracy. The main challenge facing scientists now is to find an opportunity to create organs that can function inside the body: to contact the nervous and circulatory systems and perform their tasks correctly.

2. Bones and cartilage

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But they are already used by surgeons in real life. For example, 3D implants are used to replace femurs. There are also successful examples of transplantation of printed skull bones and auricular cartilage. The next step in the application of this technology may be the replacement of small damaged areas right inside the person. Such a 3D printing method, according to the researchers, will speed up the process and save in cases where speed of reaction is critical, for example, in the treatment of bone cancer.

3D printers also come in handy in dentistry. They simplify the process of creating crowns, bridges and prostheses: the specialist does not need to select sizes manually – the model is formed and printed on the basis of images of the oral cavity. And these implants can also be used as temporary ones: this helps patients get used to new teeth and make sure that they fit well in the mouth. The technology is safe: special photopolymer resins are used for printing. They are strong, retain an aesthetic shade for a long time and do not irritate the mucous membrane.

3. Dentures

Hands, feet and other parts of the body. Due to the simplified manufacturing process, 3D prostheses cost less and are created faster. In the standard scheme, you first need to make a cast of the remaining part of the patient’s limb, then cast a trial version from plaster, then try it on, correct inaccuracies, and only then proceed to create the finished product. In the 3D version, it is enough to collect measurements, correct the model on the screen and print it.

However, such prostheses do not necessarily perform an exclusively cosmetic function. 3D hands with touch control , that is, a reaction to body signals, or with a vibrational response to touching objects already exist. In addition, it is easier to replace a printed artificial limb after wear with a similar one by re-creating it according to the saved layout.

3D prostheses can be used not only in humans. For example, in Australia, an artificial leg for a dog was created on a printer.

The speed and cost of producing 3D prostheses is a chance for many children: conventional options are too quickly rendered useless due to the active growth of the child. And a printed model can be created even for a one-year-old patient who is just learning to move: scientists from Lincoln University have already presented such a development.

4. Food

Brands use 3D printers to model future products or create unusual shapes for everyday food. Creative serving options are also used in some restaurants. In 2016, a whole restaurant temporarily opened in London, the menu of which consisted entirely of dishes obtained using 3D technology.

But the choice of appearance is not the only plus of 3D food printing. Due to the possibility of virtual programming of the composition, the dishes created by the printer are easy to adjust to the desired nutritional value: control the calorie content, the amount of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins. This will make life easier for people who are on a strict diet for medical reasons. Also, the printer will allow you to cook the usual food, but from budget ingredients. For example, to form a fish fillet from seaweed. This, in theory , should help solve the problem of world hunger.

In the future, 3D printers can make the diet more ethical. For example, they will make it possible to stop killing animals for the production of meat products. One of the alternative options here is the creation of meat entirely based on plant components.

Another way is to form “ink” for a 3D printer from a meat sample taken from an animal by biopsy. A device for printing using this technology was created at the Moscow State University of Food Production (MGUPP). True, for a 3D printer to be able to make a whole steak from a tiny piece of fabric, it takes several months. First, the sample is cultured in a bioreactor. When there are enough cells, they begin to form the base – from ingredients of plant origin. After that, animal and vegetable “ink” are alternately applied to it. As a result, the product retains both taste and texture.

The MGUPP 3D printer is capable of printing not only meat, but also, for example, chocolate or dough. University researchers plan to experiment with the technology further to expand their product range.

5. Clothes and shoes

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Things created using 3D printing are produced by many brands. For example, Nike made the upper part of the sneakers on the printer, and Adidas made the midsole . Dresses by Dutch designer Iris van Herpen, sewn using this technology, are regularly worn by celebrities. Austrian Julia Koerner also works with the printer – accessories that she created in collaboration with costume designer Ruth Carter, worn by Angela Bassett in the movie “Black Panther”.

Fashion 3D printing expands the creative possibilities of designers, allowing for futuristic shapes that are difficult to achieve with conventional sewing methods. However, this is not the main advantage of the technology. A 3D printer reduces resource consumption: a thing or its element immediately appears in the right size – no extra shreds and threads remain. In addition, 3D fabric requires less water to make than cotton and can be quickly created from recycled or recycled materials. In the future, printing things can destroy fast fashion, allowing you to create them piece by piece, ideally suited to the parameters and requests of the client.

6. Laboratory instruments

Printed instruments, due to the speed and cost of production, can help in research in poor countries. Now there are several projects that create budget microscopes for diagnosing malaria in Tanzania.

3D technologies make science more accessible to amateurs as well. For example, Australian researchers have developed a microscope attachment for a smartphone and made the files available to the public: anyone who has a printer can create such a device.

7. Home

There are buildings with printed walls around the world, including in Russia . 3D printers make it possible to build houses in a few days, while reducing costs and not requiring the participation of an entire construction team. Large special equipment is also not needed – you can work even in hard-to-reach places. The construction printer itself weighs a couple of tons, so transporting it to the point is quite realistic.

3D printing expands the creative possibilities: the machine can print curved walls, helical supports and other complex shapes. And the variability of building materials in this technology is large: concrete, sand, volcanic ash or eco-materials like rice husks can act as “ink”.

With the help of 3D printers, not only buildings are erected, but also other structures, such as pedestrian bridges. You can walk along these, for example, in Amsterdam or the Spanish city of Alcobendas .

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