3D printing has made a splash across multiple industries, but it’s still in its formative years. As advancements continue to develop, it will impact the future of consumerism and the world as we know it.
While it is often associated to prosthetics or creating models, 3D printing has other uses that can contribute to the future. Here are some predictions on how 3D printing will advance.
1. Printing to get faster
3D printing, invented at MIT, has been around since the 1980s, but the printing process is relatively slow. Advancements in capabilities allow the continuous printing of polymers at rapid speeds — 40 to 50 times faster than conventional stereolithography 3D printing.
Previously, the time to build a project might have taken a few days. With new technology, you can have a finished part within 5-10 minutes. Modern 3D printers can now print a centimeter every minute.
2. Save the oceans
We’re all aware of the growing threat to our environment, including the bleaching of coral reefs. What if 3D printing could help promote sustainability? On the Caribbean island of Bonaire, Harbour Village Beach Club and ocean preservationist Fabien Cousteau have teamed up to create 3D printed coral reefs.
This artificial coral has the same shape, texture and chemical makeup as organic coral, attracting marine life such as floating baby coral polyps, algae and crabs. This technology has a more significant impact on the ocean than the current coral restoration process, which is labor-intensive.
3. Personalization of medication
3D printing will simplify the process to create drugs that are effective and easy to consume. This technology could be the solution for people who struggle with their current medication regimen.
ZipDose #3DP technology platform is redefining fast-melt for #pharma. With the fastest fast-melt/high drug load capability available, 3DP enables powerful formulation solutions for NCE product candidates and LCM market enhancements strategies. White Paper: https://t.co/yV45x6irXv pic.twitter.com/eVAzpLSlcm
— Aprecia Pharmaceuticals (@Aprecia3DP) August 9, 2018
3D printing allows drugs to be customizable for specific patients and users, throwing out the one-size-fits-all approach. One manufacturer, Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, claims that they designed a pill more porous than others, meaning it will dissolve instantly when added to liquid. With a sip of water, the medication melts in your mouth.
4. Food printing
3D printers have the potential to create a meal one layer at a time. In the future, your next dinner party won’t require a trip to the grocery store. Instead, you’ll plug in a 3D printer and add capsules with edible ingredients. You’ll be happy to know that chocolate has also been made available for 3D printing.
Unlike typical food, these printer cartridges are long-lasting and potentially made from sustainable materials, like insect proteins. In fact, many believe 3D printing could be the solution to feeding the disenfranchised.
5. Revolutionize skin grafts
At the University of Toronto, a team of researchers developed a portable 3D printer that applies skin tissue directly onto a patient’s wounds. Compared to a conventional skin graft, this technique doesn’t require the removal of healthy skin elsewhere from the body or a donor.
Instead, experts can use bio-ink skin tissue, which weighs less than two pounds. While the tech works on a pig’s wounds, medical researchers have yet to test it on humans.
6. Aid in recovery efforts
When another state or country experiences a natural disaster, the only response is to transport goods to them physically. This process takes time and money, both of which are limited resources during an emergency. 3D printing could be a new way to get essential goods and services to a specific disaster area.
With the technology, communities will be able to print the tools and equipment needed to rebuild infrastructure and recover. One Nepal-based non-profit organization called Field Ready has already used 3D printing technology to aid efforts after a 2015 earthquake struck the Himalayan nation.
7. Housing to get cheaper
Imagine you can print the home of your dreams — no matter how intricate or outrageous. With 3D printing, that possibility may soon become a reality. It’s possible to create 3D-printed buildings by layering thousands of rows of concrete or bio-plastics on top of one another.
This technology will change how we create buildings, as well as how we think of them. Experts believe this method could be the solution to housing concerns in low-income and natural disaster areas.
8. Printing makeup
Today, most cosmetics are in plastic containers that end up in landfills. One inventor, Grace Choi, is trying to disrupt the industry with her new 3D makeup printer, called Mink.
Using a thin sheet of powder paper, a user can print a makeup palette in just 15 seconds. It will provide consumers with virtually unlimited color options. This printer can create 16.7 million different hues.
View this post on Instagram
ULTRA portable – only 2.2lbs and 8” x 6” x 4”. Travel and store with ease . . . #mink #minkbeauty #minkprinter #makeupprinter #makeup #makeupaddict #makeupaddiction #instabeauty #beauty #diybeauty #makeupjunkie #makeuplover #makeupartist #beautytips #makeuptips #beautyjunkie #beautyblog #makeupartistsworldwide #makeuptutorial #beautyblogger
3D printing is still developing as a technology, but the possibilities are endless. The future is sure to bring a variety of advancements, from personalized medical solutions to affordable housing. How do you think 3D printing will change in the years to come?
Photo credits: The feature image has been done by ZMorph Multitool 3D Printer.
Sources: American Micro Industries / Avi Reichental (Forbes) / Jasmine Solana (Futurism) / Dominic Basulto (The Washington Post) / Jacopo Prisco (CNN) / Gordon Gottsegen (CNET) / Cin-Yee Ho (3DPrint.com) / Brie Barbee (Digital Trends) / George Driver (Elle) / Field Ready / Mink / Aprecia Pharmaceuticals