Tuesday 11 October 2016

An Exploration of 3D Printing

In our latest blog we will be exploring the remarkable world of 3D printing, and the far-reaching consequences it has on countless industries; from medicine to fashion to aerospace engineering, and even to your own desk!

Early 3D printing began in the 1980's, but over the last few years we have seen unprecedented advancements in printing technology. We can now print, not only in plastics, but in metals, ceramics, bio materials, food, and more!

Print solutions provide a helping hand...

Click here for some examples of the incredible range of things that we are able to print in our day and age. From bikinis, to soil, to selfies, to scans of unborn babies, this list has us wondering what printable prize will be next! One of our favourites is the use of 3D printing to create low cost prosthetic limbs for amputees, such as 16 year old bomb victim Daniel Omar. As 3D printing provides a cheap and quick alternative to traditional prosthetics, we are hopeful it can break down the cost barrier that prevents so many from receiving prosthetic limbs.

Daniel Omar, 16 year old bomb victim from Sudan, with his 3D printed prosthetic arm

In the latest news, Create Orthotics & Prosthetics have launched their first medical grade 3D printer, which is specifically crafted for constructing prosthetics and is able to print both flexible and rigid parts. This will enable practitioners to print from their very own clinics, providing them with the flexibility and resources they need to transform lives. Read more about this story here. 

Medical Grade 3D Printer, by Create O & P

You've got to print a pocket or two!

One area where technology and the arts collide is in the world of printable fashion! Increasingly, designers are integrating 3D printing technology into their work, leading to some breathtaking creations. As well as being able to print rigid structures to embellish designs, we are now able to use thermoplastic polyurethane to print soft materials.

Polyamide Top by Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen (2010 Collection)

The latest unveiling has been the Oscillation Dress, a collaboration of printing titan Stratasys and fashion hotshots threeASFOUR and Travis Fitch. The Oscillation Dress is compromised of 30 individually printed flexible components, which were then woven together around the body to create this spectacular geometrical design. One of the designers, Adi Gil, describes the dress, saying “The stellar parallax of the patterns, the way in which they transform as the viewing angle changes, is only possible through 3D printing”. This piece, inspired by vibrational patterns and geometries, is a stunning reminder of how printing technology is transforming the realms of possibility within the world of fashion.

The Oscillation Dress, by Stratasys, threeASFOUR and Fitch, at New York Fashion Week 2016

The world record goes to.... The Oak Ridge 3D printed Trim-and-Drill Tool!

The Guinness World Record for the largest solid 3D printed structure has recently been clenched by this state of the art Trim-and-Drill aircraft building tool, printed in only 30 hours using carbon fibre and ABS thermoplastics. At a colossal 17.5 ft long, 5.5 ft wide and 1.5 ft tall, it's safe to say you won't be fitting this in your toolbox! However, as testing for it begins on building the Boeing 777X passenger jet, we may be heralding in an exciting new era where 3D printing meets aircraft production! Lead project developer, Vlastimil Kunc, explained how 3D printing enabled this impressive tool to be designed “with less material and without compromising it's function”. Well done to all the team at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the new world record title! Click here for the full story.

And finally... Time to get printing in your home!

If you've been inspired by our latest blog, it may be easier than you think to get printing from your own home. With personal 3D printers available for under $300, never before has the exciting realm of 3D printing been so accessible to the general public.

Da Vinci Mini 3D Printer for under $300, by XYZPrinting

3D printing – which flawlessly fuses together technology and creativity – undoubtedly embodies the future. As advancements in the field continue to be made every day, we look forward to what will be next in the innovative world of 3D printing!

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