Five ways 3D printing will change the world

A 3D printer can create almost any everyday object:  from plastic toys, metal machine parts or even a replacement human body part – sky is the limit.

3D printers are a new generation of printers that can build an object layer-by-layer from a digital file that you’ve created on your computer.

A 3D printer can create almost any everyday object: from plastic toys, metal machine parts or even a replacement human body part – sky is the limit.

While the technology has been around for decades, it’s only recently begun to really take off due to 3D printers becoming more affordable and accessible.  

With the advent of fast internet, the worldwide 3D printing industry is expected to grow to almost $13 billion by 2018, and top $21 billion by 2020, according to Wohlers Report 2014.

Here are five things currently being created with this technology:

1. Printed body parts

With its ability to create custom prosthetics and even living tissue, 3D printing could revolutionise the healthcare industry.

The advent of 3D bio-printing means that layer-by-layer 3D viable tissue can be created and used in transplants and scientific research.

3D printed bionic ears are also a possibility with a team in Princeton combining cartilage with electronics to create a fully functioning ear.  Super human powers just might be on the horizon.

2. Musical instruments

While they may not yet be able to compete with the soulful quality of their original counterparts, 3D printing is opening up a world of musical innovation.

From trumpets to guitars and even completely new creations, you don’t need to be an expert to make your very own instrument. Here are some incredible DIY musical creations to inspire.  

3. Tailor-made toys

Gone are the days when kids were unable to customise their toys.

The toy industry is one of the biggest beneficiaries of 3D printing technology. With a number of toy giants jumping aboard (Mattel, Hasbro, Disney to name a few), creating your child’s dream toy can be done with the click of a button. So why settle for a standard action figure when you can create one that sports your very own face?

From body parts to toys, the possibilities with 3D printing are endless.

4. Fashion apparel and accessories

Fashion has always embraced new techniques and technologies, and 3D printing offers a revolutionary way to personalise your style or create show-stopping pieces.

Big brands like Adidas and Nike are experimenting with the technique to create customised shoes. Katy Perry is even getting in on the action by 3D printing parts of her back-up dancers’ costumes.   

5. 3D printed drones

Why not add another new technological craze into the mix – 3D printed drones.

With the popularity of drones on a meteoric rise, it makes sense for their production to become even more affordable and accessible. A research team at the University of Virginia has created a 3D printed drone for the Department of Defense – it can carry a 680 gram (1.5 pound) payload and if crashed, can be reprinted the next day for USD 2500.