3D printing has been around for much longer than you might think; almost 40 years in fact. But it's only recently that the potential of this technology has begun to be realized, advances in sensors, software and materials mean that the most incredible objects can now be produced with a 3D printer.
We here at Bored Panda have put together a list of things that people have made with 3D printing, and your jaw will drop with the complexity and size of some objects. From houses and cars to prosthetic limbs and photographs brought to life, scroll down below to check out the absolute coolest things people have created with this awesome technology, and let us know what you think in the comments!
Toucan With A Reconstructed Beak Done Throughout 3D Printing
How much do you really know about 3D printing? Here are some cool facts about the technology that may have passed you by.
According to All That 3D, 3D printers have different ways of making a 3D printing idea come to life. 3D printing technologies include Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Stereolithography (SLA or SL) and Selective laser sintering (SLS).
"FDM 3D printers melt plastic filaments and deposit the plastic in layers until it fills up the model. There are two types of plastics that are popularly used in FDM technology, namely ABS and PLA. The former is made from oil-based resources and is sturdy. Meanwhile, the latter is made from plant-based resources and is biodegradable. Most 3D printers that you can find for home use are FDM 3D printers because they are more affordable."
"SLA 3D printers use resin for its materials. Unlike FDM it builds the prototype by using a laser to cure the resin one layer at a time. Basic stereolithography includes supports that must be manually removed from the part after 3D printing. SLA 3D printers are more costly than FDM printers but they deliver better results."
"SLS 3D printers also use a different approach than FDM and SLA. It uses a laser to sinter powdered metal. By binding the powder together it creates a solid structure. After sintering each layer together, the structure drops and the next layer will be built on top of it."
A Neighbor 3D Printed A Walker For His Crippled Little Buddy
When 3D printing first came out the printers were too expensive to buy just for fun around the house. These days though 3D printing has become a trend and more and more manufacturers produce 3D printers, meaning they are become more accessible to regular people.
"If you examine the 3D printing market today you will find tons of 3D printers brands that offer different features," All That 3D writes. "Some are packed with powerful functionalities and are offered at a much higher price. Others offer the basic functions and are sold at a much cheaper price. However, in the coming years, you can expect more powerful 3D printers at a very affordable price."
3D printing first used plastic as a material, but as the technology progresses more materials are being utilized. Now you can 3D print using things like ceramic, gold, silver, titanium, gypsum and even biological substances.
"With biological substances producing prosthetics, organs and tissues through 3D printing are possible. In fact, in different instances, medical professionals 3D print an ear and a jaw. 3D printing artificial heart, kidney and liver are in the works. If 3D printing organs will be a success in the near future then the agonizing wait for a heart, kidney or liver transplant will be significantly reduced."
"As for the other 3D printing materials, you are free to create dresses, shoes, drones, bicycles, vehicles or even houses. With 3D printing, your imagination is your only limitation."
3D-Printed Classical Paintings That Let The Blind “See” Famous Art For The First Time
Despite the speed and convenience that 3D printing offers (imagine being able to print any needed object in your home instead of going out to buy it?), there are ethical dilemmas too. 3D printers have the potential to make the world better or worse, depending on how we choose to use the technology.
"3D printers have already produced a 3D printed prosthetics including a human ear and jaw. Scientists are now working to 3D print embryonic stem cells, hearts, kidneys, liver and other organs. However, 3D bioprinting raises ethical issues including justice in access to health care, testing for safety and efficiency, and whether professionals have to enhance one’s capacity beyond what is normal for humans."
"Another ethical dilemma concerning 3D printers is 3D printing a weapon. One has already created a working 3D printed gun, which becomes a challenge to the federal laws. How would the government practice gun control if anyone can just 3D print a gun in their homes? Is it safe? This is something that one has to ponder on when weighing the potentials of a 3D printer."
My Brother Is In A Wheelchair And Is Starting His First Job At Google Next Week. People Said I Should Make Him The Google Logo, But That’s No Fun So I Made This For His Desk
I Came Back To My Apartment To Find That My Roommate 3D Printed A T-Rex Shower Head
As you can see, while the benefits of easy customization are great, there are drawbacks too. If a company can simply print any part it needs when making something, what happens to the rest of the supply chain? And what about the use of someone else's design? Entirely new laws around intellectual property and copyright will need to be passed. We have become so used to people specializing in producing certain objects, that a machine that can do it all for us will change society in some ways.
Still the potential is great so it is an exciting time for 3D printers! Check out the rest of the cool and useful examples in the list below, and marvel at the possibilities!