3D printers are the future of manufacturing, giving all of us the ability to make pretty much whatever we like, from a printed Aston Martin DB4 to human body parts: a hearing human ear has already been printed and a replacement pelvis was printed recently.
So, with the manufacturing world set to change and be put into our very own hands, what have people been making at home with 3D printers? Will everything we make be unique?
How do 3D printers work?
The journey begins with an object being digitally built in a 3D modelling computer program called CAD (Computer Aided Design); this tells the printer how to create your latest wonder. Alternatively, an object can be scanned into the program with a 3D scanner, but this depends on the printer’s capabilities.
Once the file has been made and uploaded to the printer, it sets off constructing the upload by layering the material. Some do it by melting a material such as nylon or titanium layer by layer; others will layer a material in powder form which then hardens.
These printers could not only change how the manufacturing world works, but also our buying habits, so it will be interesting to see how things develop!
There are companies that claim they can 3D print entire buildings, with one company in the UK claiming they could construct a building in just 3 weeks with a single day for assembly (read more about this here) and a company in the Netherlands are building a house on the canals of Amsterdam. The work for this house on the canal has now started, take a look at how it is being done.
That’s the method and here’s the madness
We now know how 3D printing works, but what have people been using their printers for and how has it helped them at home?
Starting small we have this geometric Klein bottle opener. Compact, contemporary and useful, this bottle opener doubles up to make a nice ornament.
Whilst we are on the subject of bottles, you can now make your own, unique champagne flutes, wine glasses or even pint glasses. A clear plastic is used to create these posh beverage holders that are bound to impress guests at a dinner party, especially when you say, ‘Oh yes, I made these today as well as dinner.’
‘But what do I put the coffee in after dinner?’ Don’t worry, of course you can 3D print mugs! Here’s a whole collection of glazed ceramic mugs from Cunicode, who is creating a mug a day with a 3D printer.
Any Nintendo fans out there? This 3D printed Boo Ghost planter is brilliant. This is the sort of thing I would kit my kitchen out with; Boo Ghost planter, Mario mixing bowls, Bowser cereal bowls and Princess Peach egg cups (Only one of these exists…for now).
If you prefer a more sophisticated game than the likes of Mario World, then this 3D printed chess set is right up your street. You can have these in any colour you like from FreshFiber and if you own a 3D printer, you can download the file so you don’t have to do anything, except press ‘print’.
Maybe you’re looking for something for the living room? These stools also from FreshFiber are a beautiful mesh design with butterfly detail. These would look great in a shabby chic living room.
This next item is one of my favourite 3D printed items. A lamp shade that looks like a mini city is protruding out of it. This would enhance the appearance of a modern apartment or a high-tech office with its futuristic flair.
I like this pure white, Greek God Atlas holding up what is becoming a giant part of everybody’s world – an iPad or tablet. It’s a pretty stylish tablet stand don’t you think?
Furniture is slightly larger than other 3D printed goods here, but as the printers become more advanced and bigger, the easier it is to create goods such as this ‘Endless Flow’ rocking chair; how long until we are all printing out our own furniture?
There is a project that is in progress to create a greener future utilising 3D printers to enhance the way we drive; it is called Urbee. Urbee is destined to be an affordable eco-friendly car, made of 3D printed parts. Find out more about Urbee here.
My final stop is NASA as they have commissioned a printer that could cure world hunger, as well as give astronauts the ability to create their own meals. Yes, they are trialling 3D printers that print food! What will it taste like? Will it be printed cooked or raw? These are just a couple of questions that spring to mind, but this invention would change everything in our homes. Good-bye my beloved kitchen, hello freshly printed lasagne: want garlic bread? Let me just download it!