When 3D printers first came out they seemed pretty unbelievable. The idea of printing something that was an actual tangible item was quite a mind-blowing concept. It was limited in scope and only used by large companies or in highly technical situations. As 3D printing technology has become more prevalent none of these things are true any longer.
The items you can create with a 3D printer are now part of our every day lives. Even the cost of buying a 3D printer for your own home has decreased drastically in the past few years. The ways 3D printers are being used is pretty exciting. There are advances made in medical fields all the time because of 3D printing technology, for example.
While it’s fun to look at the amazing technological advances 3D printing has made in science and other areas, it’s also fun to look at some of the surprising ways it’s being used. There are plenty of ways 3D printing is being used that most people aren’t even aware of yet. Here are five of the most surprising ways 3D printing technology is being used right now.
1. Printing Custom Food
This is a surprising way 3D printing is being used because most people still think of it as something limited to layering plastic filaments on top of each other. In reality, 3D printing uses all kinds of materials now and food isn’t excluded from being 3D printed any longer.
There are chefs that create entirely customized menus using 3D printers to print what the customer orders. Customers are able to be very specific about what they would like to eat. Some of the more popular items to print are breads and pastas.
You can order the types of flavors you want to taste and have it made right while you’re at the restaurant. It’s a pretty unique way to use this technology and if you get the chance to try it out you definitely should.
2. Printing Dental Work Solutions
This isn’t quite the same as using 3D printing in medical settings. Dental related printing is something some people are even doing at home with their own 3D printers now. Dentists themselves have been able to start printing dentures completely customized to the patient’s mouth, but home users have found ways to do this and other things on their own too.
There are designs out there that help people print their own Invisalign-style systems. It’s something some people swear by and say has saved them an enormous amount of money. There are also designs for “flippers” which are often used by children who compete in pageants or are on camera a lot. Flippers are a way to replace missing teeth until the child’s permanent teeth come in.
While no one is saying these are ways to replace seeing a dentist it’s still a surprising and noteworthy way 3D printing is being used. If you haven’t considered ways 3D printing might be saving the average consumer a decent amount of money this is certainly one of those ways. The possibilities of being able to print something like this yourself has made a huge difference in a lot of lives already.
3. Printing Entire Fashion Lines
3D printing has been used to create jewelry for a while now but most people don’t know that it’s also being used to create entire clothing lines. There are high fashion looks that have been on the runway as well as clothing lines that are created so the customer can print whatever they purchase in their own home.
Designer Danit Peleg created a line of clothing that intricately weaves delicate strands of filament into fabrics that move and act like clothes you’d buy in the store. She said her goal was to make 3D printed clothing more accessible for people in their own homes instead of being confined entirely to the runway.
The clothing line consists of only 5 pieces right now but Peleg is pretty clear that she has big plans to expand and make 3D printed clothing even more accessible. If you wanted to use a 3D printer you own to gain bragging rights no one else is expecting, 3D printed clothing would definitely be one of the ways you could do that.
4. Printing Actual Houses
Manufacturing has been one of the quickest industries to start using 3D printing and has continued to use it to create more and more surprising things ever since. One of the most amazing feats is the use of 3D printing to create a house. There have been rumblings of the possibility that a house could be printed but now those are a reality.
A company by the name of ICON printed a house that they now advertise was “the first permitted 3D-printed home built in the United States” in late 2018. ICON stated that it took several weeks to print the house which is pretty amazing when you consider the average length of time to build a home.
The company also stated that they feel this is a way that manufacturing will continue to use and expand upon. Since it’s cheaper to print a home than to build one in a traditional manner, this is likely to change how affordable owning a home is in the future.
5. Printing Space Habitats
NASA hasn’t been shy about the fact that they want to reach Mars and as part of that goal they have been exploring ways to create shelters for anyone who would live on the planet. They launched a challenge for designers called the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge.
Over about 3 years teams worked to create 3D printed shelters that were then subjected to rigorous testing to determine their durability in extreme settings. In 2018 NASA named 2 winners of the challenge and awarded $700,000 total between the two winning teams.
They were very honest that the 3D printed habitats were some of their best options for creating habitats that would last on Mars. The teams involved helped NASA test out many theories and ideas during the duration of the contest. Even if the winning designs don’t ever actually end up on Mars, the idea that 3D printed “homes” could be in space someday is still pretty surprising.
The ways 3D printing is being used in both industrial and home settings is getting more amazing every day. Owning your own 3D printer is more accessible than it has ever been. If the cool ways 3D printing is being used has piqued your interest it may be time to buy one for your own home. You’ll be surprised at what you can print yourself, and as you can see already, this technology is only going to get better in the future.