3D printing just got faster, cheaper and more useful than ever.

Written by Beatriz —  March 31, 2015

3d printer mega

The current state of the art of the 3D printing technology is so impressive, that someone could think that arguably bears little relevance in our daily lives –just ‘Another science fiction thing”. But the reality is that things are moving forward, fast, for real.

You can’t explore the use of 3D printing throughout industries without addressing the typical cycle of innovation, the gradual process of replacing old technologies by newer ones as become cheaper and broadly available.

Innovation-Life-Cycle

3D printing involves so many sectors –including construction, healthcare, transport, surgery, cloud technology and more–, that its influence in the current market cannot be denied. Each iteration in the ideation process will lead us to a more affordable, useful technology.

Community Hubs

One of the biggest problems for makers is the price tag of the printers, so community hubs like 3Dhubs are essential for building a healthy environment that encourage people to share those expensive assets.

“3D Hubs facilitates transactions between 3D printer owners (Hubs) and people that want to make 3D prints. Printer owners can join the Hubs listing in their city to offer 3D printing services in their neighborhood, and customers can locate printer owners to get stuff printed nearby.”

3D Hubs

3dhubs

3D Hubs has already facilitated tons of projects, some of them involving really big scale artefacts. It connects makers over the world in a network with over 14,000 3D printers. The current top cities by number of printers are New York (229), Milan (193), and Los Angeles (157).

The whole community is effervescent, so if you’d like to join –either as a 3D printer owner or as a maker–, joining one of their upcoming events may be a good start point.

3d printing future

A project featuing 3D Large Structures with 3D HUBS local network.

A Matter of Speed

Speed. Another of the biggest drawbacks of 3D printers that is coming to an end thanks to recently developed techniques.

Until now, printing a large item on many 3D printers would require an eternity. We don’t like to wait, so there are companies and universities working on the problem, leading to some interesting results.

What if instead of printing objects by stacking layers on top of one another — a process that can take hours, days, depending on what you’re printing — we build things from a pool of liquid material. It works like magic!

Companies like Carbon3D, and the Australian Gizmo 3D have already mastered the technique and are working on super fast technologies that are up to 500x times faster than traditional printers.

The competition in speed is paving the way for the technology to become a standard tool for a wide range of possibilities.

The Future

Housing

So China has already build a five-storey apartment building using a 3D printer — The world’s tallest 3D printed building right now.

The buildings are created with a patented “ink” consisting of recycled construction waste, which is then coursed through a printer that is 165 yards long (150 meters). Can you imagine printing your own home?

3d-printed house

The 3D Print Canal House is an initiative based in Amsterdam to build a 3D printed canal house in the very heart of the city.

It is a 3-year term project, so until the completion, it will act as an open exhibition where visitors can have a whole vision of the process of printing a building from scratch. It is expected to take advantage of the possibilities, using a high level of detail and ornament in its design, making each piece unique and memorable.

“3D printing is an additive manufacturing technique. That means the process goes straight from the raw material to the final product, thus eliminating waste. There are no transport costs, as designs can simply be transferred digitally and printed locally.”

3D Print Canal House

Transportation

3D tech company Sanya Sihai has created an electric-powered car which cost less than $2,000 to build.

Building the vehicle reportedly took only 1.5 months, with the printing part of the process taking about five days.

The lower density of the material makes the vehicle extremely efficient and respectful with the environment.

The vehicle, which is powered by battery cells, can reach speeds of up to 40 kilometers per hour (24 mph).

Healthcare

With the announcement of a breakthrough technology that accelerates 3D printing speeds by a factor of up to 100, you may soon encounter a 3D printer in your dentist’s office. Imagine having your tooth printed in 5 minutes!

3d-teeth carbon

3Duniverse reported a story about a man named Jose Delgado. Jose was born without a left hand, and experienced with several prosthetic devices (some up to $42,000). Now you can see his reaction using a $50 3D printed prosthesis.

Clinical trials to test the viability of making and using 3D printed medical devices are already in the works — with the hope that soon this could bring cheaper and more tailored solutions for patients, even in the surgery room.

Photo Credits: 3Dhubs.com, Mika, Carbon3D, Wikipedia.

Beatriz

Beatriz

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COO at Megafounder. Startupholic. Human rights activist.