Imagine creating what you need (or want) at the whim of a printer. How amazing would it be if you could construct delicious meals in a short amount of time, or personalize the perfect piece of furniture for your living room? Thankfully, this technology isn’t something envisioned for a Hollywood Sci-Fi film- it’s all something that may be incorporated into our everyday lives in the very near future.
Although this 3-D technology is amazing, how functional is it? Is it durable enough to last for moments, or for years? Unfortunately, these are all questions that need a little bit more time to answer with clarity, but until then, it’s safe to say that 3-D printing has a promising, sustainable future.
3-D Printing is Transforming Healthcare
A two year old boy’s life was saved when doctors made the decision to print a bioresorbable lung splint that allowed him to breathe after nearly dying from a collapsed lung. At the time, the 3-D splint was still considered a prototype- it was unsure how well the prosthetic would actually work. Initially, the doctors ordered a tracheostomy (a surgical procedure where a hole is cut into the neck to access a person’s windpipe, then a tube is placed into the hole where, hopefully, the lungs can be cleared). This unfortunately failed. The doctors then made a decision to implant the 3-D lung splint, which saved his life. If the doctors had not thought quickly and made the decision to print the splint, then the two year old would have surely passed away. Thankfully, he’s alive and breathing- a testament to the functionality of 3-D prosthetic implants.
3-D Printing is Aiming for the Moon
Although most 3-D architectural designs are limited to scaled models due to material and engineering costs, the European Space Agency is still aiming for a future beyond our blue skies. The ESA has teamed up with a London-based architecture firm, Foster + Partners, to construct a mock-up for a 3-D printed moon base. A current idea for the future structure involves utilizing the dust and rock straight from the moon. In theory, a 3-D printer would be placed on the moon where it could begin using the moon material to construct a habitable structure. Obstacles include creating a structure that would be able to withstand the environment on the moon, as well as be able to support the needs of the people who could be living there. There may be much to figure out, but could you imagine a livable future in space!
3-D Printing is Reinventing the Vehicle
Vehicle engineers around the world are creating prototypes of 3-D printed cars that are supposedly lighter, stronger, and more fuel efficient than today’s standard, steel cars and trucks. From the German engineers, EDAG, to the crowd-funded Urbee, 3-D printed vehicle designs are popping up at technology and car conventions around the world. 3-D printing makes producing vehicle parts quicker, using less man-power and more technology. There’s even a model where the entire vehicle casting is printed as one, single piece! 3-D printed vehicles just may revolutionize the way we perceive vehicle safety and fuel consumption in the near future.
3-D printing is making noticeable strides in a short amount of time. 3-D printers can, without a doubt, create objects faster and more efficiently. Innovators are figuring out how to utilize 3-D printing on enormous scales, not only for entertainment purposes, but for every day large-scaled items, that may make our lives easier and more sustainable. The future of 3-D printing is functional, and what it produces in our near future will prove to be amazing.