3D printing is a process during which materials are joined or solidified under the control of a computer, producing a three-dimensional object. Digital models are created, data is added, and a 3D object comes out of the printer – it’s actually pretty amazing. It’s even more amazing that 3D printing can not only produce prototypes of objects, additional parts for existing objects, but also helps scientific and medical development. 3D printers are currently used to produce a range of medical devices – especially those which have complex features that match an individual’s unique anatomy. Objects like implants (hip joints and cranial plates) and external prosthesis (hands, legs) can be printed and are commercially available.
3D bioprinters can print human organs. Yes, seriously. The principle is similar to 3D printing with a computer program which makes digital representations of the organ you would like to create, this then gets sent to the 3D printer which builds it slice by slice. You then get a finished three-dimensional object!
In the early stages the objects which can be printed include skin and cartilages, but the big idea is that in time 3D bioprinters will eventually be able to produce complex organs like hearts and livers which could be used in human transplants.
From medical development, to commercial use of 3D printing – we were excited to hear that MINI has taken its owner customisation to a completely new level with the ability to 3D print bespoke parts for its cars! From March 2018 you will be able to design and replace your MINI dashboard panels, door sills, indicator inlays and even puddle lights. This ability comes from using the latest 3D printing and laser etching technology which allows those lucky enough to have a MINI to personalise their names, patterns and even logos on their cars – all in a range of exciting colours and textures.
3D printing is developing quickly, and has become the key product design system in many industries from medical research to mobile, jewellery to comics. We have worked on some very exciting 3D printing projects – email us on [email protected] to talk about your idea!