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Connector Insights from iCONN

Where Can 3D Printing Be Found?

Posted by Rick Regole on Mon , April 30, 2018

40 years ago, the idea of manufacturing objects on the spot was a far fetch. Today, 3D printing is reshaping some of the most prominent industries in the world. Just when you think this technology has met its potential, industry leaders shock and amaze with incredible uses. You won’t believe the capabilities of 3D printing today.

Veterinary Medicine

In 2017, a puppy named Loca was attacked by another dog and had severe facial fractures. Traditionally, this would have been a fatal injury. Engineers scanned her skull and used 3D printing to customize a mask. In the same way that a cast sets a bone, this mask helped Loca’s fractures heal. Within a month, she was chewing solid food again. 

From prosthetics and orthotics to canine masks like the one Loca needed, this type of advanced treatment is possible thanks to at least 8 Colleges of Veterinary Medicine that teach 3D printing technology. At Penn State, students use 3D printed models that exactly replicate injuries or deformities to take their training and education to the next level.

Residential Construction

A remarkable home was 3D printed last year in the suburbs of Moscow. This isn’t the first structure ever 3D printed. In fact, you might have heard about Winson and their five-story office building. What makes this particular home exceptional? The walls and partitions were printed as one fully connected structure instead of in sections that must be assembled. Albeit a small, 400 square foot structure, it only took 24 hours to print. And the only components that had to be installed after printing were the roof, doors and windows (which also happened to be the most expensive parts of the build).

In total, the home was built for $10,134. Just imagine the possibilities of residential 3D printing at this price point and turnaround time, especially for humanitarian efforts in impoverished countries and communities.

Modern Medicine

The use cases for 3D printing in modern medicine continue to surpass imagination. In 2015, the FDA approved the first 3D-printed drug. Scientists also discovered “bioprinting” which is the practice of printing living cells to form tissues and organs. Bones, ears and muscle structures…it’s all possible today with 3D printing. But the most impressive print job of all happened just last year. Swedish researchers successfully printed a fully functioning artificial heart that looks and beats similarly to a real ticker. The concept is still under construction, but considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, this innovation is nothing short of a miracle.

It doesn’t stop there. Scientists have also discovered a way to 3D print exact culture samples to better understand how certain virus strains and bacterial infections thrive. With greater insight into these illnesses, they will eventually be able to invent advanced detection and prevention methods to stop current strains and prevent the breeding of others.

Automobile Manufacturing

How long does it take to 3D print a sports car? In 2014, Local Motors did the world’s first in 44 hours. The Strati was not road ready at the time of printing and required components like the motor, battery, and wheels to be attached separately. But the company boasts a future production line of 3D printed cars.

Divergent3D blew the cap off of 3D-printed vehicles with their latest “super car”, Blade. The Blade weighs 1,400 pounds, has 700 horsepower, and can go from 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds. According to Divergent3D, their production process is going to completely transform the car manufacturing industry by:

  • Dramatically reducing resource use and pollution from manufacturing
  • Creating vehicles that are 90% lighter and more durable
  • Resulting in traffic that puts less wear on road infrastructures
  • Manufacturing locally

Frankly, this list could go on for days. There is no limit to what industry leaders are doing with 3D printing technology. Product development, in particular, can expect some incredible advancements, many of which are already being realized. From decreased cycle times and lower production costs to a more streamlined development process and greater freedom to innovate, 3D printing is changing the way we build and take products to market.

Learn how 3D printing is a part of our rapid prototyping process and how we were able to achieve success with one of our clients by checking out our Case Study to find out how these tools can benefit your next project.

Rapid Prototyping Case Study