With wire spools winding in the printer, in just a few hours, the product is finished. 3D printing was first used in the aerospace and automotive industries. Over the past decade, various industries start to utilize this technology to produce customized consumer products, including toys, models, cellphone cases, and even fashion accessories. Materials used is no longer confined to only plastic and metal, and applications in different purposes are indeed amazing.
A Self-replicating 3D Printer – RepRap
In 2005, Dr. Adrian Bowyer, a lecturer at the University of Bath in the UK, started the RepRap project (Replicating Rapid Prototyper). RepRap is an open-source self-replicating rapid prototyping machine. In 2007, the first RepRap was launched, marking a turning point in the history of 3D printing. RepRap has been designed to automatically print out its own parts, which lowers the cost by a large amount.
3D Printed Food- Edible & Eco-friendly
In 2018, NovaMeat, a Spanish startup, developed 3D-printed vegan steak. The ingredients were plant-based proteins, including pea and rice protein, and seaweed fiber. It takes only 10 minutes to print a piece of steak, and only 2 minutes to fry it before serving. Those who have tasted it expressed that there was no difference from the real steak. The research team hopes to raise more funds to improve technology and develop a kind of meat that imitates animal protein structures to reduce the impact of meat production on the environment.
3D Printed Human Tissue- An Alternative for Drug Testing
Organovo, a business in the United States, launched the world’s first 3D bioprinter, which generates human tissue through multi-cellular building blocks, also called “bio-ink.” In 2015, Organovo printed liver tissue that lasted for 40 days. In 2016, human kidney tissue was printed and was successfully transplanted onto mice.
With the advancement of science and technology, 3D printing has been used in different areas. The innovation in food and medical treatment was simply unimaginable in the past. The actual finished products and various applications also mitigate the negative impacts brought by human activities. It is expected that there are more applications in 3D technology in the future that could benefit human’s life.