3D printers are the stuff of science fiction, but have become real in recent years. They’ve opened the world to all kinds of amazing possibilities, like cheaper artificial limbs and tools. With 3D-printing technology, we can create everything from useful household items to world-changing equipment. Here’s a taste of what people have tried:
The one difference between a regular AA battery and a C battery is size. C batteries, however, are way more expensive. With a 3D-printed adapter, you can “hack” an AA battery and make a C one. This is useful because C batteries aren’t as common anymore, so you aren’t likely to have a bunch laying around if, say, a certain toy or Roomba needs one. Another cool gadget is a phone speaker amp. The built-in speaker for phones isn’t ever that great. To solve this problem, you can 3D print an amplifier in a variety of designs, like a megaphone, to boost the sound.
People have been printing lots of instruments, including violins, flutes, and guitars. MIT researchers are even trying to print new and unique instruments, like trumpets with multiple pipes. The instruments all work, but they don’t sound very good, as least when compared to the real deal. Innovators are still working on that part.
Working cameras and lenses
It’s possible to print all the parts you need to make a working SLR camera for only $30 in about 15 hours. You can print lenses, too, though like with the instruments, quality isn’t quite up to speed. Still, you can take actual pictures with unusual effects.
Performer and model Dita Von Teese got to wear the first 3D-printed dress that was custom-made with 3,000 joints to fit her perfectly. 3D-printed clothing would make total customization a matter of plugging in the right specifications.
When you replace a 3D printer’s cartridge with melted chocolate, you can create wild designs that are totally edible. Chocedge is a printer designed exclusively for chocolate, and can be purchased for about $3,700. The Hershey Company has also gotten into the 3D-printed candy spirit with a partnership with 3D systems. This could mean a more streamlined factory process and special treats for customers.
3D printers aren’t popping out fully-made cars just yet, but you can print the parts necessary. The Urbee 2 is a cute little car and the first vehicle made from mostly 3D-printed pieces. It has three wheels and is extremely fuel-efficient, but it only has 23 horsepower and needs batteries. The inventors are hoping to improve on the car, so they can drive it across the U.S.
Imagine being able to design and print your own sword! Cosplayers everywhere are very excited about the opportunity, but there’s one printed weapon that’s caused a lot of controversy. The first 3D-printed gun was made by a 26-year old, and revealed that anyone with enough know-how could print a plastic gun capable of firing bullets that can kill. That is a terrifying thought, but after doing more research, it becomes clear that it’s like everyone is going to be printing their own guns and going on shooting sprees. Since the gun is still plastic, it can probably fire one bullet before falling apart, and the assembly and printing process (including buying the actual printer) isn’t cheap. 3D-printed weapons probably aren’t going to be a major problem.
The wildest things being printed today are body parts. We’re talking kidneys, skin, bones, and even blood vessels. Scientists use gel-like substances that are made from cells instead of plastic, turning a 3D printer into a “bioprinter.” If they are printing bones, they use ceramic powder. As the science progresses, doctors will be able to print skin grafts and organs that match an individual perfectly. For those who can’t wait for limbs, regular plastic 3D printers can make artificial legs, arms, and more in only a few hours, for less than $100!