3D Printing: The World’s Most Versatile Technology

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3D Printing: The World’s Most Versatile Technology

Few technologies have moved into the public consciousness with more promise or excitement than three-dimensional printing. With the tremendous advances in 3D visualization, modelling and animation. It came as no surprise the mathematically precise technology possible with desktop computers would eventually find its way into some kind of manufacturing process. Whether at a remote factory or right next to the designer’s PC. Essentially, 3D printing has become the world’s most versatile technology.

So it was with what some call “micro-manufacturing” like the microprocessor, 3D printing has the potential to upend traditional notions of product design and development. And to usher in a world where it is no longer necessary to focus enormous amounts of capital and factory muscle to produce staple products. Products like coat hooks, car antennas and soup cans.

All that said, because of its versatility, 3D printing has some novel uses. It has found its way into numerous industries. It promises to make a lot of products far easier to produce and far less expensive for the end user.

The Unsabotagable Water Dish

Anyone who has owned a pet bird. Will tell you one of the biggest challenges, is keeping their cages and perches in one piece. Large birds like Yellow Nape Amazons, Cockatoos and Macaws have strong beaks. That can, in some cases, apply more than a ton of pressure. Against such an opponent, the average minimal cost plastic food or water dish has little to no chance of remaining intact for long.

Enter the 3D printer, and suddenly it becomes possible to not only produce a dish that is perfectly adapted to the cage it is affixed to. But said dish can also be manufactured in such a way as to prevent the pet bird from getting hold of it. Most mass-market cage dishes are simple-shaped basins with thin walls. Almost perfectly designed for birds to either break in half or toss in the air. By making the walls much thicker and lower, it becomes difficult for a bird to get a grip. In much the same way it is harder to throw a basketball the same way one might throw a baseball.

The reason this works so well is because a printer can build a dish that is exactly fitted to the owner’s cage and build them one at a time as needed. If you want to go one step further, check out these awesome 3D printed bird houses.

The Custom Action Figure

By now, everyone has seen the motion-capture technology that has brought so many original and entertaining characters to life in major films. What many don’t realize is the exact same principles that allow a specially equipped camera and rangefinding apparatus to animate a strange creature on the silver screen. Can also be used to recreate, in exacting detail, the facial features of nearly any person.

When a 3D printer gets hold of this information, it can produce, at nearly any scale, a nearly identical facsimile of those facial features on a standardized model of a human body. When combined, these two designs can produce both customized action figures that can be made to look exactly like any person, but can also produce bobble-head dolls, busts and even coins.

While this particular application of 3D printing technology likely doesn’t have much of a mass-production appeal. It can make for a one-of-a-kind trophy or party gift that the recipient will almost certainly never forget.

The Printed House

It should come as no surprise 3D printing would find its way from micro-manufacturing to mega-manufacturing in relatively short order. Enter the concrete-printed houses being produced by companies in San Francisco and Russia. In the space of a single day, and for under $10,000. These companies can arrive on site, print a residential structure, cure the fast-drying concrete and leave behind everything a construction company needs to wire, paint and furnish the property.

To some, this might sound like science fiction, which is ironic considering the companies leading the way in the printing of entire structures are confident they can be the first to build habitats for colonists on other planets like Mars.

If 3D printing can produce action figures and homes, it stands to reason there aren’t many tasks in between that are out of reach.

Some believe the processes of additive manufacturing and micro-manufacturing will bring about a third industrial revolution. While this is possible, it is far more likely these kinds of tools will create spinoff technologies that dovetail with many of the other advances in electronic devices, mobile communications and energy production. Some of the biggest advances in the last century have come about by the innovative combination of two categories of tools rather than a single improvement. What is clear is 3D printing has a rather exciting and productive future.

Philip P.

My primary focus is a fusion of technology, small business, and marketing. I’m an editor, writer, marketing consultant and guest author at several authority websites.

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