The Science Museum recently opened a new exhibition called ‘3D printing the future’, showing how versatile 3D printing can be. On display, a collection of various printed objects ranging from toys to prosthetics showing what can be achieved at the moment and in the future.
3D printed moving model engine at the Science Museum
Without any doubt, 3D printing enables us to create objects that would have been more difficult to produce using regular manufacturing techniques. Experimentation and research never stops, and great innovations are constantly coming through. Earlier this year, among other things, we heard about the first printed gun, printing meat and tissues using a bioprinter and 3D printed architecture.
Additive manufacturing is already used commercially, for example to produce car and plane components, but also to prototype and test designs.
3D printed pills
Of course other sectors also benefit from the possibilities offered by 3D printing, such as the medical sector. From printed pills to organs, researcher are excited to discover how the additive manufacturing process can be used to provide better healthcare, tailored for each of us. Maybe one day, pharmacists will be able to print your medication in store. Maybe further down the line these printed pills could be tailored for each patient, using his/her genetic profile. Already, people have used 3D printers to create their own prosthetics, including devices adapted to young children and custom-made implants.
The Hipsterbot printer, made of lasercut parts
Additive manufacturing is also closer to our homes. Over recent years, smaller printers have become more accessible. Artists, designers and enthusiasts can now have their own desktop 3D printer at home and experiment with it, even with limited knowledge of CAD. Many designs are shared online, ready to be created and tweaked. This can be combined with 3D scanners that are now available on phone apps and sensor devices clipped onto tablets. Many people already imagine a future where the high street is dead, where everything that we have is to be printed at home and all things are custom-made.
With all this effervescence around 3D printing, it is hard to tell what is coming next and where we are truly going!