You probably saw this headline and thought, “There’s no way they’re 3D printing roller coasters!”
And you’re right. No one is 3D printing roller coasters. (At least not ones you can ride. Yet.) But 3D printing is seeping into the amusement and theme park world in other ways.
3D printing has long been used to create prototypes and scaled models. It’s no different for amusement park rides.
For example, parks planning new rides may print a 3D model instead of creating a hand-built one. These models are used during the design process for validation and to plan the layout of not only the ride itself, but also everything surrounding the ride – you know, the décor, fencing, ticket stations.
Be Your Own Souvenir
You may have already suspected 3D printing is used to manufacture some of the souvenirs and costumes available at the theme park shops.
But several theme parks are taking it a step further by letting you use 3D printing to create your own personalized souvenir. Disney’s Hollywood Studios offered visitors the opportunity to have themselves 3D scanned as a Stormtrooper during one of their Star Wars Weekends. The scans were 3D printed and mailed within a couple of weeks. And they’re not the only theme park offering this type of technology.
Showing Us the Past
Have you ever wondered what Coney Island looked like 100 years ago? Now you can see for yourself. They are featuring a 3D-printed version of early 20th century Luna Park to showcase some of Coney Island’s illustrious history.
The display is a 1:13 scale model of what Luna Park would have looked like during that time. It’s located in the Coney Island Museum. But it’ll only be displayed for a year, so plan your trip now.
We can’t let the rides themselves have all the fun. What else do we do at amusement parks? Eat, of course!
In 2013, Systems and Materials Research Corporation began developing a 3D printer to be used in space. Several companies have been working on 3D printers for space use, but this one was a little different: they wanted it to print food. Pizza, to be exact.
Unfortunately, they lost their grant money due to budget cuts. That didn’t stop the researchers, though. Now they’ve taken their 3D printer to theme parks and sports arenas with the idea of cutting down the time you spend in line waiting for your food.
Taking Us for a Ride
It may not be long before the rides themselves are not just designed using 3D printing, but entirely created with 3D printing. Materials and printer technologies are improving almost daily. But we can certainly count on 3D printing to continue to offer us new experiences at our favorite parks.