3D printing has been around since the 1980s.
Sometimes we forget this technology is just so darn cool.
But not everyone has. Here are some ways people are using 3D printing to improve the lives of others – or just have fun.
SimCity Isn’t Just for Your Screen Now
If you enjoy the ego trip the computer game SimCity gives you (or just really like the idea of having your own miniature city), you can now take it to the physical world.
Or, at least, a 1:1000 scale version of the physical world.
Ittyblox allows you to buy 3D-printed buildings (including famous ones like Plaza Hotel or the Flatiron Building). You can then build your own city by connecting the buildings through the base plates the company also sells. Check out their shop on Shapeways.
This is What Happens When You Teach Kids to 3D Print
3D printers are in schools these days. For some of the students lucky enough to have them, they might print iPhone accessories or kitschy items for their bedrooms.
Inspired by adults in their lives who struggle with disabilities, two high school students created items to make it easier to get a grip.
One student invented a cross-shaped bottle opener. The other made a fork with guards. Both items make it considerably easier for people with disabilities to do tasks without relying on the help of other people.
Don’t Look for a Small Screwdriver – Try This Tiny Drill Instead
How many times have you been frustrated by a tool that’s just too big for the job?
That’s not why this invention came about. We have this tool simply because the creator wanted to see if he could do it.
And do it he did. In fact, Lance Abernethy is working on 3D printing a drill even smaller than the one he’s already made.
Though you still might need that small screwdriver – this drill only works on soft objects.
Finally – Someone Rethought Casts for Broken Bones
You break a bone. You now must wear a heavy plaster cast for weeks.
You can’t get it wet. You find yourself knocking into things because it’s just so bulky. It itches. And it smells so bad when you finally get it taken off.
But this designer is trying to change that (at least for arm breaks).
This new cast is plastic. The design allows for air flow. And you can hook it up to an ultrasound that supposedly helps you heal faster.
Safer City Streets
It happens almost every day.
You’re driving along. Suddenly your car dips and you grit your teeth as your vehicle rattles over the bump. “That wasn’t there yesterday,” you think.
Potholes appear faster than public works employees can fill them. So this inventor developed a 3D printer on wheels that can be remotely driven around while it fills potholes.
The idea is for the printer to build back up collapsed road surfaces layer by layer with multiple nozzles. But, unfortunately, he needs funding before he can fully accomplish this goal.
3D Printing Sparks Innovation
The above are what make 3D printing so valuable for the future. We’re able to conceptualize objects in ways we never would have been able to before – and even if we could, we wouldn’t have been able to afford manufacturing the design. Let’s see what people come up with next.