Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Print

3D Printed Food

Industrial 3D printing, known as additive manufacturing, is the process of creating a product layer-by-layer from a digital design – often at a fraction of the time it would take for traditional manufacturing. Beyond colorful objects and models, this new technology is truly revolutionizing industries around the world – from dentistry to aerospace and defense. Read on for our list of the top 10 things you didn’t know you could print:

1.       Human Tissue – Using bioprinting, scientists are imagining a world where we can print fully functioning organs. In fact, they have already printed small amounts of organ tissue and are researching bioprinted tissues that mimic organs like the heart, liver and lungs.


2.       Parts that Fly in Space – Merging space exploration and advanced manufacturing, Lockheed Martin is using additive manufacturing to make components for the A2100 commercial satellite. Not to mention, additively manufactured components are now on their way to Jupiter on board the Juno spacecraft, which will arrive and begin orbiting the planet in July 2016.


3.       Prosthetics – Life-changing technology like prosthetic hands are becoming more affordable thanks to a community of medical professionals, researchers and designers who are designing and building 3D-printed mechanical hands.

4.       4D Objects – Incorporating the 4th dimension (time), new “smart objects” will use geometric coding to self-assemble or change their shape.


5.       Chocolate, Pizza, Corn Chips…Even Ravioli – NASA is investing in a pizza printer for astronauts, while other companies are getting ready to launch commercial and at-home food printers to deliver all sorts of tasty snacks. 

6.       Nanostructures – Researchers are hoping to create some of the strongest materials ever produced by 3D printing structures at the nanoscale. By manipulating materials at the molecular level, you can change the physical, chemical and optical properties. 


7.       Dental Implants – A new wave of digital dentistry allows dentists to design and print molds for surgery, saving hours and making dental procedures easier and more accurate. 

8.       Artwork – By incorporating digital design with additive manufacturing, artists are creating 3D sculptures that depict intricate patterns and webbing similar to those found in nature.

9.       Out-of-This World Electronics – Partnering with America Makes, Lockheed Martin is working with the U.S. government, industry and academia to develop an additive manufacturing suite that could print products for the aerospace industry. At the push of a button, the suite would produce aerial vehicles and satellites, including their electronic components.

10.   A 3D Printer - That’s right. You can use a 3D printer to print, well, a 3D printer. A self-replicating machine prints out a kit that you can assemble into a whole new 3D printer. 

June 4, 2014