7 3D printing projects you don’t want to miss

3d gifts

At the end of 2014, HP launched the new Multi Jet Fusion 3d Printer predicted to power new 3D commercial and manufacturing printers. Claiming print speeds 10 times fast than existing printers, it boasted more affordable and stronger print outs that devices currently on the market. The only downside was that it would be available until 2016.

Despite all this, the world of 3D printing has not slowed and continues to reinvent the wheel. In celebration of all this 3D we thought we would take a look at the latest 3D projects and the products that are being produced.

The future’s bright, the future is 3D

1. Print your own phone

In the time it takes you to print out a few copies of a PowerPoint presentation at work, this start-up can print you a mobile phone. Not quite the same spec as the latest iPhone or Android, OwnFone is a basic device which enables you to make and receive calls.


Image : ownfone.com

The invention of Tom Sunderland, this simple, customisable phone is similar in size to a credit card and not much thicker. Popularised at festivals for their relative disposability, by marathon runners for their lightness and the elderly for their ease of use, OwnFone can be printed live in their store.

The 3D printing process at present is limited to just the phone’s case, but soon it could be printing the SIM card, motherboard and other electronic components – the sky is the limit. All you need to do is choose the shape, colour and transparency of the buttons, an image or print for the background and select which numbers you would like programmed in. What could be simpler? Prices start at £40 with the most expensive costing £70.

2. 3D printed hand

In September 2014, Joe Oxenbury’s father contacted a charity which specialises in 3D printing. Born 6 weeks premature, Joe, 15, was born with an upper limb deficiency which meant the fingers on his left hand did not form properly.

The family contacted Enabling the Future, a global collective which encourages owners of 3D printers to make hands for those who need prosthesis. Taking measurements of Joe’s hand and a design inspired by Star Wars, the ‘bionic’ hand was printed in just 20 hours.


Image: dailymail.co.uk

3. Print your own kidneys

Dad-of-two John Cousins, 46, started his own 3D printing company producing all manner of items including printed bones for the NHS. Whilst giving a presentation to surgeons in October about the future of 3D printing in the NHS, he collapsed.

A CT scan revealed that John had kidney stones that would need removing. Using CT images sent to him by his surgeon, John recreated a 3D image of his kidneys and then printed them using a 3D printer.

The surgeon of 12 years, who has written 40 papers on the latest technology for kidney operations, hopes to carry out a trial with 20 other patients using John’s firm Isodo3d, where he is the managing director.  He said: “Having a 3D model helps you plan the operation a lot better and the main thing about kidney stone surgery is that that precision is so important. To reconstruct a kidney for this purpose is something I don’t think anyone has done before.


Image: dailyecho.co.uk

4. 3D printed buildings

In China a 5 storey apartment building was printed using a 3D printer. Unveiled by CityLabs, a Shanghai building firm, the building has been called ‘the world’s tallest 3D printed building’. Created using a patented ink made from recycled construction waste which is fed through to a 150m long printer, this scheme could make printing your own home a realistic prospect.

The apartment block is on display in the Suzhou Industrial Park alongside a 3D printed neoclassical mansion.

3d printed building

Image: theguardian.com

5. 3D Scanners

Software advances in technology have meant that printing 3D models is easier than ever. Despite this, creating the objects using CAD software can be complex and prohibitive. 3D scanning provides an inexpensive solution in many cases but is a non-essential, additional cost.

3D scanners are already being used in a number of applications including Asda’s ‘mini me’ project launched in January 2014. A 3D printing service which utilised 3D scanners to produce a digital replica of customers for printing, it visited more than 50 UK stores, giving customers a chance to create a mini 3D model of themselves.

If you’ve got a 3D printer you can buy a Sense 3D scanner for yourself which allows you to scan objects up to 3m2 away.

sense 3d scanner

Image: cubify.com

6. 3D printed shoes

We know what you’re thinking, plastic shoes? Wouldn’t they be really uncomfortable? Not with a 3D printed shoe that reacts to your movements. Part of the SOLS System, the prototype robo-boot was unveiled at the FAST AW 15 event as part of New York Fashion Week.

3d printed shoes

Aptly named ADAPTIV, these shows comprise of a nylon-esque shell printed by Shapeways, nylon 3D printed insoles with air pockets and, a series of gyroscopes and pressure sensors. Still in the prototyping stages, it is expected that this application of 3D printing has tremendous potential to not only improve orthotics but personal performance as well.

7. 3d printed dresses

When you think of dresses you don’t naturally associate it with 3D printing, this project however will blow your mind.  Kinematics is the design and manufacturing method developed by the 3D printing design studio Nervous System.  A form of 4D printing, items in Kinematics are pulled from the printer in one block and unfolded to reveal a large, elaborate piece.

The Kinematics Dress – composed of 2,279 individual, triangular panels joined together by 3,316 hinges – was fabricated as a single, folded piece at the Shapeways factory in New York City. We highly recommend you watch the video below.

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