3D printing is transforming these industries – Info Gadgets
Printing has long been confined to the realm of the second dimension, printing out reports, essays and the like on paper, metal, and other flat objects. Printing has now vaulted into the third dimension, as new 3D printers are producing items that can be used to create a plethora of useful items.
While the current growth of 3D printing — also known as additive manufacturing — is due to the development of customized parts, prototyping, product designing, and concept modeling, the technology is capable of doing so much more. In fact, it is set to disrupt entire industries including consumer products, healthcare, automotive, construction, and aerospace.
Similar to the Homebrew Computer Club, a hobbyist group founded in 1975 and that helped spark the personal computing revolution, we are now at a period where 3D printing is just starting a new technological disruption. The global 3D printer market is expected to reach $4.2 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 12.8% from 2017 to 2022.
“The industry outlook for 3D printing will potentially have a greater impact on the world over the next 20 years than all of the innovations from the industrial revolution combined,” according to Deloitte.
The benefits of 3D printing are numerous, including rapid response, reduced lead times, rapid innovation, rapid manufacturing, reduced overhead, mass customization, mass production, use of unique materials and economies of scale, according to Deloitte. The following are some of the industries that are set to be transformed — and in some instances are already being transformed — by 3D printing.
Perhaps no other industry is poised for as much transformation due to 3D printing as the construction industry. With the promise to easily design and create complex, specialized building materials, the way we build is completely being reimagined.
Beyond creating materials, the promise of 3D printing in construction is extraordinary — we may soon see an entire city built by 3D printers. The Dubai-based startup Cazza created a 3D-printing crane dubbed the “Minitank,” which can layer up to 2,153 square feet of concrete per day. This would make it 50% faster than traditional construction methods.
“It wouldn’t be skyscrapers right off the bat, but (the city of Dubai) really want to use our technologies for every aspect of construction,” said Chris Kelsey, CEO and co-founder of Cazza. “Unless there’s a random, unique material (required) … any structure you look at that was conventionally constructed, you can print with our machines.”
The Minitank has a neck that looks like a crane that can construct buildings up to three stories high. The company hopes to one day use it to 3D-print skyscrapers. This is all in line with Dubai’s ambitious 3D printing strategy created in 2016, which outlines a goal of having a quarter of all new buildings in the city constructed with 3D printing technology by 2030. The initiative, which Kelsey helped oversee, aims to make Dubai a global capital of 3D printing technologies by 2025 by focusing on three major sectors: construction, medical products, and consumer products.
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“The future will depend on 3D printing technologies in all aspects of our life, starting from houses we live in, the streets we use, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear and the food we eat,” said Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.
Dubai claims to have produced the world’s first building printed entirely from 3D printing technology. It was printed using a 3D printer measuring 20 feet high, 120 feet long and 40 feet wide, which featured an automated robotic arm to implement the printing process.
Dubai is not alone, as other countries are currently exploring how to print out livable homes. In 2014, the Chinese construction firm WinSun printed 10 one-story houses in a day in Shanghai. Last year, DUS architects printed a 13-room canal house in Amsterdam.
A Silicon Valley-based nonprofit called New Story is looking to 3D printing to help build safe housing for people who live in extreme poverty. The company worked with Icon, a construction technology company, to produce the Vulcan, a 3D printer that can build a house in a day for about $4,000. While New Story offers homes that take humans between 13 to 20 days to build, a 3D printed version will take between 12 to 24 hours.
3D printing has enormous potential to help in areas struck by disaster. The U.S. military is also exploring the use of 3D printing cities after disasters, when people need emergency structures built quickly. Also, 3D printing can also provide industrial parts and other items after a disaster. For example, soon after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, 3D printing was found to be extremely useful in creating replacement fittings and washers for water pipes that had been damaged.
“It’s that process of identifying the need, doing the design and then printing it out and fitting it out — and doing all that in less than 12 hours in a remote area,” said Andrew Lamb an engineering advisor for Field Ready, an organization that offered humanitarian aid in Nepal. “It’s a pretty important step forward, I think, for the use of this kind of technology.”
Medical 3D printing
3D printers are fairly straightforward when it comes to producing inorganic materials — place desired materials like plastic, ceramic, metal, concrete and even food into a compatible printer and it prints out a design. Printing with living materials presents a more challenging scenario that offers tremendous potential for healthcare.
Imagine being able to bioprint blood vessels and place them into a body. That’s what researchers at Harvard University are researching. They’ve designed a custom 3D bioprinter that uses dissolving ink to create tissue containing skin cells interwoven with structural material, which can potentially function as blood vessels.
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Called 3D bioprinting, it holds enormous potential for the future of healthcare. 3D bioprinting is the utilization of 3D printing techniques to combine living cells and other biomaterials to fabricate biomedical parts such as tissue-like structures. Organovo, an “early-stage regenerative medicine company”, created the NovoGen MMX Bioprinter to print skin tissue, heart tissue, blood vessels and other tissues suitable for surgical therapy and transplantation.
While bioprinting is in its infancy, hospitals are currently using 3D printers for hospitals labs, including printing patient-specific models prior to surgery to see a patient’s specific anatomy. At the Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s Cardiac 3D Print Lab, more than 300 hearts have been printed over the past four years to help doctors and surgeons.
“A doctor can look at and practice on a customized 3D printed model prior to surgery,” said Dr. Justin Ryan, a biomedical engineer and research scientist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s Cardiac 3D Print Lab. “Then we potentially have a better surgical outcome.” He says this will help training for a doctor, reduce surgical time and less anesthesia time for a patient. “Hopefully, it reduces morbidity and mortality.”
3D printers are also being used to print bone-related replacement parts including knees, hips, ankles, parts of the spine, and skull. In Holland, surgeons replaced the entire top portion of a woman’s skull with a printed implant made from plastic. And in China, a man with a crushed skull received a 3D printed, titanium replacement.
A printer has also been designed by researchers at the Wake Forest School of Medicine that can print skin cells directly onto a burn wound. A scanner is used to first determine the wound size and depth. Once relevant cells have been cultivated, the printer applies layers of cells to cover the wound. Unlike traditional skin grafts, this process only requires a patch of skin one-tenth the size of the burn to grow enough skin cells for skin printing.
3D printing into space and beyond
3D printing is also being used within the aerospace industry to create products for space exploration. 3D printers such as the HP Voxel have made it possible to produce specialized parts and prototypes quickly. Because of this, 3D printers have emerged as a valuable technology in space exploration, whether it be the production of specialized parts used in rockets, to the production of complex parts while in space.
The International Space Station has a 3D printer that allows astronauts to print out replacement parts on demand. This could, in effect, turn the space station into a working “machine shop” in space, which would be critical when explorers venture further into the outer reaches of space.
The future of 3D printing
At this point, the possibilities seem endless for 3D printing, as other industries are exploring this technology. The pharmaceutical industry is looking into using specialized 3D printers that can design pills that house several drugs, all with different release times. This would provide specialized solutions to those who suffer from a range of ailments and need to take a large number of pills. Consumers may be able to print clothes, household items, and jewelry.
Food may one day be printed with ingredients that can be extruded through a nozzle including sugar, cream, cheese, and flour. The automobile industry could benefit from printing car parts on demand.
The future will certainly be interesting, as our printers print more items we want, need and simply desire, right at our fingerprints.
Article Prepared by Ollala Corp