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The World Of 3D Printing In 2015
Posted on December 4th, 2015 by Chris Walker in New Materials & Applications
With the end of the year rapidly approaching, now seems like a good time to look back, take stock and notice some of the technological advances that have been made this year. Today we’re going to focus on the world of 3D printing.
Although still not suitable for mainstream manufacturing, year on year, the 3D printing industry is making strides towards becoming a viable option for a wide range of applications. Development in the materials used, the equipment employed to print and the creativity of those applying this technology are all contributing to the growth of the industry.
Developments In 2015
At the recent IDTechEx show, Israeli company PV Nano Cell were recognized for their development of a range of innovative single-crystal, conductive inks. Their material portfolio, going by the name of Sicrys, makes it possible to use fast and inexpensive inkjet printing technologies on a range of flexible substrates. The materials also make it possible to print 3D electronics.
The use of 3D printing for electronics is an area with huge potential and is one which will see significant investment over the coming years.. As well as the shorter-term possibilities of this technique being used in prototyping PCBs, it should also become a cost-effective method for manufacturing larger quantities.
A team at the Wake Forest Institute For Regenerative Medicine, as well as several others around the world, are looking into using 3D printing to build new organs or body parts. Although still a long way off being able to print more complex body parts, the technology has been used to print an ear. The ears were printed using a gel made up of living cells which over several months, grew new cartilage to replace the original mould structure holding them together.
Looking Forward To 2016
There have been a few hints of new technology and products we’ll see in 2016 in the realm of 3D printing. Let’s take a look at a couple
Custom Fit, 3D Printed Shoes
One of the big advantages 3D printing has over other manufacturing techniques is the relatively low cost of customization. Feetz.com are looking to exploit that by offering uniquely fitted, 3D printed shoes and will be launching their product soon.
In their owns words, “Feetz is the digital cobbler using 3D printing technology to personally fit shoes to you. We offer 7 billion sizes: 1 for everyone in the world”. Making use of the Feetz app, customers will be able to upload photos of their feet and have the company print perfectly fitting shoes.
The Worlds First 3D Printed Car
A team at Local Motors have their sights set on developing the first 3D printed car that meets all of the safety requirements for getting their car on the road.
A first model, called the LM3D Swim was unveiled at the SEMA show earlier in the year. Local Motors are aiming for a retail launch of the car towards the end of 2016, with an early-bird launch in Q2 of 2016. Over the next 12 months we should see more designs added to the range too.
Development in the world of 3D printing has been motoring along for a few years now. We’re just starting to see applications of this technology working their way into the mainstream. There could be some interesting developments over the next couple of years as 3D printing becomes more advanced, cost effective and accessible.
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