Feb.6, 2013

What would you build, if you could create anything?

In North Carolina, Dr. Anthony Atala is printing an ear using a 3D bio-printer. He says it is "the same printing technology you have at home, but instead of printing sheets of paper with ink, we're actually printing tissues with cells." Dr. Atala's goal is to transplant 3D printed organs directly into patients.

3D printing is being widely used in making functional parts in many industries, such as aerospace. 3D printed parts are often lighter and cheaper than parts made with traditional methods. Hollywood is using 3D printing to make costumes, like parts and suits in Iron Man 2.

Hod Lipson from Cornell University is a leading experts on 3D printing. He has done research in 3D printing, product design, artificial intelligence, and smart materials. His recently book "Fabricated" tells the story of 3D printers and describes our emerging world of printable products, where people design and 3D print their own creations as easily as they edit an online document.

"A 3D printer transforms digital information into a physical object by carrying out instructions from an electronic design file, or "blueprint." Guided by a design file, a 3D printer lays down layer after layer of a raw material to "print" out an object. That's not the whole story, however. The magic happens when you plug a 3D printer into today's mind-boggling digital technologies. Add to that the Internet, tiny, low cost electronic circuitry, radical advances in materials science and biotech and voila! The result is an explosion of technological and social innovation."

3D printing has gone main stream. Bre Pettis, co-founder of Makerbot, tells that more than 15,000 makerbot 3D printer has been sold. Their biggest customers are NASA and GE. He calls the arrival of 3D printing the new industrial revolution. Makerbot's online marketplace Thingiverse allows 3D models to be shared and downloaded for free. "Back in 2008, you could download movie, you could download music, but you couldn't download things," explains Pettis.

Cody Wilson in Austin, Texas, a law student wants to build a printable gun, that anyone can download and build using a 3D printer. "I don't think you should be armed, right? But I think you should have the choice to be," he says. He is printing gun parts for avoiding breaking any laws.

3D printers have arrived: You can make anything you want, just by pressing "print". "welcome to your printable future." says Wilson.






Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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