3D printing technology is rapidly altering our world and influencing our approaches to persisting problems. In particular, I find the opportunities and developments in design and medicine among the most compelling. From maximizing the inventor’s efficiency and expanding his creative scope to offering dynamic solutions to challenges in the medical field, 3D printing is set to improve quality of life. Here are some of my favorite innovations to watch.
Complex brick designs, created by Brian Peters of Design.Lab.Workshop, eliminate the need for molds, expanding the possibilities of unique design and architecture solutions. These bricks, for example, are 3D-printed honeycomb segments that interlock to create a structure.
In Tokyo, 3D-printed models simulate the tissue, tumors, blood vessels, and behavior of human organs, allowing student surgeons to refine their skills with the scalpel without real risk. In the future, experienced surgeons may explore options and test surgical solutions on models of patients’ organs. One day, the hope is to use this 3D printing technology to produce functional transplant organs.
Using the technology of 3D printers, this unique pen produces hot malleable plastic that cools to create a solid structure. Artists and designers are no longer confined to flat sketches of multi-dimensional structures on paper. Users can plug in the 3Doodler and draw in three dimensions, creating instant models. Inventors, in particular, can use the pen for an engaging, hands-on experience with their early ideas—an invaluable opportunity.
Created by Open Bionics in Bristol, England, this robotic, prosthetic hand uses steel cables to simulate tendons, which are attached to motors in order to maximize dexterity and user control. The user’s arm is scanned in order to design a custom fitted hand complete with contoured skin and knuckles. Open Bionics is currently working to offer a low-cost prototype to amputees in 2016.
I’m always looking to learn about the latest innovation. What 3D printing opportunities most excite you? Share them with me on Twitter with the hashtag #Best3D.