3D printing is a very interesting form of manufacturing technology in my opinion. With it come a variety of applications which can change a large variety of industries in the world, including the consumer industry. I want to highlight one of the applications which involve the creation of custom dolls, action figures, and bobble heads – all of which use 3D printing & YOU. This manufacturing process allows for the manufacturing of you.
Before I jump into the applications, I want to briefly cover what 3D printing actually is. To say it plain and simple, 3D printing is the layer by layer creation of products, sometimes referred to as additive manufacturing. The actual process of 3D printing involves a designer or artist actually designing a piece to be manufactured through a 3D image. The printer itself will have to call upon a design of some kind to create a product. These products are made layer by layer by these machines known as 3D printers. The 3D printers themselves will actually call upon the designs, as they act as a blueprint. The systems that these printers follow are known as CAM systems, or computer aided manufacturing systems. In a nut shell, this means the computer within the machine will tell the machine where to start creating these products. When it comes down to actually creating the product, the printer will have to lay down layers of material on a build tray. These layers are laid down at detail levels as high as 11 microns, which is about a fourth of the diameter of a human hair – that’s a pretty high resolution!
There are all sorts of applications that come about from this manufacturing technology. One of these applications is truly custom products. Some of these products revolve heavily on you, the consumer. Some of these companies that work with 3d printing revolve around the actual design and recognition of customers’ faces, bodies, and attributes. What do I mean when I say this? Well, businesses are beginning to use software, 3D scanning, and modeling to recreate YOU as a customer. Some businesses revolve around 3D printed bobble heads. Others work around 3D printed action figures. Some offer 3D printed dolls. There are quite a few possibilities when it comes down to actually being able to replicate a person. Just keep that in mind when shopping for the next Christmas gift – you can print someone as an action figure! Pretty cool right?
On top of this, there are some other cool advancements coming along through the world of 3d printing. One of the applications I want to talk about is organ replication. That’s right, recreating organs. Anthony Atala and his team are working to reproduce organs through 3D printing! This process works well so far with simple organs, like bladders. Skin has also been replicated, and parts of kidneys have also worked. Essentially, this process involves doctors extracting cells from a patient, and laying them down layer by layer in certain patterns, which resemble certain organs, and then having them generate. More is definitely on its way when discussing 3d printing; there are already quite a few ways to print… you.