3D printing, an industry which was first launched in the early 1980s, has improved rapidly. The $7 billion industry has influenced many sectors in this time and has made its way into homes all around the globe. So, where are the hidden places you might not have noticed 3D printing being used?
The food industry has seen the usefulness of technology in the form of 3D printable vitamins. The benefits for customers choosing personalised 3D printed over traditional tablets is that nutrients can be tailored to meet a person’s exact dietary requirements. Vitamins and minerals which are already adequately consumed can be left out, minimising wastage and offering a cost-effective option to shoppers.
Cosmetic goods and luxuries are everywhere from boutiques to the aisles of pharmacies. Most of the manufacturing happens in large factories all over the globe. Smaller companies are creating their styles by using 3D printable moulds to set themselves apart from the crowd by creating uniquely designed toiletries such as bath bombs. Developments have also taken place in the way in which 3D printers can print without using a casing. The technology would allow the freedom to have one-off designs brought to life which wouldn’t be available otherwise.
Every person’s body is different, and patients needing prosthetic limbs need parts comfortable and fit for purpose. You might be surprised, but even a low-cost 3D printer has accuracy in its microns. Every part printed is virtually perfect. 4D printing is an area which will soon take 3D printing to the next level, moving from printing with simple materials like metal or plastic to smart materials. The change in materials will reduce the need to continuously monitor health as the smart material will support a body part by adjusting to changes in heat or shape.
3D printing is making a positive impact all around us. As we begin to shift from 3D printing to 4D, more exciting developments will start to emerge. These changes will not only be visible in medicine, but also in nutrition, cosmetics and in the automotive industry. Will we see self-repairing cars in the near future? Watch this space.