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Five amazing things made with a 3D printer

21st September 2018

3D printing is about much more than creating plastic figures for Warhammer. Here Jack Dempsey, product manager at Box.co.uk, looks at five incredible things made with the fast-moving technology.

Bionic eye

We're not there yet, but just last month a scientist managed to successfully 3D print light receptors onto a curved surface. It's a significant step towards the world's first bionic eye, which could one day cure certain types of blindness.

Michael McAlpine was inspired to work towards a functioning artificial eye as his mother is blind in one eye.

First a base of silver particles was printed, and then semiconducting polymer materials were used to print photodiodes, which convert light into electricity.

Amazing.

Prosthetic limbs

Prosthetic limbs need to be tailored to the individual and are costly and timely to make. Step forward 3D printing.

Limbs and functioning hands are being printed in places like Sudan and Syria where war means lots of people have needs.

Some simple prosthetic arms have been created within 24 hours - and for around £15. They also tend to be lighter than other alternatives and can be made to perfectly match skin colour.

3D barracks

When an army arrives at a new location, it's important to set up a secure, safe base as soon as possible.

With this in mind, the US Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) recently constructed a prototype concrete barracks in under two days using what is believed to be the world's largest 3D printer.

Cement was squeezed through layer upon layer to create undulating walls.

More research is now underway to make the process even quicker and cheaper.

Jewellery

An American company is working on printing metal jewellery based on drawings. It could be a new design, or a recreation of a piece which doesn't exist any more other than in photos.

3D printers can create intricate metal designs much more easily than using traditional manufacturing methods.  

Food

3D printing has made its way into the culinary world, allowing chefs to create eye-catching designs with foods like puree, sugar and chocolate. They're being used in gourmet kitchens - but it's all a bit slow at the moment.

Also expect to see them soon in cake shops for impressive iced writing and designs.