UPCOMING TECHNOLOGY - 3D printers have become increasingly popular in recent times, especially with recent provisions to enable printing of 3D objects at home. 3D printing is a revolutionary technology and a type of manufacturing technique that involves building successive layers of 3D objects using certain materials. The beauty of 3D printing technology is that it easily seeps into any manufacturing domain that is involved in construction of objects, regardless of their physical structure and complexity. At home, you can now print and use actual and fully functioning items like utensils, crockery, mechanical spare parts and even toys with utmost precision of design. At the industrial end, 3D printers have been used to build fully functioning parts for air-planes, cars and even complex furnitures! This is just a tiny gist of how powerful and useful 3D printing technology is to mankind. I’ll now talk about a few projects aimed to solve some of the most complicated problems in the history of mankind; all with the help of 3D printers!
Automating the production of habitable houses
Among the many disparities, our civilisation continues to face a state of uneven distribution of rights, like shelter for instance. The lack of adequate shelter is largely witnessed in 3rd world countries and there’s inadequacy with the conventional methods of building residential houses, which commonly arises a number of risky and unlawful problems.
Due to incessant rise in population, especially in urban areas of the world, the number of slum dwellers is rising. One billion people worldwide live in slums and the figure is projected to grow to 2 billion by 2030 – An excerpt from Wikipedia; statistics forecasted by United Nations.
But, there’s good news. A project is under cooks that is focused at eradicating all the negative outcomes of constructing houses – the project is called CRAFT - Centre for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies. It is aimed at scaling the 3D printing method to a level of automatically building a much stronger, completely habitable house within 20 hours and at the cheapest costs of production. And guess what, apart from it being an automated process, it’s also environmental friendly and capable of building exotic structures at no additional costs of production!
Printing precise exoskeletons to overcome certain physical disabilities
For years, the concept of a wearable exoskeleton for humans has been associated with cyborg-like suits that amplify human strength, typically intended for military purposes. They’ll take time to be perfected. But now, wearable exoskeletons are gradually working with smarter prosthetics for certain disabilities in people. The exoskeletons have been usually intended for adults and conforming to their physical size. One exceptional case of a 2 year old disabled child invited the need for an alternative way to build an exoskeleton for children.
This is very indicative that we’ll see more developments in coming years in the field of smart prosthetics. The video briefly explains how a child suffering from a permanent disability called arthrogryposis, was only able to use an exoskeleton because of 3D printing technology.
3D printed blood vessels are now a reality. While printed human kidneys and potentially other organs could take some time
Yes, you read it right. It is now possible to generate/ build functioning blood vessels. A news report talks about a new process called Dynamic Optical Projection Stereolithography, or DOPsL, that promises printing of blood vessels in mere seconds. Read more about 3D printed blood vessels using DOPsL at Neatorama. This being done, we could soon print all parts of a human body. However and whenever it happens, growing human limbs and organs would be outstanding.
The video explains and demonstrates the 3D printing process of blood vessels with sugar – A technique that was much in news before DOPsL.