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3D Printing technology is constantly evolving and definitely has a lot in its pocket for the future. The level of customization that the technology offers opens up the door for its application in many industries, allowing it to solve a lot of problems. This write-up will leave you with a glimpse of work in progress in the 3D Printing Industry.
3D Printed Food
If food was just meant to satisfy hunger, it wouldn’t be a very thoughtful selection. Someone has rightly said, “You are, what you eat”. While we are getting busier everyday and are more prone to diseases, wouldn’t it be cool if a single meal of ours could supply all the nutrients that our body needed and wouldn’t have the ingredients which is harmful for a particular individual.
With 3D Printed food this can be very much possible. The big brains have already started working on redefining food production. Food 3D Printing works similar to normal 3D Printing: material is extruded and deposited layer by layer on a surface. During food printing, edible materials are inserted via a syringe like container. The technology allows precisely measuring and placing each calorie and nutrient as the food gets ready. Dishes can be made in any desired shape.
Possibilities with food 3D Printing is many: ingredients can be combined in different ways to address specific nutritional needs, saving us with a lot of time that we spend in manual selection of food. It will help us tackle obesity. Synthetic meat products could be 3D Printed by using cultured cells. This can be a great boon during the times of disaster management. Experts are working hard to gain control over the textural aspects of 3D Printed food, from storage to baking. They may also come up with diet foods which would leave us feeling full and would help refrain from snacking.
3D Printed Shoes
Uncomfortable footwear can be a great pain. For long the footwear industry has been operating on the model of one size fits all. We get to chose from limited shoe sizes, besides the fact that even though the length of both your feet may be same, but each might require different size of shoes. With 3D Printing, we can hope to get a resolution for the same.
A San Diego based startup; Feetz is working on the concept and has come up with a limited version of customized 3D Printed shoes. They are using a smartphone app to capture three photos of foot from different angles, which is used to create exact fit footwear. Biggies like Nike, Adidas, and New Balance have started using 3D Printing for producing running shoes and cleats. Under Armour is the first among the industry to make 3D Printed shoes that could be used for performance training. The shoe uses a 3D-printed lattice midsole. Along with 3D Printing, the company is also using Generative Design technology. Generative design technique tries to copy nature’s evolutionary approach to design.
For this shoe, the inspiration was tree roots; which holds the entire weight of a tree. Software called 'Within from Autodesk' was used to create very specialized lattice structures which could be achieved only by 3D printing. The technology allowed the company to experiment with a lot of iterations and try a lot of permutation and combination while staying very close to the same concept.
3D Printed Organs
With the success of 3D Printed human organs we will be able to handle biology like we handle information technology. The work is on; let’s talk about the progress so far.
The catch behind planting a 3D Printed organ is to place the right type of cell at the right spot. Nature takes over from there, if everything goes well different types of cells arrange themselves and fuse together on their own. 3D Printing gives us the hope of creating tailor made complex organs like liver kidney and heart for a person’s body, from her own cells so that the body does not reject it.
The implantation tests of 3D Printed skin, ears, bone, and muscle have been successful on animals. However, 3-D- printed organs are not yet ready for human transplant.
3D Printing Redefining Air Travel
Airbus and Autodesk are working on a concept plane which is said to redefine air travel. Their mission is to make jetliners more efficient and comfortable. They understand that people define comfort differently. For some it would mean greater accessibility and privacy, while for others it would be freedom to use technology to work, play and collaborate.
Hence, these technology giants are making an effort to customize comfort on a flight. The panoramic views in the plane will make you feel like a free bird. The concept plane is being designed in a way to make it more eco-friendly. According to an estimate by Airbus, the new design will be much lighter and could save up to 465,000 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
A partition that separates the passenger compartment from the galley in the Airbus A320 cabin is being redesigned. The new design is called Bionic partition. Generative design and 3D Printing are the two enablers of this structure. The design inspiration was derived from mammal bone growth, which is dense at points of stress and lighter everywhere else. The resulting Bionic partition is structurally very strong as well as very lightweight.
According to Airbus, it weighs 45% (30 kg) less than current designs. Final stress on the partition will be performed soon, which will then be followed by a certification test by aviation authorities. If everything goes well, we will get to see the partitions in commercial A320-series planes by 2018.
Consumer 3D Printing
3D Printing offers endless possibilities of customization along with no minimum volume requirements for production. This makes the technology worth being adopted by the common mass. We at Morphedo, aim to democratize manufacturing by making the power of creation accessible to all. We are almost ready to launch a 3D Printing marketplace for 3D Printer Owners (Makers) and 3D Designers where people explore and make unique products.