December 31, 2012

The stories that rocked my world in 2012 and made me fall in love with 3D printing

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I'm new to 3D printing but everything I read fills me with excitement and anticipation. There is such a sense — just like the early Internet days — that something big is happening and the world is about to change irrevocably, again.

I have been filled with awe reading about how the medical field is experimenting with 3D printing of cells, organs, vaccines and prosthetics. I have been amazed at the creativity of designers and plain hobbiest as they came up with the most amazing innovative looking objects. I have had the best time reading about 3D printing photo booths and was amused by the first feeble attempts at making 3D printed sex toys. I've been appalled by a pro gun group called Defense Distributed who is committed to printing a 3D gun and concerned about the challenges to copyright law which might clip the wings of this amazing technology on the verge of going mainstream thanks to affordable printers, an ever increasing choice of materials and vast collection of software models available online.

But what I loved the most, was finding out how 3D printing could be used for the social good. Here are my favorite projects for 2012:

1. 3D printing could make a huge difference to emergency responses, saving a fortune by printing things like tools, basic items and equipment on the ground from recycled materials, rather than flying them in from other countries.

2. 3D printed houses could rid the world of poverty-stricken slums characterised by make-shift corrugated iron shacks. Professor Behrock Khoshnevis' project would use materials costing 25 per cent less than traditional houses and would cut labour costs in half.

3. Perhaps my favorite project, from Kenya, 3D Printed shoes to alleviate jigger sufferers. Called Happy Feet, the project aims to use 3d printing to make customised shoes for people suffering from Jigger. Thus a right shoe can be made differently than a left, depending on the level of infestation. The shoes would be manufactured from reused plastic and would also be recyclable once they are worn out.

4. And finally, the "Homeless snow globe" a jewel of a concept and campaign by clever ad agency BBH to raise awareness on the plight of the homeless in Birtain. The homeforxmas.org website invited visitors to make a donation. Each day BBH selected one donor and made them a 3D printed snowglobe — featuring their own house.

emily | 3:56 PM | 3D printing basics explained, News
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