3D Sculpture: ‘Birds’ by Joe Doubek (youtube)
The Magical World of 3D Printing
This summer I began working for a company that designs and manufactures 3D printers. These particular printers take materials such as plastic, nylon, various metals and wood composites in filament form and heat them till they are soft enough to be extruded, layer-by-layer, into a three dimensional design. The layers can be even thinner than a piece of paper but in the end they add up to solid, sturdy objects. It’s mesmerizing to watch!
Now the task is to outfit schools and educational programs with printers so kids become comfortable using the technologies that will shape tomorrow. As advancements in medical, food science, and even architectural 3D printing technologies pick up speed, it’s exciting to imagine what’s around the bend.
And to think I was excited about Oregon Trail in first grade!
Inspiration in 3D
As I’ve learned more about the 3D printing industry, I’ve been inspired by the dreamers and the problem-solvers finding brilliant solutions to challenges the world over. I wanted to share a few of my favorites that I thought you might enjoy too.
Helping Honeybees – With all the obstacles honeybees are up against these days, from colony collapse to pathogens and pesticides, scientists in Aukland, New Zealand have figured out one way to support the bees. As you may know, some methods of harvesting honey destroy the honeycomb itself, leaving bee colonies to do the time consuming and energy zapping work of creating a new comb. By printing an exact replica of the honeycomb, these scientists can print in one afternoon, on one 3D printer, what it would take 60,000 bees to produce in one week. And the bees seem to be moving in and making themselves at home! Watch the full report here.
Students Printing Prosthetic Hands – Just down the road from where I live, high school students at the Mayfield Innovation Center are printing prosthetics for children who were born without hands or lost them in accidents. For just about $35 they can print all the parts needed to make an operable prosthetic that can grip objects or even throw a ball. That’s compared to $8,000 – $10,000 that a professional model might cost. They’re working with a generous grassroots organization called eNable which connects those who need hands with those who can make them, by providing their open-source designs. Read about 10 year-old Manny, who recently got a hand!
Printing Relief – When crisis hits a community where supplies are hard to come by, humanitarian agencies are realizing the potential of transportable 3D printers to create what they need on the ground. From umbilical cord clamps printed after the Haiti earthquake, to tailor made pipe fittings in Nepal, organizations are finding more cost-effective and agile ways to provide support through 3D printing. Read more about the inspiring work of some of these organizations here.
And those are just the tip of the ice berg! To think that all of these are inventions are already being printed today — who knows the capabilities tomorrow will hold!
I’ll leave you with a video of the kinetic sculpture pictured above. Almost all of the pieces and parts were made on a MakerGear M2 printer. Impressive work by Joe Doubek. Click through to his youtube channel to read more about his inspiration.