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We Never Imagined People Could Use 3D Printing To Make These Things
Will Root

Cheap, Custom 3D Printed Prosthetics Are Already Changing Patient’s Lives

One area where 3D printing has advanced rapidly is the limb prosthetics field. The cost of a prosthetic limb can range from $5,000 to $80,000, depending on the quality. For growing children who need frequent upgrades, those expenses can pile up fast. Enter 3D printing technology, which has the ability to produce prosthetics faster and cheaper than traditional means. For example, a basic prosthetic arm may cost a few thousand dollars and take up to six weeks to produce. An equivalent 3D-printed arm can be built for under $500 in less than a day.

Even better, 3D-printed prosthetics can be customized to meet each patient’s needs and are often lighter and more comfortable than other types of prosthetics. This helps patients heal and adapt to their new limbs with greater ease. The use of 3D printing also allows for the integration of sensors that improve prosthetic performance and comfort. These sensors can help the prosthetic adjust to a patient’s body based on what activities they are performing with the prosthetic limb.

We Never Imagined People Could Use 3D Printing To Make These Things
Inside Edition/YouTube/Science Alert

3D-Printed Prosthetics Give Injured Animals A New Lease on Life

Humans aren’t the only ones benefiting from 3D printing technology. Dogs, cats, horses, and birds who were injured or born with missing limbs have been able to receive 3D-printed prosthetics. Some animals have gotten their 3D-printed wheels to help them get around faster. A toucan received a life-saving, 3D-printed beak prosthetic after losing its beak to skin cancer. An alligator whose tail was cut off by poachers received a giant 3D-printed tail that moves perfectly with its body and even allows him to swim.

Perhaps one of the most impressive 3D animal prosthetics cases is that of Fred the Tortoise, who lost most of its shell in a forest fire in its native home in Brazil. A team of artists pored over dozens of pictures of healthy tortoise shells to design a 3D model just for Fred. The final 3D-printed shell had to be printed in four parts, each of which took over 50 hours to build, to ensure that the prosthetic shell was as sturdy and comfortable as the real thing. When the pieces were fitted together like a puzzle, the result was the first functional tortoise shell ever 3D printed.

We Never Imagined People Could Use 3D Printing To Make These Things
Dimitris Siali

Your Next Bike, Car, or Boat Could Be 3D Printed

A brand new sportscar or speedboat may be way out of your price range. But, with a 3D printer, you might be able to make the vehicle of your dreams a reality. Some car companies are embracing 3D printing tech to build prototypes, produce lighter car parts, test engines, and aid in manufacturing. Czinger made history with its superfast 3D-printed hybrid sportscar. The record-breaking car will run you about $2 million. Of course, there are much cheaper 3D printing options. People around the globe are using 3D printers to build their dream cars at a fraction of the cost of real things. Take the father and son team that built a custom Lamborghini in their garage for only $20,000.

In 2019, the University of Maine launched a 3D-printed boat so large that it broke the record for the largest 3D-printed object up to that point. Newer 3D-printed boats are more focused on performance and sustainability than size. Some companies even recycle old boats to 3D-print new ones in a zero-waste process. 3D-printed bikes are on a similarly sustainable path, with multiple companies dedicated to printing high-quality bikes from entirely recyclable materials. Beyond sustainability, 3D-printed bikes are also proving to be capable of exceptional performance. In fact, the current record holder for the fastest bike in the world was 3D printed.

We Never Imagined People Could Use 3D Printing To Make These Things
Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty

3D Printers Allow You To Have a Face-Off

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to try on a different face, this Japanese 3D-printing company has got you covered. The company specializes in masks that are so hyperrealistic they’re almost unnerving. The masks are created by taking a detailed face scan that is perfectly replicated in three dimensions. Glass eyes lend an eerily life-like appearance to the completed masks. The masks are so realistic that they may even be able to trick AI face recognition.

The mask maker is also the owner of a theater supply shop. He got the idea to create uncanny face masks as a fun dress-up accessory. The masks are expensive and are made from inflexible plastic, which makes them impractical for anything other than a bit of fun. But for people who want to take their Halloween costumes or cosplay to the next level, actors performing on stage, or even people who just want to look like someone else for the day, the masks could offer a one-of-a-kind experience. Still, it’s pretty easy to imagine how the masks could be used for nefarious purposes.

We Never Imagined People Could Use 3D Printing To Make These Things
Prado Museum

3D-Printed Artwork Lets Visually Impaired People “See” Art

Seeing a masterpiece like the Mona Lisa or Starry Night is an awe-inspiring experience. 3D printing is making it possible for people who are blind and visually impaired to join in that experience for the first time. Museums around the world use 3D printers to produce highly-detailed representations of visual art that people who can’t see are able to touch. This brilliant intersection of technology and art takes a painting like the Mona Lisa and creates a 3D relief print that allows the audience to feel the brushstrokes, shadows, and highlights with their fingertips.

3D printing also allows experts to produce detailed recreations of damaged or lost works of art. For example, two researchers used AI and 3D printers to recreate a lost Van Gogh painting that the artist painted over more than a century ago. Similarly, a Picasso painting that was hidden under another of his works was revealed with 3D printing. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, many innovative artists are using 3D printing to create works that defy the imagination. Sculptures are reshaping the art world with sculptures that could not physically exist without 3D printing technology.

We Never Imagined People Could Use 3D Printing To Make These Things
In Utero 3D

Expecting Parents Can Hold Their Baby Before It’s Born

One of the exciting moments for soon-to-be parents is the first time they see their baby in a sonogram. More advanced ultrasound technology allows parents to see highly detailed 3D images of their little one. When combined with 3D printing, the tech can produce a 3D model of the baby that parents can actually hold in their hands. One company even lets you print a tiny 3D model of your baby that you can wear or use as a keychain. That’s quite the step up from the blurry sonogram images of yore.

3D-printed sonograms are just a novelty. For blind and visually impaired parents, the models are a whole new way to “see” their unborn baby. In a heartwarming viral video, an expectant mother who is blind is able to touch an ultrasound 3D-printed model of her son’s face. This type of ultrasonic 3D printing technology is also being used to do everything from targeting cancer tumors and kidney stones to the production of “impossible” geometric structures.


Where Do We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

The 9 Coolest Things That Have Been 3D Printed

8 Crazy Things People Have Made with 3D Printers

The 10 Strangest 3D Printed Objects

The 15 Weirdest 3D Printed Things

The 5 Coolest, Most Innovative Things Ever 3D Printed

The World’s Coolest and Craziest Things to Be 3D Printed

12 amazing 3D printed objects