The Latest Developments in 3D Printing
2016 has certainly been a year when 3D printing began to surge forward. Researchers and manufacturers across the world are trying out new and ingenious ways to incorporate the technology, driving forward innovations that could see printers in all our homes in a short time, doing everything from building products to producing our nightly snacks. Here are just some of the recent developments across the world:
Reducing Costs for Renewables
We’re getting used to 3D printing being used for manufacturing processes nowadays and it’s currently helping an American research facility create blade moulds for wind turbines. The weighty 6 foot sections for the blade have been produced by an extra-large 3D printing mechanism and it has produced results much faster than many other industrial devices on the market today. Scaling up has been one of the big issues in 3D printing so expect more in this area over the next couple of years.
Mixing 3D with Recycling
A German start-up is working on a new kind of home and office shredder that can convert plastic bottles and scraps into pellets that can then be used for 3D printing. The SHRED-Buddy 3D also practices what it preaches and is a 3D printed model itself. The outfit were funded using a Crowdstarter account and are now looking to commercialise their device. If it works, it could solve a problem we have with repurposing our waste plastic and turn it into something a lot more useful.
3D Food and Cooking
There has been plenty of research going on around the world to try and create a viable 3D printer that can produce your daily snack. Researchers at Columbia Engineering think they are close to developing a 3D device that can not only print nutritional food but cook it for you as well. All you need to do is put frozen food into one of the printer’s 8 slots and let the machine do the rest. Of course, at the moment, it’s all a bit of an experiment, trying to find the food types that work best but the future could have us printing out the Sunday lunch rather than slaving over a hot stove all morning. Just what it will taste like is anyone’s guess.
The Rise of 3D Printing
Plenty of countries around the world are putting their resources into 3D printing. In South Korea, the government has introduced tax exemptions for companies carrying out research and development in this important area and Japan’s 3D market has now been valued at some 35 million Yen despite a recent fall off. 3D printing has helped with a jewellery start-up in India that is now worth $5 million dollars and the Russians are toying with the idea of using the process in their nuclear industry. It seems that the concept of 3D printing has attracted the attention of everyone from artists to serious scientists, manufacturers and governments.
This focus on one technology should lead to some major developments over the next few years. The two key issues of 3D printing are how to bring the cost down and how to make devices more flexible, something that has, so far, prevented it from being taken up by most households. Once these problems are solved the 3D market could have a significant impact on all our lives.