Fashion! Pizza! Action Figures! What’s New in the World of 3D Printing
By Whitney Moore on October 14, 2013
While 3D printers have already made a splash in the medical community and even the auto industry with their laser-precise ability to create parts that fit just about anywhere, here are a few other reasons we’re looking forward to the new tech.
1) We’ll get action figures of ourselves
Hamburg based company TwinKind has opened up a pop up shop that gives the word “selfie” a whole new meaning. Customers can now have a realistic looking replica of themselves cast in a 3D model just by standing for a moment in the 3D scanner. And this isn’t the shoddy, single-colored action figure we’ve seen created by 3D printers in the past; Twinkind produces a detailed, life like mini-you that’s available in sizes of around 15 cm to about 35 cm. If you’re ready to have a tiny you to give your Power Girl and Harley Quinn statues some company (what you do with them is none of our business), an action figure will run you from €225 (about $300 USD) to €1290 (about $1,720 USD.)
2.) SPACE PIZZA
NASA recently announced that one of its selections in the highly competitive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which aims to give grants to small businesses that might benefit a global market, is none other than a 3D printing project that could potentially develop food for astronauts on long missions. Systems and Materials Research Corporation, the geniuses who conceptualized a printer that could actually take all the necessary nutrients required to sustain a human and turn them into raw materials to print up a pizza, received a $125,000 grant for a six month research and development program. This not only means that astronauts can add variety and creativity to meals on future several-year-long missions to, say, Mars, but a printer that can create food is pretty exciting for the theoretical end of world hunger, too, even if it is just in its first stages of development. And while we think pizza is the obvious choice because it’s indisputably the best food out there, mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor has a few more technical reasons for picking pizza as the model for this ambitious goal. Because 3D printed food is created by layering ingredients one microscopic layer at a time, the pizza will be created by simultaneously printing and baking the dough layer, then adding a tomato sauce layer (stored as a powder, then mixed with water and oil), and topped off with a “protein layer,” which can be made of anything from animals, milk, plants or even bugs.
It didn’t take long for designers to adopt 3D printing as a new medium for creating unique, high fashion wearables. Designs that would take hours of painstaking modeling, melting and carving of materials are now able to come to form with a few simple clicks on a computer. Take, for instance, the intricate details in Nervous System, which sells jewelry pieces inspired by (you guessed it) the cell cycle, as well as taking nods from algae formations and fossil patterns. Design lovers looking for high end jewelry can look to Butterscotch of Brooklyn, where you can find a pretty geometric design cast in gold, silver, stainless steel and resin. Though the 3D printing of jewelry seems to lend itself to complex shapes and patterns, free form designs are emerging as well, a la the whimsical pieces courtesy of FreshFiber. Because 3D printing tech allows for custom fitting design as well, whole pieces suited to fit your body like an exoskeleton are being created as well.
What kind of 3D printed tech are you most excited about? Would you take a bite of space pizza or rock any of the jewelry seen here? Is it narcissistic to want an action figure of yourself? Let’s talk. Leave a quemment or tweet at me!