The world of 3D printing is far from being a gimmick

Monday 3 April, 2017

I’ve been watching the world of 3D printing evolve over the past few years. Initially my thoughts were that it was a bit of gimmick, basically we would be able to buy a $5000 printer and print out a whistle. How wrong I was.


3D printing is truly extraordinary and right here right now, it is transforming industries around the world. The reality is that 3D printing enables one off manufacturing at an extraordinary level. It has applications across every industry and as always, there are those early adopters who have taken the bull by the horn.

To really showcase the diversity and the potential of 3D printing, here are seven examples that show just a little of the potential of this incredible technology. 

1. 3D printing a human kidney.

Early experiments have demonstrated that we could certainly be printing human organs as a fairly mainstream medical procedure before we know it. Whole tissues and organs are being produced and every week, this technology is advancing. Imagine how the world would change if organs could be 3D printed as opposed to harvested from donors?

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2. 3D printing a complete house - no plumbing needed, fully self-sufficient

This is extraordinary - a complete house, albeit a small cabin style house, fully 3D printed and totally self sufficient in terms of power. There are a number of companies producing these houses around the world and they are cheap (less than $10,000 USD) and fast to print and assemble. Imagine how this could impact housing around the world, particularly in developing countries.

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3. 3D printing a Tyrannosaurus Rex Skeleton

The scientific field has been quick to embrace 3D printing. By being able to turn scans of fossils into printed skeletons, incredible advancements are being made. One of the biggest and most impressive 3D printing exercises was a complete Tyrannosaurus Rex Skeleton

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4. 3D printing prosthetic limbs

The medical applications for 3D printing go beyond organs to include actually printing our customised prosthetic limbs. This technology is being applied in countries where landmines have created generations of people with missing limbs. Of course there are some limitations, but being able to print customised replacement limbs on a mass scale, will give a lot of people a much better quality of life.

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5. 3D printing of Mummies - 2000 year old Mummy’s face

Archaeologists are using 3D printing to learn more about the artefacts that they find without damaging the original piece. This will in turn provide astonishing facts and observations that have previously been unknown, simply because of the limitations of science.

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6. 3D printing a full colour inkjet 3D printer

This one is just kind of fun, but at the same time, it shows the potentially self-sustaining nature of 3D printers. If your current 3D printer is on the way out, you simply print a new one. Now I doubt that it’s that simple, and I’m pretty sure you still need someone who knows how to put it together, but those issues will become less significant, especially as new products are designed with 3D printing in mind (there is talk of car engines being made in modules that can be 3D printed and simply plugged together like Lego blocks).

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7. 3D printing a lawnmower

In a more practical and relevant sense, 3D printing has the potential to change a lot of our daily life.  For example, getting household items and appliances printed, like a lawnmower. This sounds kind of nice, but think about all of the items around your house that you’ve purchased and need to replace periodically?

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These are just a few examples of 3D printing as it stands today. And the minute this article came out, it was out of date with what has been developed somewhere in the 3D printing world at this moment.

What are the limits? Who knows but we are right at the beginning of this incredible technology that some experts say it is as potentially transformational as the Internet. As more industries grasp the potential, apply it to their needs and problems, it is certain to start gathering pace.

Of course there will be winners and there will be losers, this is the result of any technology. It’s coming, and it’s coming fast, so the question is how will 3D printing impact your business?

In 10 years time 3D printing will be a part of our everyday life, especially as printers get faster, cheaper, more specialised and more accessible. There is little doubt about that. Their true potential is nowhere near realised but it will most certainly be extraordinary

If you’re a business in Brisbane register here to access up to 7 hours free print time with Creat3d Brisbane Lab


About the contributor:

Andrew Griffiths is Australia’s leading Small Business author with 12 books published and currently sold in over 60 countries. He is widely acknowledged as one of the leading minds in the Small Business space. He is a regular columnist on out of New York, a Small Business commentator for CBS, a Mentor in the highly acclaimed Key Person of Influence programme and much more. Touting his own unique style of street-smart wisdom and inspiration, Andrew really is one of a kind. Website: 

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