July 14, 2016

3-D Printing: how it works and how you can get it

3-d Hand

Recently, a local boy made the front page with a 3-D printed hand. While this technology is incredibly popular, many people don`t know about the technology and how interesting it actually is.

3D printing is a huge craze among both inventors and entrepreneurs.  It allows for quick prototyping without huge expensive laser cutters or assembly lines. How it works is similar to a regular printer, but, instead of ink, it uses plastic layers on top of each other.  Other options can cut from a plastic mold.

You’ve probably heard of people making things from a 3D printer, but now medical uses are starting to show up.  In order to have the level of precision used for the hand above, many sketches and plans were made to make sure that certain functions were possible. Those plans had to be converted into computer models for the machine to understand, and within a relatively short time, the prosthetic (plastic) piece can come out.  Not only can you 3D print an a prosthetic for external use, scientists are also exploring the use of 3D printed materials for internal use, such as augmentation to damage organs.

3-d Organ

Thingiverse, a website that has thousands of designs for anyone, has a feature that allows people who don`t have a printer an opportunity to have these incredible items. Simply ask them to print the item for you, and companies can print them and send them to you for a small fee… though I don’t know that they are prepared to sell you prosthetics yet!

This technology is already in our lives and is going to continue to grow. I am excited to see what the future holds with this technology.

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