This post has been migrated and imported into different systems over the years, I have not had a chance to format this post manually so it may be hard to read but I have left it here as a reference.
The following is a guest post by Garry Forster, enjoy!
The marriage of machines and computers was inevitable. The last three decades sent out clear signals. Today, this amalgamation has resulted in the birth of programmed mechanical devices which can perform astonishing tasks with minimum effort and time. These machines are also called robots and a 3D printer is one such equipment belonging to a particular class of “Robots”.
The first 3D printer was developed way back in 1984. It was designed and developed by Charles Hull.
So, what are 3D printers and what is so great about them? Well, 3D printers can create prototypes at the lowest possible cost, maintaining impeccable accuracy and that too at the fraction of the time taken by conventional tools. Some of the application areas include but not limited to; auto sector, aerospace, medical, mobile phone and telecommunication. Prototypes can be built from the scratch or copied using existing models which are then exploited for study, testing, display or even as product for sale and use.
In short these computer controlled machines have made the task of building mock-ups or usable products affordable and quick. 3D printers can complement several raw materials including metals, wood, stone, rubberlike and biocompatible photopolymers, and high-performance thermoplastics.
Mentioned below are some of the astounding creations you can make with 3D printers.
1. Kid Cars
Imagine this situation. You want to celebrate your kid’s birthday and he like a true male demands a toy sports car of his choice which is not available or made by any toy manufacturer. What you can do is simply contact a company who offers 3D printing services and ask them to make one for your kid by showing the picture or a video on YouTube. You can also mention the scaling ratio, color, and emblems and accessories that need to be incorporated.
2. Garden aeroplanes
Whether it is designing a scaled version of an airplane to be displayed at an exhibition or a model plane which you want to install in your garden for your kid, 3D printing is the answer. Imagine having a replica of famous jet fighter or a Concorde parked right in your front lawn or backyard. You can use this prop to host parties and family get together. Now isn’t that real fun?
3. Mobile phone jackets and covers
Need a customized cover for your expensive mobile phone or maybe a dash of special color or insignia? Yes! Then exploit 3D printer’s amazing features to create stunning covers which complement your personality. Valentine day is a perfect day to gift a customized mobile jacket to your loved one. Design one yourself and convert your thoughts into live product. You are sure to receive loads of love from your valentine for gifting such a unique cover which incidentally also conveys your emotions.
4. Artificial implants
Whether it is lung splints, small adapted joints or even major organs, a 3D printer proves its versatility. These organs give a new lease of life to the recipient as he/she doesn’t have to wait for eternity for a donor.
Organs modelled through 3D printer are typically coated with live cells and then implanted inside a human body. This makes sure the artificial implant is quickly accepted by the body and functions as an integral and natural part of the system. All this is possible with the help of 3D printer. Now, isn’t that amazing?
5. Home furnishings and accessories
Many crockery and home decor manufacturers use 3D printer to offer unique and innovative products. These are priced higher than the normal wares but guaranteed to fetch appreciative glance. The range includes coffee mugs cut out from porcelain, creative wall hangings, garden accessories, love tokens, clocks such as those sporting several large naked gears etc. Even curtains and curtain accessories are crafted out of 3D printer.
All these products offer your home or an office a “One of a kind” look.
6. Fashion accessories
A 3D printer allows designers/manufacturers to create some amazing fashion accessories such as:
a. Grid like belts with customized metal buckle.
b. Wristbands of various form factors and materials.
c. Hairs bands, clips and buckles.
d. Jewellery crafted with metal based material.
e. Shoes in different avatars, styles and materials.
7. Limited edition products
One of the cool features of any 3D printer is its versatility. You can create limited edition products such as chess pieces or a guitar based on customer specification or mass produce a particular product with a unique feel and finish, not offered by other regular manufacturers.
Limited edition product business is growing at a scorching pace. In such a scenario 3D printers play a vital role in transforming customer ideas into real, working products? 3D printer creations are used during weddings, anniversaries, corporate meetings and various exhibitions and seminars. This may include intricately carved podium walls; classic, ornate return gifts, paper weights and pen holders, and writing pads.
8. Patent registration
You have come up with a great concept. You have also managed to put this concept on paper by hiring a professional draftsman. The next obvious step would be to register under the patent laws. Hold on! You can go a step further and create a prototype of this concept and get the product registered. This offers several advantages. By developing a scale model using a 3D printer you are typically safeguarding the design, design elements and the working of your concept or idea.
9. Printing business
This isn’t exactly 3D printer creation. It is actually a business model. You as an entrepreneur can install several high end 3D printers and offer your services to companies who don’t have the manpower, infrastructure or enterprises who simply want to subcontract. It is a promising business project and offers great returns. Start one today and become a self employed person.
Apart from the above mentioned amazing creations a 3D printer is also used to create common goods such as toys, balls, busts of famous personalities and sports products. The list is endless. Another area where 3D printers rule and make their presence felt is prototyping tasks.
Garry Forster is an online blogger for 3D Stuff Maker ( http://www.3dstuffmaker.com/). He likes to blog on 3D printing Events, Ideas, Technologies which are related to 3D Printing and 3D Printing Tutorial. Follow him on Google+.