A company I was recently introduced to is the world's largest producer of 3D Titanium printed materials. Weapons, intricate machine parts, the list is unbelievable. Things I literally never even knew existed. NASA for example are sending a 3D printer up into space so that astronauts can print themselves tools or spare parts. Why lug an entire laundry list of spare parts if you can just print on demand?
The company founder and I spoke about where the future lies. Combining 3D printing with nanotechnology is completely mind blowing. Imagine a world where materials are "printed" only to move about and execute pre-programmed orders. The technology for this exists and is being tested NOW. Little nano bot armies being created, and re-creating themselves and other things.
Right now MIT's Skylar Tibbits are printing objects which can change shape. They do this using "shape memory plastics." Think of your favourite shoe, which is now moulded to your own foot, bunyons and all. Well, how about printing a new shoe which changes its shape according to your specifications?
Tailor made products in the future will be exactly that. Imagine for a minute a body scan which takes all your measurements, together with how you walk, run, swing a golf club, or sit in a chair. Feed this information into a computer which then produces you optimal clothing designs for your particular body. Now off to the printer you go and just print your shoes, trousers and shirts. Yes, clothing is being 3D printed.
Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing has already radically changed the prosthetics industry. Take a look at this video.
As nice as it may be to have really comfortable clothing... and how amazing it is to change peoples lives as shown in the video, where this technology gets really important is in life sciences.
There is a scene in Star Wars where Luke Skywalker has his hand repaired by robots. George Lucas knew nothing about 3D printing at the time (or did he?), but his depictions of a future replete with technology is startlingly accurate. Bio-printing involves the printing of human cells. Organs are tricky to print, but skin grafts through to blood vessels are much easier to print due to their structure being predominantly flat.
Printing skin commercially is very close to coming mainstream. It is now possible to utilize laser technology to generate a map of a wound together with precise measurements, and to then print a skin graft specifically for that particular wound. Say goodbye to generic and painful skin grafts.
While it's not mainstream yet, successful printing of bone and muscle implants have been conducted. Organs have already been bio-printed, though I've not come across any evidence of successful implants being done ... yet.
Source: Capitalist Exploits