Chocolate Brains, Assault Weapons & Fetuses: 3D Printers Now Make EverythingSo this is happening: A Japanese company is using 3D printers to manufacture novelty replicas of unborn fetuses. Pregnant women and expecting couples can purchase the fetus, which is enshrined in clear lucite, for $1,300. According to Mashable, Fasotec, the printing company, calls its product “Tensi no Katachi,” or “Shape of an Angel," and it can be blown up or scaled down to a size of your choosing. The end result, Mashable quips, is “kind of like a snow globe — of your unborn child.”
Keychains and cell phone charms are also available.
So, with the great fetus frontier finally breached, 3D printing is officially doing everything. It is creating tangible products out of our most warped or offbeat visions, while also allowing the manufacture of already extant exotic and difficult-to-obtain items. So I present to thee a quick tour of the gamut of goods 3D printing is churning out as we speak: Starting, as we must, with fetuses, and ending with assault weapons.
This post will not aspire to answer questions like: Will 3D printing change the face of manufacturing forever? Is 3D printing the great bolded future? No, for now, let’s be content to observe the brain-busting stuff 3D printing has rolling out of its tiny labs around the world right now.
Along the lines of the fetus-dupes … via Inition:
Inition co-founder Andy Millins gave his MRI brain scan data which he had on file after participating in an Imperial College research project. The team got to work by first extracting a 3D model from the sliced-image MRI data which was then 3D printed and used to create a latex mould for the casting of the chocolate brain. After consuming his own brain, Andy Millins, co-founder at Inition said: “I’ve been involved in some weird 3D projects over the years at Inition but eating my own chocolate brain was one of the most bizarre . We hope the detailed how-to on Instructables will give others food for thought.”
Artist/engineer Theo Jansen is world famous as the creator of Strandbeests—giant, incredibly complex sculptures that take on a life of their own in the wind. And now you can 3D print them. Your personal copy would look like this:
Shapeways, the 3D printing retailer, has the pitch: It’s "a fully working Theo Jansen mechanism as used in his work “the Rhinoceros”. The mechanism is printed assembled, and will work without further assembly right after birth from the printer. Also see our new Propeller Propulsion add-on, to have your Strandbeest walk autonomously!"
Yeah, burritos. Abdullah Saeed explains over at the Creator’s Project: “The culmination of Manriquez’s studies at Tisch is his Burritob0t, a device that applies the technique of 3D printing … to making burritos with exactly the right amounts of beans, sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole, etc.”
Kidneys & Livers
Let’s get back to organs, why don’t we. Except these are for real—researchers hope 3D-printed kidneys and livers will one day alleviate the need for organ donations. Anthony Atala prints an almost-kidney onstage at TED, and MIT researchers are getting closer to recreating the human liver in a 3D printer.
In a previos Motherboard post, Michael Byrne recounted the story of a three year-old who can move her arms today thanks to a 3D printed exoskeleton called WREX.
Nuke Lamps & Other Crazy Collectible Ephemera
Perhaps this is currently the predominant use of 3D printing in the non-industrial sphere—crazy, funky shit, made to order! Coffee mugs, lamps, fashion accessories, etc. 3D printing is on it. How else could you get yourself a Nuke Lamp?
Yeah, you heard about this. A clone of King Tutankhamun’s mummy was reconstructed with materialise, a Belgian 3D printer.
Hybrid Flying Saucer Cars
Fast Company says:
How about a hybrid car that has literally been printed out? Stratasys and Kor Ecologic recently teamed to develop Urbee, the first car ever to have its entire body 3-D printed with additive manufacturing processes … It’s efficient, too. Urbee, which competed in the 2010 X-Prize Competition, gets up to 200 mpg on the highway and 100 mpg in city conditions using either gasoline or ethanol.
Finally, something 3D printers make that can kill you. MB’s Adam Clark Estes reports:
an amateur gunsmith who goes by the handle “HaveBlue” has … now graduated from building a pistol that successfully fired 200 rounds in testing to assault rifle that looks combat-ready. And the scary thing is that it’s not that hard. HaveBlue simply found the plans for the AR-15, a semiautomatic weapon used by militaries around the world, online and tweaked the file so that his late-model Stratasys printer could read it and then spent about $30 on the ABS plastic feedstock to use as the raw material. Making the gun was almost as easy as hitting PRINT.—
This is just the tip of the soon-to-be-3D-printed iceberg, too. Houses are on the way. 3D printed custom pets? Yeah, in not too long. But for now, we have seen a glimpse of the future of manufacturing, and it is fascinating, frivolous, potentially life-saving, and ridiculous. Fine: it couldn’t be any other way.