3 Interesting Things 3D Printing Is Bringing to Real Life at Present

Image Courtesy of Victor Habbick /

Image Courtesy of Victor Habbick /

Many people would easily associate 3D printing to future technology, believing that its concept is still not something the current generation is already enjoying. Ask people on the streets if they believe that it is possible for a single machine to create a structure with intricate designs (a replica of a relic or artwork for example) and they would probably say that they doubt it.

3D printing technology is already a reality at present. It may still be in its infantile stages but it is already enjoying significant advancements. That movie about artwork thieves switching original sculptures with counterfeits created on the spot with a 3D printer could actually be a realistic scene.

Care to learn about interesting developments in 3D printing? Go over the following recent stories that showcase the advantages and potentials or 3D printing technology.

1. Reconstructing Baby Skull

No, this is not a case of a 3D printed skull replacing the defective skull of a baby. This is about reconstructing the skull to provide surgeons a better idea of what they should do as they plan a surgery.

Just recently, physicians at Stony Brook University had to operate on a baby diagnosed with anterior plagiocephaly or unilateral coronal synostosis. They decided to use a relatively new approach to reduce the duration of the operation.

With the help of Medical Modeling Inc., the Stony Brook doctors responsible for the operation planned the surgery in detail using before and after models created through 3D printing. Detailed planning was needed to have better accuracy in the actual operation. Through the 3D models, the surgeons had a better way of determining the proper actions. They even had cutting templates to help ensure cutting precision.

The operation was a success and the baby is now recuperating while donning a helmet to protect the newly-operated skull. This may not sound that impressive to some but the fact that 3D printing can provide surgeons a “testing ground” for their surgical approaches is already remarkable. Of course, nobody wants a trial and error surgery. Having the accurate anatomical models to work on is definitely a big advantage.

2. Creating Freestanding Metal Structures

The 3D printers of today are not limited to producing models or items that many would likely consider as “toys” or toy-like. Joris Laarman, an award-winning facility in The Netherlands, has created a robot capable of producing freestanding large objects made of metal. If you witness the robot at work, it looks as if it’s creating an object out of thin air.

Image Courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti /

Image Courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti /

Referred to as Mx3D-Metal, the 3D printer robot has both printing and welding capabilities. This combination of printing and welding skills allows the robot to create impressive freestanding structures made of various metals. It can sculpt interesting figures using stainless steel, copper, aluminum, and bronze. Yes, it works with real molten metal!

Who thinks Mx3D-Metal can give sculptors a run for their money? This robot produces gravity defying designs human sculptors may find very difficult to match. It does not even need an assistant. It does everything on its own after getting fed with the data it needs.

3. Providing DIYers the Ability to Create What They Need or Want

Without necessarily going too hi-tech, 3D printing also provides exciting opportunities for almost anyone to produce objects that they can model in a computer. Take the case of Christian Call. After he sustained a permanent injury on his right index finger, he looked for a prosthetic to use but the options available were beyond the prices he could afford. So he decided that doing his own prosthetic was the way to go.

Call was inspired by an online video of a 3D printer that produced plastic wrenches. He thought he could make use of the technology and build his own fingertip replacement. So he looked for a 3D printer for himself. He found one and it cost him $999.

With his own 3D printer, he proceeded to producing a flexing fingertip prosthetic he designed himself, for his own specific need. The prosthetic, as Call describes, acts like a real fingertip. It moves when he squeezes his finger toward his palm. He also created a version equipped with a magnet on the tip so it can be more usable in picking up light metal objects.

Image Courtesy of lamnee /

Image Courtesy of lamnee /

Current 3D technology may not be that impressive yet but it is certainly heading towards significant advancements that can yield more practical applications in real life, for more people. It can be a major component in the rise of the machines, in terms of hardware production. The three things mentioned above are just a few of the many interesting feats 3D printing can achieve. There are more to come and they are bound to amaze.