It just ocurred to me that humans are kinda-sorta biological 3d printers—we make babies. To celebrate this not-so-original showerthought, I figured I’d put together a list of some of the coolest things people are doing with 3D printing technology.

 

But first, here’s a quick overview of what 3D printing actually is:

 

 

Not really sold on the idea yet? Check out what one artist is using the technology for:

 

 

Pretty neat, huh? Here's more:

 

Controllable Prosthetics

 

People who have lost limbs, or didn’t have them to begin with, had to simply deal with ill-fitting and uncomfortable prosthetic limbs for the longest time.

 

Now, while we can’t simply print out a whole human hand (yet!), we can use 3D printing to make custom prosthetic limbs for those who need it. Plus, there are incredibly exciting ideas like this one, a controllable prosthetic arm:

 

 

Future Foods

 

I kinda lied when I said “Now, here are some of the coolest things that we can 3D print today”, because this particular idea is still in the developmental stage. But it’s too cool to not include in this list:

 

 

Chloe Rutzerveld proposes that, one day soon, we’re going to be able to print these little balls of dough that we can just pop into our mouths (after letting them grow for a bit), and eat not just a cool-looking snack but something that’s also nutritious.

 

And hopefully, palatable.

 

Express-Delivery Homes

 

While it’s not unfathomable that we can eventually design massive 3D printers that will literally print a whole home from scratch, structures that are 3D printed today are usually printed in sections and then put together on site.

 

Which is still pretty awesome.

 

Back in 2014, a Chinese company called Winsun New Materials built 10 buildings in 24 hours by 3D printing the walls off-site and then assembling them to make perfectly sound buildings:

 

 

Like the video says, the roofs weren’t 3D printed because of technological limitations. But I’m sure they’ll get there soon enough.

 

This year, the company was involved in making the world’s first 3D printed office building.

 

Open-Source Guns

 

There’s a company in the US, called Defence Distributed, that is involved in a legal battle with the US government because they went where no one had gone yet: they 3D printed a gun.

 

Yup, take a look:

 

 

They came up with a working model and then put up the blueprints online for free, which meant that literally anyone with a powerful enough 3D printer and a working internet connection could download the schematics and print themselves a functioning firearm.

 

And, for obvious reasons, this ran them afoul of the government.

 

Here’s another video that goes into a little more detail:

 

 

3D Prints with Wheels

 

Before we wrap this up, do you remember the meme, “you wouldn’t download a car”?

 

Well, you might just be able to, in the not-too-distant future. 3D printed vehicles are a reality. Right now!

 

 

I've skipped to the fun part, but you should definitely watch the whole thing

 

3D printer technology is getting better at an unprecedented rate, which means that these machines are also getting cheaper to own. This is a technology that is going to profoundly affect the way we live.

 

Keep an eye out, and you might just find one that you can take home. When you do, let us know what you print!

 

Cover Image Source: Pixabay