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August 9, 2015

5 amazing objects you can build with a 3D printer

You might soon be living in, driving and eating 3D-printed products.

By Alexander Sword

There may come a time where we can have anything we’d like on demand, courtesy of a 3D printer. That time may be a while off, but here are some products being printed right now in 2015.

1. An acoustic guitar

Many musicians have stories about their instruments, with some guitars being handed down through generations of musical stars and acquiring iconic status in their own right. Pete Townshend of the Who sold an old guitar to Johnny Marr of the Smiths who lent it to Noel Gallagher of Oasis who smashed it in an onstage brawl, etcetera.

In the future it might be easier just to 3D-print them. In 2012, industrial designer Scott Summit created a blueprint for an ‘axe’ that can be made out of plastic and metal and customised to ape other designs.

2. Medication

Aprecia, an Ohio-based pharmaceutical company, broke new ground for 3D printing technology with Spritam levetiracetam, a drug that can be used to control seizures created by epilepsy. The drug was approved by the American’s Food and Drug Administration earlier this week.

The drug uses ZipDose, a technique which uses 3D printing to build a pill with a more porous structure that dissolves more easily. This aims to make it easier to swallow higher doses of the substance.

3. A car

3D printers have been used to make individual parts for automobiles before, such as with the Urbee, which was printed with plastic panels and features but used a customary internal frame. Local Motors claims it is the first to print the body and chassis components simultaneously.

Taking 44 hours to print, the Strati is built out of ABS plastic reinforced with carbon fibre. The process, fused deposition modelling, uses a pellet feed system as opposed to filament-fed extruders, reducing cost and allowing experimentation with more material combinations.

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4. A warm meal

In the hectic modern age of instant communications and busy work schedules, we don’t always have time for everything we want to do. You can now buy a 3D food printer, called Foodini, which will take all the onerous hours out of cooking so that you can spend them with friends and family.

Natural Machines’s 3D printer for food can be used to create both savoury and sweet meals, using fresh ingredients deployed from stainless steel capsules. Foodstuffs on offer include pizza, burgers and chocolate.

5. A house

Residents of the UK will be familiar with government promises to build more homes. But while such a pledge would normally result in expensive contracts with building firms, the solution of the future may be slightly different.

WinSun Decoration Design Engineering demonstrated in 2014 that they could print 10 homes in less than 24 hours, using a 3D printer 32m long and 6.5m tall. These buildings measured 200 square metres. As pictured above, the team starts with a blueprint and builds the house bit by bit.

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