No Glasses Required: Practical Printing in 3D

It’s easy for new technology to be quickly written off as more of a toy than a tool, and 3D printing innovations were no exception. That’s not to say that you couldn’t build quirky, geeky and awesome playthings with these printers — another article, for another day (superhero cookie cutters, anyone?) — but we’re on the 3D printing bandwagon [mostly] for its practical applications.

1. Healthcare

Technology has been revolutionizing medicine for years, with 3D printing being the trend of the moment. The obvious 3D-printed innovation in healthcare is prosthetics. It’s closed a major resource gap for those who could not previously afford them. Beyond prosthetics, advancements like surgical devices have gone on to save lives, and pharmaceutical companies have been experimenting with 3D printing to produce pills in unconventional shapes for enhanced efficacy.

2. Home

Have you heard of Cubify? It’s one of many cool companies creating 3D printers, but unlike some of the more industrial 3D printing companies, Cubify focuses on the consumer – making 3D printing more accessible. One of the coolest things about Cubify is that it syncs up well with Maker Bot’s “Thingiverse” which is essentially the keeper of keys for all-things 3D printed, including home goods and housewares. Why trek to the store for a citrus juicer when you can make lemons into lemonade with a 3D printed one? Trying to master brewing the perfect cup of coffee? There’s a 3D printed tool for that, too.

3. Education

People throw around the phrases STEM and “edtech” all the time, attributing both to advances in educational mobile apps and computer games for programming, with 3D printing getting left in the dust. The reality is, 3D printing has made a very real home for itself within the education sector.

In fact, the application for 3D printing in education extends to working with students to visualize mathematics – think graphs, charts, etc. – and even steps outside the STEM realm with history instruction. Instead of walking students through a museum and expecting them to absorb a lesson purely with their eyes and ears, 3D printing ups the ante by allowing instructors to recreate museum artifacts without the restrictions, creating a true hands-on learning experience.

4. Office

You don’t have to be an engineer, or in the biotech industry to benefit from 3D printing at work. The folks over at Make put together a list of recommended 3D-printed office tchotchkes, many of which are geared toward creating a more organized workspace.

Considering just how quickly a desk can get messy with cords and cards everywhere, our two favorite 3D-printed office tools are the USB stick & SD card caddy and the Wall-Mounted Cable Keeper.

5. Entertainment

Goodbye bobbleheads and hello 3D-printed figurines. While there are many truly practical – even life-saving – applications for 3D printing, there’s also plenty of room to use the technology for fun and games. Literally. There’s actually an entire working platform called Open Board Game, dedicated to making table-top gaming a 3D printed experience.




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