August 09, 2017      

Have you discovered some interesting new uses for 3D printing? The list of 3D printed items is growing rapidly. It now encompasses items as diverse as industrial parts, consumer goods, foods, medical devices and even housing units.

Indeed, some 3D printing applications are more interesting than others. Here are five 3D printing applications that might surprise you!

Promoting Fertility

Biomedical fertility researchers recently made progress in the effort to restore damaged female fertility. Physicians used a 3D printer to generate artificial ovaries for female mice using gelatin. They then surgically implanted follicles containing eggs and hormone-producing tissues into these structures.

After mating, three of the seven mice gave birth to healthy litters. The technique represents a significant breakthrough and may one day assist women suffering from infertility.

2. Creating Stronger Building Materials

The European Space Agency, an international consortium of 22 participating member states, strives to provide a gateway to careers in outer space. This organization recently used a 3D printer to simulate a way for human beings to fabricate building materials on the moon’s surface.

Scientists postulated that traveling with a reliable 3D printer would make far more sense than utilizing valuable spaceship cargo capabilities to cart along bricks. They conducted an experiment using the same raw materials as moon dust to print bricks with the assistance of a 3D printer and a solar heat. This important research could one day help pave the way for lunar colonies.

3. Reconstructing Faces of Corpses

Some grieving families obtain a measure of comfort by conducting open casket funerals. Yet when a deceased person has suffered extreme facial trauma, morticians may find themselves unable to reconstruct the corpse’s features. In China, funeral directors have discovered that 3D printing can permit the rapid generation of an accurate facial mask, enhancing the ability of morticians to prepare remains for open casket funeral services.

The Babaoshan Funeral Home in Beijing recently adopted this technology. New software imaging programs permit staff members to develop realistic 3D models of corpses from two-dimensional facial images. Using this innovation, the funeral home can now print accurate facial masks if given access to a photograph of the deceased taken prior to disfigurement.

Corpse Facial Reconstruction

Funeral homes in China are using 3D printing to speed up facial reconstruction for corpses. (via Reuters)

4. Personalizing Jewelry

Have you ever wished you could customize your jewelry in a truly romantic way? Architects from Estudio Guto Requena in Brazil believe they have discovered a method for conveying emotions in a one-of-a-kind pendant. Working in cooperation with the digital product studio D3, they devised an app which, with the assistance of sensors, gathers a stream of biofeedback data. The app uses this information to create a customized 3D schematic for a pendant. The design studio prints a model of the pendant in layers using a more flexible additive manufacturing process. It allows the studio to cast a unique 18K gold pendant.

In order to obtain the most accurate results from the pendant-design app, the manufacturer recommends customers to visit a tranquil location. The customer recites a love story into a cell phone equipped with the biofeedback app. Sensors in the phone capture a stream of biometric data, which the app uses to craft a unique set of pendant plans. The process enables the translation of strong emotions into a wearable art form.

5. 3D-Printed Models of Your Unborn Child

Many parents-to-be cherish ultrasounds and the opportunity to see their offspring during pregnancy. The Japanese firm Fasotec partnered with Hiroo Ladies Clinic to offer customers the ability to obtain 3D printed reproductions of their unborn children. The fabrication process uses sophisticated CT or MRI scanned images of the mother’s womb to create a three dimensional digital model of her fetus.

Referred to as “Tensi no Katachi” (“Shape of an Angel”), the 3D printed scaled replica relies on two simultaneously printed resins. It depicts the fetus, in white, enclosed within a clear hard resin representing the mother’s uterus. The manufacturer offers the option of 3D printing a replication of the face alone.

About the Author

Heather Redding is a tech enthusiast and freelance writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is a coffee-addict who enjoys swimming and reading. Street photography is her newly discovered artistic outlet and she likes to capture life’s little moments with her camera. You can reach Heather via Twitter.