1. Healing broken bones.
The prototype Cortex cast is “lightweight, ventilated, washable and thin enough to fit under a shirt sleeve.” Say goodbye to itchy and smelly casts.
2. Helping adorable animals get back on their feet.
Buttercup the duck was born with a backward left foot. Thanks to a 3D-printed design by Mike Garey, Buttercup can now walk comfortably again. Read more here. (Warning it’s one of the cutest things you’ll ever see.)
Here’s Buttercup all grown up.
3. Feeding hungry astronauts.
In space, no one can hear you scream “I’m Hungry!” Enter 3D printed food. NASA has begun to study the possibility of using 3D printing to make food in space.
4. Making heart surgery less complicated.
Practice makes perfect. 3D-printed models of a baby’s heart could help medical teams better understand the tiny structures they’ll be working with during surgery.
5. Powering our smallest devices.
Leave it to Harvard. Researchers there have figured out how to 3D print lithium-ion batteries that are “the size of a grain of sand.” This means more energy for lots of devices, from the newest smartphone to the smallest hearing aid.
6. Making medicine more accessible.
Honey, can you pick up some more printing molecules at the store? Chemist Lee Cronin is working on a 3D printer that, instead of objects, is able to print molecules for developing medicine.
7. Keeping us in the air.
This 1.5 inch model of a GEnx jet engine was created using an advanced 3D printing technique called direct metal laser melting. GE is printing actual jet engine parts too.
8. Printing vital organs.
Wait lists are notoriously long for organ transplants. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if you could just print a new one? Surgeon Anthony Atala is working on a project with a 3D printer that “uses living cells to output a transplantable kidney.” Mind = blown. Kidney = saved.
9. …even hearts.
Not just models, like, actual beating hearts.
10. Replacing lost limbs.
11. Personalizing our exercise gear.
Imagine a shoe designed to specifically fit your foot, printed right at the store. It won’t be long until this is a reality.
12. Supporting our every move.
Introducing the N12 bikini, the first “ready-to-wear, completely 3D-printed article of clothing.” Who said nerds don’t have style?
13. Saving the environment.
Some of the printers are helping to save the day just by the nature of how they work. The Filabot for example, “grinds and melts old plastic items to make 3-D printing self-sufficient.” So, if you need more “ink” for your 3D printer, you can just look in your recycle bin.
14. …one boat at a time.
Guys, these kids made a boat out of garbage. Students at the University of Washington successfully 3D-printed the boat using only recycled milk cartons as the printing materials.
15. Changing lives.
After a tumor removal, Eric’s face was left with a gaping hole. Amazingly, doctors were able to 3D print a lifelike artificial facial cover.