With so much going on in the world of 3D printing, it is difficult to tell just where the technology could go in the next 5 years. There are plenty of unrealized applications and potential partnerships, making many pathways possible. One such pathway is the EKOCYCLE Cube 3D Printer which came out of the partnership between 3DS and EKOCYCLE (a brand started by will.i.am and The Coca-Cola Company) as a 3D printer focused on using recycled materials!
EKOCYCLE Cube: Innovation to reduce waste
EKOCYCLE Cube’s filament is made partially out of recycled 20 oz PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottles. This push for sustainability in manufacturing is not new, but this is a unique idea that provides a realistic, useful solution in a sustainable way. The filament color currently comes in red, black, white, and natural.
3D printing is opening up many new manufacturing alternatives and innovations in a range of industries and applications. For example, 3D print heads are being added to traditional subtractive machines for a more adaptable manufacturing process (imagine a hybrid 3D printer milling machine that can build and finish machine a part with one set-up.)
3D printers are helping with cancer research by allowing scientists to print human tissue tumors to achieve more accurate test results. There have been regular breakthroughs and there are limitless possibilities for new applications in medical research.
Innovations in 3D Printing
MIT students are hacking a Solidoodle 3D printer to make ice cream by putting it inside of a freezer and using liquid nitrogen. An inventor in South Africa built a custom chocolate business with an assembly line of home-made 3D printers rigged for chocolate production.
In Shanghai a company is printing houses using a mixture of cement and construction waste. A house can be built in a single day with huge 3D printers (33 feet wide and 22 feet tall). This not only speeds up the construction, but allows the workers to be out of harm’s way when typically they would have to dig up and saw natural stone.
The University of Southern California has made a printer that can build a 2,500 square foot house in 24 hours with a process known as contour crafting. This process looks promising for other applications including outer space (think 3D printed houses on the moon).
Here on Earth, the EKOCYCLE retails for $1,199 and is now available from 3DS Cubify.