6 Extremely Weird 3D Printing Applications

  • Designers have taken 3D printing to new heights with unique applications. This article reveals some of the more unusual ways 3D printing is used
  • 3D printing creates three dimensional objects of almost any shape and size. This is a huge advantage when it comes to some of the applications described below.
  • In most cases 3D printing is only limited by your creativity!

Previously we discussed 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing and how it works in the aerospace industry. In these articles, we learned that some of the benefits of additive manufacturing are the ability to produce complex shapes quickly and at a low cost. In this process, a design is created using a 3D modeling program, where the only limit is creativity. Typically during the 3D printing process a material is extruded layer by layer and cured on a plate. Today 3D printing technology is more accessible than it has ever been and engineers, designers, and artists have taken the opportunity to create their own weird and unique masterpieces with 3D Printing. Below are a few of our “weird 3D printing” favorites.

Musical Instruments

They might not resemble traditional concert Violins or a world renowned Stradivarius, but several companies and inventors have been crafting 3D printed versions of musical instruments. While the entire Violin might not be 3D printed (yet!) the body and neck are all completely made on a 3D printer. Look at this video below. The end result sounds fantastic.

3D Printed Firearm - The Liberator

3D Printed Firearm – The Liberator Photo Credit – 3DPrint.com

Firearms

Some 3D printed may look like toys and some look scary, and there are a number of manufacturers who have actually started to print their own firearms. Some of the world’s first 3D printed guns do not last very long however, as the plastics tend to crack and shatter when shooting larger bullets as the pressure in the barrel can reach 20,000 psi. However, printing has not been limited to plastics, some companies are working to use 3D metal printers to create their firearms, making them more durable. Even if you don’t like firearms, there is still a great deal of engineering to appreciate that goes into creating a piece of plastic (or metal) that can handle the force of a gunshot.

weird 3D printing - a foetus

3D Printed Fetus: Credit DigInfo News

A Baby!

Not a real baby but a model of a child in utero, formed by taking multiple Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans and combining them to create a model of the child. The same technique can be used to create 3D models of organs to use as teaching examples …or as a neat paperweight!

Food

Print your own sandwich or meatloaf! Well… no meatloaf yet, but researchers at Cornell University have been experimenting using a sugar and corn dough printer to create their own custom cookies, cakes, and candies. 3D printer technology probably won’t find its way into your local grocery store, but it can be used to make unique or special treats. Another company ‘Natural Machines’ has created their own “Foodini” printer, which squeezes food out into shapes that can be baked and cooked (see video below).

These 3D printed boots were made for walking

3D Shoes: Photo Credit ContinuumFashion

Clothing

High fashion or high function? A number of designers like ContinuumFashion or Danit Peleg have taken to creating different dresses, jackets, and shoes utilizing 3D printers. While things like shoes are relatively simple, a large jacket or a dress could take hundreds of hours to print and assemble. While 3D printed clothes won’t replace a trip to the department store, they could add some unique flair to your wardrobe.

3D Printed Mouse Parts: Photo Credit Martin Cohn

3D Printed Mouse Parts: Photo Credit Martin Cohn

Mouse Genitalia (aka Anatomical Models)

For research purposes, sometimes we need to create a larger model of very small items, and sometimes researchers need to create a 15 cm mouse penis. Here Martin Cohn shared his humorous tale of being stopped by TSA with his 3D mouse. By taking scans and creating large models, we can help to understand how animals develop and grow.

If you would like to share any further examples of weird 3D printing applications, please add your comments below this article.

About: Curtis Obert

Curtis Obert EIT, MEM is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University, with a passion for design and process improvements. He first studied as a Polymer Engineer, and followed his love of understanding how engineering and people management fits into the business as a whole. He spends his free time hiking, cooking, and restoring antique firearms.

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