3D Printing, the process of manufacturing physical, tridimensional objects from digital blueprints, is making a way into retail market. The technology wildly used in motorization and aeronautics is developing in extraordinary pace. Since 2003 3D printers are becoming available for average user – the prices goes done and their quality and functionality goes up. Nowadays we are using 3D printing in education, medicine, entertainment, prototypes, auto industry, aeronautics and food industry.
3D printed food can work on imagination yet it is still far from practical. Printing meals is possible but for now quality, taste and manufacturing time leaves much to be desire. It is of course technological marvel and a good start for the future development. 3D printing of food allow us to design extraordinary shapes and tastes for meals. NASA is interested in technology as well. Anjan Contractor, an engineer and expert on 3D printed food has been granted 125 thousand dollars to develop printer that will handle meals in space. The chocolate bar has been printed already and now Anjan Contractor works on pizza.
Main principle over 3D printed food is that every organic substance can be pulverized. Pulverized substance goes into toners, being mixed with water and fat and then printed. Taking into consideration the term of validity which can reach 30 years, NASA interest to equip spacecrafts with such technology is fully understandable.
Aeronautics appreciates 3D printing as well. One of the biggest engine manufactures – GE – is planning to use 3D printing to produce fuel nozzle. Within this year 3D printers will be set up, in 2015 production will star. Thanks to the low material waste the manufacturer will save a lot of money. GE is planning to lunch training programs for new employees and implement special curses with Universities. For now GE is pioneer – not many companies can afford such technology.
3D printing is standing out in medicine as well. Printers can manufacture synthetic organs for transplantation and most advanced prototypes of operating equipment. Stem cells, blood tissue and unique prosthetics have been already 3D printed. Research team lead by Utkana Demirci from Harvard Medical University printed cancer cells, which is a breakthrough in fighting cancer. Cells were storage in special fluid and observed as they developed. This process allows the test of different drags in same, controlled environment. Another application of 3D printers in medicine are plasters for injured limbs that are lighter and more hygienic without loss in durability.
3D printing is a song of the future. It is both functional and interesting. It is only a matter of time till 3D printers will be perfected and mass-produced for consumers. Only few years ago, printed food was science-fiction at best, but given few more years it will become a standard equipment that helps humanity travel in space.
Author: Paulina Kowalik