By Elijah Mumau
Once thought to be futuristic novelty 3D printers are on the rise from consumer use to industry. 3D printers are more accessible than ever and in almost every school in the U.S. Not only are they more accessible than ever but they’re also advancements in technology that will render older processes inferior. The manufacturing world will be changed forever by “Additive Manufacturing” which is the type of manufacturing 3D printing fits into. Shoes are something that almost everyone wears. There’s a new way large companies like Adidas and Reebok are trying to produce shoes. They use a type of 3D printing called DLS or Digital Light Synthesis. Adidas has partnered with a company called Carbon and has been making 3D printed shoes since 2014 where they prototyped a midsole. 46% of all engineering majors have used a 3D printer before they started college. This new change in experience and tools students can use helps to improve the skills they’ve learned. Not only have these machines helped students and big companies but many use them for toys. There is a company named IC3D who not only 3D prints toys, but they give them to less fortunate kids through non-profit organizations like Toys for Tots. Just last year this organization made over 18 thousand toys for the impoverished youth. The absolute newest technology in the 3D world has to do with the medical field. Very soon organ donors will be a thing of the past. Recently in June surgeons were able to successfully attach a 3D printed ear. This ear was made from the cells of the patient, a 20-year-old woman. The ear was made by a company known as 3DBio and the implant was called the AuriNovo implant. Not only did the ear not get rejected by the body as it was the patients’ own cells, but the ear was made from the same cells that make up ear cartilage. Soon the limitations will not be limited to little things like the ear. Organs like the heart and kidneys will soon be able to be 3D printed without the worry of a suitable donor. 3D printed vascularized heart tissue was recently able to keep alive and beating for six months and is the first step in printing full working organs. Recently the nuclear energy company known as Westinghouse has installed 3D printed parts inside their nuclear reactors. A Pennsylvania company know as Penn United has recently started investing in metal 3D printers. This company has been printings structures that are impossible to create using machining. Not only is this investment being successful, but they do parts for large companies like Westinghouse. To sum it all up, very soon 3D printing will be saving lives and making things thought to be impossible. A technology that was on the horizon now making strides in the industry. From organs to shoes these machines can do it all.