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OPLIN 4Cast #294: 3D Printing

Posted in 4cast

Why would your library have any interest in 3D printing? You probably have enough trouble with your 2D printers, right? Well, a small handful of libraries have decided to foster the creative tendencies of their patrons and supply 3D printers for public use, perhaps as part of a library Fab Lab or as a result of hosting a Maker Faire. Libraries that want to offer their users an opportunity to experience and learn about new technology might include 3D printers, as Cleveland Public Library has in their new TechCentral. And as you can see from the stories below, the possible uses of 3D printing seem to be limited only by the user’s (patron’s?) imagination.

  • Using 3-D printing to recreate the calls of a Wooly Mammoth (Co.Design/Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan)  “Since graduating, [Marguerite] Humeau has focused on the speech boxes of three other long-extinct mammals – no small feat, given that a smattering of bones is all that remains of these creatures. In May, the 25-year-old unveiled the fruits of her research: three massive 3-D-printed models of prehistoric vocal tracts, installed in Saint-Étienne’s Cité du Design.”
  • Rapid prototyping used to create bespoke helmets for Team GB (Eureka/Laura Hopperton)  “To create them, Crux began by utilising new CAD methods and taking 3D laser scans of each individual athlete to ensure the best fit. Additive manufacturing methods were then used to turn the 3D models into rapid prototypes over night. According to the company, the prototypes were physically used as part of the helmet fitting process; giving the athletes confidence that their helmet fit would be flawless.”
  • Now you can get a 3D replica of your fetus (RocketNews24/Steven Simonitch)  “The fetus is first photographed using MRI and the resulting image data processed using special 3D software. A 3D printer is then used to construct the model, using clear resin for the mother’s body and white resin for the fetus. The position, posture and appearance of the baby appear exactly as it does in the mother’s uterus.”
  • Adding a ‘3D print’ button to animation software (Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences/Caroline Perry)  “‘Perhaps in the future someone will invent a 3D printer that prints the body and the electronics in one piece,’ [Moritz] Bächer muses. ‘Then you could create the complete animated character at the push of a button and have it run around on your desk.’ Harvard’s Office of Technology Development has filed a patent application and is working with the Pfister Lab to commercialize the new technology by licensing it to an existing company or by forming a start-up.”

Industry fact:
If you’re wondering if 3D printing might be just a passing fad, you should know that the 3D printing business is projected to grow 300% in the next eight years.