3D printing is a solution that lets you create never before seen objects. For a user of this technology the possibility they have is limited pretty much only by their own imagination. Here’s a few examples of creative use of 3D printing.

Make this personal

Making a truly personal gift is a challenge. Objects which you can buy are usually of no emotional value and handiwork looks a lot better in your head than it does in practice. Thanks to 3D printers you can create unique items which cannot be bought anywhere. Take chocolates as the perfect example. 3D printing lets you make exquisite patterns that would be too difficult for a human confectioner. The drawback is that it takes very long to create a single chocolate: almost 1.5 hours. Still, you’d be hard pressed to think of a better gift for Valentine’s Day or any other special day.

Something for history fans

3D printers are also great for facial reconstruction. we’re not talking about medical procedures, however. A 3D printer made it possible to recreate the face of king Richard III, who dies 500 years ago. After his remains had been found scientists created a digital reconstruction of his face which was then printed. This technology also made it possible to recreate the body of the pharaoh Tutankhamun. He has been dead for 3300 years and his body is far from peak shape. Hauling it from exhibition to exhibition  would be difficult and dangerous. Therefore, people are presented with a printed effigy which looks exactly like the original.

What about music?

Fans of music may be fond of products by Cubify: personalized electric guitars. Each guitar is one of a kind and fitted to its owner. That’s why each instrument looks beautiful and uniquely. The manufacturers say that the material their guitars are made of has no adverse effects on the sound. The only drawback is high price. It’s mainly due to work that’s put into designing each guitar from scratch. With mass production the cost is split between many items and becomes marginal, but with one-of-a-kind items it’s impossible.

3D printed car parts

The printer can also help with creating a car. 2014 saw the unveiling of the Strati, an electric vehicle for two with a max speed of 60 kph and able to go 200 km on one charge. Its simplicity is its great advantage. The Strati is made of just fifty parts, whereas a traditional car has about 6,000. Of course, not every part was printed. The electric motor, headlights, rims and windows had to be manufactured traditionally. However, all the other elements—like the dashboard and chairs—were made of carbon fibre. Printing the car took three days, but with optimization the process may be shortened to twelve hours.

Housing

Soon we might even live in printed houses and apartments. The Chinese building company WinSun erected such buildings in 2015. The buildings included both villas as well as a five story apartment building. All the details of the building have been printed: its structure, the columns, embellishments and balustrades. The elements were printed in a factory and delivered to the construction site as prefabricates which were then assembled into the actual building.

Thanks to this the construction site was environment friendly. The ‘wet’ building processes were reduced to a minimum. When the building was erected, no dust was created and the amount of refuse was 30–60 per cent lower than with traditional construction sites. Besides that, the amount of time needed to erect the structure drops by 50–70 per cent and its price by as much as 80 per cent. With this solution everybody would be able to afford their own apartment. And there would be no need for a 30-year mortgage.