3D Printing Features You Might Have Missed
You might think you are pretty savy where 3D printing is concerned, but the technology has come to accomplish a lot more than you think. Here are some amazing developments in the technology.
Budget 3D printers can produce solid metal parts. Metal is much sought-after material in 3D printing and many ways has this been done already. However, it needs a company to do this and not for your regular budget 3D printer. Hence, even for small metal parts the price is very hefty. There are only a few options for direct metal 3D printing but most require extremely high temperatures or high-power lasers. Full-metal parts using a low-cost printer is possible using a process called lost PLA casting. The object is formed into a molded plaster, the plastic is burned out in a very hot furnace, then melted metal is poured into the plaster mold. After cooling, the object is removed and polished.
3D printers can produce iridescent surfaces. Molten plastic is deposited on a diffraction grating surface of the object (diffraction gratings are tiny optical elements that can redirect and separate light into various colors). The molten plastic conforms to the surface, making a reverse copy of the grating. This technique has been used both with diffraction grating film and CDs with the foil layer removed.
3D printing is coming under more and more scrutiny from federal regulators. The popular technology raises questions on safety, reproducibility, and whether or not strict regulation should be placed on those who own 3D printers.Three areas are being looked at – civil liability (who is liable if a 3D printed product causes injury?), – defence (what happens when 3D printed weapons becomes legal in the US?). – in medicine (what if an implantable medical device approved by the FDA has potential flaws that could cause undue harm to a patient using it?).
3D Printing can produce amazing, even “impossible” shapes. For example, optical illusions. Such as those found in Thingiverse: Word illusion that says “black” and “white”, permanently right/left facing arrow, Penrose triangle 1 and 2, the Squarcle. They are fun, challenging and, importantly, easily printable. There are fixed optical illusions and moving optical illusions.
Other amazing things than can be 3D printed are soft robots that have soft and flexible parts, usually with embedded sensors, to replicate the function of human hands and limbs performing surgery. Also 3D printing can make water filters using the chemical properties of plastic, optimizing the quantity of fluoride. Finally, did you know can 3D printing can replicate fingerprints, potential for investigative purposes.