By now you’ve probably heard at least a bit about 3D printers. Maybe you saw a scare piece on the local news about how anyone can use a 3D printer to build a plastic gun. While that’s true enough, 3D printing is much more than that.
It offers the ability to precisely construct objects on a small scale. By that I mean, you can use a 3D printer to make something (say a car part) in your own home without having to rely on a factory.
So if the car company doesn’t make the parts any more, you can fire up your 3D printer and make a new one. Apparently that’s what Jay Leno does.
Here are ten more fascinating uses for 3D printers.
3D printers themselves are already robots of a sort. So it’s only natural that you can use them build more robots (Just don’t build a robot army and take over the world, please). You can find all kinds of open source plans online. You’ll need a 3D printer, some electronics, and either a bit of know-how or the willingness to learn. One popular printable robot is InMoov, a cool-looking animatronic hand. Another (more expensive to build) one is called Poppy, and it’s a small humanoid perfect for either charming or terrifying people.
9. Bionic Ear
A team at Princeton University recently created a bionic ear using a commercial 3D printer. By bionic, they mean that it combines biological tissue (in the form of cells cultured and used in the 3D printer itself) with electronics. The ear they created is able to hear radio waves through an antenna in the bionic ear itself, an ability we humans don’t possess. Bionic ears like this could point the way to improvements upon existing hearing aids. And merging tissue with electronics could enable all kinds of fascinating prosthetics and implants in the future.