Until now, 3D printing has been a polymer affair, with most people in the maker community using the machines to make all manner of plastic consumer goods, from tent stakes to chess sets. A new low-cost 3D printer developed by Joshua Pearce and his team could add hammers to that list.
Researchers at the Illinois Makerlab have begun to experiment with a wood-based polymer. This new material is fed through 3D printers just like plastic but produces objects that look like they were carved from wood.
Biomedical engineering researchers have discovered that a naturally-occurring compound can be incorporated into three-dimensional printing processes to create medical implants out of non-toxic polymers. The compound is riboflavin, which is better known as vitamin B2.
Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have successfully added a fourth dimension to their printing technology, opening up exciting possibilities for the creation and use of adaptive, composite materials in manufacturing, packaging and biomedical applications.
Printing food seems more like an idea based in Star Trek rather than in the average home. But recent advances in 3D printing are driving the concept closer to reality. With everything from printed metal airplane wings to replacement organs on the horizon, could printed food be next? And how will we feel when it's served at the table?