As a Media Manager at 3D Printing Industry, I have a great opportunity to see a lot of industry news in the process of publishing it, but, usually, my excitement is contained to my home office. It normally involves me turning to my husband (and 3DPI Senior Staff Member), Mike, and saying something along the lines of, “HONEY, ORGANOVO‘S SELLING THEIR LIL’ LIVERS NOW,” which he almost always responds with, “I know! Cool, huh?” This really puts a damper on things for me, seeing as how, occasionally, I like to pretend that I’m in touch with what’s happening in the real world. Which brings me to my list of the top five 3D printing applications of 2014! Now, if you’re already familiar with all of these stories, please humor me, nod along, and possibly insert a few surprised “oohs” and “ahhs” at appropriate breaks.
5. The 3D Systems ChefJet
The three people that I know are allllll well aware that I’m Team 3D Systems 4 lyfe. How could you not be? With a marketing campaign sleeker than an oil-greased minx-panther hybrid, the hugest 3D printer portfolio since ever, and a CEO so friendly that one might even consider him one of the three people that one knows, there’s a whole lot to love.
Late last year, 3DS purchased the Sugar Lab, an LA-based startup devoted to 3D printing ornate cake toppers and other crystallized, sugary works of art. After being absorbed by the hungry 3D Systems, the founders – husband and wife Kyle and Liz von Hasseln – were able to commercialize their technology, making it bigger, sweeter, and more psychedelic with the upgraded ChefJet Pro.
Mike and I were fortunate enough to be at CES when the news was announced that the ChefJet would be available to the masses this year and, more importantly, had a chance to try some of its groovy-looking, 3D printed treats. Unfortunately, we’re t-minus 7 days to the end of 2014 and the ChefJet still isn’t on the market, due to an inability to meet production demands and, possibly, some unrealistic hype started by the company. But, they still make this list for that time that I got to taste some far-out, green apple-flavored candy at CES. I remember it like it was yesterday!
4. Adafruit’s #3DThursday 3D Printable Projects
If there’s one company that I’d say I have a crush on (you asked, right?) it’d be Adafruit. Sure, it’s a silly thing to say… until you see their 3D printable LED Daft Punk helmet, 3DP ray gun, or 3DP VR goggles. These guys are dreamy! One #3DThursday after another, Adafruit rolls out fun and engaging 3D printing projects that, somehow, perfectly walk the line between unintimidating and challenging. I get the impression that Limor Fried and the rest of the gang at Adafuit Industries really love what they do and want to share their passion for Making with the rest of us knuckleheads by keeping things accessible and low cost. I recently ordered a couple of kits for Mike’s Christmas presents (shhhhh…) and it came out to under $50. Thanks, Adafruit! <3
3. 3D Printable Darwin Mini
In my younger and more vulnerable years, I was convinced that Intel’s Jimmy was the cutest 3D printable robot. But, just when I had lost all hope that I’d ever be able to afford an adorable domestic robot of my very own, I saw footage of Darwin. “Holy crap!” I said, “Look at how cute he walks! Are those, like, partial kitty-cat ears?!” But what really sealed the deal for me was Darwin’s lack of anthropomorphic hands. This is a robot you can trust not to strangle you, even when AI inevitably takes over and rubs out the human race. He might even shuffle to your defense one last time, jumping half-an-inch off the ground to try to block the laser targeted right for your head.
Unfortunately, a full-sized Darwin has a price tag of $12,000. I thought I’d just have to spend the robo-apocalypse alone (Mike died when T1000 impersonated me and stabbed him with a molten, metal finger). But then, sometime later in 2014, Darwin was released in miniature, 3D printable form for an almost-reasonable $500, making my dream to own the world’s cutest 3DP robot obtainable. No offense, Jimmy.
Go Darwin, go!!!
2. 3D Printing Prosthetics
Some of the 3D printing applications that have deservedly received a lot of attention this year have been in the prosthetics field. My mom recently brought me a newspaper clipping about a little girl who had received a customized, 3D printed prosthetic, made for a fraction of the cost of standard prosthetics produced by the mainstream medical device industry. My mom said that she had shown a friend the same clipping, proudly telling them, “This is what my daughter and her husband do!” I sadly had to break the news that, although we work in the 3D printing industry, we’re not responsible for any of that amazing work. I write Facebook blurbs, Ma.
There have been countless heartwarming stories this year of 3D printed prosthetics improving lives and enhancing the physical abilities of their wearers. I’m glad that these developments have received as much praise as they have. But it’s not nearly enough, when you keep the price point comparisons in mind. A traditional prosthetic hand normally costs around $40,000. With insurance, patients may still be expected to pay half of the cost of the device out of pocket. Remember, this only includes countries that actually have a substantial insurance infrastructure. Meanwhile E-nable is outfitting kids with elaborate, customized Iron Man and Wolverine prosthetic hands for $350. This is huge. Spread the word, get involved, do what you can to help this cause gain even more momentum!
1. 3D Printed Goatse & Tub Girl
Originally my number one spot on this list was reserved for the Made In Space 3D printer making it to the ISS, but realizing that most of our staff would cover that story, I thought to myself, “Sure, they can put a 3D printer in space, but what can they do with a man’s prolapsed butt?” This month, my husband and I boldly went where no humans have gone before: creating a seasonal photo series starring a 3D printed Goatse and Tubgirl (SFW).
It all started when Mike asked for the best and brightest modelers to conjure up Goatse and Tubgirl in the form of CAD models. Sometime later, via 3D Hubs, we were able to take G & TG into the third dimension. Christmas came early as we opened the boxes that our little cuties were carefully wrapped in. As we examined the beautiful detail of Goatse’s dual-chambered protuberance of skin and muscle and Tubgirl’s fecal spray, we knew it’d be selfish to keep them to ourselves. After all, the holidays are about sharing and giving to the less fortunate.
Fast forward to Dec. 1st, when we put all of our hard work on display for the world to see in the form of a 12-day-long, holiday-themed photo series (pics by me!) titled “12 Days of Goatse and Tubgirl” (NSFW). It was met with mixed reviews; giving our friends the intended giggles, probably boring mill-ennui-ials, and disturbing a whole slew of other people… but I find them disturbing, so I guess it works out. If you’re offended by a couple of little nudie figurines highlighting just how absurd life is, then you probably need to get a grip, get a life, get over it. Okurr?