Other Gadgets

The broadening dimensions of 3D printing

| Updated on: Apr 08, 2015
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From making toys to coughing up meds, the sky is the limit for this tech

3D printing has opened up some truly amazing possibilities but nobody expected some of the things that can and have been conceptualised. From guns that can be printed out from the comfort of your bedroom to miniature dolls of yourself, the scope for 3D printing knows no bounds. In fact, new possibilities are only just being explored like how researchers have successfully printed prosthetics for those in need.

Prosthetic arms that look like the arms of popular superheroes apart, there have been prototypes of ears, noses skin and even skulls! As we progress into the future, will the abilities of these prosthetics reach a level that will make regular body parts inferior? Before we know it, would we be thrust upon the Cyborg age. Even if that is just wishful thinking, 3D printing can also be used for less outer-worldly things such as toys. Let us look at a couple of apps and services that direct us in that path.

Tinkerplay

Autodesk’s Tinkerplay is a free app designed for kids of all ages that introduces creative play through 3D design and 3D printing. The Tinkerplay app allows users to design and customize characters and creatures digitally with the option to 3D print afterwards. The 3D printed parts can also be snapped together for dynamic play.

It lets users quickly get started by dragging and dropping interchangeable parts to make custom creations. The parts are optimised for 3D printing as fully ‘poseable’ characters and creatures, and are designed to not require rafting or support material to print, mentions the company website. The print function within the app shows the layout of parts for 3D printing and provides an easy way to export print files to a variety of connected 3D printers.

The app is available on all the popular platforms: App Store, Google Play or the Windows Store for Windows 8.1 users.

Sculpteo

This app is exclusively for Apple devices. It’s Free on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and is compatible with IOS 5.0 or later.

Sculpteo offers a fast 3D printing service which is open to all. Browse through the tab bar along the bottom of the screen of your device to find featured designs, discover designers, buy and 3D print your objects. This Paris-based company’s app helps with your 3D design to manufacture a specific object: interior decoration, figurines, robots, miniatures, scale models... the list is endless.

The app lets you make the most of 3D design to create you own collection. Users can design their own personal Pixel Cup and your Profile Vase. You can make your very own Ego-Datamug, customise your iPhone case and more. Once you’re done with your masterpieces, you can easily share them on Twitter and Facebook and save them to your device. There is an element of interaction as you can meet the designers that create your collection and discover some of their latest and most exciting projects.

MakerBot

The free MakerBot Mobile app gives the users the power to monitor and control the brand’s own Replicator 3D Printer and access everything that MakerBot offers from a mobile device. Available on both Android and iOS, the app includes a ton of useful features for owners of Makerbot printers, not the least of which is connecting to literally all of them via WiFi networks.

You can monitor your printers in real time so you can see how much time is remaining before a currently working project is finished. The user can also set the printers up to print anything from various locations including your Makerbot Cloud library or from the Thingverse application.

The app also lets you optimise, scale, and slice any of your designs from your cloud library layer by layer so they’re ready to be printed. This is certainly an all-inclusive tool that any Makerbot owner should have in their library of installed apps.

While the above three apps are just a snippet of what is possible with the technology, there are scores of other apps in the world wide web which cater to a wide audience. Incredibly enough, 3D printers can print another 3D printer allowing this technology to spread at a fast rate.

What does the future hold for 3D printing? Only time will tell, and that is the scariest part.

Published on March 10, 2018

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