3D printing technology is amazing, there’s no question about it. The medical field is using it to print organs and prosthetics, geeks are using the tech to print models and life-size replicas, contractors are using it to print prefabricated resources, and the list goes on. There are even 3D-printed weapons like the Liberator, which understandably is being regulated by the authorities, but that’s another argument entirely.
There are so many awesome things you can print, provided you have the right designs and materials. We thought it would be a great idea to take a look at some interesting gadgets that have been created with 3D-printed materials.
1. 3D-printed camera
This 3D-printed camera can be created by anyone with the materials and equipment. The guide is provided at Instructables, and it’s an open-source project.
It’s a traditional analog camera – 35mm – complete with a working viewfinder and finger-operated shutter. The only thing that’s not printed is the photographic lens, which you’ll need to purchase separately and install using the custom printed mount ring.
If you’re good with design software, you can even make some modifications to the existing design. Perhaps, what’s most exciting about this is that eventually we may see 3D-printed digital cameras crop up. The software can certainly be developed if and when necessary, right along with the internal components needed.
What do you think? Would you be excited to print your own digital camera? For now, we’ll just have to settle with this one.
2. Acoustic guitar
Scott Summit – an avid 3D printer known for his work with prosthetics – decided to shake things up a bit and printed an acoustic guitar. His first guitar was printed with nylon powder, which enhances the appearance, giving it a ceramic-like finish.
He originally thought that the guitar would not work, because all the parts are being printed out of plastic including the sound hole cover and heel joint, which are usually metal. However, the headstock is comprised of sterling silver and the neck plate is stainless steel – 3D-printed, of course.
It cost him about $3,000 to print the guitar as you see in the image above.
In the future, he wants to offer enhanced designs that allow folks to customize the sound of the device they print. For example, those looking to print a guitar of their own could select from one that offers better bass or treble.
3. 3D-printed lawnmower
South African engineer Hans Fouche actually has a bunch of experience building neat gadgets with a 3D printer. He created a large scale printer in his garage, which he has nicknamed the Cheetah. He’s used that to create things like furniture, a vacuum cleaner, and this next gadget we’re going to talk about: a 3D-printed lawnmower.
Everything on Fouche’s lawnmower was 3D-printed save for the motor, which was borrowed from an old mower. That means components like the wheels, handle and safety switch, blade, and wheel shafts were all printed. In total, it took Fouche 9 hours to print all the pieces.
It works great, and because of Fouche’s custom 3D printer that works faster than most, he had the gadget done in a relatively short period. In addition, since the lawnmower only required 5.6 kg of material, it cost Fouche a mere 162 Rand or $13.83 in USD.
4. SULSA Drone
Researchers from Southampton University have created a 3D-printed drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle, called SULSA, which stands for Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft.
Nearly all the components are printed with plastic except for the electronics, and this thing can be assembled in about 10 minutes. In addition, because the drone is made of plastic, it’s silent while flying. There are five separate aerodynamic parts that snap together to create the final device. Apparently, there are no screws or fasteners to hold the parts together, they just fit.
Wondering what other hardware is required? “In this case the entire parts list comprises just four structural parts, one avionics tray one motor/propeller, two batteries, four servos with their links, a receiver and an autopilot/aerial, i.e. in total 14 parts for an aircraft,” according to Southampton University.
When it’s soaring in the sky it can reach a top speed of 90 miles per hour, and it can stay afloat for about 30 minutes each time. Pretty amazing for the first drone created. Just imagine what 3D printing enthusiasts can get up to in a few years time.
5. Strati Car from Local Motors
Believe it or not, Local Motors created the world’s first 3D-printed car called the Strati. How did they come up with the design for such a thing? They hosted a competition and the best design submission was used for the final product.
The original model was printed in just 44 hours with a large scale 3D printer, and it was comprised of an ABS and carbon fiber composite material. It was actually printed – in full – at the 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago.
After the car was printed, it took three days to mill the materials and assemble them. It wasn’t taken for a test drive until September 13, 2014.
Local Motors will soon be printing a road-ready vehicle, and they plan to open up factories around the world to print these vehicles on a commercial level. Before you know it, we might all be driving around 3D-printed vehicles. Isn’t that something?
Take a look at the Strati though, it looks pretty slick, doesn’t it?