The Most Amazing Things People Have Made With 3D Printers

3D printing and 3D modeling have been popular in tech circles for a while now, but it’s really been more about the promise than the actual idea. However, as 3D modeling tools like the Sprout by HP proliferate, that’s given everyday people the chance to harness their creativity, making their passions a reality like never before. As a result, 3D printing and modeling has led to some truly awesome things. For example…

Cheaper, Better Prosthetic Limbs

Easton LaChappelle loved science and, as a result, he went to a lot of state science fairs. While at one, he met a little girl with a bulky, simple, and expensive prosthetic arm, and thought that he could do far better for way less money. Using 3D printing and open-source designs, he built a complete, fully functional arm that costs less than $500 and can be made with a 3D printer and a laptop, anywhere on Earth.

Airplane Parts

You might be wondering why you’d print anything you’d use in something that might catastrophically fail and plunge you into the ground. The short answer is that GE found printed parts were better: The design was simpler, the part was lighter, and they could make it more complex internally. In other words, the part’s less likely to fail and there’s less weight to it… so 3D printing is making your flights a little safer — and a little cheaper.

A Batsuit

Stevie Dee loves Batman. He loves Batman so much he pulled the model of a Batsuit out of a video game and teamed up with a professional prop company to print out a note-perfect version of it that fit him perfectly. Yes, 3D printing means you will get cooler-looking, better-fitting Halloween costumes. Finally, no more getting a cheap suit from Goodwill, ripping it up, and going as a zombie victim.

Vinyl Records

Sure, vinyl is hugely popular now… but not every album gets a vinyl release, and some people can’t afford to press their own. But thanks to the work of Amanda Ghassaei, you can now literally print your own vinyl. True, the sound quality isn’t great, but imagine the prank potential the first time that guy who insists on playing records at his party lays down what he thinks is Animal Collective and instead hears Mambo No. 5.

A Racecar

No, we’re not talking about Hot Wheels. The Areion is a full 3D printed racecar. In fact, 3D printing was used to lighten the overall weight of the car and incorporate some design features directly into the body, making it easier to take apart for repairs. Expect this to become more common with your car; lighter and easier to fix is always popular.

An Electric Violin

Yep, you can print out the F-F-Fiddle (short for Fused Filament Fiddle) and roll your own instrument for just $250. Considering the high quality ones will run you over $1000, that’s not a bad deal. Or if shredding is more your speed, try the 3D-printed electric guitar.

The Actual Faces Of Historical Figures

When the body of Richard III was finally found after an extensive search, that left those questing for it with a problem… what to do with it? So they gave the skull measurements to a facial reconstruction expert, and working with 3D modeling teams, built a bust of the king to approximate how he looked when he lived.

Pretty Much Everything In Medicine

Short-term, 3D printing has its most interesting applications in medicine. Like, say, printing out a replacement piece for your skull. Or, if you’re Michael Balzer, printing a 3D model of your wife’s tumor and her skull to allow neurosurgeons to come up with a less invasive, more effective procedure for treatment, instead of sawing her skull open and lifting her brain out. Let’s face it, if somebody’s cutting you open, you want them to have a detailed plan, and 3D modeling is helping surgeons do just that.

3D printing and modeling is unlocking human creativity, making it simple for us to think of an idea, find the pieces necessary to build it, and put it in front of the entire world… in turn creating a building block for someone else.

And the tools to do so are becoming more and more mainstream: In December 2014, Hewlett Packard debuted the Sprout by HP, a 3D modeling device that costs less than $2000 and fits on a desk. Just put something under its camera, let it scan it, and you have a full, detailed three dimensional model you can revise, tweak, and otherwise create with. See for yourself:

And this is just the beginning. Tools such as the Sprout by HP are already presaging a future where humanity can focus its collective intelligence on a whole host of problems. A person in New York will craft a model of a new airplane design part-by-part which will be printed out in an aeronautics lab in Rome to be tested before being scaled up and having its parts printed in Tokyo and tested in a flight to Seattle. An artist in Miami can put his sculpture up for free on the Internet and have it incorporated into a dozen different works of art.

As 3D modeling tools like the Sprout by HP turn up on our desks and in our offices, truly amazing things will be possible. These tools will tap into the creativity that lies within all of us to solve problems in ways that are safer, faster, and better, ranging from the fit of your jeans to the most complex medical problems humanity has faced. In other words, we’ll be able to work together to make our future better.

Also Halloween costumes will be vastly improved. Really, that alone will be worth it.