3D Printing 2012 - Top Prints So Far

Editor's note: This guest post comes from 3D printing aficionado Chris Waldo, who's anxious to tell us his thoughts on some very cool 3D prints in 2012. 
 
Since the late 1970’s, 3D printing has come a long way. Build sizes, detail levels, material science, and speed have all improved significantly in comparison to the early days. Rather than tell you, I’d prefer to show you some of the advancements through a few awesome prints that show how creativity blooms when we ask “what if” or “why not”. Take a look at 3D printing so far in the year 2012. 
 

Voxel Studios Cocoon Lamp

 
This design simply blew me away! You’re looking at a 3D printed lamp that offers multiple materials. Printed through Objet’s MultiJet Printers, this design features VeroWhite, TangoBlackPlus, and Digital Material. 
(Source & photo credit: Voxel Studio)
 

The Rygo Sculpture

Once again, Bathsheba has created an awesome sculpture that pushes the boundaries of 3D printing. According to JF Brandon, this sculpture is going to be manufactured on a larger scale than in the picture you see below. Designers are working to create an 8 meter print!
(Source & photo credit: Bathsheba
 

Blades To A Mini-Helicopter

Artist tlalexander on Thingiverse actually created functional helicopter blades for his RC model. You can see a test flight here. He plans on slowly replacing parts to this model until a fully printed helicopter emerges. 
(Source & photo credit: tlalexander)
 

Objet’s Dragon

For Chinese New Year, Objet created a translucent 3D print of a dragon. Veroclear is a material that offers some serious detail, and that precision is definitely showcased in this print. It’s not every day that you see someone like Objet create a dragon through 3D printing.
(Source & photo credit: Objet)
 

Want To Be Frozen In Carbonite? 

Disney is giving tourists a pretty interesting souvenir – you too can be like Han Solo! To get this custom “carbonite” piece, photos will be taken from multiple angles to capture your face. From those photos, a 3D model will be generated and used for a 3D print.
(Source & photo credit: 3Dprinter)
 

World’s Smallest 3D Printed Car

Objet has released another cool feat – the world’s smallest 3D printed car. Objet is responsible for quite a few “firsts” in the 3D printing industry, but I found this one very interesting. This car offers revolving wheels and functional doors. 
(Source & photo credit: Objet)
 

Forbidden City Relics Restored

In China, designers from Loughborough University are working to restore artifacts from Beijing’s Forbidden City. Students will recreate the artifacts through 3D scanning, reverse engineering, and 3D printing. 
(Source & photo credit: Wired)
 

3D Printing LEGO, Tinkertoy, & K’Nex Adaptors

Designers are always one-upping each other with the creation of these exceptionally innovative designs. One designer created a series of parts which brought LEGO, K’Nex, & Tinkertoy parts together – all through 3D printing. I wish I had these adaptors when I was a kid!
(Source & photo credit: Forbes)
 

Fenway Park Stadium 

Objet lands on this post again for releasing another cool print. The Objet office in Boston got ahold of the blueprints for the Fenway Park Stadium, and managed to create an .STL file from it. This 3D printed model weighs over 100 pounds!
(Source & photo credit: Objet)
 

3D Printed Burritos?!

Marko Manriquez, a 3D printer & burrito enthusiast, has accomplished a serious feat within the world of 3D printing. He created the BurritoB0t. What the heck is that? The BurritoB0t is a 3D printer which creates burritos on demand. This is another example of “What if” or “Why not” if you ask me. It prints burritos! 
(Source & photo credit: BurritoB0t)
 

3D Printed Record For A Toy Record Player

Designers are getting more clever and wittier by the day. Someone has actually designed and 3D printed a record for a Fisher-Price toy record player! Although very “primitive,” this record will actually play a tune for you through this toy record player.
(Source & photo credit: boingboing
 

Makerbot’s Robot Petting Zoo

Makerbot recently created a robot “petting zoo” for Maker Fair earlier this year. This “zoo” consists of quite a few robot heads for Maker Fair attendees to “pet” and observe. I’ve never seen anything like this throughout the world of 3D printing!   
(Source & photo credit: cnet)
 

Transforming Dragon Die

This transforming die had to get a mention in this post. WillLaPuerta, designer at Shapeways, had this piece 3D printed out of the material “White Strong & Flexible” which is durable, white, and flexible, hence the name. Flexible enough for this design to be folded up and transformed into a dragon! 
(Source & photo credit: WillLaPuerta)
 

Custom Guitars

3D printing has even jumped into the music industry with the creation of custom guitar frames. Check out this awesome design! Through this technology, many artists & designers have the chance to ask themselves “What if” or “Why not”. Here is a perfect example of thinking out of the box with one of those questions.
(Source: Mashable & photo credit: ODD
 

The Final Word

There is no doubt that innovators are going to impact the 3D printing industry in the second half of 2012. When artists, manufacturers, and material engineers ask the questions, “What if” or “Why not” we get to see the direct result! As this technology becomes much more available through cost efficiencies and service companies, there will be more enthusiasts asking those questions, and that will be the deciding factor for growing this industry. 
 
Author bio 
Chris Waldo is a technology enthusiast and copywriter with a focus in 3D printing. He is currently working as the Content Manager for the 3D printing network, Kraftwurx. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter
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