This article originally appeared on The Next Web
Helen Foley is Marketing Executive at Elanders, a global printing group with production units in nine countries on four continents.
Love it or hate it, 3D printing is here to stay. It is considered the future of print and manufacturing, and is set to dramatically change the way we buy and produce products in the future.
Over the years, experts have been researching and developing different concepts, printing designs and processes and several breakthroughs have been made — including a working 3D kidney made in 2002 by the Wake Forest Institute and a prosthetic leg, inclusive of the knee and foot, etc. made in 2008 by Bespoke Innovations.
Outside of professional and engineering circles, consumers have been able to get their hands on the first affordable devices that are powerful enough to produce small 3D printed objects, mainly through Kickstarter projects. Those who have had their eyes on the slightly larger machines for bigger objects can buy 3D printers like The Buccaneer.
More commercially, leading retail businesses such as grocery giant Tesco have declared their interest in integrating a 3D printing service into their stores in the future.
So, to help you get inspired by the “next big thing” in tech and design, we’ve gathered the 15 of the best 3D-printed items from 2013.
If you’re not in the US or your idea wasn’t noticed by Google during their “#ifIhadglass” Twitter campaign earlier this year, there is an alternative! Chinese entrepreneur Sunny Gao proved this by printing a fully functioning pair of Google Glasses at a hackathon event in Shanghai.
Unfortunately the 3D printed version of the glasses doesn’t boast Wi-Fi or Bluetooth support, unlike the real thing – but they look awfully close. On the plus side, you have an option to choose your preferred colour, which will please the more fashion-conscious amongst us!
Chinese students from the School of Automobile and Mechanical Engineering at Changsha University of Science and Technology constructed their first race car, “FNX-13,” using 3D-printed parts. The race car took the brains and brawn of 40 students, and uses a Honda 600CC motorcycle engine, allowing it to reach speeds of 150km per hour (95 mph).
Despite being a manufacturing marvel, the project is still a long way from becoming affordable for the masses, with as much as $37,570 spent on printing materials and equipment, since the cost of 3D printing is still reasonably high.
Easton LaChappelle, a 17-year-old high school student from Colorado, used free online resources for 3D printers to construct a fully functional prosthetic arm and hand. The high school student found inspiration from one of his past projects which involved building a robotic hand, made entirely of Lego when he was 14. His creation was able to open and close its fingers using two things: fishing line and servo motors.
LaChappelle has already visited The White House and demonstrated his new invention to US President Barack Obama. Now, the high school student is working at NASA on the Robonaut team.
Water bottle vases
Layers in Design have finally found a use for your collection of old water bottles. This new contraption, “Screw You Vase,” is priced at €130 (£110) and transforms 12 water bottles (all of a similar size) into a large vase.
The 3D-printed model is available in green or black and uses the cap on the top of the bottle. It then balances the three bottles from the centre to form the base of the vase before expanding out in a circular formation.
Finnish designer Saad Alayyoubi, AKA SaGaDesign, hasn’t just created a perfectly good stand for your iPad, but in fact, a work of art. The €161 (£136) miniature muscle-man, reminiscent of the Greek titan Atlas, not only looks impressive, but uses every bit of his 3D-printed strength to hold your iPad at the perfect viewing angle.
As mentioned on the product’s Shapeways page, it also appears to defy gravity as the mini man holds an object that is much taller than him. The product, named “Sisu” roughly translates to “determination” or “grit.”