Surprising uses of 3D printing

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3D printing technology has come on leaps and bounds since the first rapid prototyping technologies were introduced in the late 1980s.The UK’s premier independent office system solutions provider United Carlton has compiled this list of some of the most surprising uses of 3D printing devices over the past 30 years:

Self-driving minibus

Olli is a self-driving minibus that has been developed by US-based automotive firm Local Motors in an attempt to change the way we view transport on demand.

Built with the power and precision of IBM’s flagship cognitive system Watson, the autonomous shuttle has the capability to carry up to a dozen people at any one time.

When it comes to manufacturing, many of Olli’s components are produced using 3D printers in no more than ten hours. Final assembly then takes only an hour.

Parts of RAF Tornado fighter jets

Back in 2014, BAE Systems revealed that a number of RAF Tornado fighter jets had successfully completed a test flight with components that had been created using 3D printing technology.

The parts were built into four squadrons of Tornado GR4 aircraft and included guards for power take-off shafts and the protective covers of cockpit radios.

Mike Murray, the Head of Airframe Integration at BAE Systems, pointed out to The Guardian: “You are suddenly not fixed in terms of where you have to manufacture these things. You can manufacture the products at whatever base you want, providing you can get a machine there, which means you can also start to support other platforms such as ships and aircraft carriers.

“And if it’s feasible to get machines out on the front line, it also gives improved capability where we wouldn’t traditionally have any manufacturing support.”

Life-sized castle

Minnesota-based Andrey Rudenko took it upon himself to 3D print a full-sized, four-sided concrete castle.
Despite each layer of concrete measuring only 10 millimetres high and 30 millimetres in width, the final construction is a building that comes complete with windows, towers, spires and turrets.

The concept could change the way people look at building TV and movie props, as well as possibly even revolutionise the home construction industry.

Crime scenes

A police station in Roswell, New Mexico, is attempting to change the scenes witnessed inside a courtroom with the purchase of a 3D scanner.

The reasoning behind this investment? To create a 3D crime scene, so that an accurate and detailed graphical representation of criminal activity can be shown and then analysed by both the prosecuting and defence departments of a case.

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