We invited a handful of members of the 3D printing community that we have been featuring for #3DThursday or on our weekly 3D Hangouts live show to share with us their thoughts about the past year, what they each shared, and what they are looking forward to for 2015.
Matthew Griffin — host of Adafruit’s 3D Hangouts and part of the Adafruit Community Support Team. He is also a contributor to Make on 3D printing topics, including the first two editions of “Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing,” and currently completing a Make: Book on 3D design.
Q: TOP THREE PRINTING MOMENTS FROM 2014?
3D Printing in Space!
The recent stories from the International Space Station, NASA, and Made In Space reporting on the first uses of a 3D printer in space are not just a great story, it is the kind of story that highlights a number of the elements truly unique to this fabrication method: the ability to transmit the designs of objects as data to be produced in a remote location, ability to make a wide variety of useful objects from a finite feedstock, including the opportunity to produce unusual, single use objects or standardized objects that would otherwise require a range of manufacturing stages and pre-planning/delivery otherwise.
Unlike some of the 3D printing stories this year that emphasize the mysticism of unusual parts appearing thanks to additive manufacturing, these stories help those first learning about 3D printing see practically how the process works, why it might be useful in other contexts, and even the opportunity to download and print out some of these objects to follow along at home.
3D Printing for Medicine!
It would be possible to create a long list of exciting developments this year in medicine alone, but I found myself most impressed with the leaps forward in the open prosthetic movement. We have celebrated this topic for a while now, including the MakeTheWorld series we hosted in October of 2013. This year abounded with new developments, innovations, and people genuinely helped by this movement, from the eNABLE conference at Johns Hopkins to brand new participants exploring 3D printing and prosthetics in universities and communities all over the world.
The story of Derby the Dog — watching Derby running down the street! — demonstrates immediately to any who see the video above the dramatic effects of having a machine to execute a precise form efficiently and inexpensively in a design pipeline that includes 3D scanning — making it possible to provide a solution to match a precise body and set of needs.
3D Printing in Fashion and Cosplay
From design-forward technical innovations such as the amazing Kinematics foldable dresses from nervoussystem to one-person cosplay powerhouses such as James Bruton’s x-robots.co.uk series, seeing imaginative uses for 3D printing that we can wear, wrap, cover, or augment our own bodies does more to drive new users to 3D printing than even developments in uses for product design and prototyping.
Check out 3D Community Spotlight posts for Emmett Lalish and others here!
Q: WHAT’S A 3D PROJECT YOU SHARED THIS YEAR?
This past year, I spent quite a bit a time writing and speaking about 3D printing, but what I am most proud of sharing this past year have been the 3D Community Spotlight series of blog posts and small portraits as a part of the Adafruit 3D Hangouts Show that I host with Noe and Pedro Ruiz. These are exciting times for 3D printing both at the industrial and desktop level, and I have felt that every moment I have spent researching, talking with, and highlighting those 3D pioneers has been rewarding, not to mention teaching me many things for my own writing about 3D design that I did not know before.
Stainless Steel filament from ProtoPasta is one of a wide range of new materials entering the desktop 3D printing space this year.
Q: WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO FOR 3D PRINTING IN 2015?
- New materials — including unique post processing methods suited to each.
- The expansion of the range of desktop DLP/SLA and potentially desktop SLS and powder printing this year will transform how we see desktop/prosumer/industrial 3D printing.
- New bioprinting and medical additive processes will not only solve a few of the complications to provide more practical applications for the uses that have already been explored for 3DxMedicine, but will also introduce new uses both at the organ and microscopic level.
- Design and technical training tools – new resources to help first time users accomplish more with a 3D printer as a designer — including my book Design and Modeling for 3D Printing for Make:Books.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! We also offer the LulzBot TAZ – Open source 3D Printer and the Printrbot Simple Metal 3D Printer in our store. If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!