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How 3D Printing Will Revolutionise the Way You Live

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have invented an inkjet computer than can successfully print retinal cells, according to a report by Science Daily.

Professor Keith Martin, a key figure in this pioneering medical technology, says: “This is the first time that cells from the adult central nervous system have been successfully printed; we’ve demonstrated that you can take cells from the retina and you can effectively separate them out. These can be put in an inkjet printer… and these cells can survive and thrive”.

These are only baby steps moving towards printing a fully functional retina and curing the 39 million people around the world that are currently suffering from blindness, but a complete cure is rapidly approaching. With the prospect of printing fully functioning human eyes on the horizon, we have been inspired to take a look at some of the other magical ways that 3D printing could change the world.

A New Pair of Shoes Every Day

Finnish designer Janne Kyttanen is a pioneer of 3D printing with ambitious plans to transform retail – starting with 3D printed shoes. Kyttanen has designed a range of shoes that customers can personalise for free by downloading the design, selecting the size they require and printing the final product in a colour of their choice.

Each shoe takes upwards of six or seven hours to print, suggesting that Christmas really could be every day for the ladies who dream of waking up to a new pair of shoes every morning.  Kyttanen asks a prudent question: why go buy new things when you could just make your own? Why indeed!

A New Arm In Six Hours

In April 2012,  TIME magazine published the article Alone and Forgotten, One American Doctor Saves Lives in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains. Set in the rebel-held territory in southern Sudan’s Nuba Mountains, the piece focused on those savaged by incessant civilian bombardments, and ended with a quote from Daniel Sumar, a 14-year-old boy who lost his hands as a result of bombings:

“Without hands, I can’t do anything”, said Daniel. “I can’t even fight. I’m going to make such hard work for my family in the future. If I could have died, I would have”.

Read by millions around the world, Daniel’s story resounded in the heart of one man in particular: Mick Ebeling, the co-founder and CEO of Not Impossible Labs, a research firm that aims to tackle daunting healthcare challenges using low-cost, open-source methods.

After he heard about Daniel’s plight, Ebeling launched Project Daniel, which saw the company install a 3D-printer-equipped lab to Daniel’s local hospital. The lab allowed Daniel to obtain a new prosthetic arm, which was printed in six hours, at the cost of around $100 to produce, changing the lives of the young boy and his family.

A Cookie Personalised Just For You

Cookie photo

Inspired by Sesame Street’s beloved Cookie Monster, researchers at Cornell University’s Fab Homelab have created a 3D printer that allows users to input their health data,  and receive a personalised dessert specifically made to meet their nutritional requirements!

The university demonstrated the device by logging the BMI, height and weight of two people into the printer, which resulted in two snowflake cookies, each containing ingredients that met the individual’s nutritional requirements. Whilst printed dessert may not seem as revolutionary as eyes or prosthetic limbs, the development of a printer that is able to print food provides hope for sustainable development in third world countries, along with helping people maintain a nutritional and balanced diet.

The 3D printer is a complete game-changer in the world of health and science, with the device set to completely change the way we all live in just a few short years. As the technology develops at such a rapid pace, we may soon be able to print entire outfits from the comfort of our own homes, grow and transplant human organs at a fast rate and for low cost,  and change the lives of millions of people around the globe.

So next time you’re struggling to refill the ink or fix the jam in the printer at your office,  just take a moment to think: what will you be printing 20 years from now?