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At the recently concluded Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, an entire hall was dedicated to companies who wanted to showcase their 3D printers and its finished products.? It was a testament to how widespread 3D printing has become.
In recent years, companies have pushed the boundaries to what 3D printers can do.? While some are still in the business of creating toys or other novelties, there are those who aimed at making things that will benefit a majority of people, and even the environment.
The first of its kind that will be available in the market this year, the ChefJet and ChefJet Pro is the creation of 3D Systems that can print out ready-to-eat sweets.? It comes in different flavors and can even print out chocolate creations.
While sugary treats are already within our hands reach, pasta may be soon to follow.? Italian pasta-maker Barilla is now working with Dutch research organization TNO to make a customized pasta shape straight out from a printer.
?Suppose you are married for 25 years, you go out to eat and you want to surprise your wife with pasta in the shape of a rose.? If you have a design with you on a USB flash drive, the printer can make it,? project leader Kjelf van Bommel said in an interview with Dutch news website Trouw.
Van Bommel said that while the 3D pasta printer is already working, they are still looking at increasing the speed at which it creates the food.? Currently, it can produce 15 to 20 pieces of pasta in two minutes.
Ok, that may sound gross, but it is possible, and especially for those who need it most, it is a welcome technology.
MakerBot, one of the pioneers of 3D printing, said in an interview with NDTV that a costumer, a South African carpenter, was able to make a mechanical hand for himself.? Bre Pettis, MakerBot CEO, said that the carpenter had lost four fingers in an accident.
?Normally, prosthetics cost tens of thousands of dollars, but with the MakerBot, they cost five dollars in materials,? Pettis said.
In the University of Florida, 3D printers are being used to create models from actual parents? brains and skulls for their surgeons to practice on.? Taken from MRI and CT scans of previous patients, the skulls are made to better train the doctors for future surgeries.
?We can create a physical model, so the residents learn to put their hands in the right position.? When they get their first patient, they?re not learning five different, new skills,? Dr. Frank Bova, head of the university?s radiosurgery/biology lab said in an interview with LiveScience.
Meanwhile, in the University of Missouri, blood vessels and sheets of cardiac tissue have been printed using 3D technology.
Artificial Coral Reefs
Another first of its kind, Reef Arabia has started to print 3D reef formations that will go to Bahrain?s coast, an area where overfishing have caused damage to the marine life.? In a collaboration with Australia?s Sustainable Oceans International and DShape, the printed corals are made from non-toxic patented sandstone material.
?With 3D printing, we can get closer to natural design because of its ability to produce very organic shapes and almost lay down materials similar to how nature does it,? David Lennon of Reef Arabia said.
Astronomers Carol Christian and Antonella Nota of the Space Telescope Science Institute are working on creating images from the NASA?s Hubble Space Telescope into 3D objects that will benefit blind people.
So far, they have created stars, filaments, gas, and dust in 3D.? The bright star cluster NGC 602 is the first 3D printout to feature the mix of heavenly bodies.