You can 3-D print what?!

Dr. Lou Shuman shares a list of some of his favorites for how 3-D printing is impacting our society as a whole, both for fun and dramatically.

Shuman Lou Bw

WITH AN ISSUE DEDICATED to the impact 3-D printing is making in dentistry, I researched 3-D’s latest developments in all disciplines, and wow! So, here is a list of my favorites for how 3-D printing is impacting our society as a whole, both for fun and dramatically.

3-D printing favs

  • 3-D technology was used to produce models of James Bond’s famed original Aston Martin DB5 with working machine guns for the movie Skyfall.
  • In Belgium, biomedical specialists 3-D-printed a titanium mandible and implanted it into an 83-year-old woman.
  • NASA has 3-D printed a pizza to feed astronauts in outer space.
  • A research team from Wake Forest Institute 3-D printed human bone, ear, and muscle structures and implanted them into select animals, where they continued to fully function. Then, after several months, the tissue formed blood vessels, thus fully integrating into the animals’ bodies.
  • The first 3-D printed drug in the world has received FDA approval. The drug is used to treat epilepsy.
  • Walt Disney created its own 3-D proprietary printing technology. One of its first projects will be 3-D printing animated eyes for interactive toys.
  • 3-D printing is now being used to make many conventional organs required for transplants. The result is less waiting time for recipients, less need for donors, and more lives saved! The next step is 3-D-printed artificial limbs.
  • NASA is planning on using lunar dust to print a base on the moon. I’ll say that again—a 3-D-printed moon base! The technology already exists and is used by astronauts to repair or create a duplicate of broken equipment.
  • There is a pen available—the 3Doodler 3-D printing pen—that can be used to print 3-D objects in the air!
  • 3-D-printed props for movies have already been seen in Iron Man, The Hobbit, Jurassic Park, The Terminator, and The Avengers.
  • Model Dita Von Teese was the first celebrity to put on a 3-D-printed dress that was made out of 3,000 parts.
  • Artist Diemut Strebe teamed up with a group of researchers and 3-D-printed the ear that Vincent van Gogh famously cut off. He studied the various self-portraits of van Gogh and then used computer technology to replicate the exact shape of the Dutch artist’s ear. He then grew the ear from tissue- engineered cartilage cells belonging to the Dutch painter’s great-great grandson, Lieuwe van Gogh.
  • A Minnesota resident built his own large-scale 3-D printer to print a concrete castle. He was so happy with the results that he 3-D-printed a hotel for himself too!

4-D printing...what?!

And just as we sit back amazed at what already has been, 4-D has arrived. 4-D printing is still in its infancy, but what it will involve is creating 3-D-printed objects that eventually will be able to self-assemble and/or change properties by themselves.

Stay tuned!  


Editor’s note: This column appears bimonthly. Find the June article on Search “Nanodentistry.”

LOU SHUMAN, DMD, CAGS, is the CEO of Cellerant Consulting Group, dentistry’s leading corporate incubator and accelerator. He is a venturer-in-residence at Harvard’s i-Lab, the chairman of the technology advisory board at WEO Media, a member of the editorial advisory board of Dental Economics, and founder of the Cellerant Best of Class Technology Awards.

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