The 3D printing revolution has ushered in a new era of customization. Human bones, fuel-efficient car parts, and even burritos now take only a few hours to produce through this innovative printing process. As you read this, engineers are using 3D printing technology to experiment with commercial airplane design, doctors are whizzing out organs, and <a href="http://inhabitat.com/nasa-testing-space-based-3d-printers-to-create-tools-on-trips-to-mars/#ixzz21jDuABTd" target="_blank">NASA is testing 3D printers that are destined to land on Mars.</a><br><br>
With technology constantly evolving, <strong>BlackEnterprise.com</strong> takes a look at 6 noteworthy moments in 3D printing history. –<strong><em>Semhar Woldeyesus</em></strong>
<strong>2012: Doctors Transplant First-Ever Custom, 3-D Printed Jawbone</strong><br><br>
In February, an 83-year-old British woman became the <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-16907104" target="_blank">first person to receive a 3D-printed jawbone transplant</a>. Instead of performing reconstructive surgery, doctors at the Biomedical Research Institute at Hasselt University teamed up with metal-parts manufacturer <a href="http://www.layerwise.com/" target="_blank">LayerWise</a> to replace the patient’s lower jawbone. Made entirely of titanium powder, the 3-D printed jawbone took less than a day to produce. “Computer technology is causing a revolution in the medical industry,” professor <strong>Jules Poukens</strong> of the University of Hasselt said in a statement. “A traditional surgery takes up to 20 hours… but this operation lasted four hours and the woman could go home after four days.”
<strong>The Smithsonian Unveils 3D Print Housed in National Museum of African American History and Culture </strong><br><br>
<a href="http://mashable.com/2012/02/24/smithsonian-uses-3d-printing/" target="_blank">The Smithsonian Institute announced a mind-boggling mission</a>: To replicate every single one of its 137 million items. Though still in its early stages, a specialized team of designers will digitize collections using a combination of 3D printers and industrial lasers. Currently, the 3-D replica of a Thomas Jefferson statue, installed for the “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty” exhibit, is the largest museum-quality historical reproduction ever created.
<strong>2011: Haute Couture Goes Digital</strong>
Known for fusing technology and high fashion, Dutch designer <strong>Iris van Herpen</strong> ditched traditional sewing machines altogether when she decided to create her Fall/Winter 2011 haute couture collection. Her debut in Paris featured 3D couture dresses made with rubber and metal materials. Armed with a team of architects (and Photoshop), the former intern at Alexander McQueen has since developed <a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1670239/ferocious-7-inch-heels-with-scary-gemstone-teeth#1" target="_blank">a line of 3-D printed shoes</a>.
<strong>The World’s First 3-D Printed Car Hits the Road</strong><br><br>
Using eight times less power than the average vehicle, Urbee, the world’s first 3-D printed car, is helping to transform the automotive industry. The two-passenger hybrid vehicle was created based on the design principles found in aerodynamics and electric power. Kor Ecologic, the<strong> </strong>company that designed the Urbee, claims that the car can deliver more than 200 miles per gallon on the highway and 100 mph in the city.
<strong>Cornell University Learns to Print Edible Treats From Scratch</strong><br><br>
Who says you need a kitchen to cook? <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2011/01/24/technology/3D_food_printer/index.htm" target="_blank">Cornell University partnered with New York’s French Culinary Institute to print miniature scallop-and-cheese space shuttles.</a> Software tools developed by the university’s computational synthesis helped create pureed, edible layers of material. To date, the culinary research team has experimented with cheese, turkey, chocolate, hummus, and scallops to dish out meals.
<strong>2010: The World’s First 3-D Printed Aircraft Takes Flight</strong><br><br>
A team of engineers from the UK shook up the aviation industry with the creation of Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft (SULSA), the world’s first custom-printed aircraft. Flying at up to 100 mph, the pioneering prototype was designed to snap together automatically—no assembly required. Everything except the model’s internal engine was printed out in layers. Aviation industry experts predict that the precedent established by SULSA will help manufactures learn how to cut down on environmental waste and processing time, potentially saving the industry billions of dollars.