Plastics such as polylactic acid (PLA) and materials such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) continue to be the most commonly utilized 3-D printing materials. This material is used for hobbyists, nylon and lay wood and are quickly becoming more commonplace.
With the growing trend of 3-D printing at home as a hobby, prices are dropping. This while the capabilities of the machines are rising.
There is a growing number of materials that 3-D printers can work with. Many materials one may never have imagined possible. Here are some cool 3-D printing materials hobbyists can consider now and in the future.
Special printers are required to process metal creations.Unlike plastic, metal printer occurs directly via laser sintering, which melts the powders and layers them together. This is a great medium for those crafting trinkets or jewelry, but it can be used industrially to build aircraft and other metal machinery parts. It is actually becoming more common to see 3D printers using metal as a material to create good metal tool boxes and tool chests for consumer use.
Hobbyist can make good use of recycled or crushed glass materials within 3-D printers to craft all kinds of things such as cups, glasses, bowls, jewelry or decorative items. All that’s needed is a glass-compatible printer and a binding agent to get started. Though working with glass does require additional thoughts about safety, both with the materials and the tools being used.
Those wanting to use paste-like materials such as cement, resin, clay or ceramics can create a medium that will work with 3-D printers. They are also equipped with a specialized syringe-like nozzle. However, many of these crafts may require further treatment such as baking in a kiln prior to use.
Sandstone for Action Figures and Beyond
Its flexibility and availability in an array of colors are making sandstone a new favorite medium above plastics. This trend is particularly true concerning designing small, detailed parts such as action figures and intricate modeling projects.
3-D Printing Edibles
While it seems straight out of a futuristic cartoon, 3-D printers can now use certain food sources as materials. Naturally, the most experimented with and most desirable ‘printed foods’ include chocolate and other sugar-based candies, and even Hershey’s is experimenting with 3-D chocolates while others are testing with printing pastas and even meats.
Bio-Ink and 3-D Printing
Engineers at Harvard University recently developed a combination of bio-inks that can print tissue that mimics human tissues that are complete with blood vessels. These may ultimately create synthetic organs for transplants or biomaterials to create edible meats. Beyond considering the radical implications for medicine, hobbyists into life-like human robotics will enjoy this material advancement.
Imitation ‘bones’ crafted of plastics have been successfully used in a number of surgical procedures in the past. Now, a research team at Washington State University are making strides in crafting such replacements out of real bone and other bone-like materials. While hobbyists won’t likely be performing bone replacement surgery, these materials can create an array of useful items.
In 2015, the Food & Drug Administration approved the first 3-D printed prescription for consumer use. These types of strides could ultimately allow pharmacies to custom make tablets on demand for customers with special prescriptions. Hobbyist might soon be exploring creating their own vitamin and mineral tablets at home using 3-D printers.
Ready to delve discover more about up and coming 3-D printer technology and materials? Contact a local tech pro to see how to take hobby printing to the next level.