The best part about 3D printing? It’s all about the promise of the present — and amazing possibilities of the future. That’s why we’re happy to bring you the good news on rocket ships, super tires, Disney-inspired prosthetic hands, Pittsburgh’s revival, pro racing’s innovation race, and a 3D printed guitar that could literally shred. All this week in 3D printing!
To the Moon!
It’s finally happened: a (mostly) 3D printed rocket engine has blasted into space! Taking off from New Zealand, the Electron rocket engine was printed in 24 hours and is more efficient and higher-performing than other existing rocket systems. 3D printed components are ideal for space travel because they can be designed to provide incredible strength with little actual material use — making them lighter, and therefore more flight-ready. There are still a lot of challenges to overcome before 3D printing itself will work robustly off-planet. And that’s why we decided to set up shop on Earth. FOR NOW.
Down to Earth, But Still Out of This World
Michelin has unveiled a 3D printed tire-and-wheel concept that might just blow your mind (just watch the video). Not only is it made from recycled materials, it’s also printed as a single part, and is puncture-proof. I’m not sure we’ll quite reach the printing speeds required for a roadside wheel print anytime soon, but hey, throw those alternate snow tires in the trunk and you’re good to go. Good job, Michelin — you’ve literally reinvented the wheel.
Helping Amputee Kids Reach for the Stars
What’s the cutest, sweetest, most touching thing you can imagine? How about this little girl, holding a ball with her new 3D printed prosthesis? Bristol, England-based Bristol Bionics is working to give amputee kids low-cost hands, all (yep, it gets cute again) based on Disney characters! The aim is to give kids something they’ll want to show off, rather than something they’ll want to hide. I mean, with little Tilly and her Deus Ex-themed hand, I feel like she’ll be the most popular kid in school. She would definitely be the most popular kid in our office.
We’ll Always Have Pittsburgh…
“They” are calling Steel City the next Silicon Valley of 3D printing, and folks from The ‘Burgh are like, “We’re proud to be the Pittsburgh of 3D printing, thanks.” But seriously, with companies like GE at the forefront and brainpower flowing in from Carnegie Mellon, the University of Pittsburgh, and Robert Morris University, Steel City has all of the potential to become, once again, an American manufacturing hub — but with the environmental sustainability of additive manufacturing at its core. Sounds like this slice of America could be even greater this time around….
Right on Track
Forbes’ Alex Knapp brought us the story of racing’s acclaimed Team Penske, who have signed a deal with Stratasys to 3D print prototype parts, car components, and tools to maximize performance on the racing track. With the speed at which these cars travel, it’s no surprise that Team Penske is tapping into digital manufacturing to maximize production efficiency. Plus, you can innovate and iterate at breakneck speed, leading to lighter, more efficient parts. See a trend?
Careful, This Axe Shreds
A Swedish designer and professor has created the world’s first 3D printed aluminum electric guitar. While not everyone’s a fan, this is a musical feat we can get excited about. Especially because the designer has a band that plays with 3D printed instruments. Maybe they can play our company party?