8 Things you wouldn’t believe come out of a 3D printer

How exactly does 3D printing work? To cut a long story short, you design a virtual 3D model of something on a PC using using CAD software. The 3D printer then turns that design into a model using plastics, metals and other materials. So what can you actually 3D print? Here’s a few things that surprised even us.

1. A house
Quite a few people have had a go at printing buildings, but here’s one that caught eye. In 2014, Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis from UCLA unveiled a machine that he said could make a 2,500-square-foot house in a process called ‘contour crafting’ in a single day

2. Guitars
There are loads of examples of printed guitars on the internet. Here, industrial design student Adrian McCormack talks about printing his own guitars. It looks like you still have to put the strings on yourself.

3. Weapons
It was bound to happen and in May 2013, Defense Distributed released files that anyone with access to a 3D printer could use to make the ‘Liberator’ pistol. DD is still in a conflict with the US State Department over whether there is a requirement to seek government approval before releasing privately generated gun files into the public domain.

4. Replica cars
The most famous printed car is the replica of an Aston Martin DB5 used in the James Bond film, Skyfall. Several replicas, around one third the size of the 1960s original, were ‘printed’ by Voxeljet and finished by Propshop Modelmakers .One was destroyed during filming and another was sold at auction for a reported US $100,000.

5. Weird alien shoes
The Exoskeleton Shoe was designed by Janina Alleyne and modelled by Inner Leaf. Although described as ‘full size’, the shoe is shoe is for decorative purposes only. You can even buy a pair here.

6. Starbug
Starbug is a spaceship and one of the stars of British sci-fi hit Red Dwarf. In the programme, Starbug crashes a lot. Producers wanted a durable scale model of the ship and wanted it to be made up of bits that could be replaced if there was damage during filming. Voxeljet, makers of the James Bond Aston Martin, duly obliged.

7. Peruvian priestess
In 2005, Peruvian archaeologists discovered the 1700-year old mummified remains of a priestess whom they dubbed ‘Lady of Cao’. In 2017, after months of 3D scanning and facial reconstruction work, they unveiled a detailed, printed reconstruction of her face.

8. Artifical reefs
The world’s coral reefs are dying and it will be a while, if ever, before they grow back naturally. Fabien Cousteau, grandson of ocean explorer Jacques, hopes to restore rich reef ecosystems by placing printed, artificial ones in the world’s oceans.