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PICS: 7 unexpected things that can be 3D printed

Jun 08 2019 15:48
Marelise van der Merwe

3D printing was first developed in Japan in the early 1980s, but it has only recently become ubiquitous.

During a recent visit to engineering group Sandviken's headquarters in Sweden, Fin24 took a peek at some of the weird and wonderful items being 3D printed.  

The world's first 3D printed composite diamond

Engineering group Sandvik introduced their new diamond in Sandviken, Sweden, in May 2019. Diamond is 58 times harder than anything else found in nature and has multiple industrial uses. The composite diamond is made of diamond powder and polymer.

While it shares many of diamond's useful properties, it's a little lower in the sparkle department.

3d printed diamond EMBARGO 21 MAY

Photo: Supplied

An "unsmashable" titanium guitar

Also made by Sandvik, the guitar was test-driven by guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen, who claims to have smashed over 100 guitars during his career. Malmsteen attempted multiple times to break it while on tour. It officially can't be smashed, making it either the most – or least – rock 'n roll guitar ever, depending on your perspective.


Photo: Supplied

A manifold

A manifold might not be the most exciting item on the shopping list, but in manufacturing terms, it's a feat. Its awkward shape makes a manifold tricky to create by subtractive processes (that is creating the item by cutting away, rather than adding layer by layer). In 3D printing, this isn't a problem. Sandvik printed this manifold at their plant in Sandviken, Sweden.


Photo: Fin24

Relief for Parkinson's patients

A super-thin platinum-iridium alloyed wire of 0.1 mm holds the power to help Parkinson patients to live a more normal life. Deep brain stimulation is used to treat people with neurological treatment resistant disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Dystonia.

Electrodes are implanted in the brain to deliver impulses to the nerves, and an electrical pulse generator produces stimulation impulses. The electrodes and the pulse generator are connected by minute conductive wires supplied by Sandvik.

This treatment has proven to be very effective in controlling movement disorders, with a success rate exceeding 97%, says the group.


Photo: Sandvik 


3D printing opens the door for unique shoe designs, meaning there's room for greater comfort thanks to personalised shoe fitting.

But it also means there's room for some weird, whacky and wonderful foot fashion. These couture shoes were created with Swedish fashion designer Naim Josefi and then 3D-printed by Sandvik.


Photo: Supplied

And heading even further afield...


Why do it the old-fashioned way when you can just pop your order in the printer?

Just kidding. Gestation is still a thing. However, Russian firm Embryo 3D allows parents-to-be to print 3D models of their children before birth by replicating their ultrasound scans.

3d babies

Photo: 3D babies


Natural Machines made the first 3D food printer. In 2014, the company launched Foodini, a 10kg Android-powered 3D food printer that stands about 12cm high.

"From guacamole with secret spices to heart-shaped vanilla-mint cookies, Foodini promotes cooking with fresh ingredients for healthier, happier eating," the website promises.

All you need is Wi-Fi and you're good to go: choose a recipe from the company's website using a smartphone or website and start printing. There are also competitors on the market, which print anything from pancakes to pizza.


Photo: Natural Machines

* Fin24 was hosted by Microsoft and Sandvik in Sweden.



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