3D printing isn’t just for the hipsters who want to create Yoda heads and desk skulls, oh no. The revolutionary printing technique is taking manufacturing to a new level with these awe-inspiring, useful designs.

Ok, so number nine is a little creepy, and we’re not really sure how useful it is, but the rest: WOW.

Invisible braces

invisible braces

Image courtesy of Inside 3DP

Worried your metal mouth is putting potential lovers off? Fear not! Invisible braces to the rescue!

Completely customised braces are created for each customer using sterolithography, a type of 3D printing that lets you build designs from CAD.

3D printed body parts

Video courtesy of Popular Mechanics

Project Daniel teaches local people how to build body parts for amputees in war-torn parts of the world.

Although some metals are also used in production, the majority of the parts are 3D printed.

Key takeaways from the project are:

  • Components cost around $100
  • The parts are mechanical, not robotic (due to lack of electricity in the area)
  • It takes 6 hours to print a hand + 3 hours to print hinges

Printed cast

Video courtesy of Make Use Of

Heavy, itchy, plaster cast arms could be a thing of the past with the New Zealand designed Cortex Fracture Support.

This recycled plastic cast is:

  • Lightweight (under 500g)
  • A runner up award winner at the 2013 James Dyson awards

Solar powered 3D printer

Video courtesy of Face Media Group

You know what there’s too much of in the world? Desert sand.

This 3D printer is:

  • Powered by the sun
  • Melts components in desert sand
  • Turns it into glass



Image courtesy of Giz Mag

Nasa have funded a project to help develop a 3D food printing machine to feed hungry astronauts in space.

The creator, Anjan Contractor, wants to use it to:

  • Solve the worldwide food shortage crisis
  • Reduce wastage

3D Pens

3D pens happen to be another great 3D printing device that can make life a lot easier for many people. You can use this pen just the way you would normally use a pencil or a pen. This pen doesn’t contain led or ink but it has plastic. These pens work using plastic and there are plastic filaments available in various colors for you to experiment with.

This pen works just like a normal pen, but instead of being able to write only on paper, you can now go all over it. This means you can create and draw 3D images using this pen.

3D pens have gained a lot of popularity especially in the field of education. Students are now able to express themselves with the help of the 3D pen and bring their ideas to life. The 3D pen can also be used to prepare images and graphs in the classroom.

It is said that there is nothing better than visualizing your subject and the 3D pen allows you to do just that. The 3D pen also reduces the burden of teachers. Teachers can now ask students to create their projects on their desks and the teacher can check the same in the class itself. There is no need to take any test papers or projects home anymore.

3D food forms

3d food forms

Image courtesy of Tech Crunch

Whilst we’re on the subject of food, this idea to create ‘food forms’ for the elderly has gone down a storm in Germany.

The pureed food is perfect for patients who suffer from dysphagia, which causes difficulty in chewing and swallowing.

3Dfacial prosthesis

3d facial aesthetics

Image courtesy of Collex

3D printers are improving the process of creating facial prophesises, with some exciting results:

Normal Facial Prostheses 3D Printed Facial Prosthesis
Building time Three months £3,000
Cost Less than forty-eight hours £500



Video courtesy of The Drum

Why waste your money on a costly florist, when you can create your own, beautiful, plastic creation?
Bonus: Reuse time and time again.

Caution: May lose girlfriend.

3D foetus

3d foetus

Image courtesy of Fast Company Design

Why have an ultrasound scan picture on your desk, when you can have this foetus figure instead?

Although a little dark, there is a market for 3D printed foetuses. Your baby’s face can be printed onto a pre-made body and with a choice of skin colour; you can create your own mini-me without any waters needing to break. Beautiful.

3D printed body parts

3d printed body parts

Image courtesy of Popular Science

Body parts printed thus far:

  • Human ear (as seen in picture)
  • Functioning human liver tissue
  • Kidneys
  • Blood vessels
  • Skin grafts
  • Bone

It’s early days for body part printing, but there’s plenty of hope these innovations will aid those waiting on donor registers and other individuals seeking medical aid.

Don’t go rushing out to buy your 3D printer yet though, these machines are super costly, so you might have to make do with take-away pizza and baby scan photos for some time yet.