3D Printing Is Getting Pretty Flexible These Days

IT Management

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The folks at Objet are doing some pretty awesome things with 3D printers. Even better, they're doing some awesome things with the kinds of materials that 3D printers can work with. It's not just about hard plastic anymore as models can also contain moving parts or be flexible enough to bend into other shapes.

The Objet blog takes a behind-the-scenes look at some of the latest 3D printed models being printed at Objet HQ. On display are a wide assortment of models and 3D printing materials ranging from multi-material 3D printed parts (gear cubes), to clear transparent material parts used in consumer electronics, to ABS-like Digital Material for extra toughness (the green iPhone cover with interlocking gears), to Objet's original yellow-transparent general purpose material (elephant), rigid blue material (horse) for extra detail visualization and rigid white material (vase) for all-round rapid prototyping.

Not mentioned in the above video description is a hand printed out of a rubber-like substance. It looks to be pretty flexible, and can bend without breaking. It's this kind of material innovation that will take 3D printing to the next level, not the hardware itself. 3D printing is in fact held back by its reliance on plastics. Once 3D printers can start creating objects out of other materials, there should be an explosion of innovation in manufacturing.