If you wonder aloud to a 3D printing pro, “Gee, what can’t you print with one of these things,” they’re sure to have a few answers for you. Even though stories of serious advancements in the field (see: printed pizza) might make you think we’re all a smartphone upgrade away from printing whatever we imagine, there are still obstacles. To really make moves in science or medicine, or to change the entire fashion industry with the press of a button, we’ll have to figure out how to print more materials.
We told you about Electroloom, a company that hopes to replicate organic materials like cotton and other fabric-friendly fibers in its goal of printing clothing by year’s end. This week saw a major reveal that might make 3D printing possible for larger scale operations with the world’s first carbon fiber 3D printer, the Mark One.
Coming from startup Mark Forged, Mark One prints composite materials and objects like tooling and fixtures from carbon fiber, which has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than aluminum. Let us translate for you: that means that the Mark One can print out parts to make jets. Rockets. Race cars. Bobsleds for the 2018 Winter Olympic Team. It could mean that your local bike shop prints custom parts while you wait. Or your hospital has a whole new way to make prosthetics. All that from a pretty attractive specimen of industrial design, we might add!
Although the Mark One will specialize in the tough stuff, it prints in three other materials that might mean more for your 3D print-at-home future than airplane wings will. Though who knows how we’ll be getting around town in THE FUTURE. Mark One can print fiberglass (we could use a pair of Eames Molded Chairs in our den, say… 2020?), nylon (we’ll promise some make-your-own Baggu 3D printables when it happens) and PLA, a popular bioplastic made from renewable resources like corn starch for, say, making your own biodegradable cups and cutlery for the next office party.
What are your thoughts on 3D printing? Would would be the most use for you at home?