FreshMinds’ five cool applications of 3D printing

Every Friday we bring you the FreshMinds Friday picks – tools and hacks and ideas to help you make the most of digital technologies and to understand how they are helping brands to grow and innovate. This week we’re looking at our five favourite examples of how people are using 3D printers – from houses to prosthetic hands, lingerie, cats and a fully-functioning Aston Martin.

1. To print a house

Could 3D printing build a house? Not a small plastic toy house, but a real house made out of concrete? Behrokh Khoshnevis, an engineer at the USC, thinks that it could and is building prototypes of giant 3D printers that create objects from a dense, high-performance concrete. The technique, known as Contour Crafting, builds hollow walls that are stronger than most current houses and could print a family home in under 20 hours.

Take a look at Khoshnevis’s TED Talk.

2. To print a bionic hand

Liam McCarthy was born without fingers on his left hand; when he turned ten, his father Paul looked for affordable prosthetics. His answer came from a project in South Africa to 3D print fingers. For $10 he could print fingers for Leon, as opposed to $30,000 in fees for a medical prosthetic.

The South African team behind Robohand have sought crowdsourced funding and you can follow their progress on their Facebook page.

3. To print a classic Aston Martin

Ever wanted to own an Aston Martin? Well rather than buy one (or buy a replica), New Zealander Ivan Sentch is printing his own 1961 Aston Martin DB4. And he is doing it in excruciating detail. Printing a mould that he will use to create the fibreglass shell, and then printing the detailed interior.

The car will certainly cost Sentch less to make than the $1 million DB4s can fetch at auction, but he reckons it will take him another 4-5 years to finish the project.

4. To print lingerie

The Victoria’s Secret 2013 fashion show had something special to reveal this year. Alongside their usual catalogue, the brand created a unique pair of 3D printed wings for models to wear. Specially created to fit the model perfectly, the wings were created as a set of unique snowflakes – an intricate piece of 3D printing.

Maybe the next step will be to allow you to print your own lingerie in the comfort (and privacy) of your own home.

Find out more about the wings here.

5. To print a cat

Finally, have you ever wanted a cat without the cost, time or mess? Now you can print a model of a cat in a number of poses. Maybe you want a cat laying around, sitting up or curled up on your bed. Now you can print your own at home today.

What are the best and most inventive examples you’ve seen of using 3D printing? Let us know in the comments below.