Weird Things That Have Been Made with a 3D Printer

By Vince Matthews

3D printers are awesome! Hook one up to a computer and with just a few keystrokes, you can create anything: a part for a bicycle, a chess piece, an action figure in your own likeness…anything you can imagine. That’s right, anything you can imagine. So now we’ve got you thinking: What are some of the strangest things that have been made with a 3D printer?

Buildings

China-3D-Printed-Apartment-Building
A five-story apartment building in Suzhou made with a 3D printer. The individual components (like the walls, door frames and moldings) were printed off-site and then assembled on location.

In China, the construction company WinSun built what they call, “the world’s tallest 3D-printed building.” The five-story apartment building was created using patented “ink” made of recycled material. The company started by 3D modeling a building that would be the basis of the design.

The apartment building, constructed in the city of Suzhou, sits right next to a neoclassical mansion, which was also made using a 3D printer.

Historical Figures

3D-Bust-Richard-III
This bust of King Richard III offers historians a window into the past.

In 2013, researchers working with McGill University’s Redpath Museum in Montreal, Canada, re-constructed several Egyptian mummies, using a combination of high-resolution CT scans and 3D printing.

The mummy that drew some of the most attention was a young 20-year-old woman. Through the magic of 3D printing, researchers were able to re-create her facial structure in great detail and even her braided hairstyle.

Archaeologists in England created a 3D-printed bust of King Richard III. And while the 3D printers can pretty accurately reproduce facial structure based on a skull, it can’t reproduce how many dimples or wrinkles a person had.

Bionic Ears & Body Parts

3D-printed-ear
While there are no plans to attach this bionic ear to a human being yet, researchers say it works and could give a lucky recipient super-human hearing.

Researches working at Princeton University created a bionic ear using polymer gel, nanoparticles and calf cells. The tech may sound like something out of the movie Frankenstein, but in reality, it’s closer to the tech of The Six Million Dollar Man. The ear, which includes silver nanoparticles that create an antenna, can pick up radio signals that are beyond the range of human hearing.

Creating other types of human body parts is still in the research stage but closer to reality than ever. 3D-printing technology could be used to create human tissues or replacement organs.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh described a valve-based cell printer in a science study published in 2013. The printer is so delicate it can dispense five cells at once, and without damaging any of them. The tech could be used to create cells to test drugs or build a “cell scaffold” to re-construct body parts, such as skin.

Food

3D-Printed-Food
This eight-armed chocolate octopus creates candy cake toppers in half the time it takes a human to do it.

Typically, 3D printers use a plastic resin or “ink” to create things. However the Sugar Lab based in Los Angeles, California, uses a sugar “ink” to create edible 3D cake toppers. Shouldn’t be a surprise then that Hershey’s partnered with 3D Systems to create the CocoJet.

Still others, including researchers at Cornell University, are using different kind of food materials (like gum paste and corn starch) to create food.

Jacksonville Jaguars Owner’s Superyacht Figurehead

3D-Jaguar-Bow-Statue
Weighing in at 220+ pounds, the statue was created on a high-end 3D printer. Its eyes also glow with 10,000 lumens of power.

When you own the Jacksonville Jaguars and want to make a statement, nothing says “you’ve arrived” like mounting a 6-foot-tall, 13-foot-long metal jaguar figurehead to the bow of your yacht Kismet. Shahid Khan did just that. He hired Materialise to create the massive jaguar structure and they, in turn, used a 3D printer to bring the idea to life.

Learning 3D Printing and Industrial Design isn’t as hard as you might think. In fact, if you have some experience with 3D modeling, you’re already well on your way. So no matter what you can think up, as weird as it may be, you can create it with a 3D printer.