11 December 2018

3D printers today and in our future.

You may have noticed that our libraries have had 3D printers for quite a while. They are fabulous little machines that make all sorts of cute things like jewellery, cartoon characters, animals and insects, Harry Potter chess pieces and so on.  They can also make useful things like measuring cups, jugs, lemon squeezers, kitchen implements.  If you are a Sci-fi fan you will find a myriad of objects from Star Trek, Star Wars and other TV and movies series. The list is endless.  We’ve been known to print the Eiffel tower, a replacement part for a toilet roll holder and even a train track part for a child’s toy!  The children have fun creating bits and pieces during our maker-space sessions and holiday programmes.  Who knows where this could lead?

Actually we do know where it is leading.  Amazing things have been created using these creative big and little devices.  For example a 31-year-old Melbourne woman has been fitted with a 3D printed jaw and new teeth in a world first reconstruction. Anelia Myburgh's face was left disfigured after surgeons removed a life-threatening cancer where she lost 80 per cent of her top jaw.  A customised 3D printed jaw was developed featuring a titanium frame that could carry bone grafts, allowing teeth to be implanted.  Read the full story here: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/world/melbourne-woman-fitted-3d-printed-jaw-and-new-teeth-in-world-first-reconstruction.  

3D printing is being used for medical and enhancements purposes (artificial limbs for example).  This is known as 3D bio-printing.  In 2017 in an amazing development for the world of 3D printing and bio-printing, a human rib cage was been replaced by a porous printed replica in New York. The rib cage was printed using Australian technology and is only the second successful implant in history.  Read more about this here: https://careerswithstem.com.au/bioprinting-our-bones/  There are studies being undertaken in the field of Urology with a view to being able to replace organs such as kidneys and artificial limbs have already been introduced.

So while our children might be starting with fun 3D prints there are promising careers for the future in 3D printing fields we have yet to imagine.

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