Did you know that films such as The Hobbit, Iron Man, Jurassic Park, Avatar, Terminator or even The Muppets used a technique to create their characters and settings that is now revolutionizing design in a broader context? We are talking about 3D printing! This new way of printing contents in different materials, by putting 2D layers one over the other until the whole design is completed, opens up a world of possibilities in terms of… almost anything. If 3D printers used to be expensive, only at the reach of big enterprises, and therefore were only used at an industrial level; now their prizes have lowered so much that individuals can buy them for their own personal purposes. Their printings can be designed through computer-aided design (CAD) or using a 3D scanner to get the planes of a real object. According to 3Dprinting.com, their use goes from “design visualization, prototyping, architecture, education, healthcare and entertainment” to “reconstructing fossils in paleontology, replicating ancient and priceless artifacts in archaeology, reconstructing bones and body parts in forensic pathology and reconstructing heavily damaged evidence acquired from crime scene investigations.” But now it actually goes far beyond.

3D printing can be used to create, for example, bones or organs for transplant. Already, 3D printers have been used by the medical industry to create a jaw, a pelvis and several customized hip replacements from metal. This would radically change our healthcare system, but also medical care at places such as field hospitals. Considering that 3D printers can even print a functional copy of themselves, imagine the reach of just one of them. Of course it was just a matter of time that it also started posing the first challenges, as copyright problems and piracy with online designs. That seems, however, to be quite unimportant when compared with the making of guns and weapons, undetectable by metal detectors, and which are spreading through channels such as Youtube.

But if you, reader, have got a 3D printing project, this will not be new to you. You may be much more interested in knowing that one of the 16 FIWARE accelerators, FABulous, focuses on design, manufacturing, logistic and content-based 3D projects. Entrepreneurs have been using these printers in a myriad of ways, and the trend is now speeding up. Join the FIWARE Accelerator Programme and tell us what the future of 3D printing is!