It was not a surprise that 3D printing made a huge surge in the last year, as we’ve seen it used everywhere from the printing of entire concrete homes to fabricating delicate roof structures. But there may be a surprise in all the many applications we’ve seen it used in this year. Here are just a few:
3D Printed Bridge
The world’s record for longest 3D printed pedestrian bridge was set early in the year in Shanghai. Designed by Professor Xu Weiguo from the Tsinghua University (School of Architecture) - Zoina Land Joint Research Center for Digital Architecture, the 26.3-meter-long bridge was inspired by the ancient Anji Bridge in Zhaoxian, China.
In January, Columbia University developed a technology that allowed printers to recreate the entire inner structure of a piece of timber, from color to grain variations. In their study “Digital Wood: 3D Internal Color Texture Mapping” the research team describes how a system of “color and voxel mapping” led to the production of a 3D printed closely resembling the texture of olive wood, including a cut-through section.
Habitat on Mars
May saw AI SpaceFactory awarded first place in the NASA Centennial Challenge. The multi-planetary architectural and technology design agency’s Mars habitat MARSHA was awarded the overall winner in the long-running competition series, which saw 60 challengers in total. The MARSHA habitat offers a glimpse into what the future of human life could look like on Mars, with a 15-feet-tall prototype 3D printed during the final phase of the competition, including three robotically-placed windows.