Did you think that 3D printing was all about hobbyists sat at home in their garages printing out poor quality models and toys in plastic? Well think again!
Makers around the world have been taking designs for open source 3D printers and adapting them to print with pretty much any paste substance. Want to print ceramics? You got it! Icing sugar? Of course you can! What about silicone? Easy peasy!
Of course, being able to print with these substances is only the first step. Once that’s possible is then a case of re-imagining what these can be used for.
Take the example of printing with sugar. Scientists in the USA dared to think the impossible and tried to have a go at printing artificial blood vessels. The sugar is printed in a lattice network which is then immersed in a gel enriched with liver cells. Once the gel is set the sugar lattice is washed away with water to produce the vessels through the gel through which oxygen and nutrient enriched fluid is pumped.
Now that’s thinking outside the box!