This Week in 3D Printing: Going Mainstream and Saving Lives

3D Printing & Imaging CAD
This Week in 3D Printing: Going Mainstream and Saving Lives
A 3D printed splint created for a child with tracheal bronchomalacia
A 3D printed splint created for a child with tracheal bronchomalacia

From establishing a unified file format to saving the lives of infants, 3D printing made national headlines last week. Here are some that caught our eye:

  • Microsoft followed its announcement last week of a 3MF Consortium to standardize 3D printing formats by launching an overhauled version of the .3MF file format for 3D products. The format comes with various benefits such as containing a 3D model’s info in a single archive and having an extensible format, meaning .3MF will be able to use just one file from design to print — without losing any data along the way — and will have the ability to support future technologies.
  • Autodesk, one of the seven companies in the 3MF Consortium, is partnering with Microsoft to combine its Spark 3D platform with Windows 10. The collaboration will make Autodesk’s 3D models compatible with Microsoft’s HoloLens, a mixed reality technology, and will eventually give developers and engineers the ability to see scaled models of their ideas within HoloLens before printing the projects.

    Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 3.06.11 PM
    Spark 3D platform
  • Lowe’s is looking to capitalize on the burgeoning 3D market, and plans to expand its home improvement repertoire by implementing 3D printing in its stores, letting it offer a vastly wider selection of products. The service began its testing phase last week, and soon customers will be able to create personalized items by selecting a product, choosing an aesthetic, and printing in a material of their choice.
  • HP is also entering the 3D printing foray, and may upend the 3D printing market with its 2016 release of the Multi Jet Fusion, which HP claims is 10x faster than current 3D printing technology. The introduction of such a large company into a still growing field may pose a threat for smaller 3D printing companies, but HP’s true impact won’t be known until multiple variables are qualified including the cost of the Multi Jet Fusion, the versatility of its applications, and how the rest of the industry responds to the new technology between now and mid-2016.
  • The medical field is already known for utilizing 3D printing to create personalized prostheses and spinal braces, but a study released last week revealed that scientists were able to use 3D printed splints to cure three children of tracheal bronchomalacia, which can lead to airway collapse. The splints, made out of a porous material that disintegrate over time, were customized for each child by using CT images to create the 3D models.
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As an athlete with a neuro-astro-legal background, my writing interests involve just about everything. Current hobbies include kickboxing, Netflix binge-watching, and concocting the perfect mac n' cheese recipe.

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