You've probably heard of 3D-printed car parts and smartphone cases, but what about the truly weird 3D creations out there? We scoured the internet for the strangest 3D-printed items we could find—and we were not disappointed.
Sure, the health, manufacturing, and technology industries are using 3D printers in astounding ways to revolutionize business and explore the potential for 3D printing, but sometimes, we just want to see what everyone else can come up with. Ranging from amusing to downright bizarre, these 3D inventions are pretty left of centre. And, really, why shouldn't they be? When you have a new, cutting-edge technology, it just makes sense to make the most of it. If these items are wrong, then we don't want to be right.
Winning the company costume contest in years to come may have less to do with who's willing to spend the most money at the party store and everything to do with who's the most clever with their printer. A recent roundup of costumes made with 3D printers included something for nearly everyone, including Freddy Krueger's iconic claws and Iron Man's robotic helmet. As long as no one starts 3D printing life-sized clowns and leaving them randomly around town, I'd say we're safe from full-scale terror for now.
Tired of regular, run-of-the-mill food? Then you're in for a treat: A company called Dovetailed has made it possible to 3D print food whenever you're in the mood for a light snack. Their 3D printer uses fruit-flavoured liquid drops and a process called "spherification" to create shapes that not only resemble, but taste like whichever fruit you're hungry for—saving you a trip to the grocery store.
3. Life-sized ultrasound baby
2D ultrasound pictures of other people's babies can be a little funny, but the 3D model fetuses catching on like The Dress in the parent community are downright hilarious. That's right: The latest keepsake for expectant parents is 3D-printed, life-sized models of their child-to-be. YummyMummyClub reports that not just one, but multiple online retailers now offer these tiny dolls made in the exact likeness of an ultrasound picture. The concept is catching so much steam, it was named one of the top trends for hip parents in 2016.
If you're willing to shell out $300–$500 for a plastic cast of your unborn baby, you have a plethora of customization options. Not only can you pick between "life-sized" or "half-sized," you can customize skin tone and position, some even opting to reveal genitalia. If there was ever a coffee-table decoration sure to start some conversations...Just try to avoid the whole "point and laugh" thing.
The Silk Road may have been shut down, but the drug industry is still booming. Just kidding—we're talking about pharmaceuticals. As scientists at HP, Structure3D Printing, and other research organizations expand the types of materials we can use in 3D-print applications, 3D-printed pharmaceuticals have become a real possibility. CBC News reports that Aprecia Pharmaceuticals of Pennsylvania is now shipping epilepsy drugs printed in-house using cutting-edge technology. And they're not just for show—they're real, working medications that can change lives.
While the life-saving potential for 3D-printed drugs is immense—especially in rural and emergency medical settings—it'll be cool to watch how this technique can drive down health care costs in the future. That said, it's no secret this concept has an absurd side, too. Strict regulation will need to keep dangerous drug-making technology out of the hands of non-medical professionals.
5. Chocolate faces
If you thought the wax figures in Madame Tussauds museums were unnerving, wait until you see the chocolate faces that FabCafe can carve up in no time. We've crossed the line into ridiculous. In just two classes, the company teaches you how to use 3D-printing technology to capture your face—or a friend's, for that perfect holiday gift—in chocolate, reminiscent of Han Solo trapped in carbonite.
While most of us have dreamed of having a clone once or twice, at least to manage our email, you probably never even imagined that 3D printing was a path to printing a chocolate doppelganger. But does anyone really need a piece of chocolate with their face on it? We'll let you answer that question. If there's anything clear about these strange 3D-printed items, it's that the potential of this technology is only as limited as your imagination. And, sometimes, that's not necessarily a good—or bad—thing.