3D printing can include odd and unusual materials. People may not be aware that some materials can be used in 3D printing other than plastic. 3D printing capabilities have been expanding rapidly and the options aren’t limited, and it’s seemingly possible to print objects using virtually anything.
The most unusual 3D printing materials include food (such as chocolate, salt, sugar, pancakes, and even pizza), metal, wood filament, cement, clay, ash filament, and even human cells. 3D printing unusual filament typically requires special machinery and cannot be done on an off-the-shelf 3D printer.
We are going to explore some of the weirdest and most unusual 3D printing filament you will be surprised can be printed with.
To me, food is one of the more exciting 3D printing technologies that is coming out but that is more of a personal preference. Being able to 3D print food items such as chocolate will make creating and consuming sweets more exciting.
Various projects have already rolled out, creating food-friendly 3D printers. And a recent one, Hershey’s additive manufacturing, has even created a chocolate-friendly printer. However, the printer can be much slower than plastic and ceramics.
3D printing with materials like chocolate reqires a special 3D printer for the job or an attachment for your existing 3D printer. The chocolate 3D printer attachments are pretty affordable so long as you use are able to use it a few times.
There are also pancake 3D printers availible on the market as well. I dont know if you can actually consider them 3D though considering it is actually only one layer.
Chocolate and sugar can be excellent 3D printing materials. And, of course, don’t forget that your savory binging snack, pizza, can make it to the printer!
Beehex, a food manufacturing company in Silicon Valley, has recently invented a robotic 3D pizza printer called Chef 3D. The pizza may not be comparable to a gourmet pizza joint but it is still extremely impressive.
People having a sweet tooth can also ditch their conventional sugar snacks and try 3D prints made of sugar. The good thing is that a wide variety of sugar printers exist, including royal icing-based, liquid-based, and powder-based printers, so you’re spoilt for choice with variety.
The world of tedious wood carving is seemingly taking a back seat, and contemporary 3D wood printing is seemingly taking over. Wood filaments combining PLA and other substances replicate the authentic feel of wood and are much more accurate and repeatable than hand carving.
Although it is combined with PLA which means it will not be entirely composed of wood the appearance is similar enough that it is shocking.
So, if you want to create your favorite wood toy or a gift for a friend, it shouldnt take you more than a few hours.
Metal 3D printing may not amaze you because it is becoming more popular. However, we must admit that metal is one of the unusual materials to find its space in the 3D printing world.
It requires a special printer to handle metal for printing because it’s pretty strenuous. It would help if you had a complete set of melting tools and a lot of energy to keep metal in its liquid state on end.
There are metal composites that can be printed on a standard high heat 3D printer but they all require post proccesing that can be expensive and takes a long time. It can also be a less accurate process because you have to compensate for the shrinkage that happens in post processing.
Clay is a conventionally known material for making pots. The main issue with creating pots by hand from clay is the skill and effort that goes into creating pottery. It may even be cheaper to get started in 3D printing clay than it is to purchase all the tools for pottery.
3D printing objects from clay is not the most unusual item on this list but it is still definitely very impressive.
Printed houses do exist. And yes, they’re as sturdy as other concrete structures when 3D printers create them. The main caveat is that we aren’t talking about gigantic structures replicating the Empire States Building scale, but mainly smaller single-family homes.
A great example of this technology is SQ4D’s 3D printed houses. This is one of the most amazing technologies and it is very impressive that a printer can create a house that people can live in.
The average 3D printer cannot handle printing cement and much less large structures. We are about to see more of it in the future as 3D-printed housing continues to grab the headlines.
As if the world of printing hasn’t got any weirder, get into human cell 3D printing. Engineers have now developed a method to 3D-print cells and produce human tissues, like tendons and ligaments. Quite frankly, it’s a weird concept and, perhaps, seemingly unreal.
It’s already proven that it works, and it’s possible to create human tissue out of human cells. An experimental study at Harvard’s WYSS Institute has already rolled out an initiative to 3D-print thick vascularized tissues for organ engineering and regenerative medicine, and it’s proven beyond reasonable doubt that it is not an unrealistic dream.
However, the project is still in its developmental phases and hasn’t been tested beyond its limits. Nonetheless, it’s a relatively promising and intriguing invention we all can’t stop going head over heels for.
3D printing has come a long and has proven that almost any material can be a medium for 3D printing. It’s now possible to 3D print anything from clay, wood filaments, food, cement, and human cells. It is apparent that more materials will be used and the capabilities will be expanded for 3D printers, which is perhaps a surprise for another day.