Print me a leg

3D printing seemed like 'Tomorrow's World' territory for a long time - everyone had seen it but it was so obviously outside of most people's reach that it was pointless to obsess over bespoke prosthetics for any length of time. Now that's all changed, obsess all you like, the future is here and it's got legs!

3D printing seemed like 'Tomorrow's World' territory for a long time - everyone had seen it but it was so obviously outside of most people's reach that it was pointless to obsess over bespoke prosthetics for any length of time. Now that's all changed, obsess all you like, the future is here and it's got legs!

A 3D Printed Leg

A 3D Printed Leg

Not only can you print prosthetic limbs till the cows come (check the neat video on this page) but the ability to print real objects is no longer in the domain of the established manufacturer- it's opened up to the individual too. This isn't really down to the raw technology of the 3D printer but rather the model of distributed manufacturing the web has opened up. There are so many web services starting up now which offer the designer an on-demand printing service that all it takes is software/talent and a few test runs to start manufacturing your own limbs (or whatever). Warehouses are fast becoming old-fashioned & surplus is a thing of the past.

Ponoko started by offering an on-demand laser cutting service and have now added 3D printing to their offering. They also have an online store where designers can sell their designs directly and their products are printed by the 'hub' nearest to the customer.

Some more great links

3D printing services: Shapeways Printed Lamp Design: .MGX More 3D printing services: Sculpteo