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With the Inside 3D Printing conference kicking off this week, what better time than now to recap what has been the most eventful year for 3D printing technology so far.
The year in 3D printing (so far)
With the Inside 3D Printing conference kicking off this week, what better time than now to recap what has been the most eventful year for 3D printing technology so far. This year, 3D printing technology has entered the mainstream news cycle, causing legal debates and spurring change in the healthcare industry. Here are the top 3D printing developments of the first half of 2013.
Defense Distributed gets its license
In March, roughly a month after releasing the video of the 3D-printed magazine, Defense Distributed announced that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had granted it a federal firearms license, which allows the group to sell its 3D printed firearms and accessories.
Gartner predicts affordable 3D printers
In late March, a Gartner report surfaced predicting that the price of enterprise-grade 3D printers would drop below $2,000 by 2016. At such an affordable price point, 3D printers would start to fulfill the lofty expectations that had been set for the technology in the past few years.
Feds confiscate gun designs after 100,000 downloads
Just days after Wilson’s video made noise, the U.S. State Department confiscated the designs for Defense Distributed’s 3D-printed gun, forcing the company to remove them from the internet pending a review for violations of international weapons laws. By that point, however, many had already gotten their hands on the designs - in their first two days on the internet, the design files were downloaded more than 100,000 times.
First 3D-printed house announced
Amsterdam-based DUS Architects announced its plans to build the world’s first 3D-printed house, the Telegraph reported. To do so, the company is using its custom 3D printer called the KamerMaker, translated from Dutch as “room maker,” to print full-sized replicas of walls printed on a standard printer. The front wall and interior lobby are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Robohand replaces dismembered fingers
wo years after suffering a carpentry accident that cost him four fingers on his right hand, South African inventor Richard van As developed an operational 3D-printed prosthetic that could work better than the prosthetics available to him. Since then, the “Robohand” has replaced dismembered fingers on four children in South Africa, and in mid-June it reached its funding goal on its Indiegogo campaign.
Stratasys acquires MakerBot
In late June, enterprise 3D-printing company Stratasys announced a $403 million acquisition of desktop 3D-printing company MakerBot (company founders pictured at left). While MakerBot will continue to make and sell products under its own brand name, the merger will help Stratasys appeal to the broader market for 3D printing, which is attracting interest from more consumers and small businesses than in the past.
3D Systems aims for asteroids
Shortly after that merger, 3D Systems announced that it was becoming a key partner of Planetary Resources, which is developing technology to facilitate mining from asteroids. Similar to NASA’s funding of 3D-printed food, Planetary Resources is looking to use the technology to make resources more accessible during space travel.
Buttercup the duck gets a new foot
In a more lighthearted story, the owners of a waterfowl sanctuary designed a 3D-printed prosthetic foot for one of its ducks, named Buttercup, who was born with a deformation, CBS News reported. After creating the design, the owners of the sanctuary contacted 3D printing company Novacopy to print it. The prosthetic is worn like a cast over Buttercup’s foot, and took just a few hours for the duck to learn how to use.