4 Mind-Blowing Examples of 3D Printers Being Used For Good [LIST]

How innovative technology is making it easier to produce the things that really matter

Jun 13, 2014

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The concept of 3D printing may seem like something out of a Sci-Fi movie, but the process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file is more common than you might think. With all new technological advances come opportunities to do good, and 3D printing is no exception. Here are 4 examples of how this revolutionary technology is making it easier and cheaper to produce essential items.

1. URBAN HUBS

WHAT: Recycling bins for bottles and cans that connect together to be used in sets or one at a time.
HOW: The file to create an Urban Hub unit can be downloaded for free and printed out on almost any 3D printer available. The colorful individual bins each hold a bottle or a can, which are then joined together to create a new recycling hub in a neighborhood.
DOING GOOD FACTOR: Locals can recycle their cans and bottles in public spaces for others to collect and redeem for cash.

Photo courtesy Urban Hubs

2. E-NABLING THE FUTURE

WHAT: A network of volunteers using 3D printing to create prosthetic hand devices for children.
HOW: A small scale project devised by a prop maker from the USA and a carpenter from South Africa has developed into a global movement of experts making 3D printing technology available to those who need it most. The replacement hands are affordable and so simple to make that even children themselves can assemble the parts.
DOING GOOD FACTOR: The developers of the original idea decided not to patent the design and instead uploaded it on the Internet for free so that anyone could have access to the relevant information.

Photo courtesy E-nabling the Future

3. GIGABOT

WHAT: An affordable large format 3D printer from design team re:3D specifically designed to print useful objects in places that need them most.
HOW: While still in the development stages, the printer will soon be able to take recycled plastics and other waste products and turn them into items that are usually very expensive to make.
DOING GOOD FACTOR: re:3D is making it possible to print essential objects such as rain buckets and even toilets in developing countries where basic infrastructure is lacking.

Photo courtesy re:3D

4. FOODINI

WHAT: An all-in-one food maker that creates fresh, healthy meals in no time.
HOW: Users fill up open capsules with the food of their choice, and the Foodini 3D printer automates some of the cooking preparation process. The result is innovative instant meals that can be prepared with the touch of a button.
DOING GOOD FACTOR: Foodini encourages people to use fresh and healthy ingredients by making the cooking process easier and less labor intensive.  

Photo courtesy Natural Machines