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Editor’s Choice: 15 of the Coolest 3D Printing Stories of 2015

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2015 has been quite a year. Personally, I’ve loved it; I got married, bought a house, hit a milestone birthday, and became editor-in-chief of this great site. I’m almost sad to see 2015 winding down (only a few hours left!) but I’m hopeful that the momentum that this year has provided will propel 2016 right into a hot start. (Maybe literally, if El Niño continues to have much say…)

The year has certainly seen a lot of really intense news in the 3D printing world, which has proven to be more dynamic than ever. While a decent amount of the news on the corporate end hasn’t been great among some of the big names in the business, between two rounds of layoffs at MakerBot and the surprise exit of 3D Systems’ Avi Reichental amid worrisome rumors at that company, we’ve also seen some incredible steps forward in business — including the impending entry of HP into the 3D printing space — and innovation, along with a whole bunch of downright cool creations.

And so, in that fit of year-end nostalgia that strikes the best of us, here’s a rundown of, in no particular order, 15 stories from ’15 that really caught my attention. This is clearly not an inclusive list of the best of the best of the best stories we saw this year — simply put, far too much happened! Still, below is a look at some standouts from this past year in 3D printing, featuring advances in health, science…and cosplay.

1. e-NABLE Looks Back on a Successful Two Years of 3D Printed Prosthetics, Introduces Several New Designs

newdesigns

2. How 3D Printing Helped Star Wars: The Force Awakens Zoom into Theaters

3dp_starwars_captainphasma_close

3. World’s Most Complex Face Transplant Operation Made Possible with 3D Modeling & 3D Printing

hardison

4. Solar Powered 3D Printers Create Customized Medical Devices in Remote Regions

The full kit for assembling the solar powered 3D printer Dr. Wong designed.

5. The Million Image Database Project: A ‘Flood’ of 3D Cameras to Turn the Tide Against ISIS Vandals

ISIS destroying statues

6. Welsh Researchers 3D Print Cartilage; Full Ear and Nose Transplants May Be Only 3 Years Away

_87296086_cartilage

7. 3D Printed Venus de Milo: Has the Mystery Finally Been Solved?

3D print of Venus de Milo Spinning Thread, left, and computer renderings of original 3D scan of Venus, missing her arms.

8. The FDA Approves the First 3D Printed Pill to Help Prevent Epileptic Seizures

The 3D printed dissolvable version of levetiracetam called Spritam.

9. European Space Agency Reiterates Its Plan to Build 3D Printed Base on the Moon

moonbase

10. Italian Researchers Expect 3D Printed Eyes by 2027, Providing Enhanced Vision & WiFi Connection

nnx-001 - EYE

11. For the Plight of the Elephant: Artist Jonty Hurwitz Takes to the 3D Printed NanoScale Again with ‘The Fragile Giant’

elephant

12. Moving People: Helping Highlight the Plight of Refugees with 3D Printing & Guerrilla Street Art

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13. 3D Printing Technique “Didú” Helps Visually Impaired Feel Art

Paintings For Vision-Impaired People At The Prado Museum

14. 3D Printed Imperator Furiosa Prosthetic Arm–Incredibly Accurate Mad Max: Fury Road Cosplay

Photo by Norman Chan at Tested.

15. Marvel Universe LIVE! and e-NABLE Team Up for Adventure, Give Kids “Super” 3D Printed Hands

captmurica-1024x405


Presented without additional commentary, these stories simply represent some milestones in the year in 3D printing for 2015.

If I had to make this list again, I’m sure I’d choose a different set of stories — with other advances in healthcare (bioprinted blood vessels!), cases in international regulation (does Australia’s gun file ban really have a leg to stand on?) and domestic intellectual property, concerns about health in 3D printing activity, the ongoing “Space Boom” as 3D printing proves its worth outside Earth’s atmosphere, everything that happened at Inside 3D Printing Santa Clara, and more advances in 4D printing technology and 3D printing materials than you could shake a stick at, goodness knows there’s more than enough to choose from — but this certainly has been a nostalgic walk down memory lane. (And yes, I know I’m cheating the 15 stories thing by linking to more here.)

Filled with bumps and hurdles as it was, 2015 hasn’t been smooth sailing (and we’re certainly still a long way off from any thought of “a 3D printer in every home”). Still, advances made show just what the technologies involved are becoming capable of. From preserving the past to building up the present and propelling us toward the future, 3D printing technology has had one dickens of a year. I know I’m excited to see just what 2016 will hold in store.

Happy Near Year, from our team here at 3DPrint.com!

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