14 Coolest 3D Printing Stories of 2014

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bestOn January 23rd of this year, officially launched. We were just a 2-man team back then — but fast forward 11 months and we now have 5 full time employees as well as a cast of highly respected freelance writers. Our fast growth may be surprising to some, but to those who understand just how rapidly the 3D printing industry is growing, it’s not a surprise at all. Over the last 11 months we have met an extraordinary number of incredible people working within the space. We’ve also covered some pretty amazing stories, which are sure to pale in comparison to what is in store for 2015. Below you will find our hand-picked list of the top 14 3D printing related stories of 2014. Enjoy!

Made In Space and NASA 3D Print First Ever Object off of Planet Earth (More Details)
o2It’s been a long time coming, and all throughout the year we followed California-based Made In Space as they worked closely with NASA on a 3D printer capable of printing in space. The printer was launched to the International Space Station in September, and by the end of November, the very first 3D printed object had been fabricated in space. Ironically the first functioning 3D print from the ISS was a part for the 3D printer itself, a faceplate for its printhead. Since November numerous other parts have been fabricated in space, and plans are in place to send a second, more sophisticated machine up sometime next year.

Strati – First Ever 3D Printed Car, Fabricated and Assembled in Just 44 Hours (More Details)
This was my favorite story, as the team at Local Motors set out to 3D print a car live at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago this September. The vehicle waso3 printed and assembled in front of show goers, live, and took a total of just 44 hours to complete. Since September, Local Motors has increased their printing and assembly time, significantly, and we had the opportunity to speak with Jay Rogers, the company’s CEO. He told us that they have plans on rolling out dozens of microfactories over the coming years allowing people like you and me to walk in and order a 3D printed car and have it printed and delivered shortly thereafter. The company is also considering 3D printing other vehicles such as boats and planes, and just last month they announced that they would be giving away 12 3D printed cars to designers who would like to ‘hack’ the vehicle.

Minnesota Man 3D Prints a Life Size Castle in His Back Yard (More Details)
o4Whether you are one of those people who believe 3D printing will eventually take over all forms of production, even home building, or not, the 3D printed castle in Minnesota certainly had to pique your interest. We were the first to break this story back in July when Andrey Rudenko began constructing the home from a 3D concrete printer he had created himself. The castle was eventually completed in August, and since then Rudenko has made the actual 3D model available for download so you too can 3D print your own castle, even if it’s a tiny one. Although the castle was big enough to live in, the dimensions still made it a bit small to actually call it a home. Rudenko has plans to build an even bigger castle, all in one piece next.

First 3D Printed Gun Arrest and Sentencing (More Details)o5
Probably one of the more touchy subjects when it comes to 3D printing is the printing of guns and other weapons. Although there has yet to be a violent crime reported that we are aware of involving a 3D printed gun, there has been an arrest. Back in May Japanese authorities arrested 27-year-old Yoshitomo Imura who was employed at Shonan Institute of Technology in Japan. Imura was found to be in possession of five 3D printed guns, and also posted a video online of himself firing one the weapons. In October, Japanese courts handed down a significant punishment of two years in prison to the man.

Sub-$300 3D Printers Are Here (More Info on MOD-t) (More Info on The Micro)
o62014 has been the year of the affordable 3D printer. Two companies in particular, New Matter with their MOD-t 3D printer, and M3D with the Micro 3D Printer, took the internet by storm. Both companies raked in huge sums of cash via crowdfunding, and shipments of both sub-$300 (many early backers paided under $200!) 3D printers will commence next year. Look for a wave of new 3D printing enthusiasts and newbies to emerge throughout the first half of the year thanks to these two companies.

HP Enters the 3D Printing Space (More Details)
After much anticipation throughout the year, HP officially announced their entrance into the 3D printing space with a new technology they call Multi Jeto7 Fusion. Although they will not be shipping any printers until 2016, the company claims that their technology is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. They stated that their forthcoming 3D printer will be capable of printing at speeds in excess of 10 times that of competitor’s machines. HP’s entrance is sure to cause quite the stir headed into 2015, as companies like Stratasys and 3D Systems may be forced to pad their R&D budgets a bit more in order to compete. In the end, competition will certainly lead to greater innovation and more affordable prices for all. It will be interesting to see how the major players within the industry react in 2015.

The Mink Makeup 3D Printer Revealed (More Details)
p1Back in May, Grace Choi revealed to the world the first ever Makeup 3D Printer she called Mink. The printer uses rather simple 2D printing technology in order to print out custom shades of lipstick, eye shadow, and even nail polish. Choi, who is a rather successful hardware hacker, plans to introduce the machine, which promises to disrupt the multi-billion dollar cosmetic industry, to the market sometime in 2015. It is expected to be priced south of $300.

The 3D Printed Estate (House, Swimming Pool, & More!) (More Details)
While 2014 certainly has been the year in which 3D printing technology expanded to encompass large objects such as cars and castles, one specfic project really caught our eye. New York dinarchitect Adam Kushner has been working on a project in which he will eventually 3D print an entire estate. The estate will consist of a 2,400-square-foot, 4 bedroom home (the roof will also be 3D printed), a swimming pool, and more. Kushner is working with Enrico Dini and James Wolff (yes, the same man who is trying to mine asteroids) on this project, which they expect to launch sometime next year. We were lucky enough to break this story earlier in the year after an extensive interview with Kushner.

Vascularization Achieved – 3D Printed Organs, Here We Come? (More Details)
o8One of the major obstacles in the way of functioning 3D printed organs is the complex vascular networks which feed the cells within any organ. Researchers have been able to print out cells from kidneys, the liver, and even the heart; however, the hard part has been the creation of vascular networks within these cells, which are required for long-term function. Researchers at the University of Sydney were able to 3D print tiny fibers which they then coated with human endothelial cells. Once coated they let the material harden and removed the printed fiber, leaving a hollow vascular network behind. The idea is to print organ cells around these networks, allowing for adequate blood flow to keep the printed tissue alive. Although we are not quite there yet, this research will likely play an integral part in the future of 3D printed organs.

Autodesk Enters the 3D Printing Space (More Details)
It has certainly been the year of the large corporation entering the 3D printing space. In addition to HP’s announcement that they would be entering the space in 2016, leading o9CAD software developer Autodesk announced in May that they too would not only be producing their own 3D printer called Ember, but also developing an entire 3D printer operating system called Spark. Spark has already been nicknamed by many within the industry “The Android OS of 3D Printers.” Autodesk does not seem terribly serious about selling printers themselves, and although they have recently announced their Ember SLA 3D printer, it appears that their main goal is to use this machine as an example to show the industry how well the Spark platform can be integrated into a specific printer. It will be interesting to see how quickly the platform is adopted over the next 12 months as companies such as Local Motors have already jumped on board in some capacity.

Organovo Announces First Commercially Available 3D Printed Tissue, exVive3D (More Details)
o1With 3D printed human tissue being one of the biggest stories of the year, how could we leave out the company who has been leading the way within this field. After much anticipation, back in November Organovo officially released the world’s first commercially available 3D printed human tissue samples called exVive3D. The tissue, which targets the pharmaceutical industry by providing 3D samples of the human liver for drug toxicity testing, could be a financial boon for the company. I also had an opportunity to speak with Organovo CEO Keith Murphy at the Inside 3D Printing Conference in Santa Clara back in October, where he explained the technology behind their printers. Murphy also announced that the company will be able to print partial human organs sometime within the next 4-6 years, with complete organs on the horizon soon after.

Artist 3D Prints a Replica of Vincent van Gogh’s Ear Using His Family’s DNA (More Details)p2
In probably one of the most bizarre, yet intriguing, stories we’ve covered this year, artist Diemut Strebe and a team of scientists set out to 3D print a replica of the famous painter’s ear that he chopped off. Not only was this a replica of the ear, but it was bioprinted with human cells created from the DNA of a relative, the painter’s great-grandson Lieuwe van Gogh. Back in July the ear was on display at the ZKM | Media Museum in Germany.

3D Printed Vagina Replica Lands Japanese Artist in Jail (More Details)
p3In yet another rather bizarre story, Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi was arrested in July after having scanned her lady parts and then uploaded the 3D model of the scan to the cloud for the public to download. Igarashi also 3D printed several pieces of art featuring her vagina as the center of each piece. Included was a kayak, as well as war scenes in which her lady parts were used to represent a trench. Authorities released the artist following a public outcry, only to arrest her once again this month. Japan is known for their strict laws prohibiting the display and content distribution of female genitalia, while a man’s penis is not held to the same strict laws and standards. In fact, every year there is a penis festival in Japan where images and models of penises are commonly displayed. It will be interesting to see what ultimately becomes of this case.

Man Compares $42k Prosthetic Hand to a $50 3D Printed Version (More Details)
Probably our most read article of the year was one in which a man named Jose Delgado Jr., who was born without a left hand, compared a prosthetic hand he had been using, which cost him $42,000, to that ofp4 a $50 3D printed prosthesis. The comparison was quite interesting, as he generally preferred the 3D printed version to the one which cost 840 times the amount. Since April when the story first aired, hundreds of individuals have been fitted with their own personal 3D printed prostheses, and numerous initiatives are under way to develop even more advanced 3D printed hands for individuals who can not afford the excessive prices that traditional prostheses go for.

There you have it, the rundown of the top 3D printing stories we’ve covered in 2014.  We can’t wait to see what makes the list next year! Let us know your favorite in the 2014 Year in Review forum thread on

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