False teeth, bikinis, pills and skin – is there anything that 3D printing technology can’t do?

While we’re beavering away making our delightfully quirky personalised 3D heads for you, our parent company, Elat3d Ltd, continues to work on producing a very different range of products – architectural models and medical models of bones.

The 3D bones we produce provide the medical community with valuable, cost-effective teaching aids and are widely used, while architects rely on our accurate and visually exciting 3D scale models to showcase their designs. Other innovative 3D technologies are growing across the globe, and there’s no doubt that 3D printing is capable of revolutionising our lives in so many ways.  So, what is 3D printing and how does it work? Here comes the science…

3D printing starts with a virtual design of the object, then the 3D object is created by the laying down of successive thin layers of material until the object is completed.  Taking our heads as an example, we start with a set of 2D images -photos – and using digitising software, we turn these into 3D images.

The digital file is then prepared for 3D printing by the software ‘slicing’ the digital object into hundreds or thousands of horizontal layers. The ‘sliced’ file is uploaded to the 3D printer, which reads every slice, and prints out each layer until the 3D object is finished. There are various types of 3D printers, but they all work in a broadly similar way, with the most common being a 1986 technology called stereolithography (SLA), which uses a UV laser to ‘cure’ the photo-reactive resin that ‘prints’ the object, layer by layer.

Some IT companies, including Microsoft, have already enabled their hardware to perform 3D scanning, making it only a matter of time before even the smartphone in your pocket has an integrated 3D scanner that you could use to digitise your 2D images.

The uses of 3D printing are numerous and range from life-saving to wacky. The medical industry not only uses 3D bones as teaching aids, but patients all over the world already benefit from 3D-printed implants and prosthetics. And bio-printing research aims to combine layers of living cells with a gel medium to build 3D organs and body parts using inkjet techniques. These techniques can save lives and greatly improve quality of life.

NASA 3D prints its rockets’ combustion chamber liners and four squadrons of the RAF’s Tornado GR4 aircraft are already flying with 3D printed components – an innovation that could save £1.2m in maintenance and service costs over the next four years.

Of course, there are numerous applications in manufacturing where rapid manufacturing – such as our Funky3DFaces – enables personalised products to be produced and delivered quickly, while rapid prototyping shortens the time from product design to production – Nike uses 3D printers to create multi-coloured prototypes of its shoes.

At the wackier end of the scale, if you’re pregnant and you’ve had a 4D scan, you can now – at least theoretically – have a 3D custom print of your unborn baby.  Or maybe you’d like to print your own chocolate or cake decorations? Yes – 3D-printed food is now a thing, using sugar and cocoa butter to create sweet treats.

In the meantime, why not settle for the ultimate selfie? Funky3DFaces is at your service…

Cool dads deserve something special on Father’s Day

Sure, you could give him socks, aftershave, or something manly for his shed. But what cool dad wouldn’t want to open their Father’s Day present and find themselves framed, in full superhero mode and ready to hang on the wall? Luckily, you can make this happen for your superhero dad with our latest offer.

Looking good Superdad!

Looking good Superdad!

Is your dad a super Superman? A brooding Batman, a patriotic Captain America, a strong, dependable Ironman? OK – stop there, you get the picture. Seriously, you really can get the picture, but you need to work fast, especially if you’re outside the UK because we need images from you by May 23 (June 1 for UK customers) to personalise your superhero dad’s 3D head, give him the body of his dreams and immortalise him in a classic frame that will look amazing – forever.

Hang it in the hallway, the rumpus room, his study – or maybe it’ll look good in his office? You decide. But wherever it ends up, take a photo and post it to our Facebook page or video the moment when he opens up the present (we love those!). Full details of the offer are here.

Make it a Father’s Day he’ll never forget!

 

 

 

We did it! #bestdigitalstartup2016

OK, so we’re not going to make a huge fuss about this but… WE WON BEST DIGITAL  STARTUP AWARD!

Needless to say we are thrilled to be recognised for our innovation and all round fantasticness in the second Lincolnshire Digital Awards – and if you want to see the award – and us looking quite smart in our DJs and really, really pleased with ourselves – we’re here.

We didn’t get to make a speech on the night, but if we had, we’d have given our huge thanks to you for loving our personalised heads, supporting us with your custom,  telling all your friends about us, and posting your brilliant videos and images on Facebook, Twitter and the rest. Thank you – and we love you all!