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Making objects in three dimensions

  • ‘Face it’ is 3D-printed headwear designed by Malaysian fashion designer Melinda Looi and produced by Materialise, a Belgian 3D printing company. This piece is part of a collection called ‘Birds’ and was showcased at a fashion show in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in June 2013. Each item on show took months to design, create and convert into a 3D file, which was then sent to Belgium for printing at the Materialise studio. Materialise received its first EU research funding almost 20 years ago, and since then has be
  • A 3D-printed model heart designed using Materialise’s Mimics Innovation Suite. Medical engineers can create accurate 3D models from medical images such as CT (computed tomography) scans, which are printed layer-by-layer. The results are life-sized, anatomically correct models that can be used to practise clinical surgery or to teach physicians the complex anatomy of organs like the heart. © Materialise
  • A model created by anaplastologist Jan De Cubber and based on a 3D-printed anatomical model by Materialise. In anaplastology, a missing or disfigured part of the face or body is reconstructed using a prosthesis. The use of 3D printing technology enables the creation of an exact model of the body part, which can be used to create implants that fit perfectly to a patient’s anatomy. © Jan De Cubber/ Materialise
  • A miniscule racing car printed at the Vienna University of Technology. The car is 285 micrometres (µm) long, which is about the size of a single pixel on a standard computer monitor. Researchers at TU Vienna made it using an ultra-high-resolution 3D printer that is capable of printing tiny structures. The high-precision 3D printer opens up new areas of application, such as in medicine. The research is part of the EU-funded project PHOCAM, which is partnering with industry to develop the technology. © TU Wie
  • Avio Aero is an Italian aeronautical company using 3D printing to produce aeroplane parts. Producing an injector for an aviation engine combustor with conventional technology means forging five parts to be joined at a later stage, whilst 3D printing produces it in one piece, reducing waste. Avio Aero is a partner in the EU-funded CORSAIR project. Image courtesy of Avio Aero
  • EU-funded scientists at the Centre for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France, the Louvre museum, Paris, used 3D technologies to prove the heritage of three Islamic vases as part of the 3D-COFORM research project. They used 3D scans and 3D modelling to compare the intricate surface details of the vases and reveal how similar they are. The project has also developed technology to enable the 3D printing of objects from 3D scans. Image courtesy of the 3D-COFORM project, a large-scale integration pro
  • The European Space Agency is working with architects Foster + Partners to figure out how to build a base on the moon using a 3D printer that prints with lunar soil. The team has devised a weight-bearing dome design with a cellular wall that would shield the base from micro-meteoroids and space radiation. ©  ESA/ Foster+Partners