The 3D Three: Tactile Ultrasounds, Mattel's ThingMaker, and a New Gun Debate

A roundup of all the news that's fit to 3D print. This month's stories may make feel like crying like a baby, celebrating societal advancements in gender equality, or 3D printing a bullet-proof jacket.

A roundup of all the news that's fit to 3D print. This month's stories may make feel like crying like a baby, celebrating societal advancements in gender equality, or 3D printing a bullet-proof jacket.

Mother of Innovation

If you’re a parent, you know the first memory associated with your child usually involves peeing on a stick. For many, that baby doesn’t truly have an identity until you can see it, either on screen at the ultrasound appointment itself, or afterwards in a print out.

But what if you can’t see? That was the case for Tatiana Guerra, a 30-year-old expectant mother in Brazil who lost her sight 13 years earlier. She could hear the heartbeat and feel the kicks, but was denied the experience of getting an early glimpse of the new life growing inside her.

This past May, with the help of a 3D printer and sponsor Huggies, doctors were able to create a physical model, based off the ultrasound data, of her 20-week old unborn son Murilo. The surprised mother could feel the grooves of his cheeks and verify “his chubby little nose” was like hers, as the doctor told her.

As a nice touch, the doctors printed in Braille at the top of the tablet-sized relief: “I am your son.”
Here’s the video, which should be considered NSFW if you think people will make fun of you for crying.

Not So Easily Baked

photo credit: Mattel

In the 1960s, Kenner’s Easy-Bake Oven prepared a generation of girls to become the perfect housewife, imbuing them with the domestic skills to ensure their hard-working hubbies had a good meal on the table when they got home from the office or mill. Quaint misogyny aside, at its core it was a training tool to indoctrinate children for a future job. And you could eat the results.

At the same time, Mattel introduced the ThingMaker, which kids could use to create inedible little figures, such as Creepy Crawlers, from pouring liquid plastic into die-cast molds. Maybe the intent there was to prepare the future engineers of the world.

Technology has changed as much in the last 50 years as it had in the last 500, but this concept hasn’t. Mattel announced last week at the New York Toy Fair it’s releasing a new ThingMaker, now a 3D Printer, to reflect those changes.

Instead of cupcakes or predetermined figurines, the $300 printer can make anything you can think up and design, from dinosaurs to jewelry, on the iOS and Android compatible app, which was developed in conjunction with Autodesk. The 24-lb printer is recommended for children aged 14 and older by the manufacturer.

There’s no telling what they will create, but one thing is for certain: the boys and girls who get this next Christmas will be leading the charge in advancing manufacturing and technology in the next century, not getting ready for a school bake sale.

It’s available now for pre-order now on Amazon.

Violent Tendencies

What makes following 3D printing news so fascinating is that one day you’ll read about how additive manufacturing will assist in building Martian colonies, or how it is making people Titanium jaw implants

One thing that never fails is how people are using it to build guns

A man named derwoodvw on Youtube, claims to have constructed a handgun that is 95% 3D printed. The 9mm gun, called the Shuty-MP1, was made using a Fusion F306 3D printer. According to the creator, the gun has fired 800 rounds “with no issues” and is accurate at 50 yards.

As 3D printing advances, people will soon figure out how to make 100% printed weapons. And it will probably be used for violence.

The question is how we will respond. Will we let fear-mongering lawmakers restrict access to 3D printers, or will we as a society recognize that any tool, from a hammer to a crane, can be used to create or destroy, and allow 3D printing to evolve as it should?

TAGS: 3D Printing
Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.