Companies Find New Uses for 3D Printers

Many companies are finding exciting new ways to use 3D drafting and printing technology to create new products, streamline the manufacturing process, or better connect with their audiences. In today’s post, we’ll talk about how three different companies have all used 3D printers in different ways to break new ground for the technology.

Ford Opens Ford 3D Store

Ford has announced that it will be opening the Ford 3D Store, becoming the first automaker to offer customers 3D digital images of its vehicles for consumer use. Ford and Turbosquid will be making a library of over 1,000 vehicle images available for download, allowing hobbyists to create            1/32nd scale models through their 3D printers.

The company already uses 3D printers as part of its prototyping process, but this new initiative is a step toward using the growing ubiquity of consumer-grade 3D printers to build brand loyalty with its customers. This could prove to be a fortuitous move by the company: According to Juniper research, there were 44,000 desktop 3D printers sold in 2014 alone; by 2018, the number of desktop 3D printers sold should reach more than one million units. As the devices become easier to use and pre-fabricated plans for 3D printable items (such as Ford’s new model-accurate replicas) become available, the demand for desktop 3D printers is likely only to grow.

Models currently available include the new Ford GT, the F-150 Raptor, the Shelby GT350R, the Focus ST, and the Fiesta ST.

Pepsi 3D Prints a Potato Chip

Like many other companies, Pepsi is looking into ways that 3D printing can be used to innovate production and manufacturing of its products. But, whereas companies like GE are printing plane parts and electronic components, Pepsi has announced that it is using 3D printers to make something entirely different – food products.

As part of an initiative launched by Pepsi’s CEO, which has doubled the company’s research and development budget, the company has begun testing the development of new food products, including new “deep ridged” potato chips that were first created with a 3D printer. If the company’s tests with 3D printing chips proves successful, it could mean a future where other similar food products are created, at least in their design stages, with 3D printing technology.

Lunchbox Electronics to 3D Print Light-Up Lego

Lego blocks have been popular for decades, thanks in part to innovations in their design. Branded play sets allowing kids (and adults) to assemble settings and characters from their favorite movies and TV shows have helped Lego remain relevant with generations of consumers, and even led to multiple video games starring Lego versions of popular characters. And now, Lunchbox Electronics has launched a Kickstarter campaign that could lead to another new development in the history of Legos: light-up bricks.

According to the information on their Kickstarter campaign, Lunchbox plans to use a LulzBot TAZ 3D printer to create a line of light-up Lego sets. By embedding a custom-made circuit board into a Lego brick, Lunchbox’s designs allow for the creation of Lego sets with working lights and electronics, adding a whole new dimension to the traditional Lego building experience. While imagination is certainly an important part of play, being able to build Lego cities and structures with working lights is an exciting development for Lego enthusiasts, who have responded accordingly: As of June 13th, the project had raised over $28,000 of its $30,000 goal, with 11 days still left to raise even more.

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3D Lego

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