Additive manufacturing or prototyping has been around for several decades but just recently, 3D printing (Somewhat fancier term for the same thing) has been creating quite a buzz.
Best part is Canadians are right up there and leading the charge with some incredible innovations in this field. From working 3d printed guns, 3d printed portraits and selfies to advancements in objects created through liquid metal (Think Terminator 2).
3D printing in Canada has only begun. Not to mention the Canadian made 3D printers and other hardware that is on the rise as well.
What Is 3D Printing
In a nutshell, 3D printing is creating objects in layers. To create a 3d printed object, you need something called a 3D printer. It could be commercial size or a compact desktop 3d printer. It all depends on your needs.
The way it works is first you either design an object using a 3d printing software or scan it using a 3d scanner. Once the object is complete, you send it to a 3d printer that will create it layer by layer until it’s done. It’s actually quite fun thing to watch. The 3D printer basically creates the design you made into a physical usable piece. It brings your vision to life.
As this technology continues to improve, various new types of materials can now be used to create objects and prototypes. Anything from plastic, nylon, clay, silver, wood, metal (Even titanium) is now available at your disposal. What really takes the cake though are the Bio 3D Printers that are using genetic material (Human cells).
Why would a 3D printer need genetic material?
Well to print human skin of course.
Believe it or not, it’s already happening.
As you’ll soon find out.
Canadian Innovation In The 3D Printing World
Canadians are certainly making a difference in 3D printing. Take for instance the first 3D printed rifle. Created by a former Canadian gunsmith that goes by the name CanadianGunNut.
After having some fun with creating 3d printed ukuleles, CGN decided to make something slightly more complicated. Thus creating the world’s first 3d printed rifle.
Apparently it took just 3 days to build the rifle too. The process was quite simple. Build the gun in parts and put it all together. Sad part is after the first shot, the entire gun fell apart. Officially though it still is the world’s first 3d printed rifle.
Also the first 3d printed gun (In Canada) was created by Daniel Southwick in the University of Toronto lab. He used a prototype from a Texan student (How fitting) as soon as the design file for the gun prototype was available online.
Although these inventions weren’t met with open arms by the Canadian law enforcement, it gave much needed mainstream light to the 3D printing world.
As both of these stories were covered like crazy by various media channels like the CBC, Toronto Star and many more.
3D Printed Art
Douglas Coupland, an iconic Vancouver-based author and artist is hoping to utilize 3D printing in a new project he is undergoing. He’s working to capture portraits of Canadians and yes, these portraits will be three-dimensional. His plans are to use his studio in Vancouver and modify, tweak, paint, and transform thousands of civilian heads. “It should be done in about a year,” Coupland told the Calgary Eyeopener back in April of 2017.
As Coupland travels around the country, he’s having around 100 participants a day sit down while he adjusts a lens on his iPad and rotates around the individual for about 30 to 45 seconds.
The printout is like a miniature bust, each one completely different. Thinking in a three-dimensional format is a mode that is unique to this writer of books, but Coupland is convinced this project will be a way of examining our current and modern relationship with technology and with ourselves.
In our current climate of pop culture and the idealization and examination of “the self,” we think he might be onto something.
3d Printed Figurines Of Yourself
The Printing House in Toronto or “TPH” offers a method where you can get your body scanned by over 100 cameras and leave with a actual mini size figure of yourself.
They used the ProJet660 3D printer, a fully CMYK color printer and turned it into a fun service for all.
Thanks to a lot of media buzz by Cityline, BT Toronto, TrendHunter, and The Huffington Post, this was another step in the right direction for 3D printing in Canada.
Liquid Metal? Yes, seriously.
When Zack Vader was a student in School, he was looking for a specific part for a project he figured he might as well make his own. Zack knew it had to be fast, cheap, and scalable for future projects as well.
So he teamed up with his father Scott Vader who works as a mechanical engineer and this Canadian father-son duo created the world’s first 3D printer that prints in liquid metal.
Today this dynamic duo is fully immersed in this technology and shows now sign of slowing down.
Leaders In Bio Printing
One of the most promising of them all though is Bio Printing. Or in other words, 3D printing real life human body parts. Yes this is not science fiction any more and Canadians are leading the way. In fact, PrintAlive is a special 3D printer created by Arianna McAllister (Graduate from University of Toronto) that “prints” king from a person’s own cell. This is incredible news for burn victims.
However, it’s not just the east coast that is making a dent in the 3d printing universe. Biosystems from Vancouver, British Columbia have created their very own bio 3d printer that aims to print out real working organs. They are also currently working with a major brand in the pharma industry to successfully print lung airways. All in the name of saving over 100,000 lives that are lost due to Airway Fibrosis. I wonder what kind of filament you would need to create organs on an FDM printer (Inside joke).
3D Printing Education In Canada
Innovation in 3D printing by Canadians have sparked an interest. Now that interest, almost organically, is developing into full on educational programs.
Today Canada wide, a growing number of public and private technology departments are being created just to push the boundaries of 3D printing.
After all, the demand to learn 3d printing is growing rapidly. With schools such as Mohawk and Sheridan taking the lead, looks like the private education sector is already looking forward to get into 3D printing training. Sheridan has already invested over a million dollars in it’s new 3d Printer AMDT -- Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technology) department.
Not because additive manufacturing is something ‘new’ but their are already entry level jobs popping up in this field.
Did you know that in Ontario alone, an entry-level 3D manufacturing technologist can make just under $51,000.00 a year?
A highly skilled specialist can pull in up to upwards of $85,000.00 a year.
These are current numbers by the way according to Maclean's Magazine.
So whether 3D printing is in it’s early stages or not, there is already a great demand to push it to the next level.
In fact, Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is now offering funding and financial backing to continue to push this technology. Since CFI already has a history for giving researchers the tools and the money to continue to innovate, this is great news for everyone involved (Or whomever wants to get involved).
Another great public institute that has recently got in the game is Polytechnique Montreal. Founded in 1873, Polytechnique Montreal is one of Canada’s leading engineering teaching and research institutions. Rumor has it that Polytechnique is hell bent on transforming the industries of aviation, aerospace, robotics, and medicine. All through 3D printing.
With more individuals taking it on their own to create 3d printed objects and the sudden infused in education on the subject, the future of 3d printing looks quite bright in the great North.
Can’t wait to see what lies ahead.