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Over the past few years, 3D printers have advanced massively in terms of their quality, speed, and manufacturing abilities. And while they aren’t quite a part of the mainstream yet, it’s inevitable that the technology will soon be integrated into everyday life, whether in the creation of prescription medicines, cars, or even new homes.

2016 has already proved an exciting year in the world of 3D printing. From fine food to production cars, the 3D printing envelope has been pushed further than ever as the technology moves into other sectors and industries. In the first half of the year, it seems as if there have been new developments in 3D printing every other week, prompting near-hysteria in the TonerGiant office.

To prove just how pivotal 2016 has thus far been in the development of new 3D printing technologies, here we look at the most ground-breaking three-dimensional prints of 2016 so far.

Food

Arguably the most exciting breakthrough in the short history of 3D printing, 2016 saw the arrival of 3D printed food. Developed by Spanish tech firm, Natural Machines, their Foodini device is capable of producing fully edible cuisine, and has even been incorporated by some professional chefs in order to bolster their culinary output.

While the Foodini device is only capable of producing the most basic of foodstuffs at present, it’s thought the technology could provide a reliable source of food for millions of people in the future. Watch this space.

Medication

Proving 3D printers aren’t just a flash in the pan novelty, 2016 saw the emergence of drugs and medication produced using a 3D printer. Affording pharmaceutical companies greater scope and flexibility over the pills they’re able to produce, 3D printers have been used to print porous tablets which dissolve more quickly than standard medications — making them perfect for treating conditions such as migraines, abdominal pain, and epilepsy.

The future looks bright for the production of 3D tablets, too. According to Dr Mohamed Albed Alhnan, a pharmaceuticals lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, 3D printed medication means that pills can be better tailored to each individual depending on the severity of their symptoms.

Houses and Cement

Would you be happy to live in a 3D printed home? If the answer’s no, you might have to get used to the idea in the future. Houses constructed from a 3D printer have been dubbed the future of the construction industry by some researchers, allowing homes to be built more quickly and cheaply than with standard bricks and mortar.

Just last month, a Thai construction firm specialising in 3D printing created a new ‘printable cement’ which can be used to build houses and other structures. Said to mimic the anatomy of bone, the cement creates a surface that’s strong on the outside but spongy in the centre — a structure far more durable and resilient than traditional concrete.

Cars

While the giants of the tech world (Google, Apple) go head-to-head in a race to develop the world’s first self-driving car, others have turned their attention to the possibility of mass-producing cars using a 3D printer. On paper the idea sounds silly — how could a car made using a printer ever be as safe, practical or reliable as a standard car? But, like so many supposedly crackpot ideas in the realm of 3D printing, one US tech firm has made 3D printed cars a viable reality.

Enter the Strati, the world’s first commercially available 3D printed car. Constructed from 75% 3D printed parts the Strati is the closest we’ve ever been to a three-dimensional vehicle, and it’s yours for a cool £35K. The most impressive thing about the Strati is the fact that it’s model panels can be sculpted and changed depending on the owner’s tastes, so no two models may look the same.

3D printing may not play a big part in everyday life at the moment, but its rapid progression means we could all see 3D objects and technologies emerging in the very near future

Until that day come however, we’ll have to stick to 2D printers. If you own a printer and want to find affordable replacement cartridges for your machine, click here to browse our complete selection or call us on 0845 365 3605.

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