Not So Plastic Fantastic


by Maria Layley (@mazlayley)

I have never been a huge fan of 3D printing. I thought it was a cute idea but nothing revolutionary. That was until I watched TedX last year. This sparked a fascination to watch more ‘talks’ and that is where I found Surgeon and Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Anthony Atala’s talk from 2011. His remarkable conference discussed the medical practicality of using a 3D printer to print out human organs, specifically from the person’s own cells to eliminate rejection. I was officially hooked. is dedicated to all things techy and geeky. If you are wondering what they do, well, according to their website, “The short, pithy answer is: We’ll cover anything that’s awesome.” Who can say no to that? Plus, there’s the fact that two out of the four men who run the shows are Mythbusters, and one is called Will Smith! Not that Will Smith, sorry Norm. One of the first shows I watched was the series of ‘Makerbot: Print the Mystery Object‘ in which, strangely enough, their bot… makes things.

Now why am I telling you this?  Just like everything there is a dark and sleazy side to world of 3D printing. Not including their use for gun manufacturing, which is too political to get into or the research from the Illinois Institute of Technology, which states that it could be bad for our health. I’m talking about what happens to those poor, unfortunate souls that get misprinted? Being someone who is slightly, some might say morbidly, fixated on shows such as ‘When Explosions Happen’ or one of my favourites, ‘Destroyed in Seconds,’ when the BBC released a slide deck of ‘When 3D Printing Goes Wrong,’ I was elated that the plight of these creations had not gone unnoticed. Upon researching this situation a little more I found that there is even a Flickr group called The Art of 3D Failures that encourages users to figure out why they failed and help them achieve better results.

However, if you just want to see epic printing nose-dives then head over to Epic 3D Printing Fail on Tumblr and take a look at what a failed Superman’s spaceship look like.

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