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4. Untitled (5), 2008. Richard Dupont. Pigmented c

Ten outrageous objects to 3D print

From canalboats to couture, insta-print the world around you with the latest 3D innovations

In today’s postdigital world, artists are using digital fabrication to achieve explosive, unprecedented levels of creative expression. Last week, London hosted the 3D Print Show while NYC’s MAD also recently opened the first museum show to explore this interdisciplinary trend through the pioneering works of artists like Zaha Hadid and Iris Van Herpen. Meanwhile, all this month Dazed is spotlighting a host of emerging artists making 3D print creations, beginning with Lawrence Lek's KI$$

It's hard to argue with the DIY environmental benefits of 3D printing: less waste, less energy, and less maintenance. No surprise then, that Makerbot is currently on a White-House backed mission to put a crowd-sourced 3D printer in every school in the US. You can even borrow someone else’s 3D printer on HUBS. Maybe one day, a 3D printer will become as banal as having an iPhone. Here’s our top ten of the most astonishing objects you can print out.


Using Selective Laser Sintering technology, Nike Vapor Laser Talon’s lightweight 3D-printed plate promises to propel football athletes forward for longer. In fashion, Naim Josefi has created the first 3D-printed couture shoes in the world – with no material waste. If you prefer a less out-there shape, London College of Fashion MA graduate Hoon Chung’s smooth wedges seem just the ticket. Just scan your foot and print away. 

A new kidney – or face

Has your face been blown away by a direct shotgun wound, or crushed beyond recognition in a motorcycle accident? No prob. Thanks to tissue fabrication technology, as developed by Dr. Anthony Atala, you can custom-print one out. Lost a leg in an accident? No need to bare an ugly prosthetic; go for a unique chrome-plated Bespoke Fairing piece instead. Alan Faulkner-Jones recently demonstrated the ability to 3D print human embryonic stem cells, which will eliminate the need for animal testing, too.

Your personal killer robot army 

You can omit the ”killer” part – for now, at least. Still, who knows what the real limits are to InMoov, the world’s first 3D-printed lifesize robot? This open-source, voice-commanded humanoid slave will do your bidding, gratis. With a little help from a do-gooder IBM employee who scripted the voice-commands on his own time, designer Gael Langevin considers InMoov his ”contribution to the open-source 3D world.” Cheers, Gael.

3D Process artworks

Using 3D digital scans of a historical baroque masterpiece as his point of origin, Barry X Ball’s Envy seeks to “pose questions, not dictate answers.” Indeed, the 3D questions are endless. For the Object Breast Cancer project, various artists used MRIs and 3D software to produce accurate models of breast cancer tumors, which were used in turn to cast sculptures, pendants, and installations. Also, Tobias Klein’s Slow Selfie blew us a way: a crystal print-out of his own face “developed” organically over the two-day course of London’s 3D Print Show.

The world's most eco-friendly car 

Gather a bunch of independent, green-minded Canadian engineers fed up with the corporate automobile industry, and what do you get? URBEE: the world’s first digitally-manufactured car. Led by Jim Kor, the URBEE team believes that cars that run on renewable energy are essential to our civilization’s future survival. Big plus: you can conveniently charge your URBEE car, like your iPhone, in any regular wall outlet. 


With no previous 3D experience, Michael Schmidt – with the aid of architect Francis Bitonti – created a couture gown custom-made for Dita von Teese's measurements. It took roughly three months to design, encode, and print the 17 separate pieces; then another month to join them together, to color the gown, and finally to stud it with thousands of Swarovski crystals. Dazed favourite Iris van Herpen also regularly uses 3D printing to intricate, embellished effect in her runway collections.

Affordable housing

Despite living in the high-tech age, construction remains a surprisingly  manual process. Dr. Behroh Khoshvevis’s Contour Crafting is a step toward providing the nearly one billion global homeless ”dignified but affordable housing.”  His automated construction technology can build housing units in a single day at the quarter of the normal cost. CC’s hybrid fabrication method robotically builds up structures layer by layer, with curvilinear shapes and custom designs as opposed to the 60s tower-block aesthetic of prefab boxes past. If have a deeper pocket, you can consider an Amsterdam-inspired canal house

Hollywood props

Why should Propshop and Legacy Effects have all the fun? Next Halloween you can dress up like Neyfriti from Avatar. Thanks to 3D printing, you can even manufacture a super pilot suit – as seen in Pacific Rim or Iron Man – that's custom-moulded to your body. 

Public spaces

Artist Aranda Lasch created 20 Bridges for Central Park. But why stop there? Using extremely thin sheets of plywood (6.5 mm), Achim Menges and Jan Knippers’s ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion models itself on the plate skeleton of a sea urchin. Or opt for full-blown architectural fantasy, like J Mayer H.’s breathless Metropol Parasol – a redevelopment of the Plaza de la Encarnacíon in Seville, Spain – or Ik Joong-Kang’s playful, alphabet-pixelled Korea Pavilion at Shanghai ‘s 2010 World Expo.

A personal drone

Pretend you’re the NSA, and spy on your friends with your own toy mini-drone. Prefer the real, full-sized deal? The University of Southampton, responsible for the world’s first 3D printed drone, still churns them out. Thanks to additive manufacturing technology, engineers from Boeing Phantom Works were able to create a Vertical Takeoff and Landing Vehicle prototype – the Phantom Swift – in under thirty days. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

3D Print Show continues in Paris in November 2013 and New York in February 2014. Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital is now on show at The Museum of Art and Design in New York until June 1, 2014.