What can’t 3D printers do? You can scratch “make dental retainers” and “make lactose-free cheese” off of that list. A college student straightened his own teeth without a dentist by making 3D-printed retainers and a Dutch company is using 3D printers to make lactose-free cheese from real milk.
Amos Dudley, a digital design student about to graduate at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, wanted his teeth to look nice for graduation so he got a few orthodontics texts from the library (kids, don’t try this at home) and took impressions of his teeth to make a plaster model. A laser scanner digitized it, 3D software modeled it and a 3D printer at the school printed a dozen of them in progressive sizes. (It pays to go to a techie school and have your student fees paid up).
Dudley wore each retainer for one to three weeks until they didn’t hurt anymore and then moved to the next size. A dentist checked them when he was done, cried a little and pronounced his teeth straight. Dudley now has job with a 3D printer company and is using his straight teeth to eat …
3D-printed cheese? Why would you want to do that when Velveeta is so cheap? According to researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands and FrieslandCampina, a dairy cooperative, they are working on a way to 3D print cheese with sodium caseinate, the protein found in real milk, to make 3D cheese taste close to real cheese, with the added benefit of being able to erase the lactose from the 3D-printout for those intolerant people.
Of course, other products could be added as well to make the 3D cheese high-protein, low-fat, long lasting and bright orange to make it look and taste like real Velveeta too. So how does it taste? There was no taste test available and no schedule for when it might hit the market. Amos Dudley needs to sink his 3D-straightened teeth into the Gouda stuff for now.
When no one is looking, do these researchers point the nozzle into their mouths to turn the 3D-printer into cheese-in-a-can?