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3D Printing: The Next Big Thing in the Internet of Things

What would the future look like if the rapidly changing industries of the IoT and 3D technology were to bind together?
By Swamini Kulkarni

Communication Without Electronics
Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) have developed 3D-printed devices that can communicate with each other without using batteries or electronics. The engineering team used a method called ambient backscatter to develop these devices, which use antennas and radio signals for data transmission without external power.

According to Jennifer Mankoff, an engineering professor at UW, "Our goal was to make accessible assistive technology using 3D printing, and we came up with creating a circuitless solution that could be 3D-printed and allow the device itself to collect information. During the process, we found 3D technology and the IoT are the keys to the future."

There are several benefits, such as speeding up the process of producing electronic components and completely removing the existing constraint of 2D circuit boards. In addition, 3D-printed circuit boards with different shapes could be designed and would offer opportunities to build better products. Moreover, 3D-printed circuit boards allow the creation of lightweight objects, which can be used in health care, military or aeronautics.

3D Printing + IoT + Health-Care IT
This is the ultimate trio for the disruptive future. It is true that 3D printing is still in its nascent stage, with recent technological developments opening new doors in the health-care sector. The most obvious use of 3D printing in health care is designing custom-made prosthetics and medical implants. The incorporation of 3D technology and the IoT would help surgeons take a closer look at a patient's condition and become familiarized with the diseased area prior to the surgery. Moreover, IoT devices could help to monitor a patient's vitals before and after surgery, and ultimately help diagnose a disease faster and more accurately.

We can only predict what the future would look like if the two rapidly changing industries of the IoT and 3D technology were to bind together. For now, we are able to see only a fraction of the possibilities; however, there is no doubt that 3D technology would disrupt the way we handle things in every industry.

Swamini Kulkarni holds a bachelor's degree in instrumentation and control engineering from Pune University, and works as a content writer at Allied Market Research. She is deeply fascinated by the impact of technology on human life, and loves to talk about science and mythology. When she is not glued to the computer, Swamini loves to read, travel and daydream about her areas of interest.

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