Monsters, Mustangs and motorcycles: The coolest 3D things at RAPID

3D printer makers and service providers showed off an array of cutting-edge designs all made through additive manufacturing. Everything from production metal engines and drones to motorcycles, bicycles and special effects parts for movies were on display at the conference, which took place in Long Beach, Calif., last week.

cw rapid title

The RAPID 3D Conference showcased the latest in 3D printing technology

Everything from robotic hands, fashion ware, bioprinting and sports gear could be seen on the exhibition floor.

3d hand

3D prosthetics lead the way

A multitude of 3D-printing companies highlighted their machines'ability to quickly create prosthetics, ranging from dentures, legs and feet to robotically controlled hands. This hand was printed on an Ultimaker 2 3D printer for Refugee Open Ware, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to go to war-torn regions and create custom prosthetics for survivors of catastrophic injuries.

3d dress

3D printing takes the fashion world by storm

The Kinematics Dress by Nervous System is comprised of more than 2,000 interlocking components. While made of nylon, the dress moves and feels like one created with cloth. The entire dress was printed at once and required no assembly.

Fashion designers have used 3D printing for years, and as the technology has advanced, it has moved from avant garde fashion to consumer products. Companies such as Nike, Feetz and United Nude use 3D printing to offer consumers shoes that are custom made in store.

3d ironman

Even Tony Stark likes 3D printing

This replica of Tony Stark's Iron Man suit was built in two pieces using 3D printing from CIDEAS, a 3D service provider. The suit was made on the iPro 8000 stereolithography printer, which creates layers as thin as .0004-in.

This isn't just some tech show exhibition display. The model was built for Legacy Effects, a Hollywood special effects studio, which has worked on such films as Pacific Rim, Robocop, Terminator and Iron Man 1-2-3, as well as The Avengers. 

3d monster

Bodock, the giant creature for Comic-Con 2014

This is Bodock, a 13-foot, 6-inch tall automatronic creature that weighs a hefty 2,000 pounds. His armor was 3D printed using machines from Stratasys. Bodock, which was created by Legacy Effects, made his debut at Comic-Con last year and was featured on the Jimmy Kimmel show.

3d motorcycle

3D-printed motorcycle can carry two riders

This 3D-printed motorcycle was created by TE Connectivity to prove to its engineers that polymers can withstand great amounts of stress. The bike is styled after a Harley-Davidson softail and can do a whopping 15mph with two riders.

The motorcycle weighs 250 lbs. The bike has been tested with weights of up to 400 lbs., and while its tiny 750-watt, 1hp electric motor strains under that kind of load, it can easily transport a person of average weight up to 15mph for more than 20 minutes.

The cost to build: $25,000.

3d motorcycle wheel

Rear-wheel hub is one part

The motorcycle's frame is primarily made through fused deposition modeling (FDM), where an extruder head controlled by a robotic mechanism lays down layer after layer of melted polymer. The polymers consist of common ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) filament and Ultem 9085 resin, which is heat resistant.

Additionally, metal parts on the bike, such as the headlight assembly, were made of bronze using direct laser sintering (DMLS) 3D printing. DMLS systems lay down a fine layer (typically 20-micron thick) of powdered metal across a build area. A laser then sketches out a pattern in the powder, melting or fusing many individual powder layers together. The DMLS process creates a highly dense material with a finished surface.

Even the rear-wheel hub (above) was built as one part -- sprocket gear, bearings and all. The bearings and gears continued to function without issue after more than 20 miles of riding.

3d dragon box

Hybrid 3D printing offers stunning details

This ornate box was made with a hybrid 3D printer from Solidscape. The machine combines a CNC lathe with a 3D printer that uses wax to create molds that can be used for casting objects.

3d cerebral aneurysm

3D models for healthcare

Because of its ability to print accurate and detailed objects, Solidscape's Max2 3D printer is also being used by the healthcare industry to turn CAT scans into 3D models for surgeons to study. This is a representation of a patient's brain aneurysm. The mold was used to cast a duplicate of the aneurysm and fluid was pumped through it to find the site of the blockage, which then aided surgeons in removing it.

3d hybrid

A hybrid 3D printer

Hybrid 3D printers, like this one from Solidscape, are becoming more popular as a way to combine traditional CNC milling with additive manufacturing. Here is a look inside Solidscape's MAX2 3D printer, which uses a lath (far left) to finish each layer of 3D printed wax (on right) for high precision pieces that include molds for finished, custom jewelry.

3d diesel head

A working 3D-printed metal engine

This diesel motor head was created using direct metal laser sintering, which lays down a paper-thin layer of powdered metal and then fuses it to the previous layer with a laser. While only on display at RAPID, the engine was part of a working motor. To the left of the head is a fuel jet, which was also 3D-printed.

3d gear

A 3D-printed aperture

This dilating camera aperture was printed as one part on Hewlett-Packard's Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer, which is scheduled to be released later this year. The printer works by first depositing powder (about 100 microns thick, or the thickness of a standard sheet of paper) onto a print bed using a print bar that looks like a scanning bar on a typical 2D printer. The print bar has 30,000 nozzles spraying 350 million fusing agent droplets per second in specific patterns as it moves back and forth across a print platform.

A detailing fusing agent is sprayed around the edges of a printed object, giving it "sharp" details.

3d scissors

A pair of 3D-printed scissors

If you look at the paper below these scissors, which were printed on an HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer, you'll see a clean cut that was made.

HP claims its 3D printer, due out later this year, will be able to produce short runs of production parts.

3d skis snowboard

A set of skis and a snowboard

The Skunkworks division of 3D-printer maker Stratasys had something to prove when it set out to manufacture working skis and a snowboard. It wanted to prove production-level sports equipment was possible with additive manufacturing. In this photo, Stratasys Skunkworks' principal engineer Kevin Johnson (left) and senior applications engineer Dominic Mannella hold their 3D-printed snowboard and skis. Both snowboard and skis were tested by company executives at Lake Tahoe, California, and they reportedly performed nearly as well as commercial snowsport gear.

3d car

3D-printed 1969 Ford Mustang

This Ford Mustang replica was printed by Forecast 3D, an additive manufacturing service provider. It has 51 3D-printed parts, from the hood vents and door pulls to the center console and quarter panel extensions. The car was built with several forms of additive manufacturing, including Forecast 3D's SLA (Stereolithography) printer, a Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printer from Fortus, Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), as well as more traditional CNC milling. CNC milled parts include the headrest assembly and the wheel centers, as well as the rear spoiler.

3d engine

3D-printed Ford Mustang engine parts

Numerous parts of the Mustang's engine were all 3D printed.

3d lucas

A really big 3D printer

Nothing screams additive manufaturing like a 3D printer that you can sit inside. Here, this reporter holds a hollow spiral form created in one printing with an industrial-grade 3D printer from Cosine Additive. Cosine's AM1 3D printer made its debut at RAPID 2015 last week and can make products such as chairs and tables in a single run.