With all the amazing advances in online communication over the past couple of decades, it’s easy to take for granted that we don’t quite live in a paperless society yet. But printing isn’t dead yet – far from it. Three recent advances in printing technology provide ample proof.

Take, for example, new 3-D printing technology known as “rapid prototyping,” developed by researchers at the University of the West of England in Bristol.

These researchers – drawing in lessons from ancient Egyptian ceramic art – build up objects layer-by-layer from resins, plastics and metals. The end result they’re working toward is the eventual development of a ceramic extrusion paste that can be used in a 3-D printer.

The importance of 3-D printing technology can’t be understated in medical-related fields.

In dentistry, the process of fabricating crowns has already been revolutionized by the use of digitized intra-oral scans being made from patients’ teeth.

These are uploaded into computers and e-mailed to labs, where new porcelain bridges are printed out.

Recent amazing advances in the production of customized prosthetic limbs have been greatly affected by advances in 3D printing technology.

With 3D printing, limbs can be fashioned that perfectly mirror the symmetry and function of a person’s natural limb. 3D printing also helped doctors and engineers in the Netherlands who recently fabricated a very exact prosthetic lower jaw for an 83-year-old woman who suffered from a bone infection.

The prosthetic jaw was made from 33 layers of titanium powder that were heated, fused together and coated with artificial bone. Now, this lady will be able to live out her golden years in comfort.

We live in amazing times, don’t we?

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