Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past half-decade, you’ll be aware of the oft advanced concept of 3D printing. As the name would suggest, this works on the same principle as your standard 2D paper printing process, except here you can create 3D objects from a digital file. Using what’s known as an additive process, the printed object is created by the 3D printer essentially layering totey wee layers of the appropriate material on top of one another; with each layer forming a horizontal cross-section of the end product. Cool, no?

In a topical Paralympic tech twist, 3D printing is further being hailed as the new black in sporting aids. Latvian fencer, Polina Rozkova, was helped to medal success at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio by her custom-designed 3D-printed back brace. Due to the intense physical nature of the sport, Polina has been plagued by spinal bruising and discomfort offered by conventional, ready-to-wear support devices, further these off-the-rack supports often affected her ability to move whilst competing and could ultimately threaten her Paralympic success. Drafting in the help of Baltic3D, a Latvian reseller of 3D printed products, Polina was able to collaborate to design and print a bespoke back support which was custom-fitted to the unique geometry of the athlete’s spine. This support, made with Stratasys’ unique ‘Nylon 12’ material, was designed to be lightweight and flexible in order to maximise Rozkova’s Paralympic success.

Since its inception, 3D printing has made headlines – both for its inherent innovative possibilities within the realms of technology, healthcare and day-to-day handiness, but also for a host of wacky, wonderful and sometimes plain bloody weird creations. Various 3D printing studios have popped up with alarming popularity, with many other tech firms jumping on the proverbial 3D printed bandwagon to offer this as an additional service to independent creators. From an everyday usefulness standpoint, 3D printing has done wonders for productivity – from camera lenses and geometric stands for laptops/tablets/smartphones to nifty wee cases for all your business and credit cards. Following that, shit gets weird – and we mean majorly so. A Japanese tech firm is offering to make 3D-printed models of your 3D baby scan. Essentially, you can have a life-size model of your unborn baby chilling on your mantlepiece as a really creepy reminder of your impending parenthood – yours for just $1275! Cute to some, strange to others (us).