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6 Hollywood movies featuring 3D printers

Check out the 2019 list of 3D printers in movies, an article by Sean Araneda a.k.a. The 3D Print General.

3D printers are often considered like machines coming straight out of a Sci-Fi movie by people non-familiar with the magic of additive manufacturing.

We’ve noticed several instances when screenwriters accurately predicted technological advances, which today have come to reality: 3D printers as we know them. These movies tend to be older blockbusters, mainly from the 90’s. Lately, 3D printers have also been spotted as a background decorum in various superhero movies.

Check out our selection with these six times when 3D printers made it to the big screen!

  1. Jurassic Park III (2001)

In this scene, Grant’s apprentice uses a 3D printer to build a replica of a velociraptor resonating chamber which is later used to communicate with the raptors on the island. Pretty amazing idea, although it’s quite unlikely that a mere plastic larynx be sufficient to produce sounds able to command a herd of angry raptors. See the subreddit about this visionary 3D printing use for more details. You can even print your own velociraptor resonating chamber on Shapeways.

  1. The Fifth Element (1997)

This classic SF movie from French director Luc Besson was quite visionary. It features an insane massive 3D bioprinter, used by the army to “print” Leeloo, the female character played by Milla Jovovich (see subreddit here). Such bioprinters are now a reality, as you can see in our 3D printers comparison engine there are several models of bioprinters available on the market. Fun fact: Organovo, one of the main companies in bioprinting, used the codename “Project LeeLoo” for one its 3D bioprinter, the Novogen MMX BioPrinter which launched in 2009. 

  1. Star Trek (1987)

The famous Replicator in Star Trek's Enterprise spaceship.

The famous Replicator in Star Trek’s Enterprise spaceship.

That’s probably the most famous 3D printer of all time, the one which inspired them all. The Replicator is, according to Wikipedia, a “machine capable of creating (and recycling) objects. Replicators were originally seen used to synthesize meals on demand, but in later series they took on many other uses.” This iconic machine from the Star Trek inspired the name of another iconic machine, the Makerbot Replicator, a desktop 3D printer once seen as the “Macintosh” of 3D printers.

  1. Iron-Man 2 (2010)

Dimension Elite 3D Printer in the background of Tony Stark's lab.

Dimension Elite 3D Printer in the background of Tony Stark’s lab.

Tony Stark is the ultimate maker/inventor. So it only makes sense for him to have a couple of 3D printers handy in his lab. In this scene from Iron Man 2, you can spot a Dimension Elite from Stratasys behind the man himself. The story doesn’t say if this FDM 3D printer was used to create the huge model of Tony’s father’s ideal city.

  1. Ant-Man (2015)

The Formlabs Form 1+ in the underground lab.

The Formlabs Form 1+ in the underground lab.

Another Marvel movie featuring a 3D printer. In Ant-Man, there’s a scene where you can spot the Form 1+ in the background of a lab. It’s quite easy to notice the iconic design of this SLA 3D printer from Formlabs, with its orange translucent casing. No words on why it’s there though.

  1. Terminator 2 (1991)

In this iconic scene from the classic Terminator 2 by James Cameron, the T-1000 – an evil robot made of some liquid metal material – is able to rebuild itself and shift shapes in a manner that strongly reminds us of the CLIP, a revolutionary printing process patented by Carbon3D. Yes, we agree there is not an actual 3D printer in this scene but we can’t help to make the connection.

Did we miss any other movies featuring a 3D printer? Let us know 🙂

About this author

Martin Lansard

Martin Lansard is Aniwaa’s CEO and co-founder. Based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, he manages the team and operations while overseeing the company’s strategy and growth. Highly organized and methodical, he makes sure to infuse these qualities throughout the company. Martin studied Management at EDHEC Business School and Loyola Marymount University in California. In 2008, he joined Google in Ireland then moved to New York 2 years later to join the company’s Marketing department. After working for 5 years at the tech giant, Martin chose to dedicate himself full-time to Aniwaa.