Photos: Ten glimpses into the future of 3D printing

While consumer 3D printers may be squirting out plastic models, the technology has the potential to create far more complex and useful objects.

From machines that can print 100 times faster than is typical today to fabricators that create objects from 10 materials at once - here's what the future of 3D printing has in store.

3D printed drugs

Earlier this year the US Food and Drug Administration approved the production of a 3D-printed pill for the first time.

The drug is called Spritam and is designed to control epileptic seizures. Developed by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, it is expected to be available early next year.

The company is planning to make other drugs using 3D printing, a technique that it says allows layers of medication to be layered in precise dosages.

In the wider medical field, researchers eventually hope that 3D printing will be able to create bespoke drugs, whose makeup is tailored to the needs of individual patients.

Image: Aprecia Pharmaceuticals Company

By Nick Heath

Nick Heath is a computer science student and was formerly a journalist at TechRepublic and ZDNet.