With all of the far-reaching effects 3D printing promises to have on a broad swath of industries, it’s no surprise to see the technology creeping into our popular culture via movies and TV shows. Today, it’s popping up in more than just superhero films—and everyone from the characters in the movies to the costume designers behind the camera are talking about and using 3D printing technology.
Below, we share our top 10 favorite movies and TV shows that deal with 3D printing in one way or another, including:
- Documentaries and docuseries
- TV shows and episodes
Documentaries and Docuseries
1. Print the Legend
A Netflix original documentary, Print the Legend chronicles both the business and technology side of several firms at the head of the 3D printing industry. The documentary covers all aspects of 3D printing, from the endless possibilities to the inevitable misuse and controversy that accompanies any new technology.
2. Abstract: The Art of Design
A Netflix original documentary series, Abstract follows innovative designers across a myriad of disciplines. The series, now in its second season, even includes an episode with Black Panther costume designer, Ruth Carter, known to have used 3D printing liberally for the movie.
3. 3D Print Masters
3D Print Masters is a documentary aimed at telling the story of 3D printing in everyday life, told from the perspective of 5 individuals: an inventor, an engineer, an entrepreneur, an internet sensation, and a tinkerer.
4. 3D Print the Future
Created by and featuring some of the 3D printing practitioners profiles in 3D Print Masters, 3D Print the Future is a documentary series that takes a more in-depth look at what the inventory, the engineer, the entrepreneur, the tinkerer, and the internet sensation are doing with 3D printing.
Television Shows and Episodes
5. Shark Tank: Season 6, Episode 28
It’s no surprise that 3D printed products are beginning to pop up regularly on entrepreneurial shows like Shark Tank. In episode 28 of season 6, a fledgling company called You Kick Ass (now Herobuilders) pitches the sharks on custom 3D printed action figures that look just like you.
6. Shark Tank: Season 10, Episode 15
In Shark Tank’s tenth season, episode 15 includes a revolutionary new product called Toybox—a 3D printer kids can use to design and print their own toys. We won’t spoil the episode, but let’s just say there’s something Wonderful about inspiring children’s creativity and an early interest in STEAM.
All of the Iron Man movies are worth a watch for 3D printing engineers and designers because the bulk of the Iron Man suits and costumes were actually 3D printed (along with costumes for Batman vs. Superman, Black Panther, Ant Man, and several other similar movies). In Iron Man 2, we even get to see Tony Stark’s 3D printer on-screen.
8. Jurassic Park III
In Jurassic Park III, paleontologist Dr. Grant (played by Sam Neill) winds up stranded on an island full of prehistoric—and brutal—creatures. While there, Dr. Grant manages to 3D print a replica of the raptors’ larynx, allowing him to communicate with the animals.
9. Ocean’s 8
Sandra Bullock plays George Clooney’s similarly klepto sister Debbie Ocean in this all-female heist movie. In addition to some serious girl power, Bullock’s team relies on a 3D printed replica to stand in for the necklace they manage to steal right from the MET.
10. Missing Link
In this movie, Mr. Link is on a search to find his long-lost relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La. Along with a few friends, they travel the world to find "the missing link." This movie is special as Stratasys 3D printers helped bring the movie Missing Link to life.
3D Printing and Pop Culture
As 3D printing grows and gains in popularity, we’ll likely see the technology appear in even more movies, TV shows, and other facets of popular culture. For now, the movies and TV shows above should help you get your fill of science, creativity, and inspiration.