3D printing or additive printing to launched itself into global consciousness in 2011 when the advanced printing technology started to move into the hands of artist and craftsmen. While the tech has been around and used in manufacturing for years, the advances made in its capabilities in recent years have made it so much more accessible. Suddenly 3D printing has started to attract interest across some unlikely fields, even allowing for biotech to become involved with organ printing. While all of this sounds seriously sci-fi, the possibilities are incredible. Opensource projects like Thingiverse has further flamed the 3D printing craze, resulting in back-yard printing and designs the likes of which have not been seen before.
This technology puts REAL design in the hands of the masses and eliminates expensive prototyping and forced mass manufacturing. Ideas can now be brought to market on small budgets and makes for a greater variety of crafted goods that would otherwise not be seen. But even more amazing is that the resultant IP sharing platforms give anyone the opportunity to print at home, whatever they want, just by acquiring the software. Suddenly we can start to image a world where you buy the CAD file for a new car or sofa and print it at home.
3D Printing has the capability to completely change the face of commerce and manufacturing and it will be interesting to see how big business will incorporate it. But just imagine the possibilities when cars, houses, furniture – not to speak of a new heart and customized medicine should you need it – can be printed on demand, in an energy-efficient manner and with minimal waste.
Watch out world, change can happen!
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