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Future 3D Printing

When you ask the average person about the possibility of printing in the comfort of their own home, the vast majority will assume that you are talking about printing of a document or picture onto a piece of paper. They will not imagine that you are talking about making a physical product that can be immediately used once the printing process has been completed. That is exactly what you would get, though, if the printer in your home was of the 3D variety.


3D Printing

In what appears to be something out of science fiction, 3D printers can make everything from jewelry to body parts (yes, you read that correctly), and all without leaving the comfort of your own home. We say that, but the truth is that the home 3D printer with these types of capabilities is still a little ways off. That said, you can still get yourself a printer that can make things like shoes or a toothbrush, as long as you have the original design to feed into the machine.

If you are more than a little confused by how all of this is possible, allow us a moment to explain how it works. A regular inkjet or laser printer will create a 2D image on a piece of paper by adding a series of pixels and lines to replicate what you want to copy. Instead of laying down the copy flat, the 3D printer builds the layers upwards and out, creating a three-dimensional copy of the design that you added into the machine. With larger, industrial strength printers, that means 3D scanning the original object and sending that information to the 3D printer, which then sets about the task of making what was entered.

For now, 3D printing has been used to create such things as intricate jewelry pieces, machine parts, and even prosthetic limbs, but the future looks very bright indeed for this method of manufacturing. Before we get to the bigger picture, let's take a moment to look at what it might mean to have a 3D printer installed in your home. You will soon be able to go and buy the designs for items that you commonly use in your home. For example, if you regularly purchase a new toothbrush for every family member, you would no longer have to run out every time you need a new one. You would simply input the toothbrush design into the printer and then let it create exactly what you need.


3D printed houses

Imagine having a home business where you created custom jewelry pieces on paper, which could then be turned into the real thing on your 3D printer the moment that someone placed an order. You wouldn't need to have a whole bunch of product on hand at any given time, and would in fact simply be able to make to order. The potential savings when manufacturing goods this way is huge, which is why major manufacturers may look at 3D printing as a way to cut costs and the need for massive amounts of storage space for items that might never sell.

In short, you have the ability to create your own designs that can then be fed into the 3D printer, or you can simply shop for pre-existing designs that fit exactly what you are looking for. Like a regular color printer, you will also be able to produce pieces that are colored to fit your own specific style. The computer program that connects to your 3D printer is much like a CAD design program, and it will also allow you to choose individual elements of the design for coloring. Imagine a silver colored wrench that allows you to add a splash of red to the size controller part of the tool. That means having a truly unique piece, even though thousands of other people may have used the original design for the wrench.

If you think that 3D printing is only for small scale items, think again. A company in Amsterdam showed how it could be possible to build an entire home using a 3D printer. They made a number of large pieces using the 3D method, with each piece somewhat similar to a piece of Lego. Each of those pieces was then transported to the location of the home and put together like a massive puzzle. Cables and industrial-strength glue are then used to hold all of the pieces together, creating a finished home that was essentially made from scratch, using nothing but an original design and a 3D printer.


Medical 3D Printing

Manufacturers are already aware of the power of 3D printing, and many have been using the method for years to create prototypes and specialty components. The money and time that can be saved using this method is huge, which is why so many more are ready to embrace the 3D printing technology. Another benefit that these types of businesses get from 3D printing is that they can create incredibly complex pieces that are incredibly difficult to make using the machining process. The airline industry is one that has already stated their intent to build airplanes from the ground up using 3D printing technology.

The most exciting use for 3D printing, though, has to be in the medical industry, where "bio-ink" is now being used to create human tissue from scratch. It's an incredibly complex process that is still many years away from being regularly used, but bioprinting is a method that is being improved each and every day, which is incredibly exciting.

It' also likely to be quite some time before we all have 3D printers attached to the computers in our homes, but there is no denying that the science fiction aspect of the method has now become science fact. The printers themselves are incredibly expensive right now, but as the technology improves and becomes more commonplace, those prices are sure to fall to levels were many families will be able to have a 3D printer of their own.


Written by Kevin Lepton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

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