Before I get into why you should be so super excited about 3D printers some of you may not even know what I’m talking about here. When I speak of 3D printing there is no paper involved here, instead there are raw materials such as plastic chips and “blueprints” for objects, some of which have been made available through sites like Thingiverse. Wikipedia describes 3D printing as:
“… a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes. 3D printing is considered distinct from traditional machining techniques, which mostly rely on the removal of material by methods such as cutting or drilling (subtractive processes).”
According to KurweilAI, these devices will set off a personal manufacturing revolution similar to how personal computing set off the desktop publishing revolution, however “before 3D printers become as ubiquitous as cellphones, they could form the basis of small-scale manufacturing concerns and have huge potential both here and for developing countries, where access to many products is limited.” If you’re having a difficult time picturing what this is all about I encourage you to watch the video below.
4 Reasons why you should get excited about 3D printing
All right now onto the list. I’m getting super excited about the personal manufacturing revolution and here’s why.
3D printers are affordable now
Lucky for you some tech genius “open-sourced” the specs for 3D printers. What this means is that the cost of these units has gone from 10’s of thousands of dollars down to about $2000 very rapidly. For example you can get the Cubify Cube for $1200 and the Cubify CubeX for $2500. Note the 3 colour CubeX model sells a little higher at $4000. According to some studies the 3D printer purchase will pay for itself in about 1 year.
You can manufacture parts dirt cheap with 3D printers
Everyone from car repair depots to the most advanced medical labs will be able to manufacture parts for broken equipment for pennies on the dollar. No more going to the vendor for a $500 dollar part when you can make it for $5.
As for us regular folks soon we won’t have to venture off to Home Depot to get a replacement shower head. Why bother getting in your car to buy a $50 part when you can print it off at home for $2. Now that being said, some people are worried that the personal manufacturing revolution will put companies like Home Depot and Lowe’s out of business in a similar way that MP3s put record and CD stores out of business. I suppose it could happen perhaps a little ways down the road.
You can make your own iPhone case with blueprints on Thingiverse
Not only can you make this one for mere cents but you could download any number of models available and make them in a variety of colours depending on your mood for the day. Enterprising individuals may want to make these and sell them at a considerable markup. Now anybody can manufacture and profit! Check out the blueprint on Thingiverse.
You can use your camera or smartphone as a 3D scanner
Cubify has developed an application that turns your smartphone or camera into a 3D scanner. You simply capture the object in the real world and import it into a virtual blue print model that can be replicated.
There’s some cool stuff going on in the 3D printing space and it’s only looking to get more exciting as time moves forward. There’s been talk about printing at the atomic or molecular level. Who knows, perhaps one day these “printers” will be included appliances in every home alongside our stoves and fridges. Here’s a future conversation we may be having with our device.
person – “make a cup of tea.”
printer – “yes boss.”