The technology of 3D printing has quietly come onto the world scene; its ability to influence various industries and effect lives for the better has meant 3D printer no longer sits in the dark. 3D printing is now shining the light on the way forward and setting the benchmark for all other competing technologies that are on the scene now and those yet to still show up in the future.
The technology of 3D printing has the fantastic ability to never stop surprising us, and is constantly making new ground every single day. It is down to these attributes and many more, that our minds are not only captivated, but also intrigued by this cutting edge, dynamic technology.
Now that 3D printers are becoming more affordable it has meant that they are more accessible, meaning more and more of us are now able to get to grips and experiment with our own ideas and concepts. With such a freedom available to the end user in creating and developing their own ideas, the 3D printer will soon be as comfortable and valued as the flat screen TV we have in the front room of our homes. 3D printers have become so advanced they will radicalize the way companies manufacture their products and how we shop as consumers.
In the early 70’s personal computing became the most sought after technologies and was soon a hot bed of activity and innovation. The trends are showing 3D printing is following suit in the way that it is evolving. In the past, when 3D printers first came on the scene the equipment was oversized, highly advanced, and designated to be used only by the industrial elite. As society modernizes so does the technology that we use, 3D printers have been adapted and upgraded and can now easily sit on your desktop and function competently.
As mentioned previously, 3D printers are affordable and easier to operate and use, and it’s these factors and many more that are increasing the reputation of this futuristic technology. All around the globe more and more people, including hobbyists and manufacturing companies, are embracing this technology and using it to improve their line of products and services.
Is 3D printing important to you and should you even care about it?
For the many hobbyists and tinkerer’s out there 3D printing is important, but is it important to you? Yes, it is. You should be looking to explore and learn more about how this technology could benefit and help you. Here is a thought, if you have a 3D printer, and you are educated on how to use it, you have the ability to create what you want right when you need it.
You could easily replace that broken piece of the TV remote, or the small handle on your coffee machine, by simply downloading the product blueprint, then load your 3D printer with the correct materials and click print—it’s as easy as that. Replacement parts can be printed while you are at work and finished by the time you return home. Or even better, printed off while you sleep and completed by the time you wake up. All of which can be done without the hassle of calling the manufacturer’s customer service, waiting in a queue, and then waiting on the product part to be delivered a week or so later.
Whether you understand 3D printing, or not, the bottom line is this technology has a following, and its numbers are growing each day. There will always be a fan base, and a community that is paying attention to what is happening in the world of 3D printing and 3D scanning. The world around us is quickly changing. Traditional methods of practice are being replaced by more competent and efficient methods. All these factors show us that there is a strong indication that it’s time to tune in and be part of what’s going on.
3D Printing will Still have its Critics
Even though 3D printing has relevance in our lives, the technology will always have its critics voicing their own opinions. You can almost hear their objections, “Who is 3D printing for,” and “this technology has no relevance, it’s a passing phase”. The thing is you need an open mind. The technology of 3D printing is only limited by an individual’s imagination, more importantly, what they understand about it. Being open to 3D printing is the best way in which you can start the journey of exploring its capabilities.
Regardless of its relevance, people will still complain about it. Criticisms will include, “Who is this for?” and “The technology isn’t good enough to become relevant.” If you’re mostly apathetic to the DIY approach, it’s fine not to care about the field. Just be open to the idea that you might change your mind down the road.
Why should people that are not in manufacturing, engineering, or product creation care about the 3D printing trend? Here’s one example as to why, simple hobbies like scrapbooking is expanding because of 3D printing and now the creative process easier with introduction of the Cricut vinyl cutter. The scrapbook world is not known for being a hotbed of innovative technology, yet it is still being radicalized by the use of a 3D printer in its tasks.
A 3D printer may seem difficult to use and operate, but remember, that’s exactly what they said about computers. There are now basic computer training classes running in libraries and schools worldwide. Just because a 3D printer seems difficult to use and operate does not exclude it from becoming an important and essential addition to our daily duties. Despite the critics, the reality is that 3D printers are already important and part of our daily lives.
Case studies by Stratasys, industry leaders of the technology, reveals to us how the manufacturing of our shoes, watches, electronics and many more products are made with 3D printers already. The fact is, even though you may never have seen a 3D printer or laid hands on one, you have definitely touched a product that has been created by using a 3D printer.
It is no longer necessary for you too have trained as an engineer to get any value from a 3D printer. Today, ordinary people have the opportunity to learn about, and use 3D printers for their own purposes. The introduction and progression of 3D printing technology is changing the buying habits of consumers.
By using a 3D printer, designers can bring their product to the market in a matter of hours, rather than weeks. Operators of the 3D printer are able to make what they want, exactly when they need it making the machine ideal for designers. The introduction of 3D printers in manufacturing has seen a staggering drop in costs for both waste materials and product to market time. Today, 3D printing is as relevant as it ever has been. With the newer desktop 3D printers, you do not need a Master’s degree in engineering to understand and operate it. Regardless of your technology background, 3D printing is for you and available at reasonable prices.
Relevant ways 3D printing and 3D Scanning is Changing our World
The clothing industry could be taken by storm when designers and clothing manufacturers turn to 3D scanning the consumer’s body. The benefit of 3D scanning the consumer’s body is that it will allow custom scanned clothing to be made. What’s unique about that you ask? Clothes to match your body and your style, wouldn’t it be great to wear clothes that are an exact match to your body and brings out the best in your appearance. Custom designed clothes means no more badly fitted pants, no more loose fitting shirts that weren’t even in fashion when you bought them! Imagine, exact match fitted clothes, and the ability to look sharp all of the time, let’s hope this idea takes off quick!
Cheaper Solution to creating High Quality Prosthetics
3D printers have been making headlines in the healthcare industry with its success of creating cheaper prosthetic options to patients worldwide. Many are using 3D printers in the creation of prosthetics, which include everything from hip, skull, knee and limb replacements. All of these have already been achieved with the help of three-dimensional printing equipment. This example has shown that 3D printers can be relied on when it comes to creating a cheaper alternative to traditional prosthetics. Software company, Autodesk Inc. and the University of Toronto are looking into taking new steps within this process and now scan the amputee’s body in order to get an exact fitted prosthetic. This means that amputees will be able to get the best custom designed prosthetic that can improve and change their current standard of life.
3D printed Replacement Parts
We have all had the experience of using a household item that works for years then a significant part of that item breaks or snaps leaving it useless. Using a 3D printer you will soon be able to print off that much needed part at home. The process will involve you visiting the manufacturer’s website and downloading the CAD file of that part and then print it using your own desktop 3D printer at home. If you don’t have a 3D printer yet, as mentioned earlier in the article, 3D printers will soon become household items just like your microwave and toaster, so no need to worry.
3D Printed Candy
Parents will need to keep an eye on their children’s teeth and brushing habits. The good news for kids is that 3D printers can now create 3D printed candy and chocolate like something straight out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Bad news for parents is that you may want to expect an increase in trips to the dentist. The example of a 3D printer being able to create solid candy is a real show of its versatility. The advancing printing systems are capable of printing prosthetics, car parts one day, and the next day print edible candy.
Helping to keep Art and restore it
Using a 3D scanner artists around the world have been able to scan significant sculptures and works of art, which is resulting in an exact match replica of the original. This has helped art lovers experience and see their favorite artists work without having to leave their own surroundings. Okay, so they won’t be seeing the actual original, but they will be able to see and get their hands on a replica of the original.
This is not to take away from the original by any means, by replicating, the art historians are able to see the best way through trial and error of the best way to restore the original, and ultimately meaning art is kept and restored properly. One artist and a team of researchers have even grown the famous ear of Vincent Van Gogh. The artist contacted one of Van Gogh’s relatives and asked for DNA. Through using 3D bio-printing technology, the artist was able to re-create a living ear that is an exact replica of Van Gogh’s. The ear has been tested and can hear; now that’s creepy! I wonder how the ear would react if you spoke aloud of your disappointment at one of the artist’s masterpieces?