Thursday, September 26, 2013

How 3D Printing Could be the Future of, Well, Everything

So if you’ve heard about 3D printing, you’ve probably heard that it’s expensive to buy the printer and then the materials to actually utilize it. To get all of the resources you’ll need to print off something that will fit in the size of your hand, you’re talking about thousands of dollars. All that’s really been printed off worthy of much amazement is a small rat heart. So that begs the question, why do people want to invest more in 3D printing if it’s that expensive for something that could just be manufactured? Well that’s the topic of my post.

 I’ll start out by saying that 3D printing has become a lot cheaper in the last year, making it a more viable option. Not only is it cheaper, around $100 for an extremely basic model, but its gaining versatility very quickly. The first working gun receiver was created with a 3D printer a while ago, and many things, right now mostly scientific models, have been printed off and the database for blueprints is rapidly expanding. The cool thing about the future of 3D printing is that it may get to the point where everyone will have one, and everyone will basically survive off of it. For example, imagine a $100 3D printer that is a basic home edition. The say you have the blueprints for a couch, and you get the basic components of it in a kind of “ink” for 3D printing. At that point, you load the blueprint and the ink and you print yourself a couch, eliminating the need to buy in a store or even necessarily go outside of your home. This does have some obvious implications though. For one, this industry has the potential to destroy manufacturing, if everyone has their own factory in their home. Second, it destroys retail, as there is no longer a need for a place to store products, the blueprint is just sent directly to the buyer.

The benefits of widespread 3D printing use like this are enormous though. It would cut down on waste, no more overproduction in factories and no more overstocking in stores. The other benefit could be the decrease in the amount of gas used for travel. It sounds like a bad future, but there may be a point where driving is no longer needed, especially if teleportation proves possible, but that’s a different article. Aside from the implications, anyone can admit that a 3D printer providing for all of your uses is a pretty cool idea. Imagine, get the right “ink” cartridges, download a blueprint for filet mignon, and print it out for dinner. Want a new phone? Pay for the blueprint and the plan and print it out. In fact, you can even make accessories right now if you have a 3D printer! This can even extend to printing out body parts if something is failing in someone’s body, although this would obviously require a surgeon to actually transplant.

Obviously, this much integration of 3D printing and daily life is far in the future, but it’s an extremely intriguing topic to think about. Everybody’s own needs could be tied up into 3 things, the material providers, the blueprints, and of course, the all-powerful internet. 3D printing is definitely growing and may have home uses sooner than you would think. I hope that I have opened your mind to the possibilities of 3D printing and the cool technology that is poised to reshape our world. Thank you for reading!

                                Fairly Expensive 3D Printer

Basic 3D Printer for About $100

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