As I take a look at the likely shape of our world over the coming years a handful of technologies stand out in the ‘game changing’ category and amongst these are the 3d printer. It would be easy to complicate this and talk the baffling language of High Tech, however, a look at the videos beneath will show you this amazing piece of technology and you’ll be able to grasp it within a few minutes.
The Consumer Electronics Association researched five trends and included 3d technology. The download link can be found on this page. 3d printing starts on page 6 but the whole document is a good read.
WHAT IS 3D PRINTING?
Watch these two four minute videos you will understand 3d printing and, perhaps, see the potential to change our world.
So, in a nutshell, instead of a traditional printer putting ink onto paper to create words or an image, 3d printers ‘shape’ materials to produce an actual physical object.
3D PRINTING WHERE IS IT AT NOW?
It’s not mainstream…………….yet! At present it’s with people who are either developing, learning about it or improving it; that is the manufacturers, universities, designers etc. There are also models in production for home use but whether these are being used, in the main,, by designers and the like who are home based or whether they are being snapped up by the geek community is not known. At present some industries are beginning to evaluate and use these, particularly the aircraft and automobile industries.
3D PRINT – LIKELY DEVELOPMENTS?
So now you have grasped the concept, let’s take a look at what the future could hold for this technology.
They will become mainstream, as along with all technology, it becomes an affordable option for the masses. They will become commonplace in people’s homes.
The options available will increase the production capacity dramatically, for example, the number and characteristics of resins available to be used will increase dramatically as more and more research is done. The speed or production will increase as will the sophistication of the printers too.
The copying of products will become endemic and there will be no way of stopping it. If you have a vase that you like, for example, and you want another one then you will simply scan it and produce an identical replica. When you combine this with likely camera technology development the ramifications for the copying of products become, potentially, industry destroying. Think of this: at the moment you need to either physically scan the object you wish to copy or to upload the CAD or a drawing of it. It is likely that in the future that camera technology will have taken another leap forward so that a normal smartphone will accurately record colour and depth / proportion so that it is perfectly feasible that if you see something you just photograph it using your smartphone and send this, wirelessly, to your 3d printer at home and an exact copy of the item is waiting for you when you get back. This is revolutionary and has the potential to destroy jobs and industries on a wholesale basis.
Our political leaders, in their Industrial Age thinking, for some reason believe that as costs escalate in manufacturing countries, such as China, that manufacturing jobs will return, boosting their economies, creating lots of jobs, allowing massive indebtedness to be repaid etc. etc. etc. etc. This technology is just one reason why manufacturing jobs will not return to the West. There are many other reasons too ……………..Credit
This technology is capable of destroying low pay work. I’m sure that the above videos have given you a ‘light bulb’ moment. An important point which industry will pick up on soon is that these machines are capable of producing items containing multiple components which are already ‘assembled’; this is important. Often human involvement is required in the assembly process but 3d printers remove the need for humans and this is music to industries ears! Less people = lower costs = higher profits.
This technology is still in its infancy but there will be a wall of money pushing it into the mainstream. These printers will become commonplace in our homes but in the intervening few years there is likely to be a series of steps. So firstly it is developed. Then, as it is expensive it will go into stores on the high street or into places like car / auto part distribution centres. Then they will go into people’s homes. Footnote – As if by magic, and with stunning timing, Staples have just announced a 3d printing trial in certain stores and countries.
The impact will be felt across our whole society. Take a construction site where a machine has to stop because a part is broken. At present a new part is ordered and the machine is out of action (and so is the human operator too) until the part arrives. The part will arrive in a couple of days normally, but because of the down time cost you want it there the next morning and you will often pay a hefty premium for this. With this technology you just make a new part and you are back up and running within the hour. When industries grasp this sort of information these machines will be everywhere and I do mean everywhere. What impact will this have on the courier and parcel distribution industries and our already massively hit postal services?
Business models will have to change. Why would you go on eBay or Amazon to buy a product and receive it in a few days’ time when you can just make it at home? Could Amazon have to change so that rather than selling products it is simply selling designs? Food for thought. Also, as we see with the music and film industries what about file sharing sites with designs on them? What about open source designs? Yes, this technology will change our world.
3D PRINTING – IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND ITS POTENTIAL THEN READ ON
What about medicine? New cartilages anyone?
What about a new jaw bone?
How much human time and effort would have had to be put in to make this violin?
What about other materials – like concrete?
Link only – which you can follow and watch. I would not advise doing so as it is the most boring video ever produced. I only put the link here as a reference point if you doubt me! After 35 seconds you will have seen enough.
3d printing will change the societies in which we live and it is only just beginning!