Every day there are incredible advances in the world of 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping.
Printers are cheaper, materials are stronger and more folks are turned on to an industry that for 30 years remained relatively out of the technology spotlight.
The first time I heard about 3D Printing was through Melba Kurman and Hod Lipson’s book “Fabricated.” It was as if I had lived in the cave for the past 20 some odd years and now finally I was seeing the light. Since learning and seeing firsthand the power of additive manufacturing I’ve been absolutely enthralled with the industry and the potential it has to change the world. I know I’m not alone in my story and in honor of the awesomeness of 3D Printing I’ve put together a list of the top 3 reasons why I think 3D Printers are awesome.
1. If you can imagine it, somebody will design and print it.
The 3D Printing is full of folks from the lifehacker generation. If the water bottle holder on your bike breaks, head over to Thingiverse and print a new one. You have an idea for a crazy concept and have no idea how to build it? Services like RedProto will turn your sketch into a 3D design ready for printing.
From household objects to actual houses, if you have an idea you could be sure someone is out there willing to try and print it.
2. 3D Printers are completely changing the medical industry.
From doctors using 3D printing to help a baby breathe to Organovo’s incredible work printing biomaterial that can mimic the filtering process of the human liver, 3D Printing is absolutely changing the way we do medicine.
Everyone is familiar with the stuffy casts used for encasing broken bones in the past but by combining optical scanning and 3D printing we can now make breathable and more aesthetically appealing casts that lose nothing in the way of functionality.
For the first time there are somewhat legitimate questions around immortality because in a world where we can 3D print organs as needed, the human body can constantly be repaired.
3. We’re only just starting to realize the potential of 3D Printing.
3D Printing has moved way beyond the world of throwaway plastic pieces and we now have printers such as the Mark One that are able to print in carbon fiber and the complex turbine wheels made by voxeljet.
Printers are becoming cheaper with models such as the recent Kickstarter darlings, M3D and MOTA offering sub $200 offerings for desktop 3D Printers. Materials are also becoming stronger and more accessible.
One of the most incredible examples of 3D Printing is for manufacturing of unique components. The ability to produce highly complex parts and test their functionality without splurging on injection molding means we have real-time feedback on the viability of a part and can make changes on the fly to a design. This is absolutely disruptive technology in the world of manufacturing and revolutionizing methods that had prevailed for years.
A world in which we can 3D print entire planes isn’t just for the realm of dreams anymore and now is something that can be looked at as a possibility.
I could go on for days with the ridiculous capabilities created by 3D Printing but alas these are just a few of the ones I find most exciting.