Virginia Tech: 3D Printing Station from virginiatech on Vimeo.
It’s been said that science fiction is often based on science fact. Even some of the gadgets and technologies used on Star Trek and are used today. While this has certainly been the decade of new technologies coming to life, the idea for 3D printing has been around for the past thirty years; it just hasn’t been economical or even practical.
Manufacturing has also taken a new turn within its own industry. Materials have been shipped overseas for years to produce goods just to be sent back to theUS. However with the advent of 3D printing, this is no longer necessary. Now manufacturers are now able to invest money into 3D printers which will allow them to use CAD and other computer programs to design a model for any type of item and simply print it out.
The technology is simple and very much like the inkjet printers we have in our offices, except that 3D printers use layers of additives to create plastic, metal and even pharmaceuticals in the future. But instead of having to pay large costs to maintain equipment or to import and export goods, you can simply print that one gear needed to make your gadget work. Or you can print the entire gadget where it is fully functional and no assembly is required.
The manufacturing industry shouldn’t see 3D printing as an immediate threat, but as a possibility to better utilize time and resources. Needless to say, 3D printing technology is taking over in industry and is slowly creeping into homes. Consumers have the ability to really see what they want created for them. There is an even greater satisfaction for the designer because s/he is enabled to completely engineer the item from cradle to grave.
Imagination and creativity are truly at the heart of 3D printing. After that, all one needs is a computer file telling the printer what to do. These printers range from industrial manufacturing to ones you can build yourself. It’s so easy, even a kid did it with a few months and a couple thousand dollars.