5 Trends that Will Emerge from 3D Printing in the Near Future
April 19, 2016 Francine Jones 0 Comments
These days 3D printing is becoming a mainstream interest as it brings science fiction ideas into reality, not just for industry but home consumers. It has many important uses, but the technology is just getting started and it’s applications are likely to change as the technology improves. Here are a five trends we can expect to see in the near future.
The 3D Printing Service
While desktop models can now be purchased for under $500 dollars, low-end models are limited. Models costing thousands do more, and do it faster. Companies that will design and print any required object are already starting to appear. This is a great alternative for people who wish to create prototypes or models. A 3D object can be created to precise specifications from a few dollars worth of plastic, making it a better and cheaper alternative than hiring an artist to hand-sculpt the piece.
Open Source Object Files
As 3D printing becomes more widespread it is likely to follow open source solutions. Plans and operating instructions for creating any object are stored in digital STL files, which can be copied and shared across the Internet. As enterprising developers turn their attentions to these files, we get an explosion of free offerings tailored to a wide-platform, open-source model. All of this amounts to an increase in the scope of the technology. Printer manufacturers will be forced to keep up and adapt.
Laser scanners can map an object in three dimensions via thousands of spacial coordinates. Soon they will be coupled with 3D printing technology. This leads to “3D photocopying”. This will lead to copyright and legal issues, but opens up the possibility of anyone needing a new part for a lawnmower – or perhaps a new kidney – can simply have one printed. Soon 3D printers may be as common as toasters.
As 3D printers improve to include organic materials, we’ll see machines capable of producing food. This will start as a gel to which colorings and flavorings can be added to synthesize foods and ingredients. While that may not sound appetizing, the technology will improve, and we’ll have Star Trek-type replicators – vending machines – that can recreate a slice of apple pie on request- and it might be more nutritious than the real thing.
We can already create things out of actual living cells – perhaps a paste grown from our own stem cells – thus we can create body parts. Creating serviceable bones or livers may be a few generations off, but custom prosthetics are already being done. Prices will drop as artificial limbs, hips, and knees can be custom made right at the hospital.