3D printers are relatively under-the-radar. With so many possibilities, they can be taken as far as the imagination goes.
Here is a brief breakdown of some of the more interesting things that have been printed:
- Swedish manufacturer Koenigsegg used 3D printing to build the world’s fastest car
- SpaceX used 3D printed parts on its Falcon 9 rocket
- Nike released a 3D printed football cleat in 2013
- Students can create real-life objects to make their studies come to life
Alternatively, 3D printers are capable of doing things with direct implications on the lives of the user. For medicine, the results can be straight out of a movie. Prosthetics and organs are only the tip of the iceberg, and are already available. Countries including China have put millions of dollars towards 3D printing development, showing its importance within the manufacturing industry. Should this kind of printing become popular, it could drastically reduce the price of manufactured products, and make them available to the consumer in their home.
But like any new piece of technology, 3D printers can be used for the wrong reasons as well. Consider a group of individuals printing firearms, or other weaponry to commit crimes. In such a short existence though, it is impossible to tell how or in what sense 3D printers can be regulated. It may end up going the way of cloning and get banned all together.
In the mean time, it could mean wonders for the service industry. Imagine ordering McDonald’s and having it organically printed in the kitchen (a scary thought) and then the formula gets immediately deleted once it is printed. Or maybe users of sites like Kijiji or AskforTask who are looking for a painter could have the paint printed in advance, or have the code for an Allen key ready for when the handyman comes over.
The possibilities are limitless, but whether 3D printers become mainstream is entirely dependent on the market demand. They could of course fall to the wayside and be predominantly for government and manufacturer use only.