I’m really excited about the possibilities that 3D printing brings up. If you aren’t already familiar with 3D Printing, this post should help you learn more about it. First, I’ll tell you what 3D printing is, then how it’s being applied and last, what the future holds for this great technology.
What is 3D Printing?
It starts with a digital file made using CAD software. The printer reads the digital file, then produces the object. 3D printing as the name suggests, means using a printer that can “print” a 3D object. The way it works is the 3D printer “prints” or “makes” the object layer by layer. It makes a thin layer, then another on top of that and another on top of that, until you have the 3D object you wanted to manufacture. it uses real materials like plastic, paper and metal. The materials start as a liquid, then they are “cured” using a process like stereolithography. The end product is solid and made from the materials you specified.
How much does a 3D Printer cost?
You may be too young to remember this, but a VCR used to cost a lot of money. This is from CNN; “VCRs had been around since the mid-1950s, but they cost around $50,000 and were used mainly by TV networks.” That’s how a lot of technology works. At first, it’s only affordable to large companies, then it gets cheaper as more models are made, manufacturing processes are refined and more users adopt it.
The cost for a 3D printer started out very high. $50,000 and up. However, since then, less expensive models have been made. Right now you can order a 3D Printer for as low as $400, with even less expensive models on the way. Keep in mind, that the cheaper models won’t compare to professional models, but professional models will get less expensive too. Right now, for a professional 3D printer, expect to pay $5000 to $10,000, but that is a very small investment for the ability to manufacture products from home.
What types of items can I make with a 3D Printer?
A quick search from Google Images shows you a variety of 3D Printed items, but a company called Kor Ecologic made a car called the Urbee with a 3D Printer. That should give you an idea of the possibilities 3D printing has to offer. You can pretty much manufacture anything with the right 3D Printer.
3D Printed Online Orders
Staples and others have already started adopting 3D Printing. You will be able to order a product online and download a digital file, then go to a place like Staples or Kinkos to have it printed out for you rather than having it shipped. Or maybe you’ll be printing it out at home soon.
Will 3D Printing Change the World?
This could mean the price of manufactured goods coming down because they don’t have to manufacture the object. it may be balanced out with the fee you pay to have it printed out or the cost of the materials you use in your own 3D Printer at home. But either way, it will mean less manufactured goods being shipped, which will reduce fuel consumption which is good for everyone.
The full impact of 3D printing hasn’t even been realized yet. But there are a few technological breakthroughs that really make history for the way they changed the world. The Guttenberg Press, The Telephone, Transistors, The Internet, The Human Genome project are just a few I could mention that were real game changers. 3D Printing is one of those real game changers that you should learn more about whether as a consumer or as a possible means to starting your own business from home.