3D printing technology is impressive in its scope: allowing us to print a variety of objects, from high heeled shoes, to aeroplanes. The possibilities for the field seem endless, and the innovation and creativity we are witnessing leads us to question - where is it all leading? What potential does the field hold for the future? Will 3D printers find their ways into our everyday lives - into our homes, schools, restaurants, and hospitals?
3D printing hitting the mainstream
Over the years, the world of 3D printing has moved from beyond the designers and into the hands of students and entrepreneurs, as Smithsonian explains, “Designers have been using large and expensive 3-D printers for nearly three decades, making rapid prototypes of parts for aerospace, defense and automotive companies. Over the years, however, digital design software has matured, scanners have become ubiquitous and affordable desktop printers have come within reach of self-starting entrepreneurs, schools and home tinkerers”.
As such, 3D printing technology could feasibly see an end to mass-manufacturing, placing creative power in our own hands. The move from big companies, to the small scale creatives, suggests that 3D printing technology is becoming more and more mainstream, allowing us to explore our own creative projects, and allowing for innovation and freedom within a range of spheres, such as fashion, and the culinary world.
Exciting potential developments in a range of fields
Many speculate that 3D printing could allow for the evolution of a range of fields, allowing for exciting advancements that are unimaginable with our current capacity, as the Future of Things explains, “As mentioned above, researchers are just starting to experiment with the idea of creating artificial bones with 3-D printers, but the process could potentially be used for so much more. Some companies are investigating the possibility of printing organic materials; these materials could be used in a much wider array of surgeries and potentially replace a much larger selection of defective human parts”.
Customising our 3D designs
3D printing technology allows for the unique customisation of products. The food industry has already played with the technology, allowing for the custom design of innovative food items such as sugary treats styled in interesting tastes, to an automated cocktail mixer. Where will the creative and innovative powers of 3D printing technology lead us to next? Many speculate that 3D printers will begin to pop up in many eating establishments, due to the creativity and efficiency that comes hand-in-hand with using these printers.