Thursday, January 28, 2010

3D Printing – Is It The Future Of Printing?

If you have a computer at home, the chances are good that you will have a printer as well, but what you won’t have is a 3D printer.

3D printing might sound like something from the future, but in actual fact it is here now – and it looks to be heading for more widespread use as well.

Major companies are currently designing machines that can be used for printing in 3D that more of us will be able to afford. Currently the only people who use these machines are those in business
. Take an architect who wants to create a small scale model of a house or building he wants to build. With this printing technique he can do just that – and all at the push of a button.

Another key area of business where 3D printing is currently being used is in product design. Designers can create whatever model they require on a computer screen and when they are happy with it they can create that model in 3D real life format.

The wonderful thing about 3D printing is that it allows you to see whatever you design right in front of you. In the past you would have been restricted to designing it on screen and printing it out on a sheet of paper. That doesn’t exactly give you the whole picture. Even if you were to create an image from every conceivable angle you couldn’t put the whole thing together very easily.

Instead you would have to create a model from scratch or have someone else do it for you. In any event it wouldn’t be as simple as pressing a button and letting a machine create your 3D model for you.

So how widespread can we expect these printers to become? Will we eventually be able to print 3D models and shapes in our own homes?

They certainly look to be heading for mainstream use somewhere down the line. At the moment professionals whose businesses can afford the price tag of one of these machines are the only people to use them on a daily basis. Soon we could expect schools to get in on the action, and as they become more widespread the cost should come down accordingly.

Once that happens we can expect 3D printing to start making its way into our homes more and more often. Just as the dot matrix printer finally gave way to the more advanced laser printer, so 3D printers look to be the next step up on the list.

Can you imagine being able to think of a shape and then print it up in 3D form? There are countless ways in which this technology will be of use – and it will be fascinating to see exactly what uses are found for it in the coming years.

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