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Published on August 25th, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie

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3-D Printing: A Glimpse Into The Future

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We are living in a century of great changes. Our technology has never been as advanced. We finally have a practical replacement for the wasteful burning of petrochemicals in our vehicles. This alternative will only become better and more affordable as battery chemistries become refined. In the area of medicine, researchers are working on new treatments that will forever change modern medicine.

In terms of services and the world of information, we have never been better connected with one another. Ideas are being shared like never before. The costly expense of producing paper for our newspapers and books will be greatly reduced as all types of information is read on digital formats.

These developments are all wonderful but one area has seen less progress than others until recently. That is the area of manufacturing and the  food industry. While the face of our service industry has forever changed, the manufacturing and transportation of goods is still incredibly expensive and inefficient. Huge amounts of resources and equipment are needed to bring goods to consumers – journeys of tens of thousands of miles are now routine and commonplace.

A Star Trek Solution To A Modern Problem

However, with the advent of something more akin to Star Trek than real life, all this is about to change with a new invention that promises a radically different business world. Since 2003 scientists and engineers have been working on 3-D printing.

Unlike normal, two-dimensional printing, 3-D printing creates proper functional objects. It works by putting down layer upon layer of different substances, depending on the application. Each layer can be as thinner than one hundred microns (one-tenth of a millimetre). Gradually, all the layers add up to create the three-dimensional object.

Limitless Uses

As of yet the technology is still in its infancy but already it is being used by many business sectors including the aerospace and automobile industries. There are currently open source projects working on better ways to create a wider range of different products and applications that are free to the general public.

The costs of constructing 3-D printers are roughly the same as what the prices of 2-D printers were originally. You can construct your own 3-D printer with free plans from as little as €1,200 and the cost will only go down as they become more common. The applications for such printers are really limitless. Already people have built car panels, batteries, biscuits, bicycles, and specialised fabricating parts.

What does the future have in store for 3-D printing? In the future, people will be able to recreate many types of food. They will choose from pre-programmed recipes and select which meal they would like to eat today. Virtually anything of object will be able to be produced at home. People will not need to go to hardware shops. Instead they will have the ability to create anything from the comfort of their own home.

The Dawn Of A New Reality

All of these changes will result in a cataclysmic shift in economics. Whole manufacturing industries will be reduced to highly specialised sectors. The real demand will be for the raw materials required for 3-D printing. This will be one of the last frontiers of global commerce.

Like all technologies, 3-D printing will become more advanced in time. As it becomes more and more refined. a wider array of products, each more sophisticated than the last, will be added to home manufacturing.

3-D printing promises to herald one of the most interesting ages in human history.


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