3D printing and Rapid Prototyping is still in its very early stages. You may have seen some ideas and prototypes that have been doing the round in the news of some of the innovative items already made as tests to prove what could be coming to us in the near future. Everything from Bikes to Aeroplanes have had successful test runs on a small scale, and that’s just the tip of the Rapid Prototyping iceberg.
Much like the Television or the Mobile Phone all began from testing, demos and development into what most of us consider a household item no one could be without, who’s to say in X years’ time a 3D printer won’t be a must have for day to day living?
With this in mind and a slight tongue-in-cheek approach similar to those “HOUSE OF THE FUTURE” 1950’s commercials in black and white that show robots making you breakfast and Dad going to work in a floating car, I give you my top six big hopes for the future of 3D printing…
6 ways 3D Printing Could Change Day-to-Day Living
Imagine if Mcdonalds or KFC bought out a food ingredients package to buy in the shop. Just plug the materials into the printer and you can have a Big Mac or Zinger meal without leaving the house. Another example scenario could be home delivery; instead of a pizza boy showing up to your door with a box it might be his job to transfer codes over to your printer to create you a hot dinner.
This isn’t limited to Fast Food either, in the future supermarket giants could be trading in their warehouse size stores in favour of offices and a large IT team!
Electronics Parts, Furniture and Physical goods
Yes, 3D Printing has already printed cogs and machine parts, but I’m talking about the little everyday gadgets we use in everyday life. Smashed phone screen? Print a new one. Lost the TV remote? Print a new one. Etc.
Nothing is more annoying that putting a dent in the side of your expensive furniture. Especially flat pack stuff due to all the pre drilled and cut assembly parts. Rather than buying a whole new desk or chest of draws, just print out the panel you need and reassemble. What about when you take a chunk out of your favourite mug? Again, scan it in, and get your printer to print the damage out.
Nuts, Bolts and Screws
On a related note, anyone who has bought a flat pack furniture item might have noticed they have a habit of the nuts and bolts loosening and falling out. An example would be a metal framed bed which after much tossing and turning in the night becomes lose and squeaky. This is down to the bolts eventually untightening and falling out, which usually end up lost or inside the vacuum. No problem, just get on the manufacturer’s site, print out the bolts you’ve lost, screw them back in and it’s good as new.
Postal services and business supply
Much like the teleporting seen in The Jetsons or Star Trek, who needs a postal service anymore? Yes it might be sad to think of such an integral part of business history go with millions of jobs, but much like the telegram and morse code SOS before it, technological advances dictate redundancy. Instead every time you order an item on Amazon it comes to your 3D printer within hours and ready to use so long as you have the right materials or ingredients to create your item.
This would also change the way retailers sell goods, as no longer would stock and supply be an issue, as well as second hand goods if every time is available brand new!
When I first moved into my current living quarters, I had about twelve pint glasses. One year later from gatherings and the odd accident, I have four left. Nothing is worse than having company over to find you’re short of glasses and by the time you do notice it’s the evening when the shops are closed. 3D printed glasses would not only solve this issue, but could add a whole new “print your own glass design” gimmick to bars!
Finally, we may eventually we get to the point where not only are we using objects in our house made of 3D printed material, but we live in buildings made of 3D printed material too! Rapid prototyping is already used for making scale model replicas in the architecture industry and has been for a number of years. As materials develop, machinery improves and processes become quicker you could be finding a giant needle on the end of a crane instead of a chained up pallet!
If you have any other suggestions of what you would love to see printed in the future leave them in the comments section. And remember, in "X" number of years we could be replacing “rapid prototyping” with the term “rapid production” instead!
(Attached image credit: http://www.freedomofcreation.com)
Author Bio : Pete Reynolds works for Rapid Prototyping machinery and software supplier Emco. 3D printing is going to be a huge part of the future for the production industry and for many companies it already is! How long until the first affordable household 3D printer is introduced on the market?
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