Around 6 years ago I heard the term 3D printing for the first time. The context was art-related, since people were using it to create small decorative figures from their 3D models. While that was pretty impressive for the 3D art industry, the cost of the printers was so expensive, and I wasn't really into 3D, so I just pretty much forgot about the subject.
Fast-forward 2013, I stumbled upon this article Architects are starting to 3D print houses—but without a house-sized printer. The implications of this are so staggering. For one, we shouldn't be surprised that 3D printing becomes the preferred method for construction in the future, rendering many professions obsolete; but also, I supposed the printers might have become more accessible for the general public, and possibly more advanced. - And I wasn't wrong, a quick glance on Amazon and you'll find these printers from $1200 to $3000.
But how does it work exactly? It's simpler than you would believe. First, you model your object (full or by parts), take this to the CAD software which will create the guides for the printer. Send it to the printer, and set the material which will be used to create the object, commonly plastic, and the printer will do its magic.
So I've been giving it a good thought to this, imagine the possibilities for someone like me who's a sucker for DIY projects, for affordable personalized products that are hard to find or don't exist yet. I wouldn't have to buy MOST THINGS EVER AGAIN. I could make from my own sculptures to my own personal accessories, from mugs for coffee to pieces of furniture. Want a new chair? why not a throne made of human-like skulls? - Need a new astray? worry not, print your own shaped like a vagina!
Here are few ideas just off the top of my head:
Maybe the "something" would be better if it was alive (or that's how I imagined it), and the printer can't do that sadly, but when I say you can do many things, beyond simple sculptures and napkin holders, I'm not kidding.
Check out Thingiverse, Sculpteo, Shapeways, and you'll find many designs, if you can't be assed to make your own. Replacement parts and full functional gadgets are some of projects you can find there, along with hundreds of art/decorative projects.
Some people have taken this even further - originating a whole new debate I'm not willing to touch with ten foot pole, at least not today.
Yeah, science, bitch!
3D printing is great and it's here to stay. I wouldn't say it'll beat the internet, or it'll destroy consumerism, but it might definitively have a positive impact in the way we acquire products within the next decades. And I'm totally getting one as soon as I can afford it and make own skulls throne.