You’ve probably heard of 3D printers by now, but do you know what they are, what they do and how they work?
These are quite new machines, which work in a way similar to ink-jet printers. Whereas an ink-jet printer cartridge moves on two planes, the head on a 3D printer moves on three axis. It starts to create an object from the base, by “pouring” melted plastic (or whatever other material it’s using) at the base, at the co-ordinates it’s being told to by the software.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to know much more about 3D printers. What you do need to know is that soon every home will have one. Why? They are handy machines. On their own, they’re tools for artists, designers, model makers, manufactures etc, who know how to design and use the corresponding software. HOWEVER, with the Internet, YOU don’t need to know any of this. Let me give you an example.
My boyfriend installed a sink in the flat. We bought the sink itself and all the bits and pieces we needed for the plumbing. When we got home, he realised he needed a small bit of tubing to join together two pipes. Being the clever model maker that he is, he took out his measuring tape, designed one in his 3D programme and printed one in his 3D printer. Clever eh? (If you fancy checking out his 3d printed trees and models, click on the link.)
NOW, a similar thing could happen to you. Or the knob on your cooker breaks. Or you suddenly feel like hanging up a small hook for your keys near your front door because you can never find them on your way out. In the near future, you will be able to go online to some website, enter the dimensions of your pipe/appliance or choose your hook, download the file, send it to your 3D printer, which will sit near your tool box and voilá. Very quickly you will have what you need without going to the shops or waiting for delivery.
(Curious about how this might work? Have a look at this website run by London’s iMakr store, where you can have a look at 3d printers and what they make.)
Can you see what this means? Next day delivery will no longer be enough! Instant purchasing from home!
At the moment these machines start at £700 (for a very basic one) but pretty soon the price will come down or their benefits will mean that people living in remote places (or just those who are lazy) will make the most of them in precious time.
The scary thing is that this new machine is bound to affect other industries. Think of all the shops that could become redundant, or the distribution services that could go under. Are you ready for this revolution?
PS My boyfriend dived fully into the 3d revolution and now he’s written this book:
3D Printing Projects. 20 Design Projects for Your 3D Printer