3D Printing & The Future
The influence of 3D printing on the human civilization continues to expand by the passing of every second of the day. The technology promises to replace the conventional wisdom behind how we as humans create, design & produce just about everything & anything!
In this particular blog I just want to briefly list certain areas of influence 3D printing technology is having a profound effect on. In future blogs I will dive deeper into these specific areas of influence.
3D printing in a "nut shell" is a manufacturing technology that gives just about anyone the ability to create just about anything. And by anything we really mean anything! Anything, from human arteries to the construction of buildings plus everything in between can essentially be 3D printed! So the question is "what parts of society will 3D printing influence the most?".
By far, the area of manufacturing is where 3D printing promises to have the most influence. With 3D printing technology it is becoming very easy to recognize that the way we go about manufacturing through conventional methods is very unpractical. Conventional production methods are typically based on producing a number of items based on the cost to produce each item. The higher volume of products produced typically means a lower cost to produce for the manufacturer. The downside to this methodology is the "over production" of these items. The idea of producing more items than necessary in order to manufacture at a lower cost is simply not practical and causes a vast amount of waste, In contract, with 3D printing we can manufacture based on demand. This means that if only 500 units are sold then only 500 units need be produced. 3D printing essentially eliminates the issues tied to the over production of items.
One of the jobs of a designer is to continually "refine" a design until A). time runs out, B). money runs out or, C). the design has reached it's maximum level of design. Because conventional methods of production can be costly for anything new, designers are typically constrained by time and money. With the advent of 3D printing technology and the ability to create "rapid prototypes" a designer has much more time to refine his design until a high level of acceptance is met. This simply means better designs can be created for just about anything from a new mop handle to a jet propulsion system.
The need to transport items from one location to another will continue to decrease because there will no longer be the need to transport anything. It will soon be quicker to send an email to a remote location and have the product produced at that location than it will to have it manufactured at a centralized location then shipped. Everyone from NASA to the military understands the advantage of not having to transport something when all that needs to be sent is a digital file and then have the item produced at the location it is needed.
Through the use of CAD technology we can now go from creating designs on our computer straight to production. The bridge between idea and physical reality is becoming shorter and shorter through the aid of 3D printing technology. Because of the way 3D printing works it breaks the limiting boundaries of conventional manufacturing processes which opens opens up the room to freely express creative ideas.
The ability for 3D printing to allow for more "organic" designs that you will soon begin to see it's influence on everything around us. You will soon begin to see the influence of this on everything from buildings and cars to clothing and design of a prosthetic. The surrounding of the next century influence by 3D printing technology will have us all looking back at our surrounding of the past. This will be especially evident the field of architecture.
As future generations are introduced to 3d printing in education and as it becomes more common place in our society, students who are exposed to the technology at an early stage will lead the way to amazing products and ideas for the future. 3D printing opens up the opportunity for anyone regardless of age, young or old, to the possibility of contributing to the better existence of everyone on the planet.
3D printing technology edges us even closer to the idea of self reliance and centralized societies. With the ability to provide needed products for themselves, individuals will be less reliant on government assistance for everyday needs. This alone could have a major impact on the cost of living" for example.
Again, I just wanted to briefly touch on the areas of influence that 3D printing is having a profound effect on. In future blogs I will embellish more on the specifics of each area of influence. Until the next Blog keep those ideas coming!
- Alex Lorenzo
President of ALLAXIS 3D Printers.