Since its official introduction in 1987, 3-D printers have undergone a long line of evolution and are being projected to “change the world.” As prices continue to drop, printers are becoming more affordable, and thus more widely applicable to a variety of industries. Modern applications are seeing a surge of 3-D printing uses, most notable in manufacturing. The idea of a manufacturing plant no longer needing a factory is not out of reach, and the affordability and ease of 3-D printing are bringing this concept even closer to reality.
Though it has been around for decades, the concept of 3-D printing has just recently become affordable to the point of being on the edge of a household commodity. When consumers are able to purchase 3-D printers for themselves, they will be able to participate in the technology from home, and altogether rule out manufacturing plants. Recently, Amazon has joined the 3-D printing phenomenon on a grand scale. The company supplies digital files to consumers to allow them to print products in their own home. Most recently, they have partnered with two services that print intricate products from metal and other high-end materials, and is creating a storefront based on the new designs being made available.
Aside from the consumer standpoint, 3-D printers are being used by other industries to further innovations in service. In October of last year, a Boston Children’s Hospital surgeon used a 3-D printer to reshape a 2 year olds face who had suffered from congenital birth defects. Dr. Peter Weinstock used the printer to create 3D models of the girl’s skull by using magnetic imaging pictures, a process which would normally cost thousands of dollars and take weeks to complete. The models were high-quality, highly accurate, and did not require Dr. Weinstock to interfere with the child’s brain or nerve function.
With large technological strides and lower price points in 3-D printing, a new industrial revolution may be on the horizon.