We are in the midst of a technological revolution. In less than a decade, we have seen the advent of groundbreaking technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and blockchain.
And now, it seems like 3D printers are poised to be the next big thing.
3D printers have been around for a while now, but they have only recently become affordable and accessible to the average consumer. In the past, 3D printers were large, expensive, and complicated to use. But now, there are 3D printers that are small enough to fit on a desk, and that are easy enough to use that even a child can operate them.
What’s more, 3D printers are becoming increasingly affordable. You can now buy a decent 3D printer for less than $500.
So, what are 3D printers, and why do we think they could be the next big tech wave?
Are 3D Printers the Next Big Tech Wave?
3D printers are devices that create three-dimensional objects from a digital file. The object is created by depositing material, layer by layer, until it is complete. 3D printing is an additive manufacturing process, which means that it creates objects by adding material, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing processes like CNC machining, which create objects by removing material.
3D printing is a versatile technology that can be used to create a wide variety of objects, from prosthetic limbs to car parts to eyeglass frames. One of the benefits of 3D printing is that it allows you to create complex structures that would be impossible to create using traditional manufacturing methods.
What Industries is 3D Printing Revolutionizing?
We’ve already seen various incredible use cases of 3D printing in the past few years. One big industry that 3D printers are currently dominating is the construction industry. 3D printed homes are becoming more and more common due to their affordability, speed and sustainability. Some countries have put strategies into place to try to curb the homelessness epidemic by 3D printing homes for those who do not have access to one.
With the implementation of Artificial Intelligence in 3D printing in recent years, we can go even further with 3D printing technology. This helps speed up the printing process and reduces wasted material, which makes 3D printers an even more accessible technology for industries such as architecture. No doubt we will see many more benefits of AI in 3D printing in the coming years!
Traditionally, prostheses have been expensive and often inadequate substitutes for lost limbs. Fortunately, 3D printing is changing that by making it possible to create highly-customized prostheses at a fraction of the cost of conventional options. William Root’s exo-prosthetic leg is an excellent example; quick to build, efficient, strong and much lighter than traditional prosthetics due to its hollow internal geometry.
In the past, only large businesses could afford to invest in a 3D printer for production. Now, with the increased affordability of these machines, small business owners can purchase one without taking out a hefty bank loan. With the incredible speed and precision of 3D printers, small business owners can save time and money on production and utilize this technology to help them along.
Arno G. Held, a managing partner of AM Ventures, made comments on the future of 3D printing. “In the next 10 years, Additive Manufacturing is going to establish its place as THE manufacturing technology which is going to support the transition to a sustainable and resource-efficient civilization. Today’s biggest potential applications – be it heat exchangers, lightweight structural components, or electric motors – will then be actual applications. To achieve this, industry participants will have realized that we all need to work together and overcome the big challenges of quality control, cross-platform repeatability, and recycling of materials”.
This is very telling of what we can expect 3D printing to look like in the next decade. This technology has not yet reached its peak; we are yet to see what it is fully capable of.
While 3D printers were thought to be the next big tech wave in the early 2010s, it seems as if they’re not ready to let go of that title. The recent developments in 3D printing technology has made it clear that these machines have only just started on their tech wave journey.
We can expect to see plenty more uses for this incredible technology in the next few years, and there’s no doubt that 3D printers are a very big part of the next tech wave.