There comes a point in technological advancement where you’ll start to notice signs. These signs alone won’t tell you much, but if you dig deeper you’ll realise that history, at least in the context of technology, will start to repeat itself. 3D printing is an emerging technology and people predict that it will soon become an appliance that everyone has at home, much like a regular printer. But how much of that is true, and what can the past tell us about the possibility of 3D printing becoming so common and accessible that everyone at home has one? Let’s find out.
Creativity breeds innovation
If we take a look at the history of smartphone apps, you’ll notice that just a couple of years ago there were hardly any apps. There were perhaps 500 or so apps on the iOS store, and that number has surged to a staggering 2.2 million within just a few years and over 50 billion downloads. That’s an incredible rate of growth that was spurred on by a single human quality: innovation.
Humans love to find new ways to use technology and smartphone applications are just one outlet of creativity that can also be twisted into productive use. You can quite literally find an app for everything nowadays and with over 2 million apps to choose from on both the iOS and Android platforms, your smartphone is capable of doing things that we would never have dreamed of when we first got a hold of the first generation of smartphones.
3D printing has limitless creativity
We’re already seeing some incredible uses of 3D printing to create everything from household accessories to practical devices such as the ability to turn a basic AA battery into a C sized battery with a custom-made housing. We can also create toys, print out physical moving parts to fix old devices and there is some talk that you can even create firearms or replacement firearm parts using a 3D printer.
If you visit the website of a 3D company such as Zortrax, you’ll find countless different documents and articles about how 3D printing will change the world and, with what we’ve seen so far, it’s impossible not to believe these claims. Innovation stems from a creative community and there’s nothing quite like the 3D printing community. More and more uses for 3D printing are being discovered every day, and the price of a 3D printer is dropping with each new technological advance.
Beyond 3D printing
3D printing is in its infancy in terms of consumer use, which means that whatever scientists are cooking up in their labs is going to be a hundred times more impressive than what we currently have. For instance, some companies are already researching into 3D printing edible things or using a 3D printer in the kitchen to do complicated designs for things like icing and pancakes. You can already get personalised 3D printed pancakes at some places across the world, so what stops us from 3D printing even more edible items? Only time will tell, but if it’s anything like the past of other technological advances, we will continue to innovate for many decades to come.