The New Print Revolution

I’m sure by now everyone has at least heard of 3D printing or imagined the first thing they would make if they had one.  Let’s take a look at it’s short history:

The terms additive manufacturing and 3D printing are synonymous.  The conception of these names comes from the additive printing process, in which layers of material are successively laid down, as they correspond to the those within a digital file.  This inevitably counters the issue of waste, compared to subtractive manufacturing in traditional methods of machining.

Although the technology  for 3D printing has been around since the 1980’s, it did not hit the commercial market until early 2010’s.  Wikipedia sourced a chart for protoyping worldwide in 2001, visualizing field outputs that utilize 3D printing; prior to it’s redesign as a marketable product.

This printing process is a significant contribution to the fusion of art, science and design, however it is simultaneously controversial.  You can print virtually anything in three dimensions that comes through your imagination and visualized through code.  Two days ago,  the House of Representatives extended a law prohibiting plastic guns, although some 3D printed guns can pass the test, including the one below since a strip of steel was included in it’s design.

The 'Liberator' Credit: Michael Thad Carter for Forbes

The ‘Liberator’
Credit: Michael Thad Carter for Forbes

Beyond this settlement, individuals are leading innovation and creativity through the use of this technology.  Shapeways is a company that enables customers to make, buy and sell 3D products. [1]  The company produced the video below to display the printing process and possibilities the forms can take.

The applications of 3D printing within various fields are quite varied, as they are used for prototyping and distribution.  Applications include architecture, construction (AEC), industrial design, automotive, aerospace, military, engineering, civil engineering, dental and medical industries, biotech (human tissue replacement), fashion, footwear, jewelry, eyewear, education, geographic information systems, food, and many other fields. [2]


RigIt: Extended kit available on Shapeways

Extended kit available on Shapeways

vertifopolka: Woven putse

Woven purse available on Shapeways

Mstyle183: Sleek Ultimate Iphone Case

Sleek Ultimate Iphone Case available on Shapeways

The future of 3D printing has the potential to revolutionize the way individuals design and consume products.  With open source software and sharing of files, it is possible for everyone to make and share their own creations.


[1] Shapeways make, sell and shop 3D products

[2] Wikipedia: page on 3D printing

Mashable: 3D printing blog and news

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