A tangible future is in the making. With a 3D printer you will be able to ‘print out’ a perfect copy of a Perspex sheet or a plastic mirror. With a 3D printer, it will be possible to realize a fantasy that Star Trek first coined, known as the ‘replicator’. The 3D printers, which are sometimes referred to as rapid prototypes, build objects using specks of liquid or powdered plastic. Think of it in the same way as a traditional printer creates images out of dots of ink. A 3D printer can produce an object from virtually any CAD (Autodesk file) capable software.
3D printers have been around for industrial use for ten years odd. Of course, such devices have been matched with equally outrageous price tags as well. Such printers have been used to test designs for parts being sent for manufacture on a large scale. In a few years from now, you can surely expect a 3D printer to be available for around $2000. It will be able to produce everything from a toothbrush to plastic cups, to just about anything you wish for. In fact, sometime later this year, California-based IdeaLab will start selling its Desktop Factory machine for $4,995.
According to Hod Lipson, a professor at Cornell University, who led the project that produced a design for a $2000 3-D printer said, “In the future, everyone will have a printer like this at home. You can imagine printing a toothbrush, a fork, a shoe. Who knows where it will go from here?”It sure does sound like the possibilities are endless. Indeed, the future looks bright and promising for us earthlings.
The 3D printer process is simple, but the mechanics behind it are still clunky and cumbersome at best.Once the object has been compiled, it need to be dusted of its initial layer and then dried in a special solution in order to keep the colours from running. In time, we will look back at the enormous 3D printers of old and laugh at their heft, yet for now, we can only stand back and marvel at the genius that is a 3D Printer.