3D printers may seem new, but they have actually been around since the 1980's where they were first used to create prototypes for new products like shoes.
Most of us have seen them at trade shows where useless little pieces of plastic were created right in front of our eyes. Yes it was cool but what most of us don't realize is that you were seeing the genesis of an invention as important as the printing press of 1450, the steam engine of 1750 and the transistor in 1950 (thank you Dr Karl)
What does the future hold for 3D printers and why are they seen as so important? How many useless little plastic things do we really need?
At this point the CEO of 3D Printing WorldWide (a fictional company I've made up for the purpose of this blog) would stroll out on stage and tell you the possibilities are limitless, and you know what, he is right.
Currently 3D printers create parts for Jet Engines both for use in civilian and military planes. Why is this important? Because these parts are printed and a designed to be operated in some of the most stressful engineering conditions imaginable.
It won't be long before each of us can buy a 3D printer that could print a spare part for your car, engine or transmission parts (sadly you will still need an overpriced mechanic to fit them) but the hope, the plan is that the 3D printer of the not too distant future will be able to print anything.
Today the material that is fed into 3D printers are plastics and higher grade industrial materials, in the future the materials that will feed into 3D printers will be the elements of the periodic table.
This will allow you to print anything, the marketplace of the future would be a website where you would select the item you want, lets pick the iPhone23, pay for it and the printing instructions will be downloaded and you would see your new phone printed right in front of your eyes.
There are still many challenges to be met before we can do this, but the same was said before man was sent to the moon and that was done using technology with far less power than the device I used to write this blog with.