The past few years we have witnessed 3D printing transition from a niche hobby to a mainstream practice seen all over the show floors of electronics expos. There is a definite use for 3D printing out there, the problem is that your average consumer doesn’t know what they would use a 3D printer for, besides making trinkets or generic accessories that would be much cheaper and easier to just buy online. There are really only a few audiences right now that are truly excited about the premise of making their own stuff: crafters, engineers, and hackers.
Make Something Out of Nothing
The idea of creating your own tangible stuff, without needing to be a modeler or carver is a cool idea to many people. The DIY Home Ec. Audience would love to build little stuff like customized smartphone cases, hairclips, dashboard props, or personalized pens. You could also use 3D printers to repair parts for appliances and electronics.
A New Level of Artistic Expression
Some exciting news in the 3D printing industry was delivered recently with Adobe’s decision to really embrace 3D modeling with Photoshop integration of 3D digital fabrications. Adobe has enabled Photoshop to send your 3D objects to either a nearby printer locally or to one of the integrated 3D printing services that will print and send your 3D model to you.
This move will begin to truly open the door to more investing in 3D printing by both the consumers and relevant business start-ups. Photoshop’s platform will connect more artists together and cause exponential grown in the 3D printing courses, 3D printed model databases, and more DIY projects that open the doors for creative applications.
You don’t need to be a 3D artist or even own a 3D printer, even though the costs have reached affordable levels for basic models. You have companies like Shapeways that can make your artistic vision a reality by handling all the 3D modeling and printing. On top of that, you can also put your 3D printed objects and put them on the marketplace where others can buy your creation! How cool is that? These types of companies lower the price of admission for becoming a 3D artist or inventor, while encouraging competition to keep it thriving.
A Glimpse Into the Future of 3D Printing
With all the advancements and streamlining in the 3D printing industry over the years, you can expect to start seeing the utilization of 3D printed parts, models, and artwork become as commonplace as smartphones. Ultimately, this growing 3D printing technology will serve as a realistic alternative to large corporate manufacturers; it has already for early adopters that are comfortable with their own capabilities. Beyond just being more convenient to print out your own parts or upgrades, it allows one the freedom to decide where they want to spend their money. Support the independent creators or the big companies.
An Evolution of 3D Printed Art
To go back to how Photoshop has opened new doors to artistic expression, one great example of this can be found in a simple, yet beautiful revival of Lithophanes. This is the ability to turn a flat, 2-dimensional piece of art into a 3D printed etching. This used to be a very expensive and time-consuming process when it was big around a century ago, but now with a 3D printer, you can quickly and easily 3D print a Lithophane from any picture loaded up in the new Photoshop CC versions.
New 3D Printing Accessibility
With the prices of 3D printers reaching the realm of high-end printers and becoming more common in places like libraries and universities, the only thing that’s holding it back from being a realistic idea of owning and using one is the marketing end of 3D printing manufacturers. They need to find a way to connect with the average consumer and show why they need one or demand their local computer hotspot should install one to use.
3D Printed Food On-Demand
Probably the most promising category of 3D printing would have to be 3D food. At first glance, it sounds like an absurd thing to do and something that has little use for the average person. The Star Trek vibe will probably take a while to wear off, but the potential applications of this new 3D printing technology are huge. You can actually buy a 3D printer right now and start printing your own food for under a grand. Why would you want to do that? Well, for one you can make some amazing presentations on your plate with edible food, but that’s just scratching the surface.
With a 3D printer like the Foodini, you can use fresh fruits and vegetables to deliver your daily nutrition in a softer, and more precise form. This is similar to the concept of making smoothies to get your servings of protein and produce while on the go, except in a more dinner-appropriate form.
The Sky is Literally the Limit When it Comes to 3D Printing
The 3d printing technology has come so far, and yet has so much more room to grow in-terms of: streamlining, cost-efficiency, utilization of materials, and further user-friendliness. You can’t help but feel excited at the idea of one day being able to download a pair of pants and having it printed out at your home or, maybe, a car that can be assembled like a Lego set. I don’t think that future is too far away.
Artists View for the Future of 3D Printing – 3D Printing Industry Video
3D Printing Food – How do Food 3D Printers Work?
4D Printing – How Far Will 3D Printing Smart Objects Take Us?