July 29, 2013 — It may seem like a stretch to envision a 3D printer in every home. However, a Michigan Technological University researcher is predicting that personal manufacturing, like personal computing before it, is about to enter the mainstream in a big way.
"For the average American consumer, 3D printing is ready for showtime," said Associate Professor Joshua Pearce.
3D printers deposit multiple layers of plastic or other materials to make almost anything, from toys to tools to kitchen gadgets. Free designs that direct the printers are available by the tens of thousands on websites like Thingiverse. Visitors can download designs to make their own products using open-source 3D printers, like the RepRap, which you build yourself from printed parts, or those that come in a box ready to print, from companies like Type-A Machines.
I think most of us can see the direct benefit to 3D Printers. Need a new phone case? Print one. Want to design and implement some ideas you had for nick-nacks around the house? Print them. Want to make a toy for your kid that you know they'll enjoy? Print one.
So is it really all that surprising to find out that 3D Printers are making a bigger impact on our society than we thought? Personally, I saw many good things coming from this technology. It puts manufacturing and creating in the hands of the individual. Will it make manufacturing businesses struggle?
Only the bad ones really. Combine this with research in paint-on plastic electronics and we can potentially start making lower-grade electronics at home. All of this leads me to believe that we will become a world of self-doers and manufacturers, allowing us all to provide our own creative spin to our lives without requiring someone else to do the work.
All in all it seems like a bright future in our homes. "The Home of the Future" may not be as far away as we thought!