Is 3D printing the new industrial revolution? That’s what many experts believe.
3D printing can make almost any household items, just as 2D printers copy text in a paper.
This is only (indeed, how long to reach this “only”!) about designing an object, insert the dimensions and colours and wait the printer to make the object. The printer needles start to inject plastic on a surface and creates the object in layers.
This technology will soon allow to make our own custom pieces, machine protections, robots, prosthesis, implantation,… And at inexpensive domestic level. There are already webs, like shapeways.com, dedicated to produce and sell pieces for any application at affordable price.
Nowadays, home printers (about 400€) use plastic filaments, but in a professional level, wax is starting to be used to smelt metal and researches continue with all kind of materials -derivate of wood, concrete, nylon, etc.-. Even NASA started a study to test if food may be also printed someday in the future.
3D Systems president Abraham Reichental, one of main 3D printing companies, maintains that “the same technology only available for today´s wealthiest corporations, will be at disposal of anybody through the cloud, what will democratise manufacturing and make possible the factories´ reallocation”. That is, consumer from anywhere in the world will use 3D printers to create gadgets in their homes or in nearby businesses, and there will be lower need to import from China, i.e.. We will stop being consumers and will became manufacturers.
In a near future, countries won´t export products but designs that other countries will import through the Internet and will locally manufacture with 3D printers. This takes us to a revolution or paradigm shift: it won´t matter who produces the product at lower cost, but who designed it, what means that countries with better education and universities will able to export their designs in the Internet and get money.
Another dilemmas arise: Are our regulations adapted? In Europe, who will check designs according to CE conformity marking? Will be piracy controlled? There will be troubles for wrong use of objects designed to specific aims?.
Is anyone (responsible) thinking about it? Days ago, I asked this to an expert at European range and told that he did not think about it, so this is an issue to deal with.
Are we ready for this forecasted changes? What is your opinion?.
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