innovation

3d printers – how are they going to change our lives?

3D printers will soon become a commonplace

you will be able to use them to make just about anything in the privacy of your own home or office, so needless to say, it will cause quite a fuss, once the technology has been perfected.
By being able to eliminate entire factories and hordes of customs officials, you will be able to procure just about anything at a fraction of the cost, and in absolute privacy. The potential for abuse is enormous; we can hardly wait.
If used legally, you will be able to download schematics for just about anything, alter it within allowed limits and print out your own fully customized version of whatever you needed to make. Time frame and quantity may be limited, and you will still need the materials, but it still beats the old way of doing things. The strongest company will not be the one that exploits the Chinese people most ruthlessly; it will be the one with the best product, and that is an improvement in itself. You can forget about customs, taxes, shipping costs and lowest bidders. This new way of doing business will allow us to get in touch and purchase products from virtually anyone on the planet, rather than having to choose from whatever found its way to our market. Plus, shipping and other costs are nonexistent, as the machine will do everything in your stead. The materials will probably increase in cost, though, but you can’t have everything. Inside malls, you could actually make your own stuff on their 3D printers rather than shopping for hours.

Besides, being able to replicate things to a fraction of a millimeter 3d printers can be a life-saving feature if used by a medical professional. By tailoring implants and orthopedic devices the lives of people all over the world will be much better. The fact is, these will be even more available compared to the current ones, which are expensive and not made to fit anyone – “if it fits, good; if not, tough luck” attitude will no longer be acceptable.

Apart from customer service and quality, educated innovators will be at the forefront of scientific and cultural revolution. By reducing time and costs of experiments and design features, our artists and scientists will dish out new masterpieces and inventions at an astounding rate, ushering a new era in human development. Your kids’ science projects will be much easier, too. You will need a way to protect your intellectual property, though. Intellectual theft is rampant even nowadays. What will happen when everyone will be able to scan a pair of shoes and make his own? New legislation and measures will be required, that much is certain. But then again, if music and gaming industry are making record profits despite rampant piracy, surely the other industries will get by. Can you name a single musician or a gaming developer that went bankrupt because of piracy alone? No, you can’t. But if a criminal decides to print himself a weapon, you’ll hear a lot about that. Being able to print stuff illegally and untraceably can have its disadvantages as well.

The new and revolutionary materials will surely appear by the time 3D printing becomes a thing. Since it is still in its infancy, it is hard to predict just where it will lead us, but 3D printing is certainly the way of the future. Factories that produce these new revolutionary materials will certainly be safer and more efficient than those we have today. This is mostly because the entire industry will have to be brought to a new standard, and raw materials will become the main products, rather than the stuff we actually need, and which will be made via 3D printers. The number of workers will be much lower, prompting the question what will happen to all those people and their families? For instance, cars could be made without a single worker, except maybe the one behind the main computer. Everything will become automated, for better or worse. Instead of stores, you could enter a 3D printing shop that specializes in certain type of item, choose the schematics and the material, and the employees will make it for you on the spot.

In theory, replicators from Star Trek that rearrange atoms into materials out of thin air may be an extension of this technology; as might the teleportation, but we are far away from either of those, so let’s keep the Sci-Fi to a minimum, hard as it may seem. For now, even if some 3D parts are used, the materials are not sturdy enough for safe, prolonged use. In time, this will change, but until it does, 3D printing will remain what it is – a promising technology that has yet to reach its true potential.

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