With the beginning of 2012, 3D printing technology has stepped a level above. Believe it or not, 3D Printing Technology has existed since a really long time. Charles Hull invented the first 3D printing method – Stereolithography, in the year 1986. And since then, many other 3D printing methods have plunged into the commercial market; each of them featuring different layer building patterns.
For now, 3D printing has been more tilted towards building moulds/ prototypes for industrial applications and several other places. Even Dental labs are using 3D printing to help fabricate crowns and bridgework. These devices have been expensive enough to ‘not’ cater the domestic/ desktop category. But, there have been a handful of services to bridge this gap and allow anyone to send digital prints and get them moulded exactly into plastic, metal, ceramic or even food art. So for domestic usage, this is how far 3D printing goes for now.
The only limiting factor is our imagination
The statement may sound clichéd, but in 3D printing technology’s case, it’s just right. The application and scope of 3D printing technology is much wider than what most of us can perceive. When this technology scales to a much wider applicability, the results will drastically improve our living. Quite recently, Artificial blood vessels have been created with 3D Printers and it may soon have its place for transplants of lab created organs. Now think about that. 3D printing does not only pertain to materialistic objects, it can even work with human physiology.
So moving back to our discussion on 3D printing technology in domestic/ desktop category, this year in 2012, more companies are coming up with services and devices to target the desktop users and make the 3D printing devices more accessible and even affordable.
Cubify.com provides a Kinect-To-Print app where you can make designs with color book simplicity and get them delivered at your place.
Consider an Open Source initiative, RepRap.
It’s 3D printer and a variant of fused deposition modeling which can print most of it’s own components. Due to this self replicating nature, it can be made cheaply distributed and aid the users in printing their own creations. It’s also one of the first low-cost 3D printers.
This video talks about RepRap
The MakerBot Replicator
It is an affordable, DIY, open source 3D printer, compact enough to sit on a desktop. With this, you to print objects in color, upto the size of a bread loaf. It’s decently priced under $2,000, i.e less than र 1 lakh.
As we can see, newer 3D printing methodologies and products are gradually hitting the mainstream market. Though there is a lot more to be seen and improved to make 3D printing a magnificent tool than it already is. It will strafe us forward to more practical applications and build almost everything with utmost precision, quality, ease and of course, at much cheaper costs of production.