It’s like a children’s computer game brought to life. As a child I imagined software that could create anything you thought of in real life, whether it was the latest toy or a colorful T-shirt. Now with 3D printing, that dream can almost be reality.
The cover article of this week’s issue of The Economist tells of a new technology that “prints” 3D objects. By designing a digital blueprint on the computer and connecting it to a machine, custom-made items from complex hardware to jewelry can be produced efficiently and cost-effectively without human labor.
As the technology improves, the need for factory assembly lines may be decreased or even eliminated. Companies and individuals will be able to mass produce goods on their own, or create a different product by simply changing the digital blueprint. Thus far the “ink” is limited to certain raw materials like titanium and plastic, but the technology has great potential for use with other materials.
Perhaps one day our children will have 3D printers in their bedrooms.