3D printing has slowly but surely ingrained itself as an accessible option to roll out large scale built items, so lets start with a bit of an explanation as to what 3D printing actually is and what it entails.
We’ve all heard the buzz word of '3D printing' Newscasters and journalists the world over have been astonished and amazed at the possibility of literally 'printing' 3D objects out of thin air.
LIke a scene from a futuristic sci-fi, it can appaarently “print” in plastic, metal, nylon, and over a hundred other materials. It can be used for making nonsensical little models like the over-printed Yoda, yet it can also print manufacturing prototypes, end user products, quasi-legal guns, aircraft engine parts and even human organs using a person’s own cells.
It's achieved when successive layers of liquid, powder, paper or sheet material are laid down in different shapes. 3D printing is also considered distinct from traditional machining techniques, which mostly rely on the removal of material by methods such as cutting or drilling.
What can we create? So now that we have an understanding of what 3D printing is, what can it do? The greatest part about 3D printing is the freedom it gives users to create anything they want. From rocket engines for Space X, and body parts/organs to more mundane things like toys. For example, Disney are investing millions into 3D printing so that they can produce toys with inbuilt glowing eyes, etc amazingly futuristic stuff is literally on our doorstep with this technology.
What is happening in our corner of the world? So in our corner of the world how is 3D printing affecting us? To answer that question I have linked a few websites below, which give you a good understanding of just how much this will affect us all in the near future.
Click here to see a video on the world's first 3D printed building!
In the world of environmentents more and more furntiutre is seizing the opportunity to create amazing designs. Click here to see 10 ingenious designs.
Some the biggest advancments have been witnessed in the health and scince catergories. Click here to see some some examples.
How sustainable is this new era of manufacturing? In a nutshell, yes its more environmentally friendly than conventional manufacturing. however, there are arguments for both sides, and of course there are many variables. 3D printing doesn't use one kind of method or material to print.
What is sociological impact? 3D printing has been touted as the next major frontier of piracy. The idea of 'downloading' a chair design and building it in your own house is not too far away. Several companies are currently working on making this a lot more difficult, with solutions such as streaming printer data over the net to authentic each print. Of course, you might be thinking, how does an Eames chair now differentiate itself from a faux design? If they are both printed from the same machine in your house? How do you explain the cost difference? These are all questions that are currently being addressed through many different avenues and by many different companies at this point in time.
THERE is looking for ways to intergrate this form of printing into our current design solutions. Our signage partners are already utilising 3D printing for everything from bespoke builds for signage and prototypes to full scale roll outs. Once 3D printing becomes even more affordable, design studio's like ours will most likely invest in 3D printing to produce one off prototypes, similar to studio's having a Large Format Printer in house. The benefits for us in having such quick accessible prototypes will allow us to shorten project timelines and make faster more effective decisions regarding our design solutions. Just imagine how much easier a concept will be to sell in to a client with a built prototype of each sign to go with it, the possibilities are endless!
If you are like me and normally skip down to the summary, check it out. 3D printing does look likely to revolutionise manufacturing and building. How large this impact is will depend on how readily consumers pick up this technology and how accessible 3D printers become. In the end its an exciting period for our industry and to see a house being built in 20 hours is something I personally would love to see!