3D Printing: Practical Possibilities For the Near Future
The news, reviews, information, and updates on the potential for 3D printing and 3D printers is not particularly coherent as it stands this very moment. There is a mixture of hype and active disinterest, and the bias of the reporter or reviewer is hardwired into the material that is available. In spite of this, it is possible to at least have a vision of some of the early practical uses of 3D printing technology, so let’s take a look at three general categories just to give the brain a little bit of exercise – safety, nutrition, repair.
Safety equipment comes in all shapes and sizes, but from the angle of 3D printing possibilities, consider small, customizable items that could be printed in one-off cycles to dramatically improve something like household safety for a child. Custom prints could be sized correct for child-safety locks, plastic material to go around the corners of furniture with sharp edges, custom products to protect children from electrical outlets, handles for turning water on and off, and many, many other things. Commercially available items may fit your need generally, but with a 3D printer, you can match size and style however you wish.
There is a lot of fascinating news out there about 3D printing food. Having the right base materials will enable people to print out the appropriate nutritive value of just about anything. There’s a lot of guesswork out there as to how taste and texture and going to figure into the mix, but with some experimentation, the world may be closer than ever to having Star Trek type technology before too long. Granted, it won’t be made out of space particles, but it will be awfully close to that. Military applications of food production in this manner could be groundbreaking as well.
How many times have you run into a situation where some piece of a system fails? A single part of a bicycle? A single bracket of a railing? One custom screw to a piece of furniture? It can be difficult and expensive to get single parts, but with a 3D printer, you could potentially just print that part out. This ability to be repaired would allow people to buy much higher end products, understanding that they could do some of the fixing if necessary. There would be a dramatic improvement in quality of overall systems, and workarounds could eventually be eliminated as well.
Once 3D printers become widely available in a reasonable price range, and some of the kinks get worked out with the base material, there is going to be a renaissance era of people adapting this new technology to their everyday lives.